In a perfect world, all of your customers would be huge, mega accounts. We can dream, right? But the truth is, while enterprise-level accounts can bring in big revenues, these accounts can be complicated to navigate, are frequently targeted by strong competition, and have long (often exhaustive) sales cycles.

Many B2B marketers have realized the value of targeting small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The sheer volume of this target makes it worth your effort: a recent research report reveals there were more than 30 million small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) in the U.S., in 2019, making up 99% of all businesses. There are many benefits to targeting these SMBs: for one, their smaller size usually means less red tape with a shorter sales cycle, so you can potentially close more sales, faster.

SMBs represent a valuable customer base for many businesses to reach their goals and generate reliable revenue for the long haul. But selling to this group has distinct challenges, especially in our current economic landscape. My digital marketing data business, OMI, has built one of the largest SMB databases, with more than 50 million contacts. In 2020 alone, we purged nearly 5 million businesses from our database, largely as a result of the impact of the pandemic.

And while a lot has changed this year, many of the same SMB selling strategies remain the same. From my perspective, here’s what B2B marketers need to know to successfully land SMB customers now and in the coming year.

  • Start with Good SMB Data

Good data can make or break your marketing campaigns and it’s even more critical for targeting SMBs, especially in today’s economic climate. But it’s a challenging task. For one, it’s common for SMBs to change both personnel and email addresses more frequently than larger organizations, and they often rely on public email domains instead of a corporate domain. Additionally, their organizational structures are vastly different than larger companies. It’s not unusual for owners or senior employees to wear many hats – one person may be in charge of IT, accounting and ordering business supplies.

And sadly, SMBs have taken the brunt of the effects of the pandemic, with many having to lay off workers, reduce operations or close completely. For those that have managed to stay open, daily workflows have changed significantly. Not to forget, with many people working from home there are new unique challenges in tracking digital behavior. Nailing down accurate contact information for the right SMB decision-makers and keeping it up to date in a changing market is a full-time job. That’s where quality third-party contact data comes in: the right data can save your team both time and sales costs as you seek out new SMB prospects that meet your ideal customer profile.

To successfully target SMBs in today’s climate, look for a third-party data provider that guarantees their data accuracy and has a database large enough to reach a variety of SMB contacts. It should also be updated with routine data cleansing, as data decays regularly and the rate has increased in this changing market. As a reference example, at OMI our SMB prospect data includes more than 50 million qualified decision-makers and has a 95% email validity guarantee for 30 days.

  • SMBs are Adapting and Have Changing Needs

It’s true, the statistics around small businesses and the effects from the pandemic can be disheartening. According to a recent report, 45% are earning less than half of their regular revenue and 75% have seen a significant or moderate negative impact, according to U.S. Census Bureau survey data. There’s no denying that SMBs are undergoing many changes, from downsizing staff and limiting their hours, to taking on new health and safety procedures. But despite challenges, new small businesses are opening – for example, a recent report showed new restaurant and food-business openings compared favorably to 2019 (“pre-pandemic levels”).

Because there are so many new operating models, there are often new pain points that need solutions and prospects that could benefit from what you offer. With that in mind, if you haven’t already focused on this market, now may be the best time to start targeting SMBs.

  • Leverage New Data Capabilities

Most B2B marketers know that the old “spray and pray” ways of blasting campaigns to anyone and everyone just don’t cut it anymore. Buyers want targeted messaging that speaks to their individual needs, and the same is true for small businesses. Savvy B2B marketers are finding success using intent monitoring to determine which SMB prospects to target and how to appeal to their needs. As businesses are adjusting to new models and methods for daily work, they may search for solutions they haven’t previously needed. Intent monitoring captures and analyzes those online activities to uncover purchase intent signals and identify buyers that may be in-market. The process typically identifies company data only, since it uses IP address monitoring. To drill down to the specific decision-maker, marketers should utilize tactics that combine intent data with accurate SMB contact data. That way your campaigns can reach the right decision-maker and further streamline the sales process on both sides.

  • Focus on the Value-Add

Today, many SMBs are operating on tight margins and prioritize efficiency in the decision-making process. When planning your campaigns or targeted outreach, focus on the direct value your solution offers and be specific when it comes to what customers can expect, as well as how other similar customers have benefited. Demonstrate concrete ways that your solution will enable them to be more efficient, close more sales, save money, create sustainable practices in a changing economy, or other differentiating points that will impact their bottom-line.

These days, many businesses – big and small – are tightening the reins on spending, so it’s critical to zero in on the right targets. New small businesses are still opening, new contacts are being hired, and new business needs are arising. If you can reach and target them with the right strategy, SMBs may be the prospect group you need to generate new, reliable revenue in 2021.