Bredin Report: Is your content aligned with the SMB sales cycle?

One of the most common problems we see with content for small and midsized businesses (SMBs) is that it is not aligned with their interests. Although this can arise from good intentions – for example, marketers are trying to balance the needs of various internal teams, manage a limited pool of resources and provide content to a wide range of SMBs – the result can be a muddle.

To help you focus your content more effectively, we surveyed 430 SMB principals about their content consumption habits at each stage of the purchase cycle. The goal is to help you better understand when to use each content format to optimize SMB engagement.

Key drivers to top-of-funnel content: search and email

When making a purchase for their business, 66% of SMBs use a search engine to find the content that introduces them to the product or service. Of those, three quarters are searching for product information; the remainder are searching for advice on a business management challenge.

SMBs are not all alike, though. Larger SMBs – those with 20 or more employees – are as likely to search for product and service information as they are for business management advice.

VSBs (SMBs with <20 employees) are also different from SMBs with more than 20 employees in that two thirds of VSBs prefer to search for business management advice when they have a business challenge. By contrast only 27% of SMBs with 20-99 employees and 24% of those with 100-500 employees, say the same. Many of these larger SMBs prefer to get business management advice unprompted, via an email newsletter.

How much content do you need? Depends on the stage

Asked how many pieces of content they consumed at each stage of the sales cycle, a slim majority said “1 or 2” at the awareness and purchase decision phase. At the research phase, the plurality (35%) selected “3 to 5.” 10% consume “6 to 10” pieces of content at this stage.

Overall content consumption is much higher for SMBs with 20-500 employees than for VSBs. This speaks both to the specialization of roles within those companies and the larger expense associated with many of their purchases.

The formats that drive awareness

What formats work best to drive awareness? Articles, research reports and analyst reports. That’s especially true for midsized businesses. As a company grows and adds more staff to devote to particular solutions, they invest more time researching products and services for their business.

Want all the details?

We’d be happy to share the entire 11/2 presentation. Just email us at The presentation includes a detailed breakdown of:

  • The content format SMBs prefer at each sales cycle stage
  • The balance of product information and management advice they seek
  • What drives SMBs to your content
  • The aspects of content that get SMBs to take action

Where relevant, the information is broken down by respondent age, industry, and growth outlook. If you have any questions, about the data please reach out for a consultation.

About Bredin

Bredin was founded in 1991 by America's foremost small business expert, author and syndicated columnist Alice Bredin. From its beginning, Bredin was designed to be a breed apart: 50% research consultancy, 50% creative agency, 100% focused on SMB. Based in Somerville, Mass., Bredin helps Fortune 500 companies understand, reach and retain SMB customers through timely, targeted research and award-winning marketing programs.