This is the article I wrote about September Triangle AMA speaker.

Marketing to small business has several unique approaches and strategies for today’s marketing professionals. Our September 2008 luncheon speaker, Donald Mazzella, COO of Information Strategies, Inc., has advised major corporations and start-ups on ways of increasing their close rates in the small business market. For more than 10 years, Information Strategies, Inc. has been an information and advisory source for small business leaders. The company also works with major business publications as the online value-added advertising supplement to the small business market. It utilizes a proprietary marketing channel, offering a series of newsletters that share advice on improving profits through more efficient use of resources to reach millions of small business leaders.

Mazzella began his presentation with some basic principles about the audience and what he termed Small Business Leaders or SBL. SBL are small business owners. SBL are more likely to say “my company” instead of “the company,” as they have a deeper and stronger personal, financial and emotional investment in their brand. Keeping this in mind here are the Myths and strategies to adopt if SBL are key to your marketing success:

  • Myth 1: SBL are risk takers.
    Many SBL come into small business via inheritance, losing their job or other method. Therefore don’t assume you are marketing to high risk audience.
  • Myth 2: If you are a big technology leader small business with buy your product.
    This is not always the case as SBL may wait to see what sticks in the market. A good example is Microsoft Vista and its lack of acceptance in the small business market.
  • Myth 3: Small business makes buying decisions during the day.
    Most decisions are made at night when SBL have time to spend reviewing notes, documentations, marketing collateral, advertising and web research.
  • Myth 4: You should buy our product because of a big brand.
    Brand arrogance works against selling to SBL.
  • Myth 5: What’s good for General Motors is good for business.
    This famous misquote of former GM president Charles Wilson does not work for SBL. Downsizing and stripping quality or features from product is not desirable for SBL. The strategy should be to design your product or service specifically for the needs of small business.
  • Myth 6: SBL will spend money when they see something to help them do their work.
    SBL actually wan to see return on investment (ROI) with minimal operational impact more than another tool or application that may be more trouble than it’s worth.
  • Myth 7: The bigger the brand endorser the more potent the message.
    Big name pitch men are not the key to SBL as most SBL view their peers as the best endorsers of products.
  • Myth 8: Successful small business marketing has a national landscape.
    SBL are just down the street from where you work and live, they are local and subscribe to the same local media as you.
  • Myth 9: SBL will adapt their company to a product or service.
    Change is not a work that SBL want to hear, but something that is “good enough” works well.
  • Myth 10: National business publications are key to selling to SBL.
    Trade publications tend to work better along with local outlets. Public relations continue to be a good investment in promoting brand as well as opinion leaders in the talk radio markets.
  • Myth 11: Pricing is not as important as other factors in buying decision.
    Price is a deciding factor as SBL want finite costs and no surprises.
  • Myth 12: Credit cards do not fuel small business growth.
    The use of credit cards improves sales even if not used and proprietary cards can be a major source of funding.
  • Myth 13: Wal Mart does not affecting buying decision.
    SBL do comparison shopping with typically the employees doing it during the day and the owners at night.
  • Myth 14: SBL can be sold over the phone and via email and direct mail.
    Nothing substitutes for a personal visit. Know your customers and make sure the local UPS and FedEx delivery drivers know your product as they are the personal interaction consumers have with products being delivered.
  • Myth 15: A call center can sell product as well as a sales person.
    Personal, consistent contact is still a key sell tactic.
  • Myth 16: One size fits all response kit can be effective.
    Response kit is critical element in sales process. Promptness is key indicator so SBL as it lets them know you care about their business.

Mazzella concluded his presentation with some other strategies. The first was that marketing strategies need to avoid the Janus Principle and focus their organization on selling to small business. He followed up with the fact that typically it takes seven impressions or touches by a SBL to get noticed.

Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald started Square Jaw Media to document strategies and techniques he had used over his experience working in marketing and communications since 1990. During this time Brian wrote about many of the exciting Raleigh social media events where great knowledge was being shared and tries to share some of the tips and tricks. . Read Brian's full bio.