Home icon white
Marketing to SMEs 3 Ways To Get Quick Results
B2B Sales

Everything you wanted to know about marketing to SMEs - selling to business owners and directors by email, phone, and post

White  read-time clock icon
Mins readtime
Close up of a plant pot, pen and a notepad on a desk with the text 'SMEs Small and medium Enterprises'
Feb 15, 2024

Marketing to SMEs- 3 ways to get quick results

Connecting with the average small business owner requires strategic marketing methods that combine digital marketing techniques with something more traditional.

At More Than Words Marketing, we want your marketing to offer the greatest possible returns.

So, to get the most from your annual marketing spend, forget building brands and forget market positioning for a moment. Forget about creating downloadable content for your business social media accounts or trying to gain the attention of industry influencers.

Forget about your website, pay per click, and search engine optimisation.

They all very much have their place but, for the next five minutes, I’d like you to concentrate on three of the most established traditional marketing channels around – email, phone, and post.

This is a world where your advertising efforts can influence and dictate how quickly a small business buys from you. 

Where you choose who you market to, what your target audience sees, and how and when they receive your message.

A sales-driven marketing strategy which has nothing to do with brand building.

This is the world of cold approach direct marketing. Even in the era of digital advertising, the cold approaches you make to B2B decision makers still produce the greatest return on advertising budgets.

This is far greater than most other advertising strategies. So, what is direct marketing and why does this more traditional form of advertising to businesses continue to be so successful?

What is cold approach direct marketing?

Direct marketing involves the communication of an offer, delivered to targets you’ve selected, based upon how interested they are likely to be in your products and services. 

When you use cold approach direct marketing to SME’s, you contact them regardless of whether they have heard of your company before.

The three main cold approach direct marketing channels are:

  • email advertising,
  • telephone campaigns, and
  • postal marketing.

Who is your audience and what do you say to them?

The first major element in the creation of any successful direct cold approach strategy is to know the value your products and services bring to SMEs.

Once you have established this, the next thing to determine is which SMES will benefit most from this value.

Step 1 – know and research your audience

Sometimes, what you sell will appeal to companies in many different sectors. Other times, what you sell will only appeal to a narrow band of potential clients.

Begin your marketing plan by identifying the small businesses which have the most to gain by working with you.

Second, carry out research into the types of small business where the benefits of using your product or service greatly outweigh the cost. It may be that your marketing efforts to these sectors do not produce a return.

Nevertheless, the way decision makers within these small businesses interact will provide your marketing team with valuable insights. Insights showing how what you sell could be adapted to make it more appealing to them.

Your goal when selecting SMEs to target where your most likely wins will be. The lower your expenditure and the more precise your targeting, the higher the number of closeable leads you receive. This will likely lead to a great return on investment.

Step 2 – understand value

SMEs are more likely to spend money on products and services when they deliver one or more of the four following outcomes:

  • greater revenue – can you offer a business something they already buy but at a cheaper price and of an equivalent quality and efficacy?
  • cost reduction – can you help companies make more money with less staff or by becoming more efficient?
  • competitive advantage – does what you sell give your clients a noticeable and positive point of differentiation over its commercial rivals?
  • regulatory compliance – can you help a client adapt to incoming regulations with minimal extra expense or disruption?

In any direct, cold approach marketing campaign, you need to be able to quickly and clearly quantify the financial or operational difference that your products and services deliver.

Step 3 – separate the benefits from the features

A feature is a quality that a product or service possesses – while a benefit is an advantage that it delivers. 

Benefits are nearly always much easier for a potential customer to understand and appreciate than features during the sales process. It’s only really technical products and services where features can be more important.

Remember that marketing is not there to sell. The job of marketing is to deliver a message of interest to a target customer base, with the purpose of generating a lead.

It’s then the sales team’s job to take the lead and to close it. In every campaign, make sure that the benefits are clear and understandable.

Step 4 – build your social proof

When you’re advertising to small businesses, it’s always useful to provide examples of how your products and services have helped similar SMEs overcome a problem, or exploit an opportunity.

When you do, the audience you’re targeting will know you have the tools, insights and experience to help them. You may wish to re-use some of the content from your website in your direct cold approach campaigns to SMEs.

For example, do you have a video testimonial from a customer in the same line of business or industry?

Do you have blog posts and case studies explaining the nature of your solutions and showing that you’re not a one-size-fits-all supplier? 

Make sure you reuse and repurpose the ones which reflect the commercial interests and needs of the customers you’re targeting.

Finding your audience with direct B2B marketing

First, the types of companies

Now you know which small businesses to target, you need to source the data.

In addition to line of business, you can choose which SMEs to target by:

  • geographical location,
  • number of employees,
  • number of branches,
  • turnover, and more.

Second, the types of buyers

In most cases, the senior contact within a small business will have all of the purchasing responsibility. 

Within medium-sized companies, you may wish to create separate campaigns for subject-specific decision makers like finance directors and so on.

When selling to larger SMEs, marketers generally recommend that each decision maker involved in a potential purchase be contacted individually. This gives you the greatest chance of finding an ally during board meetings where your sales rep is not present.

Third, choose your contact method for marketing to SME’s

Ideally, you should stretch your budget to include all three main direct marketing channels – email marketing campaigns , telemarketing campaigns, and postal marketing.

We cover this later but, of all three, email promotion to SMEs is the most responsive and most affordable. This is followed then by B2B telemarketing and finally by direct mail.

Where can you source data for marketing to SME’s?

You can source the data you need for your targeted campaign from either a data owner or a data broker.

Data cost

Marketing data is normally charged per 1,000 records. Business to business mailing list data is the cheapest followed by B2B telemarketing data, then B2B email data .

Outsourcing your marketing

If you lack the infrastructure to carry out your own email and telemarketing campaigns, many companies, including More Than Words, will carry them out on your behalf. 

When you get in touch with us, please ask us about our outsourced B2B email marketing campaigns and outsourced B2B telemarketing campaigns.

Marketing to SMEs through the three direct marketing channels

1. Making the most of email marketing to your potential customers

B2B email marketing offers companies an average return on investment of £42.24 for every £1 spent, according to the UK Data and Marketing Association.

So, what makes a successful email?

What should your subject line be?

Your subject line should not be overtly “salesy” but it should provoke interest in the contents of your email. Using statistics of interest and value to potential customers drives open rates as does the use of suffixes like “- update” or “- latest”.

What should be in your email?

Following up on the promise of the subject line, the headline should deliver information and insights of real value straight away to the reader. You have 1-2 seconds to grab the reader’s attention with the headline.

After this you should use the email’s opening sentence or paragraph to begin to tell a simple, relatable story about your product or service. Include how it solves a problem or unlocks an opportunity for your clients.

You should also link in your images and in your text to a page on your website. At the bottom, there should be a call to action – preferably a telephone number and email address so that recipients can leave you their details for follow up.

What should your email look like?

Your email should focus on legibility – the headline and the written content must be easy to read. Over half of B2B emails are now opened on portable devices so please make sure that your design is mobile compatible before you send it out.

What should you do when a campaign is over?

Most activity on email campaigns happens within 72 hours of the send. So, if you email your audience on a Tuesday, run the report on Friday.

You will get valuable marketing insights from each report. Use telesales follow up with the SMEs which open your emails and click through to your website the most.

2. Successful telemarketing to small business owners

Unlike email and direct mail, B2B telemarketing provides an opportunity to open up two way dialogue with decision makers. Use this to book appointments, and find out important marketing information on your prospective customers.

When should I contact potential customers by phone?

When they’re at work. Few owners of SMEs like to be contacted about work when they’ve left the office. It’s generally easier to get in touch with decision makers at the very start or end of their day.

What should be the aim of the call?

Before you or your staff pick up the phone, you should decide what the outcomes you want from each call. Create a sliding scale from making a sale to collecting information.

Follow-up email containing contact and social media details

Every time you’ve spoken with a decision maker, regardless of whether the call was particularly successful or not, you should email the person thanking them for their time. Your email should contain your direct contact information together with an invitation to follow you on social media.

What return should I get on my money with telemarketing?

Telemarketing returns £11 worth of turnover for every £1 spent on it, according to the UK Data and Marketing Association.

3. Direct mail campaigns to your target market

Direct mail marketing is the most expensive type of marketing However, being sent something tangible and of high quality opens doors better than email and telemarketing.

Isn’t direct mail marketing dead?

According to the UK Data and Marketing Association, postal marketing achieves a response rate of 4.4%. This is significant, when compared with email marketing’s average response rate of 0.12%.

Using B2B direct marketing channels

Tips and tactics to increase the likelihood of ongoing success. A campaign doesn’t stop when the first lot of emails or letters have been sent or the first telephone calls have been completed – that’s when the work begins.

Only 2-4% of your target audience will be ready to buy now

Not every business on the database you purchase will be ready to become your next new customer. By approaching the same SMEs every month, you’ll capture leads and sales from companies that have just come into the right part of the buying cycle.

In addition, you can use information gathered through direct marketing to build a sales pipeline for the coming 12-24 months.

Responding to enquiries you receive from direct marketing to SME’s

B2B marketing works best when there’s a sales team ready to confidently take over the handling of a future customer, once they become a lead. Sales you generate from direct cold approach campaigns can often be more profitable than sales you win through your website.

This is because, in many cases, you’re not pitching against your competition and your prospect has often done less research.

Measuring the success of your marketing campaigns to SMEs

Keep a record of all the leads generated from your campaigns.

Within the space of three months, you’ll understand which marketing channel and offer has worked best. You can also review which of your sales team is responsible for closing the most business.

Direct marketing, when done correctly, offers companies a predictable, reliable route to market. You can use the data from your campaigns to improve return on investment month after month.

Frequently asked Questions (FAQ's)  vector icon in orange and dark blue

No items found.
No items found.
No items found.

Direct marketing to SMEs – get your count and quote

Content marketing and online marketing works, however many sales and marketing teams agree that waiting for leads to come to them can feel a bit passive.

Direct marketing is different. It’s proactive and, through the use of intelligent and persuasive marketing, you can find SMEs at the right part of the buying journey ready to purchase from you straight away. 

In addition, for those small businesses not quite ready to buy, you can promote what you sell and your expertise in delivery – and begin to build a relationship with them.

To find out more about marketing to SME’s, please call 0330 010 8300 or you can click here to email our direct marketing team for help.

Frequently asked Questions (FAQ's)  vector icon in orange and dark blue

Get in touch by email or phone

Contact us

Direct marketing to SMEs – get your count and quote

We are open Monday- Friday during office hours.
We are open:
Monday - Friday 9.00am - 5.00pm
Fill out the form below:
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Additional information

Cookie Consent

By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Statement and our Cookie Policy for more information.