Brilliant B2B: Big Brands Struggle to Understand SMB Market

By Jan 25, 2014

Two out of three big brands are planning to increase their investment in targeting small- to medium-sized customers over the next one to three years, but most don’t have a clear understanding of the SMB market, according to a new study.

The report, from the CMO Council and Penton, reported that 70% of marketers believe the SMB market is extremely important to their business. But only eight percent of those surveyed felt they had a complete view of the SMB customer. The problem is gaps in customer contact information and connecting with decision makers.

“Organizations must look to new partnerships and intelligence sources to gain a deeper understanding of the vertical market segments of their SMB customers, including life-stage needs and behavioral shifts,” said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, in a statement.

Better integration of customer data is top of mind for 45% of respondents while 36% want to gain a deeper understanding of the SMB marketplace. A third of marketers have worked with IT, sales and channel groups to learn more about their customers in the last six months.

Responses from more than 160 senior marketing executives selling to small businesses are included in the “Business Traction From Smarter SMB Interaction: Advancing Enterprise Excellence in SMB Marketing” study, along with one-on-one interviews with six senior executives from leading brands targeting the SMB sector. Thirty-nine percent of respondents represent organizations reaching more than $1 billion in annual revenue, and 60% allocate up to 40% of overall marketing expenditure on SMB-specific campaigns or programs.

Only five percent of marketers think the SMB market has a positive view of big business, even though one in four brands believe they have established and trusted brand recognition. Nearly half said they have a good relationship with their customers, but only six percent describe themselves as extremely effective at crafting and executing measurable campaigns targeting SMBs.

  • tasia

    Hi Beth,

    This is quite good information that you’ve shared. What are some of the things these big brands should be doing to effectively reach out to and connect with SMB’S?

    • John Hurley

      Committing to customer-centric marketing to SMBs is step one. It’s easy for marketers to hear the call for better segmentation of the SMB market, but to continue mass marketing with generic messaging. Reallocating budget toward technology is essential.

      It comes down to a empowering big data to understand your customer and using that knowledge to find your ideal prospects. Many companies are now working with data providers and internal data warehouse to make sense of the customers. I respect the effort, but doing this in-house for most organizations is completely inefficient. Marketing has become too focused on finding the ‘perfect data sources’, which has introduced more complex processes and takes up too many resources. Attempting to tackle big data with internal resources is not efficient, and developing your data source is ultimately only one component toward improved marketing ROI.

      Even the most comprehensive organizations have tried and failed – it’s true, SMB data is really difficult to deal with!

      That’s why cloud-based SaaS companies exist.

      There are companies that have armies of engineers and data scientists solving the SMB data problem, and have entire product teams to make the data accessible and actionable.

      I’d tell you to check out radius.com, but that’d be a self-promotion ;)