SMB Lifecycle Tools: Anyone?

Some of the comments to the Borrell-related posts yesterday made me think about the fact (as far as I know) that no one has designed an SMB marketing tool tied to company life stage. People always segment by headcount, revenues, vertical but not generally life stage. Headcount and revenues may be proxies to some degree for how young or old a company is. But companies that are established are less likely to be focused on customer acquisition (though perhaps they will be in a bad economy) than newer companies.

I’m not suggesting this is the perfect way to segment the market or “productize” marketing services. It’s just another angle to consider: what are the needs of an early stage company vs. a later stage SMB? Twitter in some cases might make more sense as a customer service tool for established companies than a new business vehicle.

What do others think about that general perspective? Nice in theory, difficult to execute?

6 Responses to “SMB Lifecycle Tools: Anyone?”

  1. JD Says:

    It’s a great point and one that we figured out when we met with real-life businesses as part of our research process. We’d show a sample solution set to advertisers – older owners of SMBs got frightened, even of low-cost options. “Geez, what if I get a bunch of calls I can’t handle?….. I don’t want to buy another truck …. I don’t want to have to move to a bigger space.” Etc, etc…. And yes – great in concept, extremely difficult to execute.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    The needs can be broadly bifurcated into acquisition and retention. There will be considerable overlap.

  3. Randy Parker Says:

    Great point, Greg. The universe of marketing tools is still overwhelming to most small businesses. I’ve done some work on automating these recommendations.

    The reasons it’s not an easy problem is that there are so many dimensions to consider.

    Even something like acquisition / retention really depends on the vertical. Retention for a tax accountant is very different than retention for neighborhood burrito stand.

    In a difficult financial climate, retention may be all you can expect.

    To JD’s point — what I’ve seen is that, while it’s not simply age of business, it’s “growth company vs. lifestyle company”. The latter, once established, is doing more “defensive” marketing.

    And atop all that, you’ve got the SB’s desire for cost certainty… so it’s a hard problem but I think solving it can unlock a lot of SB demand for marketing tools.

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    Lifestyle companies are probably less interested in marketing overall period.

  5. brad geddes Says:

    I’m a firm believer that the verticilization of the product mix by newspapers and YPs needs to be accomplished first, before items like lifecycle will come into play.

    There are some good (and bad) SME products out there. However, the aggregators aren’t necessarily segmenting conversion activity, budget, etc based upon the verticals needs. In addition, the vertical play is easier to sell and execute.

    We might get to lifecycle, but I don’t think you’ll see it for a few years until verticals are more entrenched in the sales and execution process.

  6. Greg Sterling Says:

    Thanks Brad. Putting aside LocalLaunch, who do you think has a good local sem/seo product in the market today?

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