The 5 Myths of Selling to Small Business

Instead of telling you HOW to do research, today, I’m going to give you the results from some research.

Ivy Worldwide conducted a survey of small- and medium-sized business owners/operators this year through a network of independent bloggers to determine what factors influence their purchasing decisions.

The survey has identified five misconceptions that most marketers have when selling their product or services to SMBs.  The goal is to help marketers make their messages more effective so they can tap the viable market that is SMB.

Myth 1: Communication on the C-Level is effective.

Though positioning, sales relationships and ROI is important, most SMBs still give more importance on reviews from trusted sources, quality promises and enhanced features.

Based on the survey, businesses said a detailed review from a trusted source that illustrated the pros and cons of the product/service is they highest factor they consider before getting on board.

Marketers should, therefore, make use of the correct channels that SMBs find to be a reliable source of information.  Reliable sources can be third party organizations, news source or key opinion leaders in the industry.

Myth 2: It’s always good to go green.

The truth is environmentally friendly messages is not really that important for SMBs.  In fact, they ranked being green second to the last among factors that will affect their purchase of a product/service.

Unless your product has specific and discrete environmental benefits, don’t jump on this trend green trend.  Since being green is not top-of-mind for SMB purchasers, there is really no point to put too much effort in the trend.

Myth 3: Tried and tested marketing efforts should be employed.

The survey showed that advertising and other traditional media sources ranked far below web forums and independent bloggers as key sources of product and service information.

The trick here is to ensure that you’re engaging your audiences via the communications channels that they actually use.   New marketing can be coursed through niche blogs or social networking sites.  Not only are they popular these generation, but they are also more cost-effective the traditional advertising.

Myth 4: All sales should be treated the same.

For smaller purchase amounts, less effort is required from the seller as they are generally made on a need basis and are rather immediate.  Large purchases, on the other hand, require more research (i.e. comparing prices, test -driving the product, reading reviews and asking for recommendations)

Also, for small purchases, SMBs prefer that products that they can be picked up from a nearby location to allow person-to-person support on the product.

The key is that marketers know how your customers are buying and which channels they prefer.

Myth 5: Transactions are done after payments are received.

For SMB purchasers, service and support terms are more important than payment terms. In fact, service and support are key to the final decision and should be marketed as assertively as product benefits themselves.

SMBs would like to be assured that they can rely on someone in case there is product/service defect.  Be a smart marketer and don’t miss the opportunity to tout service and support terms to your customers.

The Real Deal

It’s always easy to get complacent and put undue confidence in trends, buzzwords and mass-marketing techniques.  Marketers should fight complacency and instead strive for a true understanding of what compels SMB owner/operators to purchase their product.

How to Use Market Research for SEO Strategy

<img title=”iStock_000004926002XSmall” src=”http://questionpro.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/istock_000004926002xsmall.jpg?w=300″ alt=”” width=”300″ height=”199″ />I ran across this question today — “Is market research important to SEO strategy?”
I’m familiar with the idea of doing RESEARCH – keyword research, industry research, even customer research, in order to come up with SEO insights.  But I really didn’t feel like I understood the role of market research within SEO strategy.
As it turns out a series of Focus.com experts had this one covered. Here are some of their responses:
<strong><a href=”http://www.focus.com/profiles/stan-sweeney-1/public/”>Stan Sweeney</a>:</strong> Qualitative researchers gathers the emotional behavior of a brand. Qualitative is more leading than large research samples. But, it takes a brand pro to listen to emotional responses.
<strong><a href=”http://www.focus.com/profiles/larry-macdonald/public/&#8221; target=”_blank”>Larry MacDonald:</a> </strong>Market research is critical in SEO. Given that Google wants to present the most appropriate site in response to a search query, how can you optimize a site if you don’t know what people value find useful? Once you have gathered primary research, you can make content changes to reflect the preferences you have discovered
Marce Colucci: Market research as it pertains to SEO, is the step you must take BEFORE you establish your website and start doing SEO. It will determine what services/products you offer and how you will promote those services/products to the market. SEO is a methodical way of then getting those products and services known by your target market. SEO is very much about choosing the right keywords that your market will be searching for, and hence get your site in front of them more often than your competitors’ sites. The research required for a successul SEO strategy, involves researching what words and phrases most link your products and services to the searches that your target market will be conducting using Google, Yahoo and all the other search engines.
Any SEO experts out there?  What role does market research play in putting together a killer SEO strategy?

Conversations on the Future of Ad Agencies

As technology has taken a bite out of the creative work that ad agencies did for so many years, there has been a lot of discussion as to whether agencies are headed for extinction or what the new role of the ad agency is.

Recently, I was interviewed for an article in Advertising Age — where I talked about the DIY Marketing trend and how it has taken a slice of the traditional ad agency pie.  I later had to come back and add the REST of my comment that didn’t make it into the article — that agencies have tremendous opportunities in this new world of marketing.  You’ll want to check out the comments just to see how emotional some of the responses are.

Now, check out this article over at Research Access where our resident expert, Steven Salta from Ascentium Corporation, The Experience Agency™, gives us his thoughts on the future of advertising and agencies.

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You’ve Had the Ask. Now Here’s the Listen!

A Google search on your company or brand is elementary in this digital era and finding a mention on a blog or a re-tweet on Twitter is still pretty simple. Point is: finding and counting brand mentions are easy – the next step is something researchers have not quite harnessed yet, until now.

Social Voice, recently devised by the social media market research experts at Peanut Labs and Conversation Strategies, represents the next generation of market research. A product designed for researchers by researchers, Social Voice allows researchers to scientifically measure opinions registered in social media.

While there are many programs available to monitor customer sentiment, Social Voice provides the necessary variables to transform unstructured social media conversations into data that mirrors traditional survey research data. Grounded on scientific fundamentals, Social Voice empowers researchers to:

  • Now easily access social media data…
    • Gather millions of records from thousands of website sources.
    • Take advantage of Social Voice data quality processes that identify only quality data.
    • Obtain continuous sentiment scoring for every record.
    • Utilize over 1200 predefined constructs as well as custom constructs tailored to meet each client’s needs.
    • Apply unique processes…
      • Choose the quantity and diversity of data that meets specific needs.
      • Use the same statistical programs applied to survey data.
      • Apply similar modeling to all data sources.
      • Produce data tables that match desired outputs.
      • Standardize box scores to exact specifications.

A call to all researchers out there, Social Voice speaks the same language as traditional market research. What is the difference, you ask? It uses social media conversations as its source of information – going beyond social media monitoring, researchers can now conduct fundamentally sound “social media market research” by both asking and listening.

About the Author: Sean Case leads the market research division of Peanut Labs, Inc. This includes managing the company’s client services, sales and marketing team. He has over 15 years of experience in sales, management and operational development both inside and outside the market research industry and brings over six years of experience within online market research.