In this season of indulging, it’s a six-pack of mobile strategies for small and medium-sized businesses that feels right.
The list on streetfightmag.com http://streetfightmag.com/2013/12/09/6-strategies-for-helping-smbs-understand-the-importance-of-mobile/ includes ideas and commentary from several who work with SMBs every day.
I’ll share the strategies here and give you my take on each:
1. Be straightforward about the costs and benefits. “Vendors should focus their ‘cost/benefit’ explanations on practical information. Many marketers tend to use channel-specific metrics or high-level statistics, which at Spotfront we’ve found isn’t necessarily meaningful to SMBs. Instead, I would recommend emphasizing — and if possible actually visualizing or calculating in real-time — the ways that an improved mobile presence can actually impact a business. Quantitative metrics related to customers, products and revenue are most valuable. By putting mobile into business-impact-specific terms, a mobile pitch becomes more relevant and understandable.” (Alex Sherman, Spotfront)
Me: This is the only way to go. Tell them how they will sell more dresses, hamburgers or dance lessons or they will Cha-Cha away.
2. Take a proactive approach. “SMBs are extremely conservative when it comes to trying new things. The risk is mainly their time. Hence, they all lament the sales calls. Depending on your service, go out and just put merchants in your mobile technology process as if they were paying customers. What we have done at near9 is put published offers on our platform that we have seen in print and online. The consumer base we have developed sees the offers, visits the business, displays the offer, and as you might expect, the merchant then ‘sees the light.’” (Dana Ward, Near9)
Me: This works in theory, but I wonder how many SMBs have the time to “window shop” for mobile proof.
3. Put up a good offense. “I like to describe the ‘offensive’ and ‘defensive’ reasons to integrate mobile. Offensively, consumers are addicted to their mobile devices and increasingly expect their favorite retailers to support mobile ordering, payment, etc. You’ll get more business if you offer more ways for consumers to interact. Defensively, your competitors are integrating mobile, making them more attractive to the younger generation of digital native consumers. Don’t get left behind.” (Matt Niehaus, Instore)
Me: Selling a defensive stance doesn’t sound right to me, but the understanding of what competitors are doing is critical for SMBs.
4. Augment existing solutions with turnkey components. “SMBs don’t particularly love point solutions. Mobile should be an important extension of an existing business presence, marketing or commerce strategy for an SMB, instead of its own separate channel. To that end, vendors that are currently ‘on the plan’ for website creation, online marketing and e-commerce back-end should be focused on augmenting their existing product packages to include automated mobile components. It may be an upsell, but it’s a mutually beneficial one.” (Alex Sherman, Spotfront)
Me: The less you ask the business owner to do, the better.
5. Show originality. “We suggest leveraging mobile targeting technology, breakthrough creative and real-time campaign optimization to maximize ROI. Smartphones and tablets present creative minds with new canvases to create compelling, original advertising. By creating ads that integrate the features and user behaviors unique to each platform, breakthrough mobile and tablet ad creative can provide both dazzling and utilitarian ad experiences.” (Michael Hayes UberMedia)
Me: SMBs have little time for optimization. See turnkey commentary.
6. Do it and demonstrate it. “Vendors need to provide it, do it and show it. Mobile technologies looking to serve SMBs are up against an ‘immoveable object.’ Operate your services for a period of time to demonstrate the effect you can have on the SMB’s business, and report back to them on analytics and what you have been able to accomplish, such as clicks and views. Vendors need to do and demonstrate much more to teach local merchants the importance of mobile.” (Dana Ward, Near9)
Me: Analytics are key, but in my experience, SMBs want them in small, digestible forms given other priorities and a lack of category expertise.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program http://Goo.gl/t3fgW, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.