How to market to high-growth medium-sized businesses

Triana Jarman

In the final article of our three part blog series that looks at how to better engage the UK’s SMEs, we consider the larger end of the scale, those somewhat simply but unclearly termed as ‘medium-sized businesses’.

Defined as a company with 51-250 employees and annual turnover of €50 million or less, it’s fair to say this segment is a broad bunch, consisting of many different types of companies, sectors and verticals. As such, the group’s needs are likely to be as varied as its make-up and at first glance it might seem almost impossible to decide on an effective approach that will garner interest across the board. Fear not, we’ve done some of the hard work for you and have insider information to share!

If you want to read the full insights right now download our insight whitepaper or just read on for a quick summary.

Inspiration hunters and gatherers

In trawling through the data we have at our fingertips, we’ve built a detailed picture of the traits, needs and expectations of the UK’s medium-sized businesses. Our analysts have tracked their activities on our portfolio of small business sites such as BusinessZone and UK Business Forums, but increasingly this group also hunt for their information and inspiration outside of the typical SME titles. They’re active across all our sites, soaking up HR and leadership advice on HRZone, training best practice on TrainingZone and of course getting the latest on strategic and practical marketing, CRM and customer experience over on MyCustomer.

Just flying by

We see a bigger number of ‘fly-by’ users on our sites in this group of SMEs, and by fly-bys, we mean users that visit a handful of times each month. Whilst this may indicate these medium- sized businesses are more challenging to engage, we do also see a greater amount of dwell time on mobile devices compared to micro or small businesses.

Indeed, at a recent BusinessZone round table event, many business leaders reported spending large chunks of their time outside of traditional business hours researching strategy on their mobile devices. So it’s not that they’re not there, it’s more a case of when, how and what information they are more likely to consume.

Meet Gillian – our medium-sized business persona

Gillian is a typical medium-sized business employee working as CEO for an IT company. She spends a lot of time reading long-form articles as she’s looking for in-depth and more detailed content than perhaps some of her micro or smaller SME counterparts are.

Based on her online behaviour we can safely surmise that Gillian’s interests and concerns include data (and especially data security), employee engagement, leadership and management, staff and hiring. Nothing particularly surprising there then.

Now put this into context with the results of a recent survey conducted by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills, where we see that 64% of the UK’s medium-sized businesses are employing more people than they did in the previous year. With 84% of the same sample reporting a profit in 2015 and 62% believing their turnover will continue to increase into 2017, it seems clear there is a positive attitude to business growth in this group.

Our own research reveals that medium-sized SMEs are most interested in a broad depth of information and insight. They are a more demanding bunch and, given the size and needs of their organisations, you could argue the stakes are higher.

Here’s our top tips to remember when creating campaigns designed to engage the UK’s medium-sized SMEs:

  1. Value is in the depth of insight. For this bunch, skimming over the topline insight or best practice advice commonly associated with a particular topic probably won’t keep them coming back for more. Give them insight into something they don’t already know and remember your message needs to be as targeted as possible to different segments.

  2. Show off your compliance credentials. Regardless of business type or sector, we found a strong pattern of medium-sized businesses having concerns over data security, more so than any other size of SME. Reassure them by highlighting your brand or product’s reliability in this area, but don’t just stop there. You also need to be associated with wider discussions and topics around this area to really maximise your impact.

  3. Don’t dismiss mobile. Although we found that medium-sized businesses use mobile devices less than desktops, we pointed out before that they more frequently use their mobiles compared to micro and small businesses. Bear in mind that opportunities to engage via mobile may therefore be richer and more valuable as a result.

  4. Spread the love. Since medium-sized businesses are active across a wider range of B2B websites than their smaller counterparts, don’t limit your campaigns to channels that you would typically expect them to be using. When planning your campaign, remember to consider the subject matter focused sites too; HR and staffing being a critical area to consider for example.

Find out more

Our whitepaper, ‘Why you need to rethink how you engage with medium sized businesses’, is available to download now.

You might also like the other blogs in this series:

What micro-businesses really want from brands
Start-up to scale-up: how to engage small businesses