Calling All Small Businesses
By Irene Cherkassky
BellSouth leverages database precision and creative finesse to connect with the small business market.
As the southeast market leader in its category, it's no surprise that communications services provider BellSouth prides itself on keeping open the lines of communication with its customers. "Listening. Answering," not only is the motto for the Atlanta-based marketer, it also offers insight into the company's top priority and the key to its success: its dedication to understanding, and then meeting, customers' needs. With this priority in mind, the company recently retooled its new customer program for its small business customers. The result is a campaign shaped by a deep awareness of customers' needs and executed via a disciplined contact strategy.
The Big Deal of Small Business
Small business is one of four major customer bases that make up the company's core Communications Group segment—the other three include consumer, large business and interconnection services. Last year, the earnings from the small business market made up 12 percent of the revenue of the BellSouth Communications Group, which itself generated 90 percent of the company's estimated $28 billion in revenue in 2004. It's no surprise then that the Fortune 100 company has placed a premium on nurturing its small business customers. That nurturing becomes even more important given the fiercely competitive nature of the communications services provider category and as the range of service options available to customers grows more complex. New small business customers presently make up approximately 5 percent of BellSouth Small Business Services' total revenue.
"It's also a really significant part of that revenue from the standpoint that [new business customers are] very vulnerable to competitors and general churn," says Tim Barnes, director of customer segmentation for small business marketing, BellSouth. "We have to pay special attention to it to maximize that percentage."