Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

David Byrd : Byrd's Eye View
David Byrd
Chief Marketing Officer for ANPI

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

Consider that years ago attempting to market to SMBs was a very expensive proposition. The number of SMBs is in the millions and traditional mass marketing cost is in the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. With the advent of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) that has changed. In fact, it is easier to model the buying behavior of SMBs today than Enterprises. In the mid 1900s SMBs bought and sold based upon word of mouth, trusted business associates and business organization recommendations. While these elements are still factored into the buying process, most SMBs begin the process with a web search. Initially, they search for information regarding the product’s features and functions. Next they search for suppliers, and after contacting a few, they are empowered with pricing information to work towards a buying decision. Finally, the web may be used to verify claims, seek out information that is either supportive or negative about a given supplier or determine other alternatives.

Like consumers, SMBs have found the web to be a great source of information that previously took many hours to accumulate. The cost and difficulty in reaching SMBs and presenting your company’s products has been greatly reduced. Using SEM tools, SMBs can be targeted by city, region, state, country or even globally. It is important to understand your product offering and how a SMB is going to query for it. By way of example, a SMB interested in a modern phone system may begin by typing “modern phone system” or “upgrading business phone systems”. After reading a few of the articles associated with those terms, the business owner would realize that IP phone systems and VoIP are the technologies most recommended. Now the search terms focus on “IP Phone XXXX”, “VoIP XXXX” or “Business VoIP XXXX”.  As the SMB researcher understands the products and how his business can be improved, it becomes necessary to find someone from whom to purchase the phone system. Using SEM, VARs and agents can get themselves listed whenever the SMB types in the query and the name of a city or town.

The cost to be listed is nothing as the VAR or agents is only charged when the SMB clicks on the web advertisement. The VAR should have the target city or town included in the ad as that provides a sense of local reach and trust. For example, “VoIP Phone System Dallas” does bring up one of our top selling VARs on the first page of Google as an organic search but no local business advertisements. That is a lost opportunity for local phone equipment businesses.

This is probably my fourth or fifth blog on using SEM and certainly my most specific. The reason I continue to push the use of SEM for geo-targeting new business and prospects, is that I continue to hear how hard it is to prospect and generate new revenue. Many of our VARs have downsized over the last couple of years as business sales have slowed but it remains almost impossible to get them to change their marketing methods to match those of the buying community. Listen up, cold calling, while not dead, probably should be. Improving your website design for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will do more for your business than a full week of cold calling.

Marketing and selling to SMBs is quite frankly as easy as it has ever been. Teaching old dogs new tricks is the hard part. Remember, if you are a member of the Broadvox Partner Program, we will provide you professional advice on leveraging SEM and SEO at no cost to you. We want you to sell more so that we sell more. It’s that simple.

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