The number of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK is growing. At the start of 2016, small businesses – defined as having 0 to 249 employees – accounted for 99.3% of private sector companies in Britain. From an economic perspective, these companies are contributing hugely to employment, productivity and GDP. There is little doubt that this demographic offers lucrative business opportunities, so if you haven’t started already – it’s time to target your product or service to the SME community.
However, you need to bear in mind that SMEs are a very different beast to their big corporate counterparts. As a fully integrated B2B PR Agency with a lot of experience in the SME community, we know how to market to small businesses. To make doubly sure that we know what we’re talking about, we commissioned a number of surveys and wrote The Ultimate Guide to Marketing to SMEs based on the findings.
If you’re unsure how to market to SMEs, here’s a quick and easy-to-digest summary of our guide’s top tips.
1. Take an integrated approach
An SME audience spreads its time across multiple media channels. You need to make sure that your marketing efforts are as diverse and cover various online and traditional platforms. An integrated, multichannel approach will enable you to reach and engage with your small business targets successfully.
2. Be seen and heard in all the right places
Figuring out how to market to small businesses comes down to determining where your brand should feature to be seen and heard by SMEs. For example, 60% of small businesses attend trade shows to find out about new products. So, sign up and be there too – as an exhibitor, sponsor or as an attendee.
It also pays to be present in SME-favoured publications – 36% of entrepreneurs read industry specific magazines to find out about new products on the market. Don’t forget the power of who you know either. Entrepreneurs are avid networkers and 25% of them use their peers as a source of knowledge and news. Teaming up with the right business network can increase your reach significantly.
Want more insights? Download The Ultimate Guide to Marketing to SMEs now!
3. Rev up your marketing machine
To effectively reach an SME audience you need to cover all your marketing bases, so give your direct marketing tools, social networks and website activity a boost. Our survey results confirmed that old school tactics like direct mail, email messages and calls are all still highly effective ways to reach your small business audience.
In addition to this, most entrepreneurs spend almost an hour a day on their social channels so make sure you’re engaging your SME targets using Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp and YouTube. Your website also has to be in excellent shape, offering user-friendly functionality and quick access to services. Small business buyers often search for products and services online so invest in SEO – it will help generate new business leads that may otherwise elude you.
4. Target national media
Think big and trustworthy. Pursue impressive media titles such as the BBC and the Financial Times. If your brand is endorsed by such well-respected outlets, you’ll boost awareness and increase buyer confidence. A positive association with any first-tier media will increase SME interest in your offer.
Don’t just approach print or online media. A successful broadcast campaign is very important too: 59% of SME decision makers watch TV news, and 37% listen to the radio.
The small business population is very diverse. To deliver an effective marketing strategy you need to segment your targets by industry and shape your messages accordingly. Small businesses don’t have the time or resources to muddle through irrelevant, inauthentic content. Give them the right content at the right time through the right channels and you’re in.
Need a bit more guidance on how to market to small businesses? get in touch with our directors and they’ll straighten you out in no time.