It’s certainly “counterintuitive” but during my SEO, SEM & Directories panel at Borrell last week, Clickable CEO David Kidder presented a datapoint that was very interesting: 45% of SMBs don’t want new business.
What? That’s almost half.
We can debate the truth or inaccuracy of the 45% figure. But let’s assume for argument that the number is correct or that, at the very least, a substantial number of SMBs don’t want new business. I know people are still thinking “I don’t buy it.” However think about the doctor or dentist whose practice is full — or the contractor who may be completely busy.
As an aside, there may be a more nuanced idea here. Some businesses may need new leads/customers occasionally or seasonally but not regularly. Think of it as inventory management.
There is a sizable chunk of the SMB market, however, that doesn’t want to grow beyond a certain point. This is the philosophical essence of the 45% number. Where is the product for this large group that basically just wants to manage its existing customer relationships?
There’s generally a “hole” in the online marketing products out there seeking to deliver “leads” to small businesses. The reputation managment products (i.e., Marchex) now emerging offer to meet an important slice of these needs but reputation management is only part of the story.
Right now the CRM platforms for small business are:
- Facebook, Twitter
- Mobile/SMS marketing
These are being utilized to varying degrees and with variable effectiveness (mostly ineffectively). For example, most SMBs don’t know exactly what to do with a Facebook page.
If you were to walk down the street and ask SMB owners, “Do you want more business, more money?” most would say yes I’m sure. But there is a group out there, however large, of businesses that just wants to do a better job of managing their existing customers. Email is right now the main tool for this. It’s also a neglected part of the SEM/SEO/Etc. product mix. I would expect it to be added in by more channels over time accordingly.
But this new leads/existing customers dichotomy is something to consider in thinking about the future of the SMB product suite.
There’s also the idea of business networking, something that MerchantCircle does. This is not a “product” exactly. But the idea of a place where SMBs can talk to each other and get questions answered is another interesting ongoing need that’s not well served online.