In yesterdays post Blogs Influence Purchase Behavior? I mentioned that I knew a small business owner that does not even want to have a website, let alone do anything as weird as a blog or other ‘Social Media’.

I also mentioned that in his case, I believe that he definitely should have a great web site, and could benefit from a social media option such as blogging.

The Background

This gentleman distributes a reasonably high end discretionary item to small independent retail organizations that actually sell and install the product.

Like many independently owned SMB’s, these retail organizations have their own views of web technology. Their views go from no web site at all, through a glorified yellow pages type web site, to some that have good web sites.

In that first post I also argued that in a B2B organization, if your true customers are not Internet Users blogs won’t help you.

And sure enough in this case, his customers are (for the most part) not Internet users. So I guess my distributor friend reasonably believes that since his customers (the independent retailers) don’t give a rats @ss about anything ‘webby’, he does not need to either.

The Difference

Now re-read the above!

“…A reasonably high end discretionary product.”

Bingo!

Consumers that can afford a reasonably high end discretionary purchase product will have a higher percentage of “Internet Users”.

So in his case, he could use a component marketing strategy with a strong web presence that drives awareness of the product and brand, getting the actual consumer to look for his product at their local retailer.

In this case by focusing on his customers actual customer.

Who is YOUR customer?

Who is YOUR customer?

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As a B2B SME business technology manager, I admit that when it comes to both spending money, and jumping at the ‘next big thing’, well, I don’t. I wait for the bleeding edge to fade and definite economies and benefits become apparent.

BtoBOnline has a note titled; BuzzLogic/JupiterResearch study finds blogs influence purchase behavior

:…More than half of blog readers said they find them useful for purchase information

However before we drool over that statistic, next quote; (emphasis is mine)

….survey of more than 2,200 Internet users

Yup – Internet Users

Lets go back to business plan 101.

Who is your customer? – and tell me where does he or she hang out?

I don’t mean the business that you sell to – but who makes the purchasing decisions?

Is it the Purchasing Manager with advice from a particular line exec?

Is the the head of Sales? Warehousing? Service?

There is likely to be many inputs and stakeholders that have their two cents into the decision to purchase your product or service.

Are those stakeholders ‘Internet Users’?

You have to know.

I personally know one large organization where the decision makers use of the Internet is limited to one or two icons that their IT Staff have placed on their desktops. (You know, the ones who ask tech support how to turn ‘On’ the Internet.)

I also know the president of a good sized SME that can’t even be bothered to put up a web site (I think he should, In fact his organization is one that I personally think could benefit from a blog too – maybe I will follow this line of thought with another post) The point is, if he is your customer, a blog (or any ‘social media’ effort) is a waste of time.

As a Business Manager or owner in the SME space, if consultants or IT staff tell you to get with the social media program, ensure you have these answers!

Have you identified the true stakeholders in that purchasing decision, and are these stakeholders really internet users?

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The Beer Truck

Back in January of this year, I published a post on ensuring that the key responsibilities, actions, and procedures in a SME are documented so that one individual is not the weak link in your organizational knowledge.

I cannot remember where I first heard or used the term, but over the years, when I have been talking to small / medium business managers or staff about actually writing things down, about documenting the key events keep the business running, I always just asked;

What if you were hit by a beer truck on the way to work tomorrow?

If you are not there, does anybody else in the organization have a clue on how to continue?

So rather whimsically I titled the post; Can your Small / Medium Business pass the Beer Truck Test?

The Long Tail

At least once or twice a week since I wrote that post, people using the search term ‘beer truck test’ (or some variant) have found that post.

With one funny exception, most of these folks seem shy – as none of them has left a comment on the context of their search term!

The Truth

But the concept of the original post was not whimsical, as written in this Canadian PROFIT Magazine article.

Now this article is on the theme of succession planning in a SME, where my original post was themed along the benefits of strong organizational processes, But Jill Anderson of Aecometric Corp. had to confront the ‘Beer Truck’ in her life after her husband suffered a tragic stroke.

Without considering the severe tragedy Ms. Anderson faced, in the SME space, too many of us would be just as lost if a key member of the team left suddenly. Say your controller, head of sales, maybe even IT.

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And I don’t mean conversation as the social media pundits talk about it.

I am talking literally.

After receiving a complaining phone call, We recently had an internal team of people trying to back track various conversations and events to determine the root cause of this complaint.

Now, for the last little while I have been preaching internally that we do not do a very good job of documenting the conversations we have with our customers. And this is something that too many SME’s also fail to do.

Hours trying to search through two years of archived email is not documenting the conversation.

Hours trying to reverse engineer a database tool or program is not documenting the conversation.

You can call it any term you want, but documenting the conversation is a permanent record of any deliverable, milestone, or requests or orders you receive from your customers.

If you don’t want to do it to save those permanently lost dollars of effort and time;

Then do it because in the eyes of your customers, perception is king. And you don’t want the perception that you are unresponsive, or worse.

Reputation

Reputation

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LinkedIn WordPress Plugin

October 29, 2008

LinkedIn has added new widgets that they call ‘Applications’ that Chris Brogan pointed me to.

Fantastic.

You have the ability to keep your network more up-to-date than ever with what you are doing.

I added this WordPress blog to my profile in about 5 seconds flat.

You can see it here (click the view Full Profile link)

Guy Kawasaki has this post at the American Express Open Forum titled; ‘The Changing Consumer Experience

In the post he quotes Razorfish;

…today’s consumer is more technically adept, open for experimentation and—most importantly—active than ever before.

Well,

As I wrote here, you must know your consumer and your market.

If your consumer product is accessories for iPod’s, I can agree completely.

But if your consumer product is these;

You may have to try a little harder.

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Vinnie Mirchandani at the New Florence. New Renaissance. blog pointed me to this Economist special report titled; ‘A special report on corporate IT’ .

It is a great non – technical look at the trends shaping the IT world, from ‘Cloud’ Computing, through the mobile future.

And like Nicholas Carr’s IT Doesnt’ Matter, it describes how we have migrated from the individual craftsman (Administrators) to the standardized, commoditized building blocks that enable this next wave.