Use Pull Marketing to Communicate with the SMB Market

In his April 17, 2012 blog post at, Ray Schultz addressed the issue of How Brands Are Failing Small Businesses. Schultz makes a number of important points in the post but one of the most interesting is the high cost of the disconnect that exists between how business owners learn and how marketers attempt to reach them.

According to a major survey by Inc. magazine and Cargo, a B2B agency, here are the channels that business owners deem important in learning about products and services:

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  • Search engines  – 85%
  • Business blogs / websites  – 85%
  • Business magazines  – 83%
  • Trade shows / events  – 77%
  • Newspapers  – 48%
  • Radio news / business channels  – 47%
  • Television  – 38%
  • Billboards  – 15%

There is no doubt that most (not all) business owners use computers in to run their operations. There are exceptions but most are at least somewhat technology literate. Note from the list above that the two top categories business owners use for information gathering about purchases are search engines and websites/blogs. In other words, prospects want to learn about you online, so why do some companies make it so difficult for them to do so? And even though your customers may be in industries that are slow technology adaptors, why not appeal to the segment that is further in the adoption curve? Chances are, your competitors are not doing this.

We are almost five months into the year 2012. This might be a good time to evaluate where you are putting your marketing time and money. If you are marketing to consumers – the push marketing media at the bottom of the list (newspapers, radio, TV and billboards) – may be a good use of your resources. However, if your target is business owners, I suggest you focus your efforts on promoting your message in the media that are most likely to be seen by your potential customers. I suggest you do this by taking three important pull marketing steps:

  1. Create an informative and engaging website that tells potential customers exactly what you do and why you are different and/or better than the alternatives. I provided additional ideas on engaging your prosects in an earlier post on, staying in touch with prospects.
  2. Do everything you can (especially organic search optimization) to make your company/website easy to find online. (Why you need a strong web presence)
  3. Have the right mechanisms in place to convert website visitors into engaged prospects. In fact, lead generation should be a key component of your website strategy.

If you are currently relying on push marketing to generate leads and awareness, by all means keep doing what works. But if you are finding your results slipping, it may be that your target audience wants to learn about you and buy in their way, on their timetable. And that’s why – whether you are selling to the Fortune 500 or the local small business, you should add online pull marketing techniques to your repertoire.

Christopher Ryan
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  • Kim Trebold May 15, 2012   Reply →

    These are great stats for how to communicate with the SMB market. Thanks.

  • Hannah Hamilton May 18, 2012   Reply →

    Hi Christopher. Well, I’m not surprised that search engines and blogs/websites comprise a majority of percentage in the channels which business owners consider important in learning about goods and services. Consumers nowadays are already digitally informed and Web-savvy that they’d rather check the Net for the reviews (from other consumers as well) on certain product than believe those billboards.

  • Gowtham August 16, 2012   Reply →

    I will surely use push marketing method for my local SMB

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