Surely small business owners belong to the class of ordinary users. Expecting them to invest the time and energy to become power users is a good way to guarantee that your user base will remain small. This realization could lead to a very different and more fruitful approach to product design for SMBs.
If it’s possible to distill the 30 million small business owners in the U.S. into a single persona, Marc Reisner strikes our columnists as a great candidate: “Marc has been disillusioned by past performance and that poor performance has understandably tarred the entire industry with the same brush.”
Strangely, despite the size of the opportunity you don’t find too many SMB companies in most VC portfolios. You see plenty of consumer and enterprise-focused startups, but much fewer on the SMB side. The reason for this is that it’s “hard” for companies serving SMBs to grow at the rate that can deliver “venture” returns.
“I’m not convinced small businesses without a full-time in-house marketer really care about analytics,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal in their bi-weekly chat. “They certainly don’t have the time or expertise to dive in each week and change their marketing or customer service behavior based on what a dashboard is telling them.”
As the company’s platform expands beyond print to include a full-service digital marketing suite, it’s working overtime to change public perception and expand its role as an all-in-one service provider for small and mid-size firms.
Vistaprint is expanding beyond its roots as a provider of custom printed products today, with a new suite of digital marketing tools for “micro” business owners. The company’s redesigned website building platform will include tools for social media marketing, local listings, email marketing, and business email, along with design services.
Bloated technology platforms designed to serve the entire SMB market have slowly been replaced with more targeted vertical plays, but industry veterans still caution that every vertical requires a unique approach.
“Google’s always had the disadvantage of being a more complex and opaque product than Facebook,” writes David Mihm, “but it feels like they’ve made almost zero progress on this front in the last eight years.”
They say that what you don’t know can’t hurt you, but when it comes to landing SMB clients, that’s simply not the case. That’s why we went out to more than 500 local merchants and asked them about their experiences in local marketing. The result? The Local Merchant Report…
When local stories go viral, the often do so at the expense of local advertisers who see no added value in this influx of poorly targeted leads. So how do local publishers benefit from the periodic bonanza of visiting traffic without alienating their base?