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Blog post By Paula Chiocchi on 2018-06-20

IDC says that IT spending by small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) worldwide will pass $600 billion in 2018 – an increase of almost 5% above last year – driven by strong demand for software, services and devices. Bank of America also cites the optimism of SMB growth and spending for 2018, especially among millennial business owners.


There’s no doubt the SMB market is filled with opportunity if you have the right offer and the right pitch, but marketers need to take special care when reaching out to SMBs. They are a special breed of customer with unique interests and demands. Here are four ways to make sure your message is heard:


  1. Email marketing and your ESP: Our data shows that less than a quarter of SMBs own a corporate email domain (i.e. “”), and that most SMBs use common, public domain email service platforms such as Yahoo, AOL, Gmail or Hotmail. As a result, marketers need to ensure their email service provider (ESP) is able to access and deliver to these address domains. Some don’t. And even those that do may face issues or restrictions that can impact your email marketing deliverability results. Finding this out too late will cause you to potentially miss a significant portion of your SMB targets.


  1. Research SMB org structures: Job roles and responsibilities can be hard to define at SMB organizations. The owner might oversee sales and marketing, while the office manager might supervise all finance, IT and HR operations. Because SMB employees may wear many hats, it pays to be careful with your targeting efforts. Marketers targeting SMBs should invest the time to understand the organizational structures of their SMB prospects and tailor their messaging and offerings accordingly.


  1. Take a consultative approach: By potentially being stretched thin, SMBs may have wide business knowledge, but they may also have gaps in their expertise. For this reason, any SMB sales process should include education, demonstration and illustration. Marketers targeting SMBs should also take a consultative approach to their messaging, and clearly articulate how their solutions quickly solve a business bottleneck, help grow revenue and deliver ROI, such as by increasing sales, reducing costs or improving the SMB customer’s experience.


  1. Establish long-term relationships: Strong personal relationships are important to SMBs. They value the opportunity to work with local vendors who act as long-term partners and are willing to “pick up the phone” or “go the extra mile.” In fact, such strong dedication to personal service is often the SMB’s advantage when they compete against larger, better-funded competitors. That’s why they’ll tend to respond positively when offered personal care themselves. Marketers targeting SMBs should ditch the generic “shotgun approach” and focus on building long-lasting relationships through quality email lists and personal touch campaigns.


Fortunately for marketers, SMBs don’t often have the lengthy purchase cycles or complex bureaucracies and approval processes of larger companies, giving them the ability to act quickly if offerings are communicated clearly and effectively. This provides an opportunity for sellers to step in and have an immediate impact – as long as the right approach is taken.

What strategies do you rely on when marketing and selling to SMBs?



Outward Media’s accurate, targeted email data can help you achieve better email marketing ROI by targeting your best prospects – including millennials and other generations -- and, ultimately, converting more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.

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At OMI, we believe good things happen when you share your knowledge. That's why we're proud to educate marketers at every level - in every size and type of organization - about the basics of email marketing and the contact data that powers it.

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