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Navigating the SMB Gold Rush: A Tactical Roadmap for Channel Partners

Today, we’re voyaging into a topic that should be scribbled at the top of your digital notepads: the increasing technology needs and spending among Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs).

Don’t consider this a run-of-the-mill discussion about opportunity and numbers. While that data is impressive, and if you haven’t seen it, you should be following Jay McBain at Canalys, who recently shared that SMB will drive 44% of total IT spending this year – or $2 trillion worldwide. 138.3 million (or 99.9%) of all businesses are in the 1-499 employee range, employing over 2/3 of all working people. And best of all, 80% of that SMB business is done through the channel! (Follow Jay here

But yours truly is not here for the review or update of numbers – I am here to get surgical about how you can take that opportunity and turn it into money for your business. After all, that’s what matters to you – that you can apply a strategy to all that growth that delivers profit to your business. So, no more relying on chance; it’s time to go beyond ‘coincidental success’ and become the go-to choice for SMB technology solutions and services in your ideal market. Ready for the playbook? I can feel your excitement—or is that just the hum of your servers? Either way, let’s get started.

Part 1: The ‘Why’ Behind SMB IT Spending Surge

SMBs have been dramatically upscaling their IT investments. Why? They have caught onto the fact that investing in technology isn’t just a big-player game anymore. From cloud infrastructure to cybersecurity, SMBs are turning to tech solutions as growth catalysts. These solutions are solving problems for them daily; using technology to overcome staff shortages, security risks, and the need for better customer experiences, many SMBs are becoming tech-led companies! In fact, according to Gartner, SMB IT spending is set to increase by 7.5% in 2023 alone. That’s a lot of dollars flying around, and more of them should be heading your way.

Part 2: Take Aim, Don’t Spray and Pray!

Targeting SMBs shouldn’t resemble an episode of “Wheel of Fortune,” where you guess what will fit and hope to win. It requires more than that; it requires a truly strategic approach. First, you must understand the unique needs of SMBs: cost-efficiency, scalability, quick implementation, and ease of use. Position your solutions around these pain points. Whether you’re an MSP, a VAR, or an Agent, emphasize how your services can solve these problems in real, tangible ways. And don’t corporate speak about how you address those pain points – talk like an SMB owner or leader would talk. What do I mean? Check out these sample marketing slogans based on some of the pain points we just reviewed above for an illustration of the language difference needed:

Cost-Efficient Solutions:

High Tech, Low Checks. Unlock Savings with [Your MSP’s Name].”

“More Bang for Your Byte. Less Cost, More Tech.”

“Where Your Budget Gets a Break, but Your Tech Doesn’t.”

“Stretch Your Tech, Not Your Wallet.”

Quick Implementation:

Zero to Hero. Real Quick. That’s Tech Done Right.”

“You Blink, We Link—Instant Tech Solutions.”

“Why Wait? Automate!”

“Speedy Solutions for Sluggish Systems.”

Ease of Use:

Plug, Play, Prosper. It’s That Simple.”

“Business Tech So Easy, Even Your Grandparents Can Use It.”

“Simple Solutions for Complex Problems. Yep, We Did That.”

“Don’t Sweat the Tech Stuff. We Make IT Easy.”

Now, you will need to edit these for your use based on what you sell and your ideal prospect, but hopefully, you get the point – be direct, be fun, and be human in your marketing.

Part 3: Marketing to SMBs on a Shoestring Budget

You don’t need to break the vault to get the word out in the SMB market. So, don’t let the fear of high-budget marketing plans stop you from marketing to SMB. Here are some low-cost options to help you propel your lead funnel to full.

Empower your People: have a technician visiting customer sites? Make sure you empower them with some leave-behind marketing materials (either a QRG code on your service receipt OR even old-school printed materials work) on other services your firm offers. And don’t forget to label everything – don’t just put your name, number, and website on the label; include a QRG code to take someone to a special offer! 

Reddit AMAs: Host an “Ask Me Anything” session in a relevant subreddit. Just be prepared for a few left-field questions, and remember, the Reddit audience can smell inauthenticity like a dog smells fear, so just be yourself.

Content Marketing: Develop quick-fix problem-solving guides tailored to SMB pain points and promote them on social. Make them freely available in exchange for an email address.

Guerrilla LinkedIn: Utilize LinkedIn for soft outreach. Create informative posts that subtly promote your brand. Don’t make it too promotional, or you’ll look as out of place as a fax machine at a start-up pitch.

Leverage Local SEO: SMBs often seek local providers. Optimize your online presence for local search keywords, and make sure your Google My Business listing is immaculate.

Partner with Influencers: I don’t mean Insta-celebs promoting teeth whitening. I mean micro-influencers in your field who can offer credibility without the hefty price tag. Make it a value trade. They promote your service; you offer them a platform on your webinar series. A symbiotic relationship that’s more mutualistic than parasitic.

Dynamic Pricing for Referrals: Offer existing customers a dynamic discount based on the number of leads they can generate. It’s like multi-level marketing but without the scheme-ish feeling at the end of the day.

Social Media DM Campaigns:  A well-timed, personalized DM can work wonders. And no, I’m not talking about spamming them with daily ‘limited-time offers.’ Be human, connect, ask about their problems  – then sell them the solution!

Part 4: Becoming the SMB Magnet

You must be the Gandalf of the SMB realm—known, respected, and the first one they call when they’re in trouble. To make that happen, make sure you have:

Simplified Onboarding: Streamline your onboarding processes to get clients up and running within hours, not weeks. Then, ask for referrals and testimonies from happy clients. 

Configured Solutions: note that I did not say “custom,” that has no place in SMB. So, instead, develop packages tailored to different segments of the SMB market. One-size-fits-all is a fashion faux pas in the tech world, but fully customized is a profit drain in SMB – so make your solutions appear customized when, in fact, they are simply configured bundles based on customer needs.

Responsive Support: Set up a 24/7 helpline or chat support. The smaller the business, the less time they have to deal with issues. And remember, list a high hourly rate on that helpline with an offer to credit that back to any contract signed within 30 days so a SMB can call you for immediate help when they need it and then contract after they see just how great you are.

Education: Regularly update them on best practices in IT, potential threats, and how to maximize the tech they’ve got. A simple newsletter can do the trick in this regard.

Part 5: The X-Factor: What Sets You Apart

What’s your secret sauce, aside from the fact that you actually know how to use technology? Think about this: once you have an answer, demonstrate it through these approaches:

Consultative Selling: Instead of merely pushing products, become an advisor to your clients. Help them find solutions that truly fit their needs. But remember, just as with your products, you want to give the appearance of consultative selling while just answering the common SMB problems with your pre-configured solutions. 

Regular Check-ins: Quarterly business reviews (QBRs) can be gold mines in Enterprise. In SMB, they are entirely too costly. Instead, use quick check surveys, small touch points, and peer group meetings of customers to help you sort through the noise. Use these to assess client satisfaction and explore upselling or cross-selling opportunities.

Partnerships: Develop partnerships with software vendors or complementary service providers. This can help you offer a more complete solution stack to SMBs and marketing funds. Remember, SMB is HOT, so you should be able to get support from your vendors to go after it!

Part 6: The Roadmap to SMB Glory

Every journey starts with a single new sale – or at least that’s my mantra! You will want to ensure you also conduct the following before you start your relentless pursuit of more SMB business:

Market Research: Identify and profile your target SMB market segments. Understand their needs, pains, and where they hang out online.

Content Strategy: Plan a three-month content calendar based on the items discussed above, focusing on the challenges and solutions relevant to your ideal SMB customers.

Outreach: Leverage social media, community events, and even some email to disseminate this content. Don’t forget to track engagement.

Sales Process: Review and tweak your sales process to make it as frictionless as possible for SMB. Remember, what works for an enterprise doesn’t work here.

Offer Customization: Develop special packages or promotions tailored for SMBs. Consider bundling services or offering tiered pricing models. Finally, don’t neglect one one-on-one support; have a way to bill for every hour expended outside your bundle and provide the support but charge for it!

Measure and Iterate: Monitor metrics like customer acquisition costs (CAC), lifetime value (LTV), and churn rates. Use these insights to refine your approach.

Well, folks, it’s time to stop reading and start implementing. The SMB landscape is ripe for picking, but you’ll need more than luck to reap the rewards. Now go be the Gandalf of the SMB IT world; they might not know they need you, but they absolutely do.   Worried you can’t do all this alone? Reach out to us, your friendly JSG team, for help! 



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