Empowering SMB Growth: Insider Advice from B2B Leaders

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May 15, 2024

When you’ve had the privilege of working with thousands of B2B companies across dozens of industries for over two decades, you gain a unique perspective of the diverse challenges and solutions that define the business-to-business landscape. In celebration of Small Business Month, we asked a few of our clients to share their thoughts on what it takes to succeed and offer advice to other SMBs. Here’s what they had to say.

Brand Positioning & Gaining Market Share

One of the biggest hurdles many small and medium-sized businesses encounter is building brand awareness and establishing a strong market presence. Often, these businesses are grappling with limited resources, facing stiff competition from legacy industry players, and fighting to earn the loyalty of customers who are risk-averse and resistant to change. While gaining name recognition isn't easy, there are strategies to help SMBs successfully carve out a niche in their respective industry.

Niche positioning: Identify gaps in the market where you can fill a need that isn't being met. This could be an area where competitors are falling short, and you can provide a better service or solution.

Strong branding: Create a unique brand identity and story that differentiates your company in the market. Make sure to reinforce this in your marketing as well as personal interactions with potential customers.

Consistent marketing: Get in front of potential buyers as often as possible. Utilize multiple channels and avenues to get your message out in the market and stay top of mind.

Unconventional thinking: Find new ways of doing business that redefine the status quo. Consider every aspect of your operations from how you respond to RFPs to your customer engagement strategies and your approach to building relationships. Nothing is off the table!

Strategic partnerships: Leverage the knowledge, expertise and network of others in the space who have a proven track record, so you can accelerate your business growth and avoid common pitfalls.

Marketing Strategies and Targeting Tactics

Relying on lean budgets and small teams, SMBs must be exceptionally resourceful and strategic in acquiring new B2B clients. Both traditional and digital marketing channels can be utilized to amplify a brand's visibility and attract potential buyers, but it's important to continuously test and optimize marketing initiatives to determine what works best. Here are 10 strategies that our clients have found most effective to reach prospective clients and stay top-of-mind:

  • Face-to-face interactions
  • Trade shows
  • Sponsoring industry events
  • Industry publications & newsletters
  • Association media
  • Paid advertising
  • Thought leadership & speaking engagements
  • Interviews & press
  • User-generated content (UGC)
  • Testimonials & endorsements from industry leaders

Once a business has a few satisfied customers, it should leverage these testimonials as social proof. Encourage customers to share their positive experiences and personal stories, allowing them to do the talking for you. This not only validates the quality and service you offer, but also empowers them to advocate for your business in a genuine and impactful way. 

Streamlining Operations & Improving Efficiency

For SMBs looking to get ahead, productivity and efficiency are key. Embracing technology such as AI and automation not only streamlines processes by eliminating redundant tasks and optimizing workflows, but provides internal visibility and consistency for sustainable growth. While every business is unique and specific systems may vary, our clients agreed that a CRM, project management system and email marketing platform are some of the baseline tools every B2B company should invest in.

In addition, small businesses should leverage data-driven insights to make more informed decisions, tailor their strategies to better meet customer needs, and identify new market opportunities. By analyzing data, businesses achieve more impactful results, enhancing their agility in a dynamic marketplace.

Closing Thoughts & Expert Advice

While there are many strategies, tools, and tactics available to B2B businesses, nothing compares to firsthand experience. By sharing the insights of our small business clients, we hope it inspires other business leaders to take action and move their business forward. 

Jeff Engelhardt
Partner & Director of Marketing, Safety Rail Source
"As leaders, it's our responsibility to know what’s going on with our business, whether it’s products, customers, or finances. To properly manage costs and understand ROI, take advantage of business intelligence tools and real-time reporting so you can see exactly where every dollar goes and ensure it's being used efficiently."

Eric Bass
Principal & Creative Director, Eric Bass Freelance Marketing Design

"Remain customer obsessed. Everything you do should begin and end with the customer. When you fully understand their pain points and genuinely address their needs, they'll not only enjoy using your product or service but won't consider another alternative."

Dechen Waldo
President, Orange Cabinetry
"With uncertainties and unpredictability in the market, being resilient and staying focused is important. Don’t get discouraged, especially during the initial stages. The first year never turns out the way you want it to. Remember, crawl for the long game, don’t sprint for the short game."



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