The Relationship Security Blanket

I once spoke to a management consultant who runs her own firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions. Despite having administrative staff who handle the business's day-to-day financing, she makes a point of going into the bank personally once every month or so. Every time she goes, she brings her account manager that day's edition of the local newspaper. Why do you do that I asked. Well, she replied, you wouldn't believe how many times it's gotten me out of NSF (nonsufficient funds) checks No...

Small Business Owner

Calling someone a small business owner in your marketing communications is a big mistake. Consider this the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) did a poll asking small business owners what they would do with a sudden profit of one million dollars. Forty-four percent replied pay down debt. Twenty-two percent said expand facilities, and another 13.2 percent said expand staff. Only 20.3 percent said they would increase their own salaries bonuses.1 Ask some average consumers...

The Anonymity Syndrome

We called the second barrier stopping small business owners from dealing with suppliers online the anonymity syndrome. Price-sensitive small business owners are used to being able to negotiate a deal on almost anything and most will tell you that they are quite proud of this skill. However, when it comes to buying online, the anonymity of the Internet and lack of flexibility to bargain for a lower price or a quicker turnaround time are features they find frustrating. The entrepreneurs we...

Why it works

This campaign illustrates that you do not have to be flashy or advertise during the Super Bowl to get results. The incredible response rate to such a low-cost initiative is testament to the effectiveness of the strategy. While a no-cost call to action (i.e. respondents do not have to make a purchase) typically generates higher responses, this campaign is still in a class of its own. This campaign also illustrates that small businesses will provide information if they see a reason. Crucial to...

All in the Family

Another segment of the small business market is family businesses. This segment, although less often used by marketers, is an attractive slice of the market. One reason for its appeal is that family-owned businesses tend to be larger than other businesses. After conducting their American Family Business Survey in 1997, Arthur Andersen and MassMutual observed that many family businesses are big businesses. Indeed, the median annual revenue of respondents was 9 million, a figure suggestive of...

Levels of Product or Service Customization

The more a product is modified to enhance its relevance to small business, the higher the product's customization level. Typically, there are four levels of product or service customization. They are listed below from lowest to highest level of customization 1. No customization No changes are made to the existing product or service offering. 2. Value-added service A partner adds a service from another company to add value to the overall offering. 3. Right-sized offering A right-sized offering...

Contact method

AllBusiness used targeted print publications such as Inc., Business 2.0, and Entrepreneur as the sole national media vehicle. Local markets were targeted based on their composition of small business and online penetration broadcast was used primarily in New York, San Francisco and LA, where the company's marketers estimated they could reach 25 percent of their entire audience. Media used in local markets included TV spots, local business journals, and targeted magazines. Television was the lead...

Why Small Business Chat Rooms Dont Work

I cannot count the number of times I have been in a meeting with a Fortune 500 marketing team and they suggest building a community of small business owners at their web site to create a loyal customer base. The theory usually goes something like this We'll build a community small business owners will come to our site to solve problems and get answers from their fellow entrepreneurs. We'll benefit from being the host of this little party in terms of stickier, more loyal clients....

Dr Kirton Explains

As managers, Mountain Climbers demand a lot. They expect a lot of themselves and, in turn, a lot of their employees. They need very little structure in their lives and, as a result, employees often see them as chaotic and disorganized. One possible explanation can be found in the work of Dr. Michael Kirton. Back in the 1970s, Dr. Kirton set out to understand why some teams of business people are effective while other teams seem dysfunctional. Kirton's research pointed to a difference in the way...

Mountain Climbers Are Not Inventors

One of the popular myths about entrepreneurship is that successful business owners are inventors. Many envision entrepreneurs toiling away in relative obscurity, working through the night in hopes of building a better mousetrap. Typically, Mountain Climbers are not inventors with brand-new products rather, they enjoy rapid growth by tweaking existing business models. Most Mountain Climbers we have interviewed acknowledge that they are improving on an already existing product or service. Most...

Assessing Value

So before you commission the qualitative research, you must first categorize your small business customers and prospects into groups defined by something that is actionable i.e., criteria against which one can take action then do the focus groups. This is an important distinction because as soon as you understand your segments, you will need to communicate with your customer base or a third-party prospect base for the purposes of marketing. The only way to do that is through the use of segments...

The See Touch and Feel Factor

We named the fourth barrier to online purchasing the see, touch, and feel factor, which in particular pertains to high-priced items such as office furniture, computers, and wireless systems. When it comes to big purchases, entrepreneurs often use the Internet as a research tool and then test products in the store. Their need to see whether that new chair will suit a trick back or whether that funky new cell phone model will fit comfortably into an overcoat pocket goes beyond the obvious large...

Mountain Climbers Freedom Fighters and Craftspeople

Your first step in segmenting the small business market is to look at your customer base behaviorally and divide your customers up into buckets based on how profitable they are to you. Then you need to find the distinguishing characteristics of each bucket, the traits that make each bucket unique. That trait often comes down to what they buy from you, but you may also find that your most profitable buckets have other similarities, including demographics like age, gender, and ethnicity, or...