4.5 minutes

B2B marketers typically get just one chance to align with an SMB’s buying journey, writes Kristina Prokop, co-founder of marketing data firm Eyeota, a Dun & Bradstreet company. She offers a roadmap for engaging buyers at small and mid-sized businesses.

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Kristina Prokop

Tailoring B2B marketing strategies to the distinct needs and nuances of small and medium-sized businesses is paramount for success in today’s business landscape. For SMBs, where agility and cost-effectiveness often take center stage, marketers must navigate a terrain that values personalized relationships and innovative solutions. The emphasis on building trust becomes pivotal in a landscape where resources may be limited, yet the potential for growth and collaboration is vast.

A Look at B2B Buyers at SMBs

When we talk about SMBs, we’re talking about firms with fewer than 100 employees or $50 million in sales. These companies account for 99% of U.S. businesses and contribute 44% of the U.S. GDP.

Approximately 88% of SMBs are owned by individuals in the Baby Boomer and Gen X generations. However, the average age of a person starting a new business today is 34 years old. That means B2B marketers looking to connect with SMB stakeholders need to consider who they’re talking to at the individual level, not just the company level.

Among SMBs, the decision-makers tend to look different depending on the size of the organization. If a company is under 25 employees, it’s likely you’re selling to the business owner or CFO. However, when a company has more than 25 employees, subject matter experts start to get more involved in the buying process.

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Kristina Prokop - SMB tech buying decisions

 

Because SMBs represent the majority of businesses, their aggregated total spend is greater than total enterprise spend within many product categories. However, software represents an important exception to that rule.

Kristina Prokop - SMB buying decisions

Key Distinctions in the SMB Buying Journey

The SMB buyer’s journey varies greatly from the journey for larger enterprises in several key ways:

  • Process: The process involves fewer people and less ambiguity. In general, small contracts make for a faster sales process.
  • Messaging: SMBs know that they need to grow or they die. Revenue is the pain point they are trying to address.
  • Trust: For SMBs, relationships start with and are built on trust. SMB buyers are more likely to look at review sites and confirm value with their social circles before making a move.
  • Response rates: Cold calls, email marketing, audio, SMS, SEO and SEM, and physical mail all perform better with SMBs than enterprises.

Perhaps the greatest hallmark of the SMB buyer journey — one that no longer applies within enterprises — is that the standard linear flow of the buyer journey still tends to apply. SMB buyers start, predictably, with problem identification and solution exploration. They move forward to requirements building and, finally, supplier selection. They don’t tend to circle back within this process, meaning B2B marketers typically get just one chance to align with an SMB’s buying journey.

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Tips for Connecting with SMB Buyers

Given the unique facets of today’s SMB buying journey, B2B marketers must take care to tailor their strategies and tactics accordingly. Consider:

  • Smaller buying groups lead to a faster process. That means B2B marketers must test and optimize toward marketing tactics that elicit immediate response. SMB leads must be nurtured with urgency.
  • Every dollar matters and trust is critical. Ad messaging should be about helping SMBs grow revenue. Landing pages should showcase other SMBs “winning” because of the brand.
  • Business owners have very different demographic and geographic profiles. B2B marketers must segment the buyer journey based on demographic, geographic, and firmographic information.

Effective B2B marketing to SMBs hinges on the ability to foster genuine connections, understand their unique challenges, and provide solutions that align with their growth aspirations. The agility and responsiveness inherent in SMBs demand marketing strategies that are both targeted and adaptable, emphasizing the value of personalized engagement over one-size-fits-all approaches.

As the business landscape continues to evolve, successful B2B marketers working with SMB clients will find themselves at the intersection of innovation and relationship-building, propelling their brands to become trusted partners in the dynamic journey of small business growth.

About the author:

Kristina Prokop is a co-founder of Eyeota, a Dun & Bradstreet company that provides multichannel marketing data technology and services.

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