Mark Canon, a member of the B2SMB Summit Advisory Board, has been in leadership positions at Yell Group, Autobytel, AOL and Switchboard. He is currently President and CEO of Boomtime, which provides word-of-mouth marketing solutions for SMBs. Recently, Canon shared some observations and advice for selling to and serving small business customers.
Are SMBs happy with digital marketing options?
For most SMBs, what had been the simple world of Yellow Pages has become really complex. For the past 10 years, they’ve had 3-5 digital products. They may be effective, but they are not as simple to understand as YP. Or as easy to execute as Yellow Pages, which did it all for you. As an SMB, you need to figure out your architecture for every part of your business. How are you going to use the cloud? What do you need? It is a variation of “How do I buy insurance? :How do I buy a billing system?” These are all things that these businesses traditionally got from local providers.
How is Boomtime tackling these issues?
What we do at Boomtime is centered on customer management. Our job is to capture business. And we do it all for you. Mostly, we do this by amplifying word of mouth – reviews, referrals and testimonials. They are still the largest reservoir of media leads. As an industry, we don’t do a good job now. Ninety-eight percent of referrals leave no trace. Nine of 10 referrals never get accesses. You have to know where the prospect is in the consideration cycle; maintain a conversation with them. It is “website stuff.” It is where you have to convert people.
It’s more than social media?
It is different than a social media-centric effort. SMBs get social media. Facebook is good if you are following someone like a restaurant or a bar. It is not so effective for real estate brokers, and other long transaction businesses that are better integrated with LinkedIn. You want to get the best pool of customers. You only have two minutes to help them navigate who you are, and why you are better. And you need them to come back again and again before they do business with you. A good prospect will come back three times.
So… a new kind of ad agency is required?
Our typical client grosses between $2 million and $10 million. Most are in the middle of that. They have a marketing budget. Do they use an agency? That costs $60,000 a year, and will focus on branding and other stuff…not media. And you still have to adopt DIY tools, and have to hire a manager. For a quarter of the cost of hiring Hubspot or Infusionsoft, we’ll take a unique approach to having a business tell their stories. And in the right order.