Find the Pain Points at SMBs

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Experienced small- and midsize-business marketers know that frequency - getting your message in front of a prospect at the exact right moment in the buy cycle - is essential to campaign performance.

But to really ratchet up results, we need to match an optimal frequency of communications with an optimal relevancy of communications. To do that, we need to customize our messaging based on each prospect's specific pain points.

Here's why. While so many SMB marketers we observe segment messaging solely by job title (or simply by focusing on the owner), daily SMB life works a little differently than in larger companies:

• Most SMB procurement decisions are made, or at least influenced, by non-owners.

• Job descriptions are often quite muddy within small organizations.

• Everyone wears many hats.

Within an SMB, an assistant may perform marketing functions (such as producing an e-newsletter), a bookkeeper may act as the office manager and a marketing manager may serve as an unofficial IT manager.

This means there is no direct way to know upfront what a prospect's pain point might be. But by accepting this dynamic, a marketer can build communications programs that let SMB employees self-select their needs and describe the roles they serve. This approach addresses the fact that the SMB prospect wants to hear specific information at each point of the buy cycle, the order of which is hard to predict.

To get started with this approach, explore all SMB communication tactics that allow for two-way communication. Then build a decision-tree branch that frames your product/service benefits as either questions the prospect can answer or as a range of options among which he may choose.

How might this work? Here's an example from our agency. While working with a business-to-business financial services company, we decided to test a new telemarketing lead-generation script built around prospect pain points. The company's control script had been successful by engaging prospects with the quantifiable potential to build incremental sales - considered by all to be the strongest value proposition.

In our test script, we coaxed the prospect to self-select her major pain point related to our client's product, took her down an appropriate branch of the script that probed for further detail, served an informational offer specific to the stated problem and then qualified the prospect either as worthy of an immediate transfer to outside sales or as a prospect for lead nurture.

After the first day, our test script was outperforming the control, and fewer than half of prospects were going down the "incremental sales" branch that was the sole focus of our control script. By the third day, we switched completely to the test script, and it has been our control ever since.

With proper planning, any direct response tactic may be used for this approach: direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing, online advertising, DR print, search, even DRTV. The key is to get an understanding of the many pain points your product or service might address and use them to create relevant dialogues.

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