We already know that more and more of your business customers are small business owners, and this rise of ‘Small Office/Home Office’ workers means that you are more likely than ever to be dealing with individuals, rather than companies with many employees and huge resources. While this can make life simpler when speaking to them, it also requires a different approach compared to the usual business customer. We’d never advocate treating all your SOHO customers the same, as everybody’s different, but here are a few general characteristics you might see again and again:
They’re busy. Really busy.
Unlike larger businesses, which often have teams to cover individual functions, such as finance, marketing and sales, SOHOs are often run by one or two people. This means that these people end up juggling many different responsibilities, and take on many different roles, which can all take up a significant amount of their time. While the teams within larger organisations have much bigger budgets to spend on tools and technology to support their business and ensure their teams are working efficiently – something SOHOs just don’t have the time or resources for.
Because they aren’t part of a larger team, your SOHO customers make buying decisions as individuals; more like your typical consumers than you would expect. The rise of the ‘prosumer’, or professional consumer, is closely tied in with this: as the number of small businesses grows, the distinction between producers and consumers is becoming much less clear-cut. They need the products they use to work for them, and the growing market for business tools means that they are able to have much more of a say in how this might look. They are individuals, buying as individuals, but with the same drive and goals as many much larger companies.
…but they’re also part of a crowd
The increase in the amount of small businesses starting up is great – it means that more and more people can work flexibly, chase (and realise) their dreams and fill previously neglected gaps in the market. However, it also means that SOHOs are now vying for attention in a crowded area. Whereas online and social media presence were once things which set businesses apart, it is now necessary to go a step further and have a great online and social media presence. This includes building a credible website, focusing on search rankings, using social advertising…the list goes on. As a result, SOHO customers are always looking for ways to make setting themselves apart easier and more effective.
They have conflicting priorities
As mentioned above, your SOHO customers have to wear many hats, filling the roles of CEO, Marketing Manager and Administrator, to name a few. Not only this, but many of them are also juggling other commitments, such as full- or part-time jobs, families or study. In a world where most things are online, people are no longer forced to choose between these things – with the right tools, they can have it all! For this to work, they need to be able to squeeze productivity out of every spare second, no matter where they are. Mobility is therefore key – products that work on multiple devices can be instrumental in allowing them to keep juggling priorities.
They’ve got big dreams
Starting a business is no walk in the park, so most people who follow through with it do so because they’ve got an idea they believe in. As SOHOs are often run solely by the person behind the idea, this enthusiasm can carry through into everything they do. The SOHO market is an exciting one, and as a result, the products and services you sell could not only gain you loyal customers and a stellar reputation, but they could also play a key part in helping these customers to achieve their goals!
Obviously we’re not claiming to know every single SOHO customer (although we’d love to be in a room with that much entrepreneurial spirit!), but these are just some of the key traits we’ve seen in the past decade. It becomes much easier to create strong relationships with them when you keep these in mind; if you know who you’re selling to, working with or helping, you can ensure that you offer them what they really want.
We know how important it is to offer your customers exactly what they want and need, which is why we’ve created BaseKit’s web presence solution with small businesses in mind from start to finish. To find out how we could help you to create lifelong relationships with your SOHO customers, contact our partnership team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or head over to the contact page.