Brands Don’t Understand Canadian SBOs’ Needs


It is a common knowledge that, in order to perform a sale, you have to address a need. And, when you try to sell something to someone, you’d better know that entity: its needs, characteristics, etc. It seems that such elementary elements aren’t known by brands that try to sell to Canadian small business. According to a recent study performed by Cargo, brands actually ignore small businesses needs, even if they in fact try to sell them various products.

This nationwide survey among Small Business Owners revealed that almost 48% of the small business owners (SBOs) want to know how that product is relevant for their business, while 42% of them want to know how that product benefits their company. Brands can influence SBOs through tradeshows and events, cited as the way to reach them, followed by search engines, business magazines, television, media websites, online advertising, business blogs and social media, in that order.

“With all the focus that’s placed on technology and digital communications today,” says Cargo Managing Director Dan Gliatta, “it may come as a surprise to many B2SB marketers that ‘old school’ vehicles like events, magazines and TV still have a profound influence on small businesses. Cargo has taken a deep dive into these surface level findings to get to the core of small business decision making so we can help marketers maximize their investment toward this lucrative, but largely misunderstood, audience.”

SBOs don’t seem to have a good opinion on brands and their attempts, from the marketingpoint of view, in reaching and influence their purchasing decisions. 44% of the small business owners surveyed consider that brands/companies do not understand their needs, 48% say companies do not make an effort to understand their business and 42% of the SBOs mention that companies try to sell to them versus talk to them. This last point is also interesting if we think of social media and selling through social media vs. engaging, creating relations and communicating (that includes receiving feedback) using the new channels available.

The study also revealed several habits SBOs have, elements that could help marketers and companies better understand them and when and how is the best way to approach them. For instance, 60% of SBOs spend 1 to 3 hours checking/writing email daily, while 56% of SBOs use tablet or phone apps for business daily. As perhaps expected, Monday is the most active day of the week, and 2-5pm is the most active time of day for online usage. SBOs spend a lot of time online: 64% of them spend 1-5 hours per day viewing/searching Internet for business purposes, while 14% spend more than 5 hours per day on the Internet. Also, 28% spend more than 3 hours checking/writing email daily.

It is clear from these findings that there are many ways brands can reach SBOs, using traditional marketing tools and channels, as well as newer ways of connecting with them. What’s more important is that the client side feels that the companies that are trying to sell to them don’t care about them at all and all they want to do is to make sales. This survey is part of the “B-Side Marketing Project,” started in 2012 in the US, a project that focuses on the current state of small businesses and how brands market to them. You can read the full report of the Canadian B-Side Marketing Project here.

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