Guest post by Megan Totka.
Small businesses account for a huge chunk of business revenue produced in our country. In fact, there are nearly seven million small businesses in America. This includes everything from high-tech startups to mom-and-pop shops in your local town to freelance work done in your neighbor’s basement. As the drivers of employment growth, all of these businesses are vital.
Completing a business to business transaction for a large corporation is no big deal. Big businesses market their strengths easily. In general, they have large marketing budgets, internal expertise, and the ability to hire top-notch outside b2b marketing talent. What about small businesses though—can they have the same success? Can they complete both small-business-to-big-business marketing and small-business-to-small-business marketing?
Who are you marketing to?
Business to business (B2B) marketing to a small business can be much like business to consumer (B2C) marketing. When determining the method of marketing your business will be using, first look at who you are marketing to. If marketing to a larger business, the focus must be on addressing the concerns and meeting the information needs of the entire buying team rather than just the product or service itself. Larger businesses also have longer purchasing lead times. There is a chain of command in place with a large business. The original person involved in noticing your marketing will often not be the one deciding if your business is chosen to work with. Every buying team member will have a new set of questions. If you have not already predicted and answered these questions, the business will likely be lost.
Often, small businesses will have better success marketing to other small businesses, as big companies prefer to buy from other big companies, particularly in established product categories. (For new-to-the-world, highly innovative products, small / startup firms are frequently the only options.) With time and experience, small firms can grow their businesses, product offerings and support capabilities to appeal more to larger companies.
When marketing to small businesses, emotional appeals can be mixed with product details. Marketing messages will be usually be seen directly by the small business owner or someone closely in contact with him or her. Since this then becomes more of an individual decision, your marketing can play on impulse. Much like a typical consumer, for low-involvement, low-cost purchases, a small business owner may make quick decisions without needing the extra information. He or she will only be looking at a few factors rather than the whole picture. Stories can be used to incorporate emotional appeals in a non-manipulative way.
What are you good at?
With a business in place to do or provide just about every product or service imaginable, the business world is extremely competitive. It’s important for your business to know and understand where its place is for marketing to other businesses. By aiming for sales from other business either too big or too small, or otherwise mis-targeted, the business will fail. Aiming too big will lead to few sales and your business will drown from a lack of revenue, forcing you to find and take out more loans to keep your business alive. Aiming too small may keep the lights on but your business will struggle to grow.
What about when you are the buyer?
Finally, selling to other businesses is one thing, but what about when you need to buy from another business? As a small business, know when you should buy like a big business. No, this does not mean spend the kind of money a large business would spend. This means to avoid impulses when purchasing strategic goods and services. When such an item is marketed to you, get the details. Take your time. Recognize your emotions in the decision but use logic.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com connects local businesses to their local Chamber of Commerce. Megan also writes business news.