Small Businesses Demand More From Brand Marketers

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Small Businesses Demand More From Brand Marketers

by Nathan Eddy

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Small Businesses Want a Personal Relationship

Two-thirds of small businesses in the United States believe that brands are marketed to them and their businesses effectively today. There are companies out there doing it right—marketing to and connecting with SMBs. But the report warned, "Simply showing up with dollars to spend in the SMB market isn't enough."

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Optimism Shines in 2014

Early 2014 findings show small-business owners are 6 percent more optimistic regarding the future of their businesses than they were in 2013, suggesting that, with the start of the year, SMBs have a renewed sense of optimism and determination. More specifically, 71 percent of small businesses surveyed are optimistic about the future of their firms.

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Keeping Ahead of Competitors Is Key

While keeping doors open is no longer one of the main things keeping U.S. small businesses awake at night (that statistic decreased 8 percent since 2013), the survey found that coming up with new business ideas is. Survey results indicate this could tie back to the struggle SMBs are facing, keeping up with changes in their industry as well as their concern of staying ahead of the competition (second on this list of things that keep small-business owners awake at night).

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Let's Get Some Motivation Going

Rather than saying their favorite marketing campaign aimed at SMBs makes them feel supported or confident, small businesses now identify with and value campaigns that align with their level of motivation, as well as campaigns that speak to the unique qualities of SMBs, making them feel understood. A third of SMBs surveyed said they want brand campaigns that motivate them above all other messages.

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Small Businesses Want to Hear From Their Peers

Not only do SMBs still want to be shown how a product or service will benefit their company (54 percent) and have messaging that speaks to their individual business' needs (36 percent), but the number of smaller businesses that would like brands to show them how others have benefited from the product or service rose 12.7 percent from last year. This indicates testimonials are powerful tools that brands marketers can leverage to influence SMBs.

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SMBs Separate Wheat From Chaff

Staying true to last year's figures, 90 percent of American SMBs consider and compare three or more brands when looking for a new company to do business with. A quarter of small businesses surveyed said they compare as many brands as they can find. That makes it easy for SMBs to weed out brands that do not speak directly to their needs, the report said.

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Smartphones Critical to Small-Business Owners

The study shows that 51 percent of SMBs surveyed state they can't live without their smartphones. Two-thirds of all small-business owners surveyed use them for email daily, while 52 percent use them for texting (surprisingly, almost equal to those actually using phones as regular cell phones—55 percent).

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Bad Customer Services Is a Serious Hang-Up

While the top three reasons small businesses switch brands haven't changed, the margins between them have evened out substantially. In 2013, bad customer service had a commanding 10 percent lead over better product and service support. This year, better product and service support has moved into the second spot and is neck-and-neck with bad customer service. The report noted this might be due to an increased effort by brands to better support both their products as well as their customers.

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Time Is of the Essence for Small Businesses

Survey results indicated fewer SMBs are making their decision to switch brands in one week or less, with most small-business owners taking nearly one month to make their decision. Overall, 72 percent of U.S.-based SMBs plan to make their decision in four weeks or less. Thus, it's important that brands are put up for consideration early on because SMBs are nimble decision-makers, the report said.

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Despite the Web, Traditional Media Is Still Crucial

While the categories of trusted resources for American small businesses remain the same as in 2013, there has been a jump in trade industry Websites (up 8 percent) and business Websites (up 4.7 percent). That not only reinforces the reliance of SMBs on traditional media, but shows that new media seems to be closing the gap, the report said.

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Tablets, Notebooks Kept Safe by Stylish, Secure Cases

This past week, Mobile Edge, a manufacturer of stylish laptop carrying cases and accessories, teamed up with Alienware, a specialist in high-performance PC gaming systems, to create Vindicator laptop bags exclusively designed to protect Alienware laptops with smart organization and matching design. The series includes a backpack, messenger bag, slim carrying case, briefcase and neoprene sleeve, while their styling reflects a fusion of urban and military influences. The collaboration is the latest entry into a market growing more sophisticated with each passing year. Incase, Victorinox and Caseable are among the many designers putting out notebook and tablet cases that offer a heady mix of comfort, protection and cutting-edge style. And if you're looking for something more unique, there is a virtually unending number of choices, from hand-crafted cases from Mexico to limited-edition pop art...