Just finished reading “Marketers and SMB’s Disconnect over Online Tactics” by Marketing Charts detailing results from study completed by Bredin Business Information. Two separate groups were interviewed in 2 separate studies: “Marketing to SMB’s in 2009” was a survey of 50 marketers in large companies such as IBM, Cisco, Comcast, Dell and other banks and technology companies who market to small and medium businesses. The second survey was for over 700 small and medium businesses to understand their marketing preferences entitled “SMB Media and Brand Preferences.” There is some great information and you can draw your own conclusions. I will be fascinated to see the results of the same studies performed a year from now.
My initial take-aways (based upon my own anecdotal evidence combined with the statistics) are that there is not so much ” disconnect” in the results as much as there is a lag in adoption between the groups simply due to resource limitations:
1. Both SMB’s and Marketers are looking for high value and low price in purchasing decisions. Not a surprise in the current economy.
2. Considering the marketers and the companies they represent, I am not surprised that they have been putting a full out effort in online advertising and marketing. They have the resources to a) understand the technological options, b) apply significant enough technical and marketing staff to create and manage social networks and technologies. Today’s SMB’s are stressed from the standpoint of resources, more so than I have ever seen. As a result of credit lines diminishing, resistance in adding to payroll and the plethora of technology options they are unable to fully understand, SMB’s are stretched thin – how many ways can you divide a small staff?. Marketers are simply making the shift to online faster than the SMB’s because they have the financial and people resources to make the shift quicker.
3. The study says “Marketers say their biggest challenges in 2009 are funding new projects (24%), growing business with limited resources (15%) and increasing awareness (15%).” These are the exact issues I hear from SMB’s every day.
4. I think the wager marketers are making to invest in online marketing while reducing off-line presence is a smart bet to make especially with constant reports validating a huge increase in adoption of social technologies across all demographic groups.
5. Old habits die hard. SMB’s are still reliant upon old methods of learning about potential suppliers. However, the growing trends towards increased online research of brands among consumers before purchase are also showing increase in SMB’s. The more marketers actually “engage” potential customers online, not just with traditional awareness programs but with education and connection programs, the more the SMB’s will become retrained to rely upon online resources.
Who will the winners be? Marketers who use their social technology presence to teach the SMB’s not only how to use their products but how to implement social web technologies to achieve strategic objectives such as leads generation, customer awareness, brand loyalty and as always, increased sales and profits. Dell and Intuit are two of my favorite companies whose marketers are using the web to educate and engage SMB’s with their social applications. As a consequence, both companies are well positioned to benefit from increasing loyalty between SMB’s and their brands.
What are your thoughts? Which large company marketers are earning your loyalty as a SMB? What is preventing you from a quicker adoption of social technologies?