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4 ways to make a real impact early in the SME purchase journey

Google, Amazon and Apple all started in garages. If ever you needed proof to support the adage that ‘SMEs are the big businesses of tomorrow’, then surely that’s compelling enough. Except we’ve moved on since then, haven’t we?

When Google et al were born, contracts were still signed with quills and T&Cs were hammered into the modern-day equivalent of rune stones. Nowadays, your run-of-the-mill SME can’t catch a minute to breathe, such is the inhuman volume of high-level comms flying into their inboxes and across social media channels. In an increasingly cacophonous world, how do you get small business owners to hear your B2B brand’s message? How do you distinguish it from those of your competitors? How can you get SMEs onside early in the purchase journey?

Your copy needs to dazzle

This might sound obvious, sorry if you’re sick of sucking that egg, but your copy is so important. Think of how many emails you get on a daily basis. Now think of how many SMEs get on a daily basis, and then imagine how many they don’t read. They just don’t have the time, and if you’re going in with clichéd subject-headers and copy/paste jobs, you’re headed straight for the junk folder.

Be direct, but be interesting. You want their initial consideration, so hook them in here. To do this, properly invest in the scribbling side of your team. Get a dedicated copywriter – emails written by me will always fall flat when compared to those of our scribes. This stuff really, really matters - 67% of SME business was won via digital in 2015, so make your direct mailers count from the get-go, with a compelling call to action.

Make them feel special

The business you’re pitching to is probably looking to expand. So don’t give them the same party line as everyone else – what can you offer that’s really different, that really appeals to their particular business? Right from your mailers and when you’re engaging in initial discussion, they’ll be actively evaluating your offer, benchmarking you against competitors.

You’re better than the other umpteen agencies vying for their business. So show them that. Don’t just benchmark your services against rivals, but show how this can be positively reflected in said small business' operations. This isn’t about puffing your chest up and bragging – this is time to put your money where your mouth is, to show why your business, and only your business, is the right fit for your chosen SME. Spell it out, but without being patronising.

Think local

Tailor your offering to the needs of an SME – what you offer a global corporation probably won’t be achievable or appealing for an organisation that’s resource-poor. Bring a scaled-down version of your model to the table, but also use high-profile case-studies as proof-points of how you work effectively and deliver results. This way, you’re killing two birds with one stone; you’ve taken their operations into account, and in the same breath you’re laying out a possible future, something bigger to aspire to.

And no SME is the same. It’s a diverse landscape, so your offering must be accessible while not appearing generic nor throwaway. It’s a fine balancing act.

Be realistic

You can have the best copywriter in the world, but if they're padding out the truth, small business owners have finely-tuned noses and will sniff you out. They may be smaller, but they’re not stupid – and they’re closer to the purse strings, which makes them that bit more wary.

They’re experts in their given fields and can see through any BS you try to fling their way. Be realistic. Be honest. Focus on creating valuable content that SMEs can actually use, on delivering results that really benefit their strategy on a measurable scale, rather than flogging overt, exaggerated sell-ins.

Think Small: How to market to small businesses

In this marketing success pack, B2B Marketing and Earnest offer advice, opinion and first-hand experiences of targeting and engaging small businesses owners.

How to target small business owners (success pack)

Think Small: How to market to small businesses image