Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Targeting the SMBs...Warrillow Summit Toronto

Warrillow kicked off its two-day Summit in Toronto this morning. This year’s event was focused specifically on the online channel and attracted over 140 marketers that target the small business sector. The Warrillow conference is unique as it truly gets into the SMB trenches. There were at least 20 SMB speakers at the show and each one participated enthusiastically by sharing candid perspectives to a crowd of advertisers that were eager to listen.

Troy Dye’s opening presentation gave some valuable insight into the online behavior of the SMBs in Canada.

Some highlights from the presentation included the following sound bites:
  • 52% of Canadian SMBs belong to Social Networks (although most of them do not use them for business)
  • SMBs voiced a 20% increase in trust for Web 2.0 utilities including discussion forums, blogs, social networks and reviews & ratings.
  • 66% spend more than 1 hour online per day
  • At the core, the SMBs bring their offline behaviors to the online channel in that they remain:
  1. Extremely time sensitive
  2. Respond to recognition
  3. Identify with their industry
  4. Tend to be Jack of all trades
Dye explained that through applying a point system matrix, SMBs could be segmented into these three distinct online behavioral categories:

Early Adopters –Internet is seen as core to their business model (15%)
Fast Followers – Internet is seen as a business tool (63%)
Offline Owners – Internet is seen as Ancillary (22%)

The details behind the presentation touched on the consumption of Web 2.0 media across the segments and delved deeply into the demographics of the business owners.

There were three break-out panels following the research presentation that covered the online habits of Generation Y, Generation X and Seniorpreneur business owners. I managed to sneak into all three and got some interesting perspectives from each group. I’ll cover the highlights over the next few days as there was really quite a bit of detail discussed.

The afternoon sessions covered emerging trends in social networking, reviews and ratings as well as traditional media. I thought the traditional media presentation was particularly interesting as it discussed the reality of today’s SMB media consumption and the importance of creating integrated media programs to reach them.

Here are three great take away points:
  • 77% of SMBs are online less than 1-3hrs per day
  • 66% of SMBs read their city’s newspaper
  • 76% listen to the radio on a regular basis
Rick Spence, SMB columnist for the Financial Post shared some interesting details on behavioral traits of the SMBs and how to best communicate with them. Spence showed some alarming examples of media campaigns that were completely off target in their language, layout and general tone.

The ratings and reviews discussion talked to the various methodologies that currently exist for qualifying reviewers and rewarding them for their contribution. The discussion centered largely on trust and the need for users to be able to identify with the reviews. There were some interesting points made on how to leverage positive reviews through marketing efforts. This session had a lot of details and I’ll share these over the next few days.

The sessions ended with a market leader panel. Pamela Bailey, Senior Interaction Designer at Intuit and Peter Watabane, Director, Marketing at Staples Canada shared some thoughts on how their respective companies were managing the changing demands of the SMB sector and how they were adapting their online presence accordingly.

Watanabe shared some great insight from a survey that was done through Staples. SMBs were asked to describe what they wanted Staples to be to them. They responded:
"Be a trusted advisor but not a partner. Be friendly but don’t be a friend."
Bailey talked to the time crunched nature of the audience and noted that each page needs to have a goal and a purpose assigned. She noted that page level metrics are getting more sophisticated and are starting to help determine which areas are working and which ones are not.

It was an insightful day. More tomorrow…

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