Blog

Start-up to scale-up: how to engage small businesses

Triana Jarman

In our recent blog What micro businesses really want from brands’ we established the needs of the UK’s micro businesses (1-10 employees) and how advertisers could best engage them.

In the second part of our SME blog series, we look at companies that employ 11-50 people. Denoted as the ‘small’ in ‘small and medium-sized businesses’, these companies are at the heart of a varied and complex business landscape in the UK.

Start-up to scale-up

In an article on BusinessZone, Julie Walters, Founder of Raremark, looks at what it means to go from a start-up to a scale-up; a business that reaches its first main phase of significant growth. Generally defined as a business that has grown to employ more than 10 members of staff, it’s a critical ‘make or break’ phase for many entrepreneurs. In fact, Walters quotes that only one in 600,000 businesses actually makes it through to the scale-up stage.

So if it's a case of survival of the fittest and the odds are stacked against any but the most determined entrepreneurs, are these businesses looking for as much support and advice as they can find? Well maybe, but the type of information and the way it's delivered is critical. We’ve looked at the behaviour of small business visitors to our portfolio of websites and uncovered some key trends and patterns.

Here’s a snapshot but you can also download our insight whitepaper for the full story:

  1. They’re on the move. Businesses with 11-50 employees are typically the biggest SME consumers of content on mobiles. Optimising campaigns for mobile consumption is critical but our analysis also revealed further guidance for advertisers planning campaigns.

  2. It’s all about the detail. Small business owners may be on the move but they are also spending more (dwell) time on our sites than their micro and medium-sized counterparts. However, knowing when to deliver the detail in their online journey, and what tools and channels to select, is the key to success. Our whitepaper covers this and more.

  3. Their interests are broadening. As their business grows beyond being a sole trader or one with a very small team, we see a pattern of content consumption that changes too. For example, business owners become more interested in statutory regulations connected to finance and tax, alongside technology, staffing, and marketing issues.

  4. Align your brand. Our analysis reveals the top issues and concerns of the UK’s small business community. By focusing your messaging and content around the issues that most concern small business owners you’ll be in a better position to get the attention of your target audience.

It’s all about who you know

We’ve identified some of the areas of content a small business owner will snap up from an advertiser, whether it be from a thought leadership position, or as a supplier of goods and services.

We’ve discovered that although the needs of a small business owner are not hugely different, on the surface at least, to a micro enterprise, we also know that the key to engaging them successfully lies in the nuances of a campaign; its content and how it's delivered specifically.

Seeking the input and advice of those that have gone before is a way of expanding their skills and knowledge, and this is where advertisers can really engage their target audience. As Julie Walters says;

“I know that the skills I have now won’t be enough for the next stage of the journey: I have to constantly surround myself with people from whom I can learn – who have been there and done that.”

Collectively it is our job to help Julie and her fellow small business owners to find that help quickly, easily and in a way relevant to her needs.

Find out more

Our whitepaper, Why you need to rethink how you engage with small businesses, is available to download and contains more detailed insight into the needs and behaviours of the UK’s small businesses.

You might also like to read the other two blogs in this series: