If your company specializes in small business technology, as a generalist, and it’s looking for a better way to find clients, retain clients, and grow, inbound marketing needs to be on your company’s front burner.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's review a few of the basics:
Marketing and selling to small business decision makers is vastly different than marketing and selling to Fortune 1000 decision makers.
Defining “small business” is an imperfect science.
Small business technology projects generally need to have much more rapid projected return on investment (ROI), as compared to Fortune 1000 technology projects.
Small business decision makers that lack an in-house IT leader generally want to outsource IT to a single point of contact, rather than several different best-of-breed vendors.
Small business owners want many of the same IT tools and solutions as their Fortune 1000 counterparts. So how can a small business technology provider generalist adapt Fortune 1000 IT benefits to fit your small business clients’ budgets and environments?
Help Desk -- Capture client requests for assistance. Route requests to appropriate internal resources (your staff) or external resources (IT partners or subcontractors).
Network Admin/Management -- Perform routine maintenance and administration of PCs/Macs, mobile devices, users, mailboxes, Internet access, remote access, and server apps. Remotely administer and proactively monitor server “health.”
Moves/Adds/Changes -- Provide structure for upgrades, shares, moves, user additions, and permissions changes. Establish change control standards that maximize uptime and minimize potential for unauthorized modifications.
Infrastructure -- Establish reliable network backbones. Monitor utilization. Upgrade incrementally as needed.
Procurement and Asset Management -- Manage IT asset procurement. Oversee software license compliance. Develop, track, and enforce hardware, software, OS, and peripherals standards.
Project Management -- Analyze needs and keep tabs on dozens of interrelated tasks across phases, milestones, and projects. Coordinate IT activities of your staff, your clients’ staff, your subcontractors, and your IT partners.
Client-Server and Web-Based Development -- Build rich apps that allow your clients to get strong ROI from their networks. Customize existing apps to better suit clients’ unique needs.
Integration and Interoperability -- Create, test, and deploy disk images to ensure consistent and rapid builds. Integrate appropriate software into clients’ systems.
Security -- Create flexible, easy-to-maintain plans that encompass local/network security, backup, disaster recovery, virus/malware protection, and power protection. Get clients thinking proactively about protecting their IT assets.
Training -- Ensure clients achieve maximum IT ROI through targeted end-user and administrator training. Develop dynamic training that meets clients’ unique end-user needs.
There are a number of motivations and pain points that small business technology generalists solve -- and these will vary depending on your target client size, geographic location, and industry. However there are some pretty universal hot buttons.
With a small business owner or CEO type of decision maker, hot buttons typically include:
The value of proactive IT investments
More automation/lower labor costs
When marketing or selling to a middle manager or internal guru type of small business decision maker, hot buttons include:
Ease of use and administration
How changes make jobs easier
The amount of training required to become proficient
So now that you have an idea of how marketing and selling to small business technology decision makers differs from marketing and selling to Fortune 1000 decision makers, and some of the top requested services and motivations, the natural question for most is how to find small business clients, retain clients, and grow the business.
10 years ago, your marketing plan may have looked something like this:
Join the local chamber of commerce
Advertise in the phone book
Advertise in the business section of the local newspaper
Mail some postcards
Exhibit at a local trade show
Enjoy some word of mouth dividends when everyone else is already working
The problem with that approach however is that it’s fundamentally broken.
During the past few years, mobile computing and social media has permeated nearly every facet of our personal and professional lives. Your small business decision makers are no different. They’ve become fed up with “old school”, interruption-based marketing. They’ve revolted against intermediaries in dozens of industries: travel, real estate, print media, broadcast media, and yes even IT services!
During the early states and even the middle stages of the sales process, small business decision makers are no longer beholden to salespeople at IT service providers for basic information.
Why interact with a gatekeeper when the mobile device in one’s pocket can give instant access to:
Search resources -- example pain point question: “how to make my small business network more secure”
Social network resources -- example pain point question: “What have you done at your company to make your small business network more secure?”
During the past few years, the way potential clients search for small business technology vendors has drastically changed. When was the last time you answered your phone without glancing at caller ID, looked for a vendor in the phone book, watched a TV commercial during something you DVR’d, clicked on an untargeted banner ad, or even opened a piece of unsolicited mail (postal or e-mail)?
Did you know that 57% of the typical B2B sales cycle is over before a potential client contacts you? (Source: CEB on “Why Solution Selling No Longer Works”)
So, if your company isn’t in that consideration set, your company is either:
(a) not considered at all, or
(b) only contacted at the last minute for a time-wasting “bid” -- because your company is merely seen as an easily interchangeable commodity broker
The message is simple: Your company needs a strong, authoritative, presence in that 57% of the typical B2B sales cycle is overbefore a potential client contacts anyone. And inbound marketing is the best way for a small business technology firm to be found and engage.
Your firm has to reach leads much earlier on in the sales process. An effective, accountable, data-driven inbound marketing system can help your firm:
Attract the right visitors to its website
Convert visitors to leads
Close sales with new clients
Delight clients for long-term retention
Learn more about how your small business technology firm can use proven inbound marketing services to find clients, retain clients, and grow.