SMB Who's Hot: VistaPrint
is the leading online supplier of business cards and other customized printed products for small businesses. They have over 8 million small business clients and are growing by the day.
Why is VistaPrint
so successful?Low cost entry point
They have the lowest cost entry point for business cards - they are free if you're willing to accept a VistaPrint
logo on the back. Once small businesses are enticed by the free offer they are upsold
on custom designs, higher quality paper, and dual sided printing, among other options. If the client does not have the budget to afford the premium business cards, VistaPrint
gets free advertising on the promotional cards and has earned the loyalty of a future client when the business grows. They are showing that they believe in the entrepreneur's future potential and is willing to help them out.Aggressive online promotionVistaPrint
is actively involved in online promotion. They do a lot of pay per click and online advertising targeted
. They also send out at least an email a week to the small business owners who have opted into their newsletter list. The emails contain updates on new specials and offers that entrepreneurs can take advantage of. VistaPrint
has also launched 7 localized Web sites serving over 120 countries around the world.Partnerships for success
creates successful partnerships with companies who are service the SMB
market. They recently launched a new initiative, the Small Business Success Kit
. It's a free kit that offers access to valuable information and special offers geared to help a small business at any stage. For a new business, the kit offers business identity, training, accounting, tax information and more. Some of their listed partners include:
- America's Small Business Development Center Network (ASBDC), the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States and its territories, with a network of 5,000 small business counselors.
- Constant Contact, the leading permission-based email marketing solution for small businesses, associations, and nonprofits.
- Entrepreneur Media Inc., publisher of Entrepreneur magazine and owner of the popular small business information portal entrepreneur.com.
- Google AdWords, which enables businesses to reach target prospects and acquire new customers in a cost-effective manner, providing businesses with accountable and trackable advertising.
- Homestead.com, provider of easy-to-use Web site creation products, ecommerce solutions and online marketing products and services for small businesses.
- InfoUSA (Nasdaq: IUSA), the leading provider of business and consumer information products, database marketing services, data processing services and sales and marketing solutions.
- Intuit, a leading provider of business and financial management solutions for small and mid-sized businesses and makers of popular products such as QuickBooks, TurboTax and Quicken.
- j2 Global (JCOM), the provider of communications services such as eFax and eVoice Receptionist that enable small businesses to cut costs while building a strong business presence.
- Palo Alto Software, makers of BUSINESS PLAN PRO, the best-selling business planning software in the U.S. retail market, according to NPD Intelect (formerly PC Data).
- Stamps.com (Nasdaq: STMP), a leading provider of Internet-based postage solutions.
is ahead of most companies who are trying to target the small business community and is a model company to watch. They come in at the right price point, promote through the entrepreneur's favourite channel, the Internet, and have partnered successfully with the right industry players.
Labels: low cost entry point, online promotion, partnerships for success, selling to small business, small business clients, VistaPrint, Who's Hot
SMB Who's Hot: Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo's small business Web site
has been ranked #1 by Change Sciences Group, a national research firm, for the best online customer experience for small business customers among the top 40 national and regional banks.
Wells Fargo, which serves more than 830,000 active online small business customers, was one of the first banks to launch a dedicated small business Web site and continues to enhance the informational content and online banking tools for this important customer segment, including:
- Small business webcast series of interactive, online sessions to help small business owners meet their business growth and management goals. Approximately 45 minutes long, each webcast features a panel of experts, including economists and advisors, sharing relevant, practical advice.
It's a long way from perfect but definitely a step up from the standard template driven SMB
websites that most Fortune 500 companies have. Wells Fargo is taking a step in the right direction as a leader and is beginning to establish itseelf as a trusted small business advisor
instead of a commodity service vendor.
Labels: Change Sciences, selling to small business, small business web site, trusted advisor, webcast series, Wells Fargo
Small Business Confidence Steady
CNN.com reported yesterday that business owners' confidence in the economy remains in line with January, but higher gas prices are a big concern.
According to a recent Morgan Stanley survey /Discover Small Business confidence measure, small business owners' confidence in the economy stayed steady in February as optimism about their own business fortunes was offset by an increase in concern about cash flow.
The good news:
Optimism was reflected on the hiring front: 17 percent of owners plan to hire more workers in February, up from 14 percent last month; 39 percent also plan to spend more on business development, which is up from 35 percent in January.The bad news:
However, concerns about cash flow also rose. Forty percent of business owners who sell products reported a significant jump in cash flow concerns, up from 24 percent in the previous month, the survey said.
Thirty-nine percent of respondents said that changes in gasoline prices affect profitability, while 48 percent said the effects are minor and 13 percent said they were of no consequence.
When asked to name their largest energy expense, 36 percent of small business owners cited gasoline, but an unexpected 42 percent said they have no significant energy expenses. Of the remaining respondents, 13 percent named electricity, followed by fuel oil, 6 percent, and natural gas, 3 percent.
The survey reached out to 1,000 small business owners to gauge their opinions.
Labels: CNN.com, Discover Small Business, hire more workers, Morgan Stanley, selling to small business, small business confidence, spend on business development. cash flow
Hire Sales Reps With a SMB Mentality
Small business owners like to buy from companies that they have a personal connection with and your sales team can often be the only people your SMB
prospects meet with before making a purchasing decision.
The difference between getting a sale or not is often how well that salesperson can relate to the entrepreneur. Companies looking to sell to small businesses should therefore hire salespeople who have had direct or indirect entrepreneurial experiences in their careers so they can better connect with their SMB
explains this concept in an interview
with Anita Campbell:
[Y]ou should always give your small business accounts - whether they're prospects or customers - to individuals that have had at least a close encounter of the second kind, if not the first. For example, Lowes and Home Depot always hire individuals in their stores that have been contractors, so that when a contractor comes in, they're speaking to somebody that can identify with what it means to be a small business. So, if you can't hire ex-small business owners yourself, or retired ones, look around and see if you can at least hire their kids. Or hire folks that have already worked in a small business.
Labels: Andy Birol, Anita Campbell, interview, relate to the entrepreneur, sales reps, selling to small business, small business accounts, SMB mentality
Selling to Small Business - The Long and Winding Road
Guest Contributor: Albert LukAlbert's Posts
- Albert's Site
My name is Albert L
uk; I am known as the Entrepreneur-Friendly L
awyer. I have the privilege of being a guest blogger on Selling To Small Business. I was once a big-firm lawyer and now I am a Toronto
business lawyer representing the SME market. I hope that my perspective representing both sides of the fence (as well as the fact that I, too, sell to SME's) will be helpful.
Selling to small business starts with the proposition that you want to sell to this market. This may sound self-evident in a blog about selling to small business but let us consider this concept for a second.
Just because there are millions of small businesses, does that necessarily mean that every B2B should target this sector? The answer may not always be a "yes." For example, I understand that Research in Motion found initial success selling to institutional clients before moving downstream to the SME and now the consumer market. Conversely, based upon anecdotal evidence, SME's were the first segment to adopt Skype for commercial purposes.
Why did the SME market adopt one immediately and not the other? It cannot be industry driven since, coming from a Luddite such as myself, they are both in the "technology" segment. I have no definite statistics to back this up but I suspect Research in Motion did not target SME's initially because the sales cycle is long and start-up technology driven businesses need to make money yesterday for their investors.
Skype, on the other hand, was adopted quickly because it was free, it could be discarded quickly and it solved many of the SME's daily challenges (save me time, make it easy to use and make it affordable).
The point being is that if you are Research in Motion and you need to make money quickly to pay for lots of R & D costs, your strategy is not to target the SME market until you are firmly planted on your feet financially.
At the end of the day, selling to small business can be challenging and requires a significant amount of patience. The industries are diverse, the players are fluid and there are geographic boundaries to consider (most institutions cluster in downtown cores or suburban campuses, SME's are more scattered). Think carefully whether you want to target small businesses. There may be a lot of SME's but not every business at every stage of its life should be selling to small business.
Having said that, selling to small businesses can be a rewarding and exciting experience. However, it is not for everyone. If you are committed, patient and persistent, you will do well. Know thy business and plan accordingly.
Labels: Albert Luk, Entrepreneur-Friendly Lawyer, selling to small business, sme market, Toronto business lawyer
IKEA Targeting Small Businesses
IKEA has traditionally targeted homeowners but as the housing market weakens the company is going after a new group of buyers to fuel future growth: Small business owners.
In the past 12 months, IKEA has started creating interior designs and products for entrepreneurs such as book store and salon layouts across the 29 locations they have in the United States. In April the company is also expected to launch a new website, ikeabusiness.com, where small business owners can discover new ideas for designing their offices and share them with other entrepreneurs.
According to Pernille Lopez, president of Ikea North America, "This is one of our biggest growth potentials." She expects business owners to eventually account for 10-15% of the company's sales. With 70% of IKEA shoppers being women, the company is also betting that women entrepreneurs will take kindly to bringing IKEA into their offices.
It will be an interesting development to watch. Many small business owners are price conscious and would welcome IKEA's products as an economic alternative to other suppliers. In addition, despite not having a strong existing selection of business furniture and accessories, entrepreneurs are already going to the stores to buy chairs, tables, storage solutions, and other products. An expanded selection is a logical extension of their existing lines.
What's even more interesting is if IKEA can develop their online community and get the small business owners to share their design ideas with each other online. Not known for having the most comprehensive, Web 2.0 website, it will be a exciting to see how the company takes on this challenge. Done right, it could be a powerful tool for IKEA and help them become the default name for many SMBs when they're thinking about improving the design of their offices.
Labels: book store, growth potentials, IKEA, ikeabusiness.com, price conscious, salon layouts, selling to small business, Web 2.0, women entrepreneurs
Content Based Marketing Trend
Anita Campbell writes a popular blog (also called Selling To Small Business). In a recent post
she discussed the trend towards content based marketing.
What is it?
The idea behind content based marketing is to use content you've written to attract attention, provide valuable information and create awareness. The assumption is that instead of just pushing advertising and marketing information on business owners, companies should be providing information to help entrepreneurs solve their problems. Helping SMBs
solve their problems with the right information leads to establishing yourself as a trusted business advisor which leads to the creation of a loyal customer base.
Some of Anita's suggestions for creating a content based marketing plan are:
White papers - Today's white papers are more than advertorials. They are often how-tos - specific documents well worth saving and going back to. A good white paper can establish your credibility and goes a long way toward establishing you or the even the company as an expert on the topic. If you can get other sites to distribute it as a free download, you extend your reach even further. And a white paper with an excellent descriptive title can be a carrot to generate leads, if you have the reader fill out a contact form in order to receive the white paper.
Press releases - Press releases today are written for search engines and for end customers, more so than for the press. Today's press releases should be distributed online, and if done properly can get picked up by online news outlets such as Google News, where customers and prospects find them and read about your company, your product, your service. Indirectly, the media sees them, too, in the same online venues the rest of us frequent. So it can have benefit for generating press, but what you really are getting is online visibility. When a press release is treated like any other online content and is properly optimized with keyword-rich text and links back to a website, it brings lasting search engine value. It adds to your own personal Google number (number of citations in Google for your name) or that of your business.
Articles in publications - Look around you. Many media companies are cutting back. People are reading more online, and they expect content to be free. What that means is that media companies are looking for articles submitted by professionals and experts in a particular topic. It's a lower cost way for them to generate content. This translates into a great opportunity for you. Write articles and submit them to publications. You get to display your expertise and impress prospects and potential clients. It's prestigious because you appear in a media publication. And it helps your online branding and search engine visibility. Insist on a byline and a short "About the Author" block at the end, with a link back to your website - most media publications readily agree. Writing articles can be used to get visibility in trade publications, business magazines, technology publications, Chamber of Commerce newsletters and various online publications.
Self-published articles - Blogs are being talked about everywhere, and it's for a reason. An excellent, fast and low-cost way to bring attention for your business is to publish your expertise yourself by writing on a blog. Others will find the posts and link to them. Eventually your blog posts get picked up in the search engines, and the indexed posts may send traffic your way for years afterwards. Also, a blog is a backdoor to media coverage. It's well known that journalists monitor blogs for experts to interview and quote for articles. You can even repurpose blog postings for your email newsletter and reach out to a wider audience. Finally, blogs have the advantage of RSS feeds. The search engines are indexing feeds quickly and giving them special treatment, and more and more people are signing up to get RSS updates on mainstream sites such as your personalized Google homepage or at My Yahoo. When you publish your message yourself, you can control your own destiny and not be at the mercy of the press or have to engage in an expensive advertising war.
Labels: Anita Campbell, articles in publications, content based marketing, press releases, self-published articles, selling to small business, small business trends, white papers
How Is Your Online Presence?
Do you have a significant online presence that will convert small business leads into clients? I've spoken at length in this blog about the importance of having a strong website and using search engine optimization to effectively target small and medium business owners. The Internet is the primary research tool that SMBs
are using to source products and suppliers and a new Jupiter Research study confirms it:
"Small business executives' activity level for traditional online activities is much higher than average."
Executives small businesses with 5 employees or less, also known as micro-business owners/executives, display unique online behavior compared to other online users. According to JupiterResearch, micro-business owners/executives spend a median of 17 hours a week online, compared with 14 hours a week spent watching television.
"Micro-business executives are highly engaged online users and great candidates for behavioral and contextual targeting" said Sonal Gandhi, JupiterResearch Analyst and lead author of the report. "They are more likely to respond to this type of targeting than the average online user and are otherwise hard to target online."
JupiterResearch defines micro-businesses as companies with less than five employees and includes sole proprietorships. Micro-businesses comprise the majority of the small-business landscape. JupiterResearch also finds while micro-business executives' activity level for traditional online activities is much higher than average, their adoption of next generation tools and technologies such as blogs and social networking is more or less the same as the online average.
Labels: Jupiter Research, online presence, search engine optimization, selling to small business, Sonal Gandhi
Xerox SMB Rountable Podcast
Small Business Optimism Is Rising
Optimism among small-business owners rebounded in January from a four-month low, as more companies planned to hire and buy equipment, a private survey found.
The National Federation of Independent Business' index of business optimism increased 2.4 points during the month, to 98.9, the Washington-based advocacy group said.
Some 30 percent of small-business owners said they expect to purchase equipment during the next few months, compared with 26 percent who said so in December. The survey results are consistent with economic growth of around 2.8 percent in the current quarter, the group said.
Twenty-three percent of small businesses plan to create more jobs in the next three months, up from 14 percent in December.
Seven of the 10 index components in the survey rose last month.
Fifteen percent of small-businesses owners polled said they added workers in January, and more than a quarter reported unfilled job openings.
Labels: create more jobs, National Fedration of Independent Businesses, purchase equipment, selling to small business, small business optimism
Dell Small Business 360
Dell has also hit on the trend many big companies are following to create a small
business resources center. Dell's is called Small Business 360
and is a first generation SMB
site still focused more on product sales than on actually being a resource center.
To Dell's credit, however, they have begun to put in additional information that is not only focused on selling Dell products. For example, under the Starting a Business category they have articles such as
3 Ways to Get Investors Interested in Your New Business, 5 Tips for Estimating Your Start-up Costs, How to Write a Business Plan.
Inside tip: Anything related to marketing, raising capital, or writing a business plan will always be a big hit with small business readers.
It's a step in the right direction and the beginning of the evolution of the Corporate SMB
Resource Centers from having a focus of pushing products to building relationships as a trusted advisor and supplier.
Labels: business plan, Dell, marketing, raising capital, resource center, selling to small business, Small Business 360
Gain a SMB Competitive Edge
Small companies are always looking to their bigger counterparts to get best practices and learn how to grow their business. How does Xerox get positive press coverage? How does Microsoft hire the best people? How does Bell prepare its business plan?
The success of the Service Corps Of Retired Executives
, a national nonprofit organization comprised of retired professionals who offer free counseling to small business owners, is only one example of how SMBs
are looking up to tap the knowledge of bigger companies.
This all leads to a very important question: Why are you not sharing some of your best practices with SMBs?
There are many processes that your organization takes for granted that would be of tremendous value to a small business owner. What questions do you ask in a job interview? How do you motivate your staff? What kind of incentives do you offer? How do you make sure your suppliers and partners are loyal to you?
With all the new small business resource centers and portals popping up across the Fortune 500 websites, none of them are offering information that is of true value to small business owners. The opportunities lies in providing useful tools and resources by tapping into the intellectual property of your staff and by sharing some of your processes that are taken for granted. Remember, small businesses do not have the structered systems in place to help them grow and are often learning through trial and error.
The first big company to do this will go a long way to winning the hearts and minds of small business owners.
Labels: Bell, business plan, competitive edge, hire the best people, Microsoft, positive press coverage, selling to small business, Service Corps of Retired Executives, Xerox
Developing Trust With SMBs
One of the concepts that kept coming up at last week's Xerox small business event was being a "trusted advisor" to entrepreneurs.
Small business owners like buying from people they know and people they trust. Companies who can establish a trusted relationship with their SMB clients have a good chance of retaining them as clients even if the competition has better prices / features.
Rick Spence highlighted this issue in a recent post
All the more reason, I say, for marketers to develop stronger relationships with business owners before trying to sell to them. You can do that through newsletters, personal calls, blogs, direct mail, invitations to events - anything that sets you up as a trusted partner.
Without that trust, even the best sales proposition will almost always finish second when the business owner has a pre-existing relationship with a competing supplier - whether or not they can do what you do.
Labels: business owners, developing trust, Rick Spence, selling to small business, Trust, trusted advisor, Xerox
February Small Business Trends Index
The Small Business Trends Index looks at the most popular articles that entrepreneurs are talking about. These are the most discussed stories by small business owners over the past month. The higher the score, the more the topic is being discussed. The total scores add to 100.
#1: Index Score: 23.8
9 Resume Tips That Should Be Screechingly Obvious (But Apparently Aren't)
"These are all basic rules, but they all seem to get broken constantly. All of these should be obvious to anyone who's conscious (maybe even the lightly sleeping), but they must not be. On to the rules!"
#2: Index Score: 22.4
Wal-Mart pays itself rent, gets large tax breaks
Wal-Mart, the nation's largest employer and the world's biggest retailer, is regularly paying itself rent and using the transaction to decrease the taxes it pays to state governments.
#3: Index Score: 18.5
Comcast Fined $12,281.84 For Not Answering The Phone Quickly Enough
Montgomery Country, MD has fined Comcast $12,281.84 for not meeting the standards set by their franchise agreement. The agreement stated that Comcast would provide a level of customer service that they did not meet.
#4: Index Score: 18.3
101 ways to make money online. A business consultant shares his research
This is a careful analysis of the many ways one can earn legitimate and illegitimate income working from home. It was put together by analysing thousands of existing internet businesses.
#5: Index Score: 17.0
The 13 Most Overlooked Tax Deductions
Some really good deductions that I didn't even realize you could take. Such as college tuition, moving expenses to take your first job and jury pay paid to employer.
Labels: comcast, make money online, resume tips, selling to small business, small business trends index, tax breaks, tax deductions, wal-mart
What is a Small Business?
Everybody seems to have a different definition of what a small business is. Whenever companies approach me to ask about how they can improve their strategies for selling to small businesses I always first have to find out how they define the market.
Some base it on employee size, others on revenues, and others still on metrics that are important to their particular industry.
In the January 2007 Small Business report by the Canadian government, they touch on what a small business is:
The size of a business can be defined in many ways, by the value of its annual sales or shipments, for example, or by its annual gross or net revenue, the size of its assets or the number of its employees. Many institutions define small businesses according to their own needs: the Canadian Bankers Association classifies a company as "small" if it qualifies for a loan authorization of less than $250 000, while the Export Development Corporation defines small or "emerging" exporters as firms with export sales under $1 million. Industry Canada has often used a definition based on the number of employees: goods-producing firms are considered "small" if they have fewer than 100 employees, while for serviceproducing firms the cut-off point is 50 employees. Above that size, and up to 499 employees, a firm is considered medium-sized. The smallest of small businesses are called micro-enterprises, most often defined as having fewer than five employees. The term "SME" (for small and medium-sized enterprise) refers to all businesses with fewer than 500 employees, while firms with 500 or more employees are classified as"large" businesses.
As will be seen, in practice, reporting on small businesses seldom adheres to any strict definition due to data limitations.
Labels: selling to small business, small business definition, small business report, what is small business
Get Your Message Out Online
Depending on which report your believe most, 40-85% of purchasing agents and buyers go online to do product research before making a business purchasing decision.
With so many of your potential customer base turning to the web for answers does your company have a strong presence to provide them with quality, timely, and accurate information or is your competition outdrawing you?TradeBlog
recently put out a list called the 10 Point Internet Marketing Plan. It includes:
1) Create a detailed, professional website in English that is fully optimized for search engines
2) Develop a dynamic email marketing program to attract new customers and keep existing customer's informed, excited and loyal
3) Provide free product specifications, images, 'white papers' and other information to help educate customers and build my online profile
4) Be certified by a leading international business agency and ensure my products meet industry certified standards
5) Publish customer testimonials, success stories and relevant company news online, to build confidence and trust
6) Buy keywords on leading search engines in suitable global markets
7) Purchase advertising on leading B2B trade websites
8) Have the software, staff and materials necessary to reply promptly and professionally to online inquiries
9) Partner with related, non-competitive businesses to extend the reach of my online marketing
10) Develop an affililate program that rewards internet publishers and business professionals for promoting my company's products
Online marketing is highly targeted can be effectively measured, and hits prospects while they are making purchasing decisions. Is your company missing the boat?
Labels: accurate information, highly targeted, internet marketing, online marketing, purchasing decision, selling to small business
Xerox Ignite Small Business Conference
On Sunday evening, Xerox invited myself, 4 other SMB bloggers
, Patrick Cook
, James Gaskin
, and Denise O'Berry
), and research analysts from IDC
to fly to Orlando, Florida and help them devise a selling to small business strategy.
Xerox's challenge is that they have a well respected brand name but are not considered to be an option for small business owners. Xerox has the perception of being only for "big business."
I did an informal poll with a few of the entrepreneurs in my network to find out what their experiences with Xerox have been and get their suggestions for improvements. What I found was that none of them even knew Xerox had a small business line of products! Needless to say a lot of work had to be done.
Yesterday afternoon we had a roundtable
discussion to give Xerox suggestions on how to increase their awareness level in the SMB
community. I then met 1 on 1 with Paul Gleason
, Vice President of Small and Medium Business for Xerox. The roundtable
is set to be podcasted
- I'll let you know when it comes out!
Overall it's been a great experience. We gave a number of ideas that could really help Xerox differentiate themselves and penetrate small and medium sized businesses across North America. The key will be can they act on the suggestions and how quickly.
Labels: Chris Brunner, Denise O'Berry, Gartner, IDC, James Gaskin, Patrick Cook, roundtable, selling to small business, Xerox
7 Tips For Marketing To Small Business
Kim Gordon wrote an article for Entrepreneur.com that brought up 7 tips for marketing to small business owners.
The challenge is, entrepreneurs are time-strapped multitaskers who are also relatively risk-averse--making them a difficult audience to reach and persuade. Her Top 7 Tips include:
1. Increased sales: Most business owners say their primary objective is to increase sales. Will buying your product or service help your prospects achieve that goal?
2. Safe choices: When it comes to buying outside products and services, entrepreneurs as a group tend to be cautious. Demonstrate that buying from you is a safe choice by providing a content-rich campaign.
3. Maximum convenience: Running a growing business often requires long hours, making shopping convenience a major draw for entrepreneurs. Multichannel marketing--including, for example, a website, a brick-and-mortar store and a direct-mail campaign--is essential to building sales from this target group. 4. Ways to save money: Business owners are likely to be spending their own money and are correspondingly conservative. Adding value to your offers will help overcome resistance.
5. Do-it-yourself solutions: Time-strapped business owners have just enough work hours to get their own jobs done--and they don't want to learn yours. Low-cost do-it-yourself solutions are appreciated, provided they're turnkey.
6. Reliability and performance: Entrepreneurs carefully consider the post-sale customer experience when making a purchase. To motivate business owners to complete sales, make reliability a central component of your marketing message--don't bury this information at the bottom of your marketing materials or website.
7. Vendors they trust: Entrepreneurs often prefer to work with other business owners they know and trust. Special events and networking are great ways to foster interaction with prospects.
Labels: entrepreneur, increased sales, Kim Gordon, marketing to small business, maximum convenience, safe choices, selling to small business, ways to save money
Verizon a Friend of Small Business?
After a big PR splash was made about the new small business toolbar
that Verizon put out, the company has announced less that a week later that it is increasing its small business rates.
Not exactly a great way to win friends in the entrepreneurial communities Verizon.
Small-business customers who buy local phone service from Verizon will be hit with across-the-board increases this month that will raise some rates close to 12 percent.
In addition to monthly service charges, the per-minute cost for local and regional calls will go up by 1 cent. For example, calls within a 10-mile "mileage band" will rise from 6 cents per minute to 7 cents per minute, according to the company.
It's all in an effort to get small business customers to sign up for Verizon's "Freedom for Business" unlimited calling package.
Labels: Freedom for Business, selling to small business, smal business rates, small business toolbar, Verizon
AT&T Launches Small Business Resource Center
So after Verizon announced it's toolbar for entrepreneurs, AT&T decided it would get into the game by launching a small business resource center.
The new portal promises access to expert advice, online courses, and money-saving offers. Business referrals also receive $100 visa card rewards.
Promised features from their press release
* A daily feed of industry-specific small business news, including streaming video segments from SBTV.com - Small Business Television.
* Free instructional Web-based seminars and online training courses hosted by experts.
* The ability to submit questions and to receive one-on-one advice from SCORE - Counselors to America’s Small Business.
* Tips on starting, managing and relocating a small business.
* Money-saving promotional offers from AT&T and other leading brands, including UPS, Pitney Bowes, Lenovo and CareerBuilder.com.
* Information about AT&T's portfolio of products and services for small business, including voice, wireless, Internet, messaging, advertising and search engine marketing solutions through Yellow Pages and YELLOWPAGES.COM, online support and account management services.
The portal is located at http://www.att.com/OnwardSmallBiz
and is currently thin on content but it's a step in the right direction for AT&T. Just like Verizon's move, it could be a great opportunity to capitalize on the small business market if AT&T puts the muscle into making their site a true resource center for entrepreneurs.
Labels: ATT, expert advice, online courses, resource center, selling to small business, small business portal
Verizon Targets Small Business Owners
The economics of selling to small business owners makes it impossible to have account managers call on every entrepreneur in the country to introduce your product. A mass market approach is needed and the Internet is one of the best ways to reach out to small business owners.
Verizon recently announced that it has created a new toolbar for small business owners. In a news release, Verizon ISP portal and platform services executive director Bill Heilig said, "There weren't many toolbars for business-minded people, so we developed one especially for our small-business customers. Once it's downloaded to business owners' desktops, relevant resources are just a click away."
The toolbar is powered by Google and gives business owners access to Google search, Verizon email, Verizon Business Center portal resources, and online business links such as SCORE and SBA. Subscribers can also access Wall Street Journal articles, check their stock quotes and weather information, and block popups through the toolbar.
While many of the features can already be found in other toolbars, it is a step in the right direction for Verizon. Nobody has cornered the market with a toolbar for small business owners and by engaging their users and building on the feedback of small business owners, Verizon could have a promotional goldmine on their hands.
Labels: promotional goldmine, selling to small business, small business toolbar, Verizon
Advice To Sell To Entrepreneurs
I recently came across an article
Andy Birol wrote on selling. In the article he gives advice for selling to employees, C-level executives, and small business owners. Here is what he wrote for selling to entrepreneurs:
Owner entrepreneurs are in many ways the most unusual to sell. Regardless of their success, they go through the following stages towards success:
Those most successful at selling to owners know to sell to the right "step" for their prospects. They are most often other entrepreneurs like attorneys, financial planners, consultants, or coaches. Why? Because entrepreneurs often turn to those like themselves. Unlike the corporate market, entrepreneurs respect and respond to the success, individualism, and risk taking of those vendors who walk in similar shoes. Therefore, the lessons learned when selling to entrepreneurs are:
- Owners first dread the potential of failing, particularly if it makes them miss a payroll, threatens their independence, or ultimately results in having to work for someone else.
- Once an owner's fear of failure is over, their next focus is on increasing their company's wealth by producing quality products purchased by grateful customers.
- After gaining this success, owners turn their attention next to creating their legacy, first as a successful business owner and thereafter as a creator of greater social good.
- Sell to your prospect "owner-to-owner".
- Sell as much to the person across the table as to his or her company; they are indivisible.
- Appeal first to their business needs to gain their attention but understand their egos and personalities.
- Display both empathy as well as the ability to lead them to success.
Labels: Andy Birol, egos, empathy, fear of failure, owner to owner, personalities, selling to small business
Top 2007 Small Business Challenges
A new report by the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business
Index looked at the top challenges small business owners are facing in 2007. They include:
- Cost of insurance (64 percent)
- Taxes (62 percent)
- Energy prices (54 percent)
- Government regulations (45 percent)
- Finding qualified employees (42 percent)
Of the small business owners who had a written business plan:
- 90 percent say generating stronger revenues is their top priority for the year ahead
- 63 percent also say cutting operating expenses is a major objective
- 57 percent cited reaching more customers
- 42 percent are increasing their advertising budgets
- 37 percent are investing in new technology
Labels: business plan, cost of insurance, Gallup Small Business Index, generating revenues, selling to small business, top challenges, Wells Fargo
Small Businesses Live On The Edge
A new report from England highlights the risks that small business owners take while running their companies. The new study found:
- Almost 20 per cent of UK businesses suffer some kind of major disruption in the course of one year
- Nearly one in five enterprises experiences a significant interruption to business each year
- 90 per cent of companies which lose data as a result of a major disruption are forced to close down within two years of the event
Many small business owners are predominantly
focused on the now. They wear many hats within their company and are constantly putting out fires. They make decisions (especially purchasing decisions where they have to spend money) based on solutions that will help them solve an immediate pain. Many entrepreneurs do not have contingency plans, do not prepare themselves for potential disruptions in advance and end up getting hit very hard when they happen.
Lesson for selling to small businesses: target your message to solving the immediate pains of business owners instead of painting a picture of what the future might look like. If your message is not immediately relevant to the entrepreneur it's likely to be overlooked.
Labels: immediate pains, immediately relevant, live on the edge, major disruption, selling to small business