Small and mid-sized business owners (SMBs) rely on their peers more than almost any other source of information to learn about, research and make a final purchase decision on products and services for their business. But how can you capitalize on SMBs’ desire for peer advice?
To find out, we recently surveyed over 300 U.S. SMB principals. The results are instructive; there are some great learnings on how SMBs define peers; when they rely on peers most; how (and how often) they engage with their peers; and how companies can provide SMBs with peer advice. There are also new learnings on how SMBs think about influencers; which topics they are most likely to turn to influencers for advice; which influencers are top of mind; and the effect on your brand perception, purchase intent and loyalty of providing advice from peers and influencers.
The role of peers in the sales cycle
The value of peer advice
How SMBs define peers
When do SMBs rely on peers most?
How SMBs talk to their peers…
…And what they talk about
How SMBs want you to provide peer advice
How can you capitalize on SMBs’ desire for peer advice? Facilitate in-person meetups. 34% of SMBs prefer this tactic to foster peer communication, followed by presenting content written by peers (31%) and enabling chat with “reference” customers (27%).
What’s the payoff of providing peer advice? Brand perception and revenue. 66% of SMBs feel more positively towards companies that provide access to or advice from their peers, 59% are more likely to do business with those companies, and 65% are more likely to remain customers of those companies.
Independent business experts are another important source of business management advice to SMBs. 24% frequently visit the sites or blogs of independent business experts, 44% trust them for advice on products and services for their business, 28% have clicked on a banner ad on an independent business expert’s site or blog, and 39% have read or viewed content on a vendor’s site that was authored by a third-party business expert.
As with providing peer advice, using influencers to engage with SMBs can have a big payoff; 64% of SMBs agree they feel more positively towards companies that provide advice from independent business experts, and 59% say they are more likely to both do business with and stay customers of those companies.