Effectively reaching small business owners is, sometimes, challenging for marketers. Because every business owner is also a consumer, cross-segmentation is almost essential in creating campaigns that will speak to each niche under the broad small business umbrella. To that end, Experian recently conducted a marketing study about the topic and has released its report, “The Small Business Owner,” detailing tactics for B-to-B marketers to reach micro-segments. The report looks at the small business owner from the consumer perspective, providing a more detailed picture of an audience that is commonly difficult to reach.
According to Denise Hopkins, vice president of marketing and product development for Experian, “Some things that we found in the study provide really good insight into the small business themselves.” For companies that want to target this market, she says, “Don’t treat small business as a segment in and of itself; there are about 26 million businesses in the country, and 99 percent are considered small businesses. You need to micro-segment within the small business space; then you can look at the small business owner as a business and a consumer. What motivates them to buy is influenced from both business needs and consumer behaviors and attitudes.”
For example, Experian recently conducted an analysis of a few SIC codes within this market. Hopkins explains that analyzing the dominant characteristics for small food stores and small apparel accessory stores produces clear differences in buying habits. “If you look at the owners of small food stores [and] then look at [the owners of] small apparel stores, [the former] tend to be more ethnic-based.” She says the owners of apparel stores tend to be an affluent, suburban population. “Most people will target by the SIC code and maybe the number of years in business,” Hopkins says. “If you look at only that selection criteria, you will treat these two business owners the same. It is not until you apply the behavioral information that you will make that distinction and be able to create more effective marketing copy.”
Cross-segmenting business prospects against the consumer data is very useful, according to Hopkins. The messaging you use to target each micro-segment should relate to the overall demographics and purchasing habits of each niche. According to Hopkins, the messaging for the small food store micro-segment is in the “no time like the present” vein. She says this segment is composed of risk-takers who identify with material goals; they are very motivated by celebrity testimonials and they tend to associate with brand names.
Hopkins also says that when targeting apparel store owners, remember that “they fall into that ‘work hard/play hard,’ category.” She notes that business owners in this segment look for prestige in items they purchase; they are motivated by image and social status; and they are “the ‘stop and smell the roses’ type that values healthy living and things that will give them the type of lifestyle they are looking for.”
When marketing to each micro-segment in your target audience, “You want to apply that [level of] knowledge in your copy and your imagery,” Hopkins says. “By profiling your customer, you are digging in at a granulated level to help you understand the segment you are going after and make sure the offers are relevant.”