This is part 3 of a series on the challenge of targeting SMB markets and how the use of buyer-based modeling and buyer-based marketing help organizations to grow their SMB customer base.
In the previous article in this series, How To Get To Know The New SMB Buyer, I touched upon the means to get to know the SMB buyer. Marketing to the SMB segment and buyers should first start with visiting the segmentation issue a little deeper. There have been many means tried for SMB segmentation whether it is by size, type, vertical, products, solutions, and etc. To some degree, they have helped to manage the challenge of bringing a tighter focus to the SMB segment and its’ sub-market segments. Analytics of your SMB customer database is like fighting numbers with numbers – you can contain the data but without behavioral insight – you will not be able to get inside them. The call to action now is for organizations to bring more science and evolution to the challenge. Why? Because buyers in general have changed so rapidly in the last three years alone that gaining a competitive edge has become much more complex.
Going beyond conventional methods of segmenting the SMB customer base means getting more descriptive about how SMB buyers behave and how goals drive their behaviors. This includes getting a good sense about their Buyergraphics – their attitudes, perceptions, values, information needs, and more. The attempt here is to answer some tough questions that help to bring more focus to an SMB strategy:
Who are our best customers in the SMB segments and why?
In what SMB sub-market segments are our best customers?
Who are our best prospects and in which SMB sub-market segment are they?
What are the best means of engaging our best SMB customers and best SMB prospects?
Descriptive buyer modeling helps you to get answers to these questions and gives you insight into the data as well. In the previous article I stressed the importance of buyer modeling to help get to know your SMB buyers. Modeling buyers and portraying them via buyer personas and scenarios helps you get to the first two questions mentioned. To help round out the SMB buyer picture, learning their attitudes towards your product, service, or technology and how these attitudes drive information needs help to get deeply descriptive. There are three specific buyer modeling efforts that can help shed light on the attitudes and goals driving SMB buyer behavior and help inform buyer-based marketing strategies:
Buyer Mental Models: collecting a picture of SMB buyer attitudes, perceptions, and goals that influence buying decisions can be a descriptive means for segmenting as well as buyer-based communicating. For example if your product technology is getting high marks for user-friendliness and there is strong attitudinal resistance to perceived complex technology in 3 out 5 identified sub-markets, then creating buyer-based marketing strategies around this mental model is one way of segmenting.
Buyer Content Models: identifying the information needs and goals of buyers today extends well beyond just the concept of content marketing. With the rise of SMB sub-market segments engaging not only in new technologies but forming new ecosystem, the information needs of SMB buyers are vastly different and changing rapidly. Carrying the above example further, the information needs of the 3 sub-markets may vary differently in context and how information is shared amongst both suppliers and partners. More and more, organizations will need to think context-based marketing and context-based selling as opposed to just content-based marketing. While this will apply to all types of businesses, I believe this will be especially true for the SMB markets.
Buyer Experience Models: how SMB buyers view, perceive, and expect experience is undergoing transformative gyrations. The way SMB buyers experience inbound marketing and other newer technology-based marketing and sales is certain to be different than larger enterprises. There are many more what I call Buyer Moment of Truth in SMB that are frankly invisible to marketers and sellers today. Not identifying where these moments of truth are can be a significant disadvantage in laying out both inbound and outbound marketing and sales strategies. Understanding experiences is important since they are instrumental in shaping attitudes, perceptions, and perceived values. For the examples mentioned, previous experiences with technology not yet cleared of bugs may have created entrenched resistance to both new and complex. Reshaping thinking around experience can then become an important strategy.
Modeling SMB buyers to a deeper level and around the three modeling efforts mentioned gets organizations closer to a true buyer-based marketing effort. In addition, it gives more robust ability to segment SMB by behavior and context. Buyer-based marketing can be most effective when it addresses how buyers behave and understanding the context of why they make purchase decisions.
Informed with behavioral buyergraphics that hone in on buyer behaviors and how they are influenced by mental models, information needs, and experience can be a powerful way to resonate with SMB buyers. Getting at the heart of their contextual environments, which will vary by sub-market segments, gives the insight needed to develop specific buyer-based marketing strategies that defies one-size fits all. When it comes to the dilemma of how to make sense of thousands of SMB customers and prospects, taking these steps eliminates wasteful guessing and pinpoints buyer-based marketing at the right buyer, the right sub-market, the right context, and the right time.