Most companies targeting small businesses aren’t as effective as they could be because they fundamentally don’t understand their customers. This was a key point made by Sydni Craig-Hart, CEO and co-founder of Smart Simple Marketing, who spoke earlier this week at the LSA’s LOCALOGY ENGAGE: SaaS/SMB event in Washington, D.C.
Craig-Hart observed that too many SaaS technology providers make incorrect assumptions about SMBs. They’re selling “features and benefits” and not solving problems for business owners. She further explained that most SaaS and technology company professionals:
- Have never operated a small business and don’t relate to their target audience
- Have no idea what problems their products actually solve
- Are pushed to focus on the features and benefits and thus forget about the actual people in their target audience
- Adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to sales and marketing, reaching out to “SMBs” broadly without understanding the various demographics and different segments within the market
On the final point, Craig-Hart elaborated on how the face of the modern SMB is changing and goes beyond generational shifts. She cited statistics showing 45% of U.S. businesses in 2018 were owned by minority racial or ethnic groups. In addition, the growth of women-owned businesses outpaced the market: 58% to 12% in 2018.
She argued, accordingly, that products should be designed based on the needs of your users. She also recommended that technology companies ask themselves these basic questions:
- Do we understand what the problems are facing your prospects?
- Do we understand the impact that problem is having on their business and personal lives?
- Do we understand the cultural issues and mindset around those challenges?
Craig-Hart said that while companies tend to focus on differentiating from industry competitors, true “competition” comes in the form a common set of issues business owners struggle with: lack of time, feeling overwhelmed, inconsistency/lack of follow-through, lack of focus and fear of making a mistake, which often results in inertia.
She said the solution was to bring more SMB empathy into company culture, product design and marketing. While execution remains a critical variable, Craig-Hart said, “If you focus your products and marketing on solving problems, your product will sell itself.”