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Earning The Nod: How to connect better with small business owners

B2B brands are failing to connect with small businesses, and need to work harder to infiltrate these 'unique tribes' in order to earn the coveted Nod. James Wood explains

Do you know 'The Nod'? You know The Nod. Let me give you a quick example of The Nod in practice.

My Dad has just bought himself a riverboat, and a few weeks ago took me on my first trip down the Thames. As I sat on the front soaking up the sunshine, I noticed the same thing happening every time another boat passed – the driver would lock eyes and then give The Nod; a subtle, respectful bow of the head.

The Nod says you are part of a secret club, without a membership card or a t-shirt, but one whose members have a mutual respect for each other.

The Nod is equally applicable to runners, cyclists and anyone else who feels an affinity with someone else. It’s an acknowledgement of each other’s membership of a unique tribe – and a shared familiarity with all the highs and lows that come with it.

"You’ve failed to dig deeper into how their life and business are intertwined and therefore what they respond to"

Every small business owner, too, gives each other the metaphorical Nod. They all understand the ups, the downs, the struggles, the investment and the personal sacrifice that goes into doing what they do. It’s created a mutual, albeit sometimes grudging, respect by small business owners for each other.

But here’s the kicker – there’s some bad news for the majority of big businesses and B2B marketers who spend their days trying to sell to small business – you, sadly, have not earned The Nod.

While you’ve been bombarding small business owners with emails, banner ads and your 54th ‘exclusive’ PDF about how life-changing your product is (in exchange for their personal details, of course), you’ve missed out on understanding your audience. You’ve failed to dig deeper into how their life and business are intertwined and therefore what they respond to.

Most importantly, you’ve neglected to prove to them why you deserve The Nod and why every small business owner should talk to you, listen to you and ultimately buy from you. But this can change. If you just look a little deeper and take time to understand your audience, you’re on the right path to earning The Nod.

To join the conversation use #SmallBizB2B.

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