Bredin Report: Mastering Digital Acquisition of SMBs

At the Small Biz Banking conference in Nashville recently, our CEO Stu Richards talked with Jamal Miller, senior director of product marketing at Intuit Mailchimp and Rob Parsons, manager of content and brand at Paychex, about how their companies attract and engage SMBs.

Stu Richards of Bredin, Jamal Miller of Intuit Mailchimp and Rob Parsons of Paychex at the Small Biz Banking conference.

Stu Richards of Bredin, Jamal Miller of Intuit Mailchimp and Rob Parsons of Paychex at the Small Biz Banking conference.

STU RICHARDS: What’s important to keep in mind when you’re trying to reach SMB decision-makers?

JAMAL MILLER: We do a lot to build content at the top of the funnel that might have nothing to do with marketing automation or small businesses, but it can build awareness and help us gather first-party data. For example, we have a content platform called Mailchimp Presents that celebrates creativity. In one recent podcast series, we talked with singer-songwriter Björk, who discussed the recording of several of her albums. The idea of walking through someone’s creative process resonates with small business owners and gives us an opportunity to engage with that audience in an unexpected way.

ROB PARSONS: You need to meet businesses where they are — many small business owners aren’t sitting at desks. They’re doing research on their phones while out at job sites, or when they are at home after-hours. You need to be on the places and platforms where they live. And, you can’t be selling all the time. A lot of people talk about being a trusted advisor and then actually deliver sales material. At Paychex, what we’re trying to be is a trusted educator and really focus on the value of our content that will help us build relationships.

RICHARDS: How do your teams determine what channels and tools to use?

MILLER: Email is our best performing channel to engage with both existing customers and prospects, to give them updates and show them how our products can help them improve their businesses. Search engine optimization (SEO) is big for us too. We do a lot of work to make sure content shows up at the top of rankings for the key marketing terms we know work with the small businesses that are important to Paychex. SEO is not a one-time project. It needs to part of your everyday marketing, and you need to keep on top of trends so that you are constantly improving.

PARSONS: You need to experiment and measure the results to see what moves the needle. We’ve found that including original research in content performs well, because it allows us to share insight that our competitors can’t provide. Repurposing content in multiple ways also works well. For example, if you record podcasts on video, you can then share them on multiple channels like YouTube and Spotify. And, you can then use that video to create an on-demand webinar or use the transcript to craft a blog post.

MILLER: Video has been a huge content channel for us. When a small business owner is searching for something, they’ll often go to YouTube to see if a peer has done their own research to find a solution for their problem. Video has the benefit of creating a human interaction.

RICHARDS: How are you keeping existing customers engaged with your products?

MILLER: It’s important to share content throughout the customer lifecycle. We offer our users content to help them benchmark themselves against peers in their space. In early October, for example, we hosted a virtual event to show users how they can get the most out of Mailchimp’s tools and services to improve their holiday marketing season.

PARSONS: Keeping our customers engaged and informed is a huge part of our webinar program. There are different layers — we educate them on features of products they may already have but not be aware of, to deepen their relationship with our products and services. We also keep them abreast of regulatory and compliance changes, which is a huge part of Paychex’s brand promise. Everyone is enamored with acquisition, but retention is where the money is.

Need help understanding and/or engaging SMBs? Bredin can help you understand SMB needs and preferences through quick-turn, actionable market research. We can also help you develop high-value content to boost SMB awareness, brand perception, leads, conversion and revenue.

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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.