The importance of brand for SMEs | B2B Marketing

First impressions of a company can sway a decision. Molly Raycraft explains why brand image is so important to small businesses looking for a vendor.

A brand is like a friendship bracelet. While the sentiment of gifting one is always the same, the choice of style and how well it matches the receivers’ taste will always indicate how well you truly know them.

For small businesses that have a lot to lose, both personally and professionally, an irrelevant brand could be the tipping point between you and a competitor that has the same proposition but a more relatable image.

Vendors, such as Paysafe, have taken the opportunity of rebranding to incorporate SME-appealing attributes to retain and attract small business customers – rather than the generic ‘one-size-fits-all’ offering which has found

75% of small businesses stating companies don’t market their brand effectively to them. 

But it’s not just a case of a brand overhaul and promising small businesses that you’re easy to use and offer good support. The SME market stretches far and wide with many sub-categories and sectors to take account of – and it’s unlikely there’s a panacea to ensure your brand piques interest among all of them. “Being able to target a wide variety of customers is a challenge in itself. We’re seeing a lot of consolidation and a lot of small businesses that are becoming bigger and have a much wider variety of customers to cater to,” says Todd Linden, CEO of payment processing at Paysafe in North America.

The company has recently

undergone a rebrand that has seen the business positioned on a level that small businesses can relate to. 

“For the small business community that we serve, which is small market to small-medium market, it’s entirely important to be relevant,” explains Todd. “It needs to have that look and feel that they want to see from a product innovation perspective but it’s got to be partnered with the trust component.”

Substantiating trust

You may tick all the boxes but if you don’t have trust, it won’t matter. Small businesses are commonly thought to be cautious of the claims vendors and service providers make. And is it any wonder, when one disastrous move or hidden fees from a company could bring their livelihood toppling down? Of course, on most occasions this isn’t the case, but businesses need to prove this and add reassurance through their brand look and reputation. 

Todd says trust is created with a number of components such as scale, longevity, sustainability, forward-thinking, and a fresh technology-drive appeal – all aspects Paysafe had to consider within its own rebrand. “The small business community today are still looking for a trusted brand. There’s always going to be apprehension about some of the disruptors especially with some more established business owners and businesses – so it’s important,” he says.

Matching your tone to your aesthetics

The word brand usually throws focus on image. While this is important and is often the initial thing that determines a prospect’s first impression, it’s not the crux. In our day-to-day lives we reassure colleagues, friends or relatives through words and it’s no different here.

Wanting to speak to small businesses on its level, Paysafe researched different business personas and what language makes them tick.

“I think that’s work that we do on an ongoing basis and that’s critical to get the messaging and marketing right so we can be relevant to our customers,” explains Melissa Pauleat, VP marketing for payment processing.

From its research the marketing team decided to talk to its SME prospects through simple and understandable language. Something Todd points out can be simple, but remain technical. Melissa explains: “If you’re talking to a developer who’s launching their business platform, you still have to have that technical language, but it also has to be simple and relevant to them. Tone of voice is something that is key and is a challenge within itself when you have such a broad variety of customers.”

Appearing near when far

Small businesses are likely to have few staff, a multitude of tasks and a higher speed of work. So when a problem jumps out of nowhere they can’t wait three to five working days to receive an email from the support team. For them, the benefit of choosing a small local service provider is the comforting knowledge that they only need to pop down the road to receive face-to-face support. So when you’re a multinational conglomerate with an overseas headquarters, how can you provide the same assurance?

Todd believes the familiarity of the Paysafe brand has particularly made the business feel more localised. “We have such a great presence in the areas that are most concentrated from a customer perspective,” he explains. “Using the US for example; we own the fifth largest non-bank acquiring company in North America, so that gives it its local feel but there’s other things we’ve done that have also helped.”

One of these other things has been a FaceTime service, which avoids frustrating calls and ghosted emails. By essentially putting a member of the support team in the room with a customer, trust is better established. The customer can see exactly what the support team member is doing, and the support staff are able to see exactly what the problem is and resolve it quicker. 

“The [customer] can walk around the POS system (one of Paysafe’s products) at the request of our service people and identify things that are way outside just the product having an issue,” says Todd. “FaceTiming our service people really adds a layer of service quality that is to some extent unprecedented. It really helps and gives the customer overall comfort.”

Taking the plunge into SME-focused rebrands

Paysafe is not the first and won’t be the last to use a rebrand to tap into the small business market better. Here are a few other examples of B2B brands who’ve also altered their appearance for the same purpose:

  • KPMG:

    The professional services company realised it needed to appeal to smaller businesses as well as its larger clients. It developed a new website, which displayed case studies from its small business customers and created an SME community who could share best practice with each other as well as receiving advice from KPMG.

  • Simply Business:

    The insurance provider who specialises in selling to small businesses in the UK wanted to expand its reach to small businesses in the US. It created a vibrant new logo, colour palette and messaging to reflect the diversity of trades the company insures.

  • Woodpecker Flooring:

    A small business itself, this flooring company wanted to reach more small merchants and retailers. The company knew its target audience responded best to face-to-face interviews, so devised an entire new brand that showed how well Woodpecker understood them and the journey they would go on. These included a new website, new name and new look which highlighted the natural source of the wood.

Think Small: How to market to small businesses

In this marketing success pack, B2B Marketing and Earnest offer advice, opinion and first-hand experiences of targeting and engaging small business owners.

Learn how to target small business owners

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