When Your Customers Have Customers: How B2B Marketers Can Support Small Businesses

By Jamie Domenici, Chief Marketing Officer, GoTo

Nowadays, the marketing landscape looks a little different; from bouncing QR code Superbowl ads to overnight sensation TikTok accounts and gamifying the customer experience, brands are going above and beyond to stand out to customers. However, in this new era marked by imagination, companies shouldn’t just focus on standing out — they should refocus on connecting, inspiring and empowering their customers.

No one understands this better than B2B companies, whose customers are other businesses. When your buyer, a small or midsize business (SMB), for example, has buyers, there’s more than one audience to delight. When you walk into a small business or click into their digital storefront, it feels homey, personal and full of character. Small businesses have a unique ability to connect with their customers in an authentic way. It takes trust and credibility to reach SMB buyers, and this means B2B marketers need to understand what their customers need to see, hear and do to support their customers as well.

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If you are not listening to the customer- and their customers, start now.

Always think customer first. Everything should be designed from the view of the customer. For B2B marketers, churning out content and products isn’t enough to be successful. They need to spend time learning the underlying needs and motivations of their customers’ customers, and why these companies purchase from their customers in the first place. Every idea should connect back to the reason for the demand and aim to improve the end buyer’s experience.

B2B marketers don’t need to look far to find out what their customers need to serve their own customers. By going directly to the source – their customers themselves – they can gain valuable insights. This can only be achieved by engaging in honest and ongoing two-way dialogues with customers that help to foster relationships and communication in the community. Leveraging insights from sales and customer support teams is crucial here, as it will allow marketers to better gauge experiences, sentiments and challenges that their customers face.

For businesses whose customers include SMBs, there’s an added level of complexity. Small businesses are driven by a much different set of needs than their enterprise counterparts – and often have a very different customer base. While enterprise customers might be serving individual consumers on a large scale or other large businesses, SMBs often have a much more niche space. And with more limited resources, it’s important they find the right tools and solutions to help them understand and serve their own customers with ease.

In fact, a Forbes survey found that 45% of SMBs plan to purchase customer analytics software over the next year. For B2B marketers, this presents an opportunity. Customers are clearly looking for more ways to better understand and interact with their own customers, so finding ways to aid in this process and showcase how the solutions being marketed can help will be most effective.

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Reach through the screen and interact

Right now, we’re witnessing the rapid rise of the digital SMB. More than ever, businesses are looking to virtualize connectivity to streamline operations – in the same Forbes survey, 78% of respondents said technology would be a top investment this year, and 41% noted they are looking for solutions for implementing more digital transformation initiatives.

B2B companies should seize the opportunity to help usher SMBs into this new era of technology adoption, which will allow them to boost collaboration between employees and cut down on tedious, manual tasks. Ultimately, this will let them spend more time doing what they do best — focusing on their customers. While the number of businesses embarking on their digital-first journeys gains momentum, B2B marketers need to help their customers excel beyond the screen and use those digital capabilities to build personal, human connections.

Set out to win together

B2B businesses exist to help customers win — but this can only be achieved by a collaborative marketing and sales process. Customers rely on products and services for business success, and any sort of disruption can be detrimental. This next era for SMBs will be one marked by resiliency. Especially after enduring turbulent change in the last couple of years, businesses want positive and seamless experiences.

A lot goes into cultivating trust and establishing longevity. In the future, CMOs will need to be more immersed in their products than ever before. They must actively use their own products and services to better understand and relate to their customers. Knowledge is power; marketers should know the ins and outs of their solutions just as well as sales reps do.

This product knowledge should be leveraged in marketing strategies, but B2B marketers must be sure not to oversell or upsell. Every message should go back to addressing the problems and needs customers have. Employees at small businesses wear many hats and have fewer resources available. They might not be aware yet of what products are out there to help them run their operations more smoothly and better reach their own customers.

When it comes to creating success for customers, marketers need to already be a step ahead on day one. Garnering high quality data via advanced analytics, interviews and surveys will not only lead to stronger business results but show that your company overtly cares about the buyer — and their buyers. My advice to marketers? Be the partner your customers can’t work without.

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