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Moving SMBs through the Sales Cycle with Content

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With the pandemic, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are hungrier than ever for advice on keeping their businesses afloat. How can you provide advice on their business challenges in a way that is attuned to the business environment, and that moves your sales process forward? What content formats should you use at each stage of the sales cycle? What do SMBs want in content from vendors like you? What effect does marketing content have on brand perception and sales?

To answer these questions – and to help you sell the cloud more effectively to SMBs – we surveyed 500 U.S. SMB principals.

You’ll get valuable insights to put to work right away in your 2020 SMB content marketing plans.

With the pandemic, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are hungrier than ever for advice on keeping their businesses afloat. How can you provide advice on their business challenges in a way that is attuned to the business environment, and that moves your sales process forward? What content formats should you use at each stage of the sales cycle? What do SMBs want in content from vendors like you? What effect does marketing content have on brand perception and sales?

To answer these questions – and to help you sell the cloud more effectively to SMBs – we surveyed 500 U.S. SMB principals.

You’ll get valuable insights to put to work right away in your 2020 SMB content marketing plans.

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Moving SMBs through the Sales Cycle with Content

  1. 1. Moving SMBs through the Sales Cycle with Content July 30, 2020
  2. 2. 2 INCREASING SALES TO SMBS
  3. 3. OutputTopics Methods • Qualitative • Live / online focus groups • In-depth interviews • Quantitative • Custom online • SMB Pulse omnibus • Snap Poll Insight for CE / product / marketing strategy Data for PR / content / social / collateral programs 3 • Attitudes and usage • Buyer identification • Competitive perceptions • Market segmentation • Media behaviors / preferences • Message / positioning testing • Net promoter score • Persona / buyer journey • Purchase intent, behaviors, channels and preferences INSIGHT
  4. 4. Video Email Newsletters Checklists / Worksheets Case StudiesArticles Blog Posts White Papers Podcasts eBooks PR Surveys Social Media Handbooks / Guides Webcasts Slideshows Infographics Interactive Tools • Survey data • Creative brief • Editorial calendar • Content development • Content audit • Analytics Contribution • Expert • Actionable • Relevant • Easy to understand • Professional • Brand-building • Custom Principles Direct Mail Event Collateral Brochures / Sell Sheets Custom Pubs 4 OUTREACH
  5. 5. 5 WHAT WE’LL COVER The effect of content Content across the sales cycle Contact preferences What SMBs want in content
  6. 6. 6 METHODOLOGY Some charts in this deck do not total to 100% due to rounding. Online survey via the Bredin.com/SMBPulse 500 SMB principals at U.S. companies with <500 employees (+/- 4% CI) February 21 to March 12, 2020WHEN HOW WHO % Indicates highest % in a given column (A) / (B) / (C) Indicates statistically significant difference between columns Note: The SMB Pulse is open to marketer participation. Company size quotas 250 with 1 to 19 employees (Very Small Businesses or VSBs; 97.7% weighting) 150 with 20 to 99 employees (Small Businesses or SBs; 2% weighting) 100 with 100 to 500 employees (Mid-sized Businesses or MBs; 0.3% weighting)
  7. 7. 7 SAMPLE CHARACTERISTICS Male Female 67% 33% 4% 21% 32% 41% 3% Gen Z (18 to 23) Millennial (24 to 39) Gen X (40 to 55) Boomer (56 to 74) Silent Generation (75+) Respondent Age Company Age Business Outlook Company Size Gender n=500 3% 28% 32% 37% Less than 2 years 2-9 years 10-19 years 20 years or more 8% 40% 24% 22% 6% Up more than 100% Up 10% to 100% Up less than 10% Same as 2019 Down compared 2019 100% Company Size 50% 30% 20% SBs (20-99) MBs (100-500) VSBs (<20) Principal (e.g., Owner, Founder, Partner, CEO, President, etc.) Title / Role
  8. 8. 8 SAMPLE CHARACTERISTICS n=500 West 26% South 34% Midwest 18% Northeast 22% Geography 32% 54% 14% Population Density Urban Suburban Rural 14% 27% 17% 22% 13% 8% Less than $100K $100K to $499K $500K to $999K $1M to $4.9M $5M to $10M More than $10M Company Revenue 35% 28% 23% 14% Manufacturing Construction/Mining/Contracting/ Electrical/Landscape/Plumbing/etc. 10% Manufacturing/Transportation and Warehousing 6% Telecommunications 3% Automotive 2% Computer Hardware/Electronic Equipment 2% Energy/Utilities 1% Pharmaceutical/Medical Devices/ Biotechnology 1% Other Personal Services 9% Education/Training 5% Industry Professional Services Computer Software/Internet 8% Financial Services/Accounting/ Bookkeeping 5% Legal 5% Medical 5% Banking/Insurance/Mortgage 3% Advertising/Consulting/Design/ Marketing Services 3% Computer Services/Consulting 3% Architect/Engineering 2% Publishing/Printing/Media 1% Retail/Wholesale Retail 10% Real Estate 7% Food/Beverage/Restaurants 4% Entertainment/Recreation 3% Wholesale 3% Travel/Hotel/Hospitality 1%
  9. 9. DETAILED FINDINGS
  10. 10. 10 NEW PRODUCT AWARENESS SOURCES n=500 How likely are you to first learn about products or services for your business via each of these specific content formats / information sources from vendors? • Almost a quarter of respondents are ‘very likely’ to first learn about a product via an article • Vendor’s websites are key for product awareness; content on them constitutes 3 of the top 4 ways SMBs learn about a product 23% 22% 19% 19% 18% 17% 15% 15% 15% 15% 14% 13% 13% 12% 11% 11% 11% 10% 10% 9% 8% 8% 7% 5% 50% 40% 45% 46% 53% 33% 43% 36% 35% 35% 39% 38% 33% 28% 26% 22% 34% 36% 15% 17% 25% 27% 16% 10% 27% 38% 36% 35% 29% 50% 42% 49% 50% 51% 47% 49% 54% 60% 63% 67% 56% 54% 75% 74% 67% 66% 77% 85% Article Video on vendor’s website Product section of vendor’s website Resources section of a vendor’s website Email newsletter Case study Research report Analyst report YouTube eBook / guide / handbook Forum or discussion board Webinar / webcast White paper LinkedIn Blog post Facebook Interactive tool Checklist / worksheet Instagram Twitter Infographic Podcast Pinterest TikTok Very likely Somewhat likely Very unlikely 50%
  11. 11. 11 NEW PRODUCT AWARENESS SOURCES: COMPANY SIZE n=500 How likely are you to first learn about products or services for your business via each of these specific content formats / information sources from vendors? • VSBs most prefer articles; SBs, your site product section; MBs, webcasts • In general, the larger the business, the more content formats they utilize 23% 22% 19% 19% 18% 17% 15% 15% 15% 15% 14% 13% 13% 12% 11% 11% 11% 10% 10% 9% 8% 8% 7% 5% Article Video on vendor’s website Product section of vendor’s website Resources section of a vendor’s website Email newsletter Case study Research report Analyst report YouTube eBook / guide / handbook Forum or discussion board Webinar / webcast White paper LinkedIn Blog post Facebook Interactive tool Checklist / worksheet Instagram Twitter Infographic Podcast Pinterest TikTok Very likely VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n 23% 35% (A) 45% (A) 22% 33% (A) 44% (A) 19% 36% 44% (A) 19% 31% (A) 40% (A) 18% 31% (A) 40% (A) 17% 32% (A) 39% (A) 14% 35% (A) 44% (A) 14% 33% (A) 41% (A) 14% 26% (A) 45% (AB) 14% 23% (A) 40% (AB) 14% 23% (A) 43% (AB) 12% 32% (A) 52% 12% 27% (A) 41% (AB) 11% 31% (A) 42% (A) 10% 21% (A) 45% (AB) 10% 30% (A) 49% (AB) 10% 31% (A) 39% (A) 10% 21% (A) 38% (AB) 9% 29% (A) 40% (A) 9% 27% (A) 45% (AB) 8% 21% (A) 38% (AB) 7% 26% (A) 40% (AB) 7% 21% (A) 30% (A) 5% 23% (A) 31% (A) 23% 36% (A) 52% (AB)
  12. 12. 20% 19% 28% 39% (A) 12% 12% 22% 41% (AB) 13% 13% 20% 25% 23% 23% 27% 31% 20% 20% 27% 18% 15% 14% 25% 17% 22% 23% 17% 14% 26% 26% (C) 16% 8% 24% 25% (BC) 7% 3% 24% 25% (BC) 9% 3% Podcasts developed by a vendor like Dell, etc. Total VSBs (A) SBs (B) MBs (C) Third-party podcasts like ‘Serial,’ etc. Total VSBs (A) SBs (B) MBs (C) 12 PODCAST LISTENING FREQUENCY n=172 IF SOMEWHAT OR VERY LIKELY TO LISTEN TO PODCASTS Which best describes how often you to listen to: • Among those likely to discover a product via podcasts, 1 in 5 listen to a vendor-created podcast once or more each week • Podcast usage increases with company size Once or more each week NeverOnce or more each month Less than once every three months 50% Once or more each quarter
  13. 13. 13 RESOURCE CENTER VISIT FREQUENCY IF SOMEWHAT OR VERY LIKELY RESOURCE CENTER Which best describes how often you visit vendor resource centers? • Roughly half of resource center visitors visit once every three months or more • Resource center visit frequency increases with company size 52% (BC) 25% 17% 6% 23% 41% (A) 25% 11% 26% 30% 17% 27% (AB) VSBs (A) 161n SBs (B) 120n MBs (C) 88n Total 51% 25% 18% 6% Less than once every three months Once or more each quarter Once or more each month Once or more each week
  14. 14. 14 PRODUCT RESEARCH INFORMATION SOURCES n=500 How likely are you to use each of these sources / content formats when you are researching products or services for your business? • Respondents are most likely to visit the product section of vendor’s website when researching a product • Articles, email newsletters, a resource center and YouTube round out the top five 24% 22% 20% 18% 18% 17% 17% 16% 15% 14% 14% 13% 12% 12% 12% 12% 11% 9% 8% 8% 8% 7% 6% 5% 43% 46% 46% 46% 33% 36% 49% 37% 47% 41% 35% 38% 33% 33% 26% 20% 42% 14% 15% 25% 14% 31% 29% 11% 34% 32% 34% 36% 49% 47% 34% 47% 38% 44% 51% 49% 54% 55% 62% 68% 47% 77% 77% 67% 78% 63% 65% 84% Product section of vendor’s website Article Email newsletter Resources section of a vendor’s website YouTube Case study Video on vendor’s website White paper Research report Analyst report Forum or discussion board Webinar / webcast Checklist / worksheet Interactive tool LinkedIn Facebook eBook / guide / handbook Twitter Instagram Podcast Pinterest Blog post Infographic TikTok Very likely Somewhat likely Very unlikely 50%
  15. 15. 15 PRODUCT RESEARCH INFORMATION SOURCES: COMPANY SIZE n=500 • At the research stage, VSBs are most likely to use the product section of a site; SBs, video; MBs, the resources section of a site • Format utilization increases with company size 24% 22% 20% 18% 18% 17% 17% 16% 15% 14% 14% 13% 12% 12% 12% 12% 11% 9% 8% 8% 8% 7% 6% 5% Product section of vendor’s website Article Email newsletter Resources section of a vendor’s website YouTube Case study Video on vendor’s website White paper Research report Analyst report Forum or discussion board Webinar / webcast Checklist / worksheet Interactive tool LinkedIn Facebook eBook / guide / handbook Twitter Instagram Podcast Pinterest Blog post Infographic TikTok Very likely VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n 24% 35% (A) 43% (A) 22% 30% 43% (AB) 20% 33% (A) 46% (AB) 18% 33% (A) 50% (AB) 17% 36% (A) 45% (A) 16% 30% (A) 38% (A) 16% 37% 49% (A) 15% 31% (A) 42% (A) 14% 31% (A) 49% (AB) 14% 29% (A) 45% (AB) 14% 29% (A) 39% (A) 13% 32% (A) 43% (A) 12% 31% (A) 39% (A) 12% 27% (A) 33% (A) 12% 29% (A) 45% (AB) 12% 27% (A) 43% (AB) 11% 28% (A) 44% (AB) 9% 23% (A) 45% (AB) 8% 25% (A) 37% (AB) 8% 25% (A) 39% (AB) 7% 27% (A) 36% (A) 6% 25% (A) 35% (A) 6% 25% (A) 44% (AB) 5% 22% (A) 32% (A) How likely are you to use each of these sources / content formats when you are researching products or services for your business? 24% 37% (A) 50% (AB)
  16. 16. 16 RESEARCH TIME OF DAY n=500 When are you most likely to research products or services for your business? • The plurality of respondents research products for their business before noon • SBs and MBs are significantly more likely to research products before starting their workday than VSBs are 18% 27% 26% 20% 2% 8% First thing in the morning, before I start working During the workday – in the morning During the workday – in the afternoon In the evening, after work hours Between midnight and 5am On the weekend VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n 17% 31% 37% 28% 22% 27% 26% 24% 26% 20% (C) 18% (C) 5% 2% 1% 2% 8% 5% 3% 28% 31% (A) 37% (A)
  17. 17. 17 PURCHASE DECISION INFORMATION SOURCES n=500 How likely are you to use each of these sources / content formats to make a final purchase decision on products or services for your business? • In aggregate, the product section of a vendor’s site is the most important for a final purchase decision • Case studies, video, research reports and the site resource center round out the top five 18% 16% 16% 16% 16% 16% 16% 15% 14% 13% 12% 12% 12% 12% 10% 10% 10% 9% 9% 8% 8% 8% 7% 7% 44% 32% 40% 39% 41% 38% 43% 36% 29% 34% 32% 26% 32% 34% 10% 31% 23% 12% 17% 11% 21% 6% 22% 19% 38% 52% 44% 45% 43% 45% 42% 49% 57% 53% 56% 61% 56% 54% 80% 59% 67% 79% 74% 80% 72% 86% 71% 74% Product section of vendor’s website Case study Video on vendor’s website Research report Resources section of a vendor’s website Analyst report Article Email newsletter Checklist / worksheet eBook / guide / handbook White paper YouTube Webinar / webcast Forum or discussion board Instagram Interactive tool LinkedIn Pinterest Facebook Twitter Blog post TikTok Infographic Podcast Very likely Somewhat likely Very unlikely 50%
  18. 18. 18 PURCHASE DECISION INFORMATION SOURCES: COMPANY SIZE n=500 • VSBs and SBs are most likely to make a product purchase decision based on the site product section; MBs, a white paper • As at the awareness and research stages, content usage increases with company size 18% 16% 16% 16% 16% 16% 16% 15% 14% 13% 12% 12% 12% 12% 10% 10% 10% 9% 9% 8% 8% 8% 7% 7% Product section of vendor’s website Case study Video on vendor’s website Research report Resources section of a vendor’s website Analyst report Article Email newsletter Checklist / worksheet eBook / guide / handbook White paper YouTube Webinar / webcast Forum or discussion board Instagram Interactive tool LinkedIn Pinterest Facebook Twitter Blog post TikTok Infographic Podcast Very likely VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n 18% 39% (A) 40% (A) 16% 35% (A) 44% (A) 16% 35% (A) 42% (A) 16% 33% (A) 43% (A) 16% 35% (A) 44% (A) 16% 33% (A) 41% (A) 15% 27% (A) 44% (AB) 14% 33% (A) 40% (A) 14% 30% (A) 40% (A) 12% 30% (A) 40% (A) 12% 30% (A) 51% (AB) 12% 28% (A) 42% (AB) 12% 31% (A) 41% (A) 11% 29% (A) 42% (AB) 10% 24% (A) 39% (AB) 9% 32% (A) 40% (A) 9% 28% (A) 46% (AB) 9% 25% (A) 42% (AB) 8% 31% (A) 42% (A) 8% 26% (A) 40% (AB) 7% 24% (A) 43% (AB) 7% 20% (A) 34% (AB) 6% 28% (A) 41% (AB) 6% 28% (A) 34% (A) How likely are you to use each of these sources / content formats to make a final purchase decision on products or services for your business? 18% 39% (A) 51% (AB)
  19. 19. 19 INFORMATION SOURCES ACROSS THE SALES CYCLE: VSBS n=250 A vendor’s website plays a key role across the sales cycle for VSBs… Rank Awareness Research Purchase 1st Article Product section of vendor’s website Product section of vendor’s website 2nd Video on vendor’s website Article Case study; Video on vendor’s website; Research report (tie) 3rd Product section of vendor’s website; Resources section of a vendor’s website (tie) Email newsletter 4th Resources section of a vendor’s website 5th Email newsletter YouTube Resources section of a vendor’s website; Analyst report (tie)
  20. 20. 20 INFORMATION SOURCES ACROSS THE SALES CYCLE: SBS n=250 … and for SBs… Rank Awareness Research Purchase 1st Product section of vendor’s website Video on vendor’s website Product section of vendor’s website 2nd Article; Research report (tie) YouTube Case study; Video on vendor’s website; Resources section of a vendor’s website (tie) 3rd Product section of vendor’s website 4th Video on vendor’s website; Analyst report (tie) Resources section of a vendor’s website 5th Email newsletter Research report; Analyst report; Email newsletter (tie)
  21. 21. 21 INFORMATION SOURCES ACROSS THE SALES CYCLE: MBS n=250 …while MBs favor a variety of information sources throughout the sales cycle Rank Awareness Research Purchase 1st Webinar / webcast Resources section of a vendor’s website White paper 2nd Facebook Video on vendor’s website; Research report (tie) LinkedIn 3rd Article; Twitter; YouTube; Blog post (tie) Case study; Resources section of a vendor’s website; Article (tie) 4th Email newsletter 5th YouTube; Analyst report; LinkedIn; Twitter (tie)
  22. 22. 22 REASONS FOR VIEWING ADDITIONAL CONTENT n=500 Once you’ve read or viewed business management advice from a vendor, what factors are likely to get you to read or watch more advice, or read or watch product information? (select all that apply.) • More than 3 in 5 SMBs cite content quality as a reason for viewing additional content • A product promo or special offer is second, with almost half of respondents selecting it 62% 47% 40% 24% 6% The content was high quality – i.e. well written, clear and useful A product promotion, discount or special offer Links to relevant products and services Links to other relevant business management advice Other (please describe) VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n 62% 54% 54% 47% 49% 42% 40% 37% 48% 24% 39% (A) 34% 6% (B) 1% 4% 62% 54% 54% • Advice from my CTO/CIO • Friends • IT contractor • Input from my IT dept • If it's something needed • Recommendation from our IT vendor • Tracking down user references • Vendor
  23. 23. 23 SALES STAGE INFLUENCES n=500 For each of the information sources / content formats below, please select the stage in the purchase cycle – awareness, research or purchase – where you are most likely to use that source / content format. • Broadly speaking, social media is best for awareness, content for research, and your site to close sales 78% 77% 77% 75% 69% 69% 65% 65% 57% 53% 52% 50% 48% 48% 46% 44% 41% 41% 41% 40% 40% 36% 31% 18% 18% 18% 20% 26% 26% 30% 31% 35% 42% 41% 45% 39% 41% 47% 46% 38% 53% 45% 49% 50% 53% 57% 4% 5% 5% 5% 5% 5% 5% 5% 8% 5% 7% 5% 13% 11% 7% 10% 21% 6% 14% 11% 11% 11% 12% Twitter Pinterest Instagram Facebook LinkedIn post Podcast Infographic Blog post YouTube Forum or discussion board Email newsletter Webinar / webcast Checklist / worksheet Interactive tool White paper eBook / guide / handbook Product section of vendor’s website Article Video on vendor’s website Analyst report Resources section of a vendor’s website Case study Research report Awareness Research Purchase 50%
  24. 24. 24 MARKETING CONTENT: WHAT’S IMPORTANT n=500 How important are each of these aspects of vendor content? • Clarity and comprehensibility are key to effective content • Authorship is not a priority 63% 62% 56% 48% 45% 39% 38% 38% 37% 37% 31% 21% 14% 29% 29% 35% 42% 38% 45% 49% 46% 46% 48% 50% 43% 42% 8% 9% 9% 10% 16% 16% 13% 16% 17% 15% 19% 36% 43% Clearly explains product / service benefits Easy to understand Well written Well-designed / produced Doesn’t do a hard sell Includes a compelling special offer, promotion or discount Describes how companies in my industry have benefitted from their offerings Short / concise In a format I prefer Describes how companies my size have benefitted from their offerings Provides valuable business management tips and advice Written by a well-known influencer or expert Written by a vendor employee Very important Somewhat important Not important 50%
  25. 25. 25 MARKETING CONTENT: WHAT’S IMPORTANT: COMPANY SIZE n=500 How important are each of these aspects of vendor content? • SMBs prioritize clarity and comprehensibility, regardless of company size • Authorship is slightly more important for larger SMBs 63% 62% 56% 48% 45% 39% 38% 38% 37% 37% 31% 21% 14% Clearly explains product / service benefits Easy to understand Well written Well-designed / produced Doesn’t do a hard sell Includes a compelling special offer, promotion or discount Describes how companies in my industry have benefitted from their offerings Short / concise In a format I prefer Describes how companies my size have benefitted from their offerings Provides valuable business management tips and advice Written by a well-known influencer or expert Written by a vendor employee Very important VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n 63% 59% 66% 62% 61% 60% 56% 57% 65% 48% 55% 63% (A) 46% 39% 49% 38% 44% 49% 38% 49% (A) 48% 38% 46% 44% 37% 46% 48% 36% 51% (A) 45% 31% 46% (A) 47% (A) 21% 41% (A) 52% (A) 14% 33% (A) 51% (AB) 63% 61% 66%
  26. 26. 26 MARKETING CONTENT: PERFORMANCE n=500 In general, how good is vendor content at: SMBs see opportunity to improve vendor content… 34% 32% 31% 26% 26% 25% 21% 21% 20% 20% 20% 19% 19% 18% 18% 52% 53% 55% 52% 58% 59% 52% 57% 53% 55% 55% 59% 59% 59% 63% 14% 15% 14% 21% 17% 17% 27% 22% 27% 24% 25% 21% 22% 23% 19% Clearly explaining product / service benefits Being easy to understand Being comprehensible / well written Including a compelling special offer, promotion or discount Being in a format I prefer Being well-designed / produced Not doing a hard sell Making me more likely to buy from the company Being short / concise Providing valuable business management tips and advice Describing how companies the same size as mine have benefitted from their offerings Motivating me to read or watch more of that vendor’s content Motivating me to learn more about that company’s offerings Describing how companies in my industry have benefitted from their offerings Making me think more favorably of the company Very good Pretty good Not good 50%
  27. 27. 27 MARKETING CONTENT: PERFORMANCE: COMPANY SIZE n=500 …although larger SMBs are more satisfied with content in general 34% 32% 31% 26% 26% 25% 21% 21% 20% 20% 20% 19% 19% 18% 18% Clearly explaining product / service benefits Being easy to understand Being comprehensible / well written Including a compelling special offer, promotion or discount Being in a format I prefer Being well-designed / produced Not doing a hard sell Making me more likely to buy from the company Being short / concise Providing valuable business management tips and advice Describing how companies the same size as mine have benefitted from their offerings Motivating me to read or watch more of that vendor’s content Motivating me to learn more about that company’s offerings Describing how companies in my industry have benefitted from their offerings Making me think more favorably of the company VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n 34% 41% 59% 32% 41% (A) 51% (A) 31% 40% 42% (A) 26% 36% (A) 45% (A) 26% 41% (A) 48% (A) 24% 42% 52% (A) 21% 26% 31% 20% 31% (A) 41% (A) 20% 38% (A) 38% (A) 20% 33% (A) 52% (AB) 20% 31% (A) 46% (AB) 19% 35% (A) 46% (A) 18% 34% (A) 42% (A) 18% 37% (A) 49% (A) 18% 35% (A) 45% (A) 34% 42% (A) 59% (AB) Very good In general, how good is vendor content at:
  28. 28. Clearly explains product / service benefits Describes how companies in my industry have benefitted from their offerings Describes how companies my size have benefitted from their offerings Doesn’t do a hard sell Easy to understand In a format I prefer Includes a compelling special offer, promotion or discount Provides valuable business management tips and advice Short / concise Well written Well-designed / produced 15% 25% 35% 45% 15% 25% 35% 45% 55% 65% 75% 28 CONTENT IMPORTANCE VS. PERFORMANCE • In general, SMBs see opportunity to improve content performance • E.g., almost two-thirds of SMBs say content clarity is very important, but only a little over a third say vendor content is very clear Importance (% rated ‘very important’) Performance(%rated‘verygood’) n=500 Horizontal axis: How important are each of these aspects of vendor content? Vertical axis: In general, how good is vendor content at: Performance is greater than importance Importance is greater than performance
  29. 29. 29 CONTENT IMPACT n=500 In general, does vendor business management tips and advice make you more likely to: • More than two thirds of SMBs say advice-based content makes them think favorably of the sponsoring vendor • Content also helps with retention; most SMBs are more likely to remain a customer as a result of sponsored content 68% 68% 57% 56% 53% 50% Think favorably of that vendor Remain a customer of that vendor Read / watch more of that vendor’s business management advice Become a customer of that vendor Make an additional purchase from that vendor Subscribe to their email newsletter, or follow them on social media VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n 68% 71% 78% 68% 65% 72% 57% 68% (A) 74% (A) 56% 59% 71% (AB) 52% 64% (A) 72% (A) 49% 63% (A) 74% (A) 68% 71% 78% % Yes 68%
  30. 30. 30 CONTENT-INSPIRED PURCHASES n=500 Have you bought from / become a customer of a company based on or because of their business management tips and advice? • 2 in 5 SMBs have purchased from a vendor because of advice-based content • The larger the company, the more likely they are to have made a purchase as a result of tips and advice 39% 61% (BC) 56% (A) 44% (C) 70% (AB) 30% VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n Total 40% 60% Yes No
  31. 31. 31 PRODUCT INFO VS. BUSINESS ADVICE FORMATS n=500 Do you prefer information on a vendor’s products and services in the same or different formats than business management tips and advice from a vendor? • The overwhelming majority of SMBs are fine with product info and advice content being in the same format 88% 12% 91% 9% 86% 14% VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n Total 88% 12% The same formats are fine I prefer different formats
  32. 32. 32 PREFERRED SOURCE OF BUSINESS ADVICE n=500 For vendors whose products you buy indirectly – for example insurance from an agent, or technology from a reseller – would you rather get business management advice from: • The plurality of SMBs prefer advice content from a combination of resellers and vendors • SBs and MBs are more likely to favor advice directly from the vendor 46% 46% (BC) 32% 21% 30% 30% 25% 34% 24% 24% 43% (A) 45% (A) Total VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n The vendor The agent, broker, consultant, integrator, reseller etc. A combination
  33. 33. 33 STAYING IN TOUCH n=500 How interested are you in each of these ways to stay in touch with vendors if you have researched a product or service, but are not yet ready to buy? In aggregate, SMBs prefer an email newsletter as a way to keep in touch with vendors 27% 25% 21% 19% 19% 13% 13% 12% 12% 10% 9% 9% 8% 6% 51% 45% 42% 57% 46% 23% 54% 33% 28% 21% 13% 16% 17% 10% 22% 30% 37% 24% 36% 64% 33% 55% 59% 69% 78% 75% 76% 84% Email newsletter In-person meetings with a sales representative Print newsletter Occasional email from a sales representative Letter, postcard or other mailing LinkedIn Occasional call from a sales representative Text messages YouTube Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest TikTok Very interested Somewhat interested Not at all interested 50%
  34. 34. 34 STAYING IN TOUCH: COMPANY SIZE n=500 How interested are you in each of these ways to stay in touch with vendors if you have researched a product or service, but are not yet ready to buy? • Larger SMBs are more receptive to staying in touch with vendors via social media than VSBs, with almost half of MBs being very interested in staying in touch via Facebook 27% 25% 21% 19% 19% 13% 13% 12% 12% 10% 9% 9% 8% 6% Email newsletter In-person meetings with a sales representative Print newsletter Occasional email from a sales representative Letter, postcard or other mailing LinkedIn Occasional call from a sales representative Text messages YouTube Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest TikTok Very interested VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n 27% 33% 43% (A) 24% 48% (A) 46% (A) 21% 31% (A) 44% (AB) 19% 31% (A) 45% (AB) 18% 35% (A) 44% (A) 13% 29% (A) 42% (AB) 12% 33% (A) 44% (A) 12% 31% (A) 43% (A) 12% 32% (A) 47% (AB) 10% 27% (A) 49% (AB) 9% 30% (A) 39% (A) 8% 29% (A) 42% (AB) 7% 25% (A) 45% (AB) 5% 19% (A) 36% (AB) 27% 48% (A) 49% (AB)
  35. 35. 35 PROSPECT NURTURE CONTACT FREQUENCY n=500 How often do you like a vendor to contact you when you are not yet ready to buy? • Monthly or quarterly is the preferred contact frequency • SBs and MBs prefer more frequent outreach 9% 26% 21% 12% 6% 26% Once a week Once a month Once every three months Once every six months Once a year I prefer to reach out to them as needed VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n 9% 26% 39% 26% 26% 32% 21% 23% 21% 12% 12% 5% 6% (BC) 1% 1% 26% (BC) 11% (C) 2% 26% (BC) 26% (A) 39% (AB) 26%
  36. 36. 36 CUSTOMER CONTENT PREFERENCES n=500 How interested are you in each of these ways to stay in touch with a vendor after you have purchased their product or service? • SMBs generally prefer email newsletters to stay in touch with suppliers, followed by in-person meetings with a sales representative • LinkedIn is the top social media platform for staying in touch with suppliers 24% 20% 19% 19% 18% 17% 12% 12% 11% 10% 10% 9% 7% 7% 53% 44% 49% 59% 50% 44% 33% 23% 22% 18% 15% 14% 15% 8% 23% 36% 32% 22% 32% 38% 54% 66% 67% 72% 76% 77% 78% 85% Email newsletter In-person meetings with a sales representative Letter, postcard or other mailing Occasional email from a sales representative Occasional call from a sales representative Print newsletter Text messages YouTube LinkedIn Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest TikTok Very interested Somewhat interested Not at all interested 50%
  37. 37. 37 CUSTOMER CONTENT PREFERENCES: COMPANY SIZE n=500 • SBs and MBs favor more contact methods for staying in touch with vendors than VSBs • In-person meetings with a sales representative is top with SBs and MBs 24% 20% 19% 19% 18% 17% 12% 12% 11% 10% 10% 9% 7% 7% Email newsletter In-person meetings with a sales representative Letter, postcard or other mailing Occasional email from a sales representative Occasional call from a sales representative Print newsletter Text messages YouTube LinkedIn Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest TikTok Very interested VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n 24% 37% (A) 48% (A) 19% 41% (A) 52% (A) 19% 27% (A) 40% (AB) 18% 33% (A) 47% (AB) 17% 39% (A) 41% (A) 17% 33% (A) 46% (AB) 12% 30% (A) 42% (A) 11% 31% (A) 44% (AB) 11% 25% (A) 37% (AB) 9% 35% (A) 46% (A) 9% 31% (A) 39% (A) 9% 30% (A) 42% (A) 6% 25% (A) 36% (A) 6% 23% (A) 31% (A) How interested are you in each of these ways to stay in touch with a vendor after you have purchased their product or service? 24% 41% (A) 52% (A)
  38. 38. 38 CUSTOMER CONTACT FREQUENCY n=500 How often do you like a vendor to contact you after you have purchased their product or service? • Customer nurture preferences are almost identical to those of prospects • Larger SMBs prefer more frequent outreach 8% 25% 23% 15% 5% 24% Once a week Once a month Once every three months Once every six months Once a year I prefer to reach out to them as needed VSBs (A) 250n SBs (B) 150n MBs (C) 100n 8% 24% 42% 25% 23% 30% 23% 28% 20% 15% (C) 13% (C) 3% 5% 2% 1% 24% (BC) 10% 4% 25% 24% (A) 42% (AB)
  39. 39. • Your site is critical across the sales cycle – ensure it is intuitive, comprehensive and comprehensible • Content quality drives engagement and impact o Clarity and comprehensibility are key • Broadly speaking, social media works best for awareness • Content is most effective to support research o An email newsletter is an effective way to foster relationships • Your site is the most important medium to close a sale TAKEAWAYS
  40. 40. Research • Product / go-to-market strategy / CE / NPS • Persona / buyer journey • Original data for standout content and PR Strategy • Content strategy • Creative brief / ed cal Content • Original content development • Exclusive SMB focus 40 HOW BREDIN CAN HELP Stu Richards, CEO stu@bredin.com Work with the experts in SMB insight and engagement
  41. 41. THANK YOU 41

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