SMB Owners Obsess About Finding New Customers

BY Kathy Crosett
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As another new year approaches, small business owners are setting their plans — most especially finding new customers. Following the COVID-​19 pandemic and the ongoing trend of consumers purchasing goods online, SMBs face challenges. Specifically, the researchers at Taradel report that SMBs must tackle their marketing challenges.

Finding New Customers

Finding new customers is a challenge for any business. It’s always less expensive to sell more products and services to existing customers. But to achieve significant growth, SMBs will need new customers. 

23% of SMB owners in Taradel’s 2023 SMB Marketing Survey indicate that lead generation is a key goal. Similarly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce notes one of SMBs biggest challenges is lack of demand. As they struggle to “build brand recognition and consumer trust,” the owners compete in a challenging marketplace. 

It takes time to build a reputation in the local market. Unfortunately, 65% of businesses fail within 10 years of their start date. The lack of good leads is certainly a contributing factor.

Lead Generation

New leads can come from a variety of sources. Not all of them are equally valuable. In fact, SMBs say 26% of referral-​based leads are most valuable, according to Taradel. And 22% derive the most value from phone calls.

It’s worth asking what prompts prospects to call a local business. Often, marketing has driven a consumer to take action. These days, buying an ad in the local weekly shopper is not a sufficient marketing effort.

In fact, SMBs are using multiple forms of advertising to reach their target audiences. The formats most frequently used by SMBs, according to the Taradel survey are:

  • Facebook 68.5%
  • Email 66.2%
  • Direct mail 60%

These advertising investments are delivering results. SMBs say that those formats also get them the highest ROI.

Social Media

While buying Facebook ads is a step taken by many SMBs, it might be time for your clients to move to the next level. This means exploring social commerce. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce encourages SMB owners to explore the option of letting customers “engage with your brand on social media while purchasing and checking out directly from your social channels.”

If your clients aren’t ready to find new customers that way, they might want to explore using influencers. A local influencer with a small following can make a big difference for your small business client. Using a local influencer can generate an engagement rate of close to 7%, far higher than a larger influencer.‰

How to Sell Advertising to Local SMBs

Media sales reps should know that they can’t expect to call on a small business and sell media space for the next week. Taradel analysts point out that 29% of these business owners “advertise as needed with no prior campaign planning.” The rest don’t. At least 34% plan their advertising strategy several months in advance.

When selling ad space, media reps need to think several months ahead. Using the Prospect by Month tool in AdMall, powered by SalesFuel, they can plan out which business types are most likely to be running promotions. From there they can assist in finding new customers for their clients.

Targeting the Right Audiences

Because SMBs have limited resources, they must target the right audiences with the right messages at the right time. Many local SMBs focus on niche audiences. 

The local tack shop needs to connect with horse owners. And the local aquarium shop will want to sell more to tropical fish lovers. To understand what media formats spur local audiences to take action, such as visiting a local retailer, check out the AudienceSCAN profiles available in AdMall.

You want your clients to start the new year with a proactive marketing plan. Use AdMall data to create your marketing pitch. And help your clients keep their most important New Year’s Resolutions: finding new customers.

Photo on Pexels by Ketut Subiyanto