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November 1st: Torsten Jacobi, CEO of Creative Weblogging, joins host Anita Campbell. Sponsored by Six Disciplines. Show details.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
SMBs Rely on Web for Tech Purchases
Spending more than $75 billion a year on technology, small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) remain hard to reach for tech vendors says a research study commissioned by Yahoo, Inc. and the marketing agency Grey San Francisco, a part of Grey Global Group. Conducted by the market research firm IDC, the study says that SMBs have a distinct set of priorities and use different resources for researching their tech purchasing.

Because small business is a multi-tasking environment, the people who make technology-purchasing decisions are likely to have multiple areas of responsibility. Only 33% of businesses with 20-49 employees have a full-time IT professional. For those with 50-99 employees that number increases to 50%. For SMBs with more than 100 employees, it is 90%.

When asked what factors are very important when making purchase decisions, 90% of SMBs listed product reliability, 83% cited product quality, and 79% said seller trustworthiness. Without these three attributes, products do not receive strong purchase consideration. While SMBs are demanding in their need to see a highly favorable value proposition in any technology purchase, they also find it important for the seller to be perceived as caring about SMBs as a specifically identified market segment.

SMB decision makers are constantly digesting information from diverse media sources. On average more than five hours per day is spent perusing print and electronic media. Often missed by mass marketing, SMBs are nevertheless hard to target with traditional individualized marketing efforts. Here, their small size and great numbers can create a prohibitive expense barrier for vendors.

The Internet is the medium of choice for prospective SMB technology purchasers to research and validate products and services. According to Bill Burkart, co-managing partner of Grey San Francisco the Internet "...is now an essential part of a complete marketing communications solution. To maximize the effectiveness of a brand's campaign, the Internet must be factored in to compliment print, direct, and other more traditional vehicles."

And the winner is...the Internet. No surprise there. No medium is better suited to delivering product information to an audience looking for that information. Small business people like to be in control of their work processes, and the Internet allows the process of tech acquisition to be one of making purchasing decisions rather than being sold to. What works well for tech will work equally well in other areas. Internet selling is definitely a trend to watch in the SMB marketplace.
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