Bredin Report: What messaging motivates SMBs?

Each month, we survey 500 SMB principals to keep track of their evolving needs and priorities. We recently asked what messaging motivates them to make a purchase of a product or service for their business. The results are intriguing:

  • Very small businesses (VSBs, <20 employees) rate excellent customer service most important – 80% rate it extremely or very important. If you sell to VSBs, reassuring them that you’ll be there for them after the sale is key to making the sale. VSBs are by definition short on internal resources and value the vendors who can help them resolve problems.
  • VSBs rate reducing costs and saving time as the next most important benefits of a vendors’ solution (tied at 79%). Be careful, though, if you use this messaging; it can easily be overlooked since it is used so often. Instead of a generic cost- or time-savings claim, present specifics on how much customers have benefited from your offerings.
  • Small businesses (SBs, 20 to 99 employees) also rate excellent customer service most important (84%). Like VSBs, they want to know you’ll help them get the most from your offering. SBs rate grows with your business next most important (83%). SBs tend to grow faster than VSBs, and as a result want to be sure the solutions they adopt can accommodate their expansion.

How important are each of these product or service benefits, when you are considering buying something for your business?

  • Saves time / boosts productivity and increases data security are tied for third most important benefit among SBs. Obviously data security applies only to tech-related offerings, but if your solution provides that, make sure you communicate it. In this and other Bredin research, data security ranks very high among SB concerns…
  • … and it the ranks as the most important benefit (86%) among mid-sized businesses (MBs, 100 to 500 employees). With evolving security threats and the added security challenge of a home-based workforce, MBs want to understand how your tech solution will keep their apps and data secure and available.
  • MBs rate helps us get new customers and helps us provide better customer service the second most important benefit (tied at 84%) of vendor solutions. MBs are focused on revenue growth, whether through customer acquisition or retention and upsell. To the degree that your solutions help with these important functions, support your message with specific customer examples.
  • The least important benefit? Lowest cost in its category, for VSBs (47%) and SBs (58%). While SMBs – and especially smaller SMBs – are cost-conscious, especially in this pandemic-driven recession, they are still more concerned with value. For MBs, integrated suite (62%) is the least-compelling message; they place much more of a premium on best-in-class or tailored functionality than interoperability.

Whatever messaging you use for new products, be sure to test it before launch with your target audience – you may find that what resonates in your product category, target audience and competitive set is quite different from this generic research. It’s also good practice to test longstanding positioning from time to time, to be sure it still resonates with evolving SMB needs and preferences. Bredin can help you optimize your SMB messaging through full-service market research.

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.