In a recent report on SME Marketing Channel Preferences, Circle Research looked at SME's ranging from one-man-bands through to larger SME's (50-249 employees) to determine which marketing channels they rated as their preference for being effective in reaching them.Posted by: David Regler @
These findings can be useful when deciding on lead generation tactics to engage this market.
A word of warning, though, the preferences of your prospect doesn't always mean that it's the most effective channel in terms of ROI, but it can be a good indication.
A couple of key findings for me, and ones that correlate with our direct experience running campaigns into this sector, are:
Telemarketing is not ideal for smaller SME's - I think it's a combination of over use, time-poor decision makers and high number of gatekeepers (everyone in a small business treats the boss as god, in fact, you've more chance of pitching the almighty that the MD of a small business).
When you combine the difficulty of getting the message through with typical lower sales values (because smaller companies have smaller budgets) it makes targeting SME's with telemarketing almost unworkable. I say almost because, if you've got some clout (ie: calling with some authority and a highly targeted relevant proposition) then it can work.
The research also indicates that telemarketing becomes more effective for the larger SME's. This is typically because you're pitching a functional decision maker so can be more targeted and relevant. Plus, the potential sales value goes up, making a positive ROI more likely.
Prioritise Digital Channels - search and email are both proven and preferred channels for engaging SME's. In terms of outreach, we've used email effectively for SME lead generation campaigns. Also, an integrated telemarketing and email campaign can be even more effective in this market.
Search should be a no-brainer channel but, in our experience, it's not always the holy grail in terms of ROI. For many B2B companies selling services, keywords can be too broad and, in terms of PPC, too expensive to deliver a compelling ROI.
In summary, if you need to target smaller SME's then ignore stand-alone telemarketing and prioritise digital channels or integrate telemarketing with an email campaign.
For medium to large SME's (and even more so with mid-sector and large companies) then telemarketing still remains and effective channel but, as always, make sure any lead generation campaign is both targeted and relevant to get maximum ROI for your budget.