Enterprise Marketing Vs. SMB Marketing

Founder of 2021 “SEO Agency of the Year” finalist LSEO.com. Serial Entrepreneur. Best-Selling Author (over 100,000 books sold).

Size definitely matters when it comes to marketing. I’ve heard it said that marketing is marketing, period, and that it doesn’t matter if you’re a large enterprise business or a small- to medium-sized business (SMB). At the end of the day, you still need to put your company out there. You need to create a brand, make people aware of it, and engage with the consumers who want what you’re selling. Right?

Well, yes and no.

Broadcasting & Narrowcasting

While it’s true that the fundamental goal of marketing—to bring businesses and consumers together—is ultimately the same regardless of your company’s size or scope, the tools, avenues and strategies you use to achieve that goal are often very different.

That’s because, at their heart, enterprise businesses and SMBs are themselves very different. And not just because one has more resources or employees than the other, although those things definitely play a part. The biggest difference between enterprises and SMBs is their audiences. Sure, there are niche enterprises looking to appeal to specific audiences, just like there are ambitious SMBs looking to target as large an audience as possible. Generally, though, enterprises tend to have much larger, more diverse and more geographically varied audiences than SMBs.

A bigger audience necessitates broadcasting, an approach to marketing that tries to attract a broad cross-section of consumers by targeting commonalities. A smaller audience, meanwhile, necessitates narrowcasting, which appeals to a more specific group of consumers by appealing to their unique interests and attitudes.

When broadcasting, it pays to utilize the full range of avenues available via multichannel or omnichannel marketing. That means coming at users from all angles: social media, email, blogs, landing pages, mobile apps and more. When narrowcasting, meanwhile, it’s often more efficient and effective to focus on one or two channels and pour all your resources into those, rather than risk spreading yourself thin.

Furthermore, consider your business’s SEO strategy. While “specificity” and “relevance” will always be the key words when it comes to keywords, that doesn’t mean you should only be targeting the most hyper-niche of search terms. In fact, if you’re an enterprise trying to broadcast, that can actually be self-defeating.

Enterprises and SMBs tend to use SEO in different ways to accomplish the same things, even if they don’t always realize that. Both SMBs and enterprises want to improve search rankings and increase brand awareness while still driving conversions. The approach of each is necessarily different, though, and it’s due mostly to budget and website ranking abilities.

An enterprise e-commerce business might find it conceivable to rank for seed terms such as “running shoes” or “men’s trench coats” because it can put money behind that content promotion and backlinking. That would tend to make enterprises heavy hitters when it comes to rankings.

SMBs would have to stay away from such competitive terms and expensive promotion and instead target longer-tail, lower-volume terms such as “men’s black trench coats size 40 long” to start building their authority to rank for these keyword groups.

Engagement & Personalization

Sometimes, the biggest obstacle in marketing isn’t getting the consumer through the front door; it’s getting them to like you. As a general rule, most people hate being marketed to. When the average person hears the word “marketing,” they think of cable TV commercials and pre-video YouTube ads. In other words, they think of nuisances and distractions that come between them and the content they really want. Content marketing—ads that are informational or entertaining enough that they are the content people want—is one of the best tools we have to circumvent that negative perception. But another one is engagement.

Engagement can turn marketing from a commercial into a conversation. It’s about putting a human face on your brand, not just a mascot or logo. Once again, how you do this differs whether you’re running an enterprise-level business or an SMB.

For enterprises, the chief method of customer engagement is through social media, influencers and the employment of professional, human support staff (as opposed to relying on chatbots). For SMBs, these things can also be useful, but there should be a greater emphasis on in-person marketing over digital marketing. While SMBs are not inherently “local” businesses, the local market is still very often the bedrock of your business. Building strong relationships with your customers and your community is essential.

Personalization—the process of tailoring your communications to appeal to certain segments of your audience or even specific individuals—goes hand in hand with engagement. In many ways, personalization is what separates good engagement from bad engagement.

Good personalization requires collecting customer data. You have to know your clients well in order to personalize your marketing for them, after all. The bigger the company, the harder it is to get that data firsthand; enterprises often rely on metrics, tracking and analytics. SMBs, meanwhile, are often able to engage in a form of personalization that’s a lot more, well, personal. They have more opportunities to interact directly with their client base.

So, what’s my point? My point is that what matters is what you do with your business’s size. Enterprise-level businesses and SMBs both have their own marketing advantages and disadvantages. Successful marketing involves knowing what those are and leveraging them for all that they’re worth.

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?


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