As a primarily small business copywriting service, our team has learned the ins and outs of writing for the “little guy,” which we love doing. Taking a small company to the next level through powerful content marketing and sales copy is a lot of fun for us and for our clients. The fact that everyone begins making more money also makes it fun!
However, pitching to big business is a totally different game than pitching to small businesses. (This isn’t just true for a group of content writers, of course.) When we pitch ourselves as a small business copywriting firm, we focus on value, price, and the fact that we “get” small business. But, when it comes to big business, price is no longer an issue, and we have to start sounding like big business in order to work with them. Let’s take a closer look at some of the issues at hand…
Solidifying Your Identity: Big or Small?
First thing’s first. When you start chasing after your first big business clients, you have to decide how to present yourself. When a small B2B company approaches another small B2B company, everyone’s on the same page. However, when going after larger, public companies, you have to decide if (a) you want to sound like you’re one of them, or (b) you’re going to acknowledge your size and capabilities.
There’s a great article at Inc. from an entrepreneur named Steve Cody who tells his story about taking his small two-man PR agency to the big leagues. In the article, Cody talks about how he evaluated the marketing techniques of the major PR firms. He found that the big firms loved talking about their size, and the small firms emphasized personalized attention and price tags. Obviously, Cody’s firm had nothing to offer in terms of size. And focusing on price tags just wasn’t going to get results when pitching to big clients.
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Steve Cody decided to focus on two things that neither big nor small firms were really talking about. He emphasized that he could:
· Differentiate his clients from the competition
· Differentiate his own firm from his competitors
He operated with the slogan, “What separates Peppercorn from our competition is helping set clients apart from theirs.” Pretty soon, Cody was getting calls from G.E., Duke University, and Aon Insurance. He had made it. The lesson here is that you don’t have to act like you’re a big business to land big business clients. You aren’t going to fool anyone. At the same time, don’t feel like you have to keep harping on those same old “selling points” your competition is using. We’ve all heard that small companies give more personalized attention. Talk what sets you apart!
More Small Business Fish in the Sea
Now, it’s worth pointing out that there are many more small businesses out there than large businesses. The 2008 U.S. census (most recent data available) reports over 22.6 million non-farm proprietorships (essentially, small businesses). It’s likely that we could continue to offer our small business copywriting services forever and anon because new companies and ventures are popping up all the time, and their numbers are huge!
But, in order to really grow we (and, most likely you, too) want to start targeting big businesses. The problem is… there just aren’t nearly as many big businesses in the world as there are small businesses. So, in order to secure these contracts, we’ve really got our work cut out for us. Here’s what we focus on (which will probably translate for your business as well) …
Small Business Copywriting Offers Something Unique
We like to play up the fact that small business copywriting offers something unique. We probe big business’s paint points and dig deeper to find out what they need and what they’re not getting from their current content writers or marketing service. Jun Loayza, co-founder of RewardMe, has some ideas on asking probing questions about pain points that can help you get a foot in the door (Point #1 in this post from Forbes).
Focusing on conversion problems from the perspective of a small business that understands big business is key. In the same article, Loayza reminds readers that you have to acknowledge the fact that your competition for the bid is going to be more qualified (on paper) than you. Beating out your competition will require you to go above and beyond your ordinary services.
He also recommends that you insist on emphasizing the long-term nature of your work, and attach a serious deadline for when you need to hear a response to your pitch. Don’t let a big corporation leave you hanging, advises Loyaza. By creating a firm deadline, you make yourself look more serious to big business.
The Delicate Balance of Pricing
The million-dollar question here (no pun intended) is how to handle your pricing. As your company goes through its transitional state (from targeting small business to targeting big business), there’s going to be some awkward moments. On the one hand, you don’t want your high prices to scare off small business clients that you’d be happy to serve. But, you have to keep prices high just to be taken seriously by big business!
What to do, what to do? Content Equals Money approaches the pricing issue by advertising our highest prices. Depending on industry and project specifics, we do give lower prices. We try to make this clear on our pricing page so that we can still attract big business without completely losing small businesses that don’t have the big budgets!
This Works for Your Business!
I’ve been discussing Content Equals Money through most of this post. However, the strategies and questions our company is working through now can also be applied to your small business as you set your sights higher. Let us know if our content writers can help you prepare your business for pitching to the big leagues! And, hey, speaking of the big leagues, here’s a little CEM encouragement for you! Now get going!
How are you preparing your company to target big business clients?