Small business owners are among the most difficult prospects to reach and sell to. Period. Harder than enterprise C-level executives, harder than the 20-year procurement veteran.
If you’re still reading, you either have no choice or are smart (or arrogant, or stubborn) enough to make a go of it anyway.
And for good reason. Despite how challenging small business owners are to reach and sell to, they represent a gold mine of value and revenue for those who can reach and convert them with scale.
The keys to reaching, influencing and successfully marketing to small business can be summarized in two groupings: 1) know the audience, and 2) know what motivates them.
1) Keep it brief
Small business owners are focused on 15 things at once, and have little time for distractions. They don’t have time for a long sales pitch, not even 10 minutes. If you get their attention, you’ll have a minute or two to keep it.
2) Know their hot buttons
What you’re selling doesn’t matter to them. But if it solves a problem they have, or helps them address a challenge that can help them grow their business, you have their attention. Know what keeps them up at night, and what gets them up in the morning. That’s where you sell.
3) Know their work habits
If you want to reach owners of brick-and-mortar retail small businesses, do not schedule your webinar at 11:00 a.m. local time (when they’re opening the shop!). If you’re selling to bar owners, good luck reaching them in the morning. Know when they work, and when they might have an extra minute to pick up the phone and talk to you.
4) Know their communication preferences
Just because you’re comfortable with a particular communication channel doesn’t mean your audience is too. And many small business owners, despite setting up social media channels for their customers, are terrible at keeping up themselves. Know which communication channels they prefer, and gravitate there first.
5) Work through their influencers
Who do they already listen to? The local small business association president? Fellow/local small business owners who is known in the area as a marketing master? Learn your prospect’s ecosystem, figure out who the influencers are, and get them on board first.
So what gets their attention? What could you possibly offer that earns you those couple minutes to explain how you can help them?
When it comes to offers (in your sales and/or marketing channels), focus first on the following:
You can’t get more time in the day, but how could you give prospects the gift of time? What could you offer that saves them time, does something for them so they don’t have to, makes something faster and easier?
7) Access to leads
Can you put them in front of prospective customers in their area or market? Feature their name to your own customer lists? Put them in your next marketing campaign?
8) Sales and cost-cutting advice
If you’re engaged in content marketing to small business, focus on things that can 1) make them more money, and 2) save them more money. Those are the two linchpins of any good business, but are particularly important to small businesses working on shoestring margins to begin with.
9) Best practices (secrets) from their competitors
Every small business is worried (or obsessed) about what their competitors are doing. What’s working? What gives the other guy an edge? Share that with your prospects and you’ll have their attention.
Help them stand out from their peers and competitors. Give them something to put in their window, or on their wall, that lends credibility to new customers walking in their door. Make them look good.