Marketing to Small Businesses

May 4th, 2021 by


According to 2023 statistics, there are over 33.2 million small businesses in the United States.  Small businesses have much different needs than businesses with 50+ employees.

Small businesses can be very productive for service providers. They have a much shorter sales cycle than big businesses. That’s because there are fewer hoops to jump through; fewer people to have to impress. Often the business owner can make a decision quickly and painlessly. And, it’s relatively easy to procure a quality list of small business prospects to work.

Distinctive Buying Behaviors

Small businesses practice distinct buying behaviors. If you’re marketing products to small businesses, you need to understand what matters to small business owners.

  • Need
  • Speed
  • Value
  • Customer Service
  • Time
  • Social Proof
  • Pride of ownership

If you understand these seven Small Business owner priorities, you can learn how and when buyers make their decisions. After all, why should they buy from you?

Need –

Business owners often act based on particular events occurring in their business. For example, a move forces businesses to find a new bank, a new telecommunications provider, new furniture and fixtures.  Those service providers may want to consider using a new business list for best response.

When you’re marketing to small businesses, think about other needs that have other triggers. For example, a business owner aging out who may need new financial services or a succession plan.

There are also other needs that send a small business owner right to the internet so they can search for a provider. Are you ready to accommodate that search?

Speed –

According to a study by Lead Connect, 78% of customers buy from the company that responds to their inquiry first. That means your company needs to be prepared to contact that lead right away. With the high costs of paid advertising, and the ever increasing competition in the digital landscape, you literally can’t afford to waste a minute.

Value –

Business owners care about value. While the price is important, the value is what counts.

Business owners are trying to earn a profit themselves. They understand there are costs associated with the benefits they buy. They want to see value from their suppliers.

While you may not need to be the cheapest, you do need to prove your value through total cost-of-ownership-type comparisons.

Customer Service –

A small business has customers of its own and knows that a high level of service is what keeps their customers on board. Do you think they would settle for anything else from you?

You are showing them your customer service ethic right through the sales process. That means a quality first call as well as your follow up. BTW – Telemarketing is a top lead generator in B2B.

Time –

Small business owners never have enough time to finish everything on their daily list. This means that you need to respect their time. When marketing to small businesses, you presentations need to get to the point; your website needs to be easy to navigate. This also means your proposals need to be concise and to the point.

If you’re providing quotes or white papers or testimonials, everything needs to be clear, and descriptive. Graphics and visuals that help decision-making are essential.

And follow up. According to Marketing Sherpa, 79% of B2B marketing leads never convert into sales. That’s because these leads were not followed up.

Social Proof –

A small business owner will check out your reviews, whether they are on your website, Google, Angie’s list or Yelp.  After all, their customers check them out before buying so they know the drill.

Do you have testimonials you can share about your product or service? Can you provide another customer who will vouch for you? Are you a member of the BBB or your local Chamber of Commerce? What about other professional organizations? You are judged by the company you keep.

Pride of Ownership –

A small business owner is proud of his or her business. While you do not have to “suck up” to them, you need to be sure you don’t belittle their company’s size or scope.

Make sure the product or service you are suggesting is properly scaled for the small business. A small business with under 5 employees may not need all the power (or cost) that a powerful CRM system like SalesForce has to offer.

As a small business owner, I have been solicited by businesses who want to sell me things that are absolutely wrong for my business. That wastes my time and insults my intelligence.