The last 14 months have been a rollercoaster, with sudden dips and thankfully, in recent months especially, a slow but steady rise as we adjust to a post-pandemic world. Despite challenges that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have faced, this group represents a valuable customer base for generating reliable revenue. There are roughly 30 million small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) in the U.S. Overall, even hard-hit industries are persevering, with a report late last year showing that restaurant openings were favorable compared to 2019.
In this new landscape, businesses—especially small businesses—are rethinking everything. As you plan your SMB marketing campaigns, here are 5 things to keep in mind:
From the get-go, small businesses have taken the brunt of the economic impact of the pandemic. Business restrictions, stay-at-home orders, the pause of in-person events and other outcomes have had long-lasting ripples for small businesses. At OMI, in 2020 we purged over 5 million businesses and 13 million contacts from our SMB database. In many ways it’s been a trial by fire, with the small businesses that have come through to the other side stronger now than they were before. Today many SMBs say they are returning to normal operations, according to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey. And since late December 2020, fewer surveyed small businesses say they’ve experienced revenue decreases. As more states continue to open and adjust to the “next normal,” SMBs will continue to grow in both numbers and relevance—with a growing need for new solutions from businesses like yours.
Despite their smaller size and more limited resources, price is not always the most important element for SMBs in choosing a vendor. With smaller staffs -- and owners and employees who often wear many hats -- SMBs must prioritize their time. As a result, they seek out solutions that both drive efficiency and are worth the investment.
Adapting solutions to fit small businesses also requires that sellers think like SMBs do. This may mean creating tailor-made solutions, like a recent Forbes article suggests. As part of the sales process, work to understand how solutions designed for enterprise businesses may be failing them. Then once you’ve identified ways to adapt your solutions, focus your campaigns on the specific value as it relates to their needs as a small business.
Many businesses are operating very differently than they were a year ago, or even a few months ago. Digital transformation became necessary to compete in the virtual environment and many have had to pivot to offer new products, serve new markets or reinvent themselves completely to survive. With all these changes, many SMBs have new business needs and as a result, there are likely new SMB prospects that could benefit from what you offer. One of the best ways to identify those groups is through intent monitoring, which enables marketers to target SMB prospects who are looking for similar solutions and identify those that are in-market.
Even before the pandemic, SMBs would typically change personnel and email addresses more frequently than larger organizations and often relied on public email domains instead of a corporate domain, both of which can make it difficult to reach them. With more employees working from home on personal email accounts and devices, there are added challenges in connecting with them.
To successfully target SMBs – especially now – most businesses need quality third-party contact data that can keep up with these rapid changes. Look for a provider with a database large enough to reach a variety of contacts and one that is updated with routine data cleansing. That way you know your campaigns are reaching a relevant audience of valid contacts at active businesses. For example, at OMI our SMB prospect data includes more than 67 million qualified decision-makers and has a 95% email validity guarantee for 30 days.
Identity graphs offer an innovative way to close the loop and reach the right SMBs by pulling high-quality data from a vast array of sources. This enables marketers to build custom audiences that tightly align with their offers without the hassles of dealing with multiple data providers. And to ensure data privacy, anonymized IDs are then built within the identity graph and then securely taken to a demand-side platform (DSP) to serve the ads. (In case you missed the announcement, OMI’s specialized SMB and medical market data is now available in the LiveRamp Data Marketplace.)
As marketers, we’re always adapting to our environment. And when it comes to marketing to SMBs, that agility and determination goes a long way. Embracing data to bridge the gap and adapting your solutions for what SMBs need the most right now—as many have pivoted and reinvented themselves—are key to marketing to them effectively.
Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate B2B data can enable you to achieve better digital marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Go here to find out about leveraging our SMB and medical market data on the LiveRamp Data Marketplace.