5 ways B2B marketers are failing to target SMEs

Triana Jarman

We recently published a report to help understand the dynamics of the SME marketplace and glean key insights for consideration when targeting this sector. The study, which looks in detail at the concerns, behaviour and level of engagement of Sift Media’s audience of hundreds of thousands of SMEs, revealed some unique findings.


In particular it identified some of the pitfalls when it comes to targeting this audience and what can be done to avoid them. Here we highlight some of the all-too-common ways in which B2B brands fail to engage this audience.


Taking the one-size fits all approach
SMEs are not a community of single-minded individuals who can be treated the same. Different sizes of SME’s behave differently, have different challenges, different purchasing patterns, and access information differently. The day-to-day life between the owner of a new start-up and a 150 employee organisation will be dramatically dissimilar, yet both are considered an “SME” and will therefore both generally be approached in the same manner by most B2B brands. Attempting to talk to all SMEs in the same way simply won’t work.


Overestimating the breadth of your relevance
If you think your content is relevant to all SMEs, you may want to think again. It might be that your product/service is, in theory, appropriate for businesses of all types and sizes, but your marketing or messaging probably isn’t – or at least you may find a more targeted approach to content will serve you better. As we said, all SME’s have different concerns… the challenge is to align your brand to those concerns. Don’t expect your content to appeal to all SME’s across the spectrum – if that’s your objective then consider creating more targeted content to suit different groups.


Assuming everyone wants to hear all you have to say
It’s not an absurdly unrealistic thing to think that small business owners should be keen to take on board any information which will help them develop their business in some way. The reality is that they are just not desperate to hear everything you have to say. SMEs, as we have already said, are likely to be at different stages of growth and have different interests and needs as a result. As the report reveals, SME’s of different sizes have a varying degree of time availability, but ultimately they are all busy running a business and do not have the luxury of reading all content from all advertisers – or publishers for that matter!


Missing key opportunities
Many SMEs, especially the larger businesses it would appear, are indeed time-poor. With fewer chances to engage this audience it’s even more important to do all you can to take advantage of the opportunities at your disposal. From segmenting your data and using more targeted messaging, to ensuring your campaigns are fully optimised for mobile devices there are many ways of identifying opportunities for improved engagement (fortunately our report highlights some of the most effective things you can do!)


Failing to consider the journey
Some of the more effective B2B campaigns are those which address multiple parts of the SME ‘journey’. By supporting this audience through different stages of business development and growth with a sustained series of campaigns, advertisers are likely to successfully resonate with their readers at different levels. To make things even more complicated, it can depend where on the journey an SME is as to their preferred content format – for instance a small business may want a level of detail which they can digest immediately, while a larger business may want greater detail which they can download and read in the evening when they have time to consider strategy.


These are just 5 key learning points from our report, which gives unique insight for B2B advertisers and offers practical recommendations for optimising campaigns which target SMEs. Download the report in full now!