Reaching small business customers: change what you can control, influence what you can’t

Small business owner

When customers aren’t engaging in the way you expect them to, the solution isn’t always easy to find. Do you need to change tracks in your marketing? Revamp your sales process? And what about finding new potential customers?

It can be even harder if you’re a company supplying tech solutions to small businesses. Often small business owners and sole traders  aren’t even aware of the tech they need or the solutions that are out there for them. But if you’re trying to make a positive change for those businesses, the best way forward isn’t necessarily to spend more money – it’s to be smarter about what’s in your control, and leverage the influence you already have.

See the opportunity that’s already in your hands

When we talk about gaining new customers, we often think more about finding prospects we’ve never interacted with before. But chances are, not every small business owner who has engaged with your company before came onboard as a customer, and there’s as much opportunity to be found in those warmer leads as in wholly new contacts.

You’ll always have more control over gaining customers from your existing contacts. They’re already aware of your company and what you do, the first step has been taken. And while you can’t control what your potential customers do after entering your sales funnel, you can control how you interact with them.

Look closely at your CRM data and your lead captures. That information has been gathered for a reason, and it’s an invaluable resource for guiding how you engage with your small business customers. Analyse the data and find the gaps. Who’s in your database but hasn’t bought from you yet? Who’s engaged in the past but drifted away? If you’re expanding the digital tools you offer, who in your target audience will be most interested in buying them?

Think as well about what each business in your customer base is trying to do. Small businesses are unique, and they’ll each engage with you differently depending on their mission, their industry and what stage they’re at in their own business journey. Once you know what each customer is looking for, you can  be smart about how you reach them.

The best way for your messaging to resonate with your small business customers is to act on what you know about their behaviour. If you aren’t working with the information you’ve got before you, there’s always a risk of spending money on marketing channels and not getting the return you want from them.

If you’re not on their radar, influence their awareness

What about reaching entirely new customers who have never interacted with you before? Those potential leads are completely out of your control – you have no data about who they are, what tech they’re looking for, or what they’re most likely to engage with.

When control isn’t an option, you need to work on influencing them instead. You can’t ask small business owners to buy from you if they’ve never interacted with you before, so start by building up their awareness of who you are and the support you can offer them.

Sometimes this is a case of making clever use of what’s already in front of you. Small business owners often look out for each other as part of a larger community, and are quick to share the solutions they’ve found with each other. If one small business owner hears how much their friend has benefitted from setting up their own website, that can influence them more than any marketing.

Incentivise that word of mouth spread by offering rewards like referral discounts to your existing customers. They already know who you are and just what you can do for a small business trying to go digital – if you can influence them into carrying that message forward, they can become powerful advocates to your potential new customers.

Learn to see your tech through their eyes

Sometimes the difficulty with influencing new prospective customers isn’t only that you don’t have data on what they’ll best respond to. It’s that when it comes to tech, small business owners aren’t aware of what they need in the first place. There’s an assumption that tech is too complicated or unwieldy for the kind of business they run. And when that’s the case, influencing them starts with  changing how they perceive tech itself.

Think about who your target customers are and what’s at the top of their mind. Online bookings is a growing market, but your customers might not be thinking about an  online booking system yet. They might, however, be looking for ways to get a better work-life balance without losing out on income.

So instead of crafting messaging around how many more customers they can attract with online bookings, focus more on the amount of time that software can save them each day compared to making appointments over the phone.

You might not have data on small businesses you’ve never interacted with before. But you do have data gathered from your existing customers and contacts, and you can use that to make educated decisions about what will resonate most with potential new customers.

It’s about learning as much as you can from the information you have to hand. You’ve seen small business owners embark on a journey with you already, and it gives you a better chance at resonating with them if you’ve got some idea of where they’re coming from.

We’re on a  mission for tech democracy for small businesses – are you in? Request a demo of our software, or  get in touch to see how we could collaborate.

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