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Debunking Small Businesses as a ‘Difficult’ Market

The small business market seems predestined with its “hard to reach” typecast slapped across every storefront. Dare we even say it’s too difficult to bother targeting? Yet as the saying goes, sometimes what seems like hard work is worth the effort.

Let’s consider why this market is presumed hard to reach in the first place. There are a few reasons. Small businesses typically run under both time-constrained and cash-strapped owners. Staff is spread thin. Revenue fluctuates, depending on outside influences like the economy, construction or location.

Thus, it is challenging to even start a conversation with these busy decision makers. From there, we must convince them the program is worth the initial time investment. And finally, we must find a window for appointments, nevermind convincing them an energy efficient upgrade is the right solution for their business.

Despite these stumbling blocks, small businesses benefit greatly from energy efficiency programs which significantly affect energy-saving results. (Tweet it!) These outlined steps will dissolve the “hard to reach” typecast and welcome far greater program participation.

  1. Identify key target segments within the market

The small business market hosts a vastly diverse range of customers. Under the umbrella is any individually owned convenience store on the side of the highway or a national chain retailer and everything in between.

  1. Perform market research and develop customer personas

Hone in what sets each target segment apart. With market research, these differences turn into valuable insight for their wants, needs and barriers.

  1. Tailor messaging specific to needs and barriers

Tailor messaging specific to the targets’ wants and needs. This not only improves the customer experience, but it translates into conversion rates.

  1. Determine strategic channels of promotion

Along with crafting the right messaging, promotion channels make a difference – deliver the message where and when they want it!

  1. Measure, tweak, repeat

Finally, measure, tweak and repeat. Here’s what we know. Customers change. Programs change. Needs change. An approach is rarely flawless – there’s always room for improvement.

After deploying the ‘right’ message through the ‘right’ channels, measure your success. Don’t just measure savings, measure engagement, including those that raised their hands still in queue. Use this knowledge to fine-tune your future program messaging and approaches.

We’ve reached the hard-to-reach with these five steps for programs spanning the country. Learn more about small business segments and read how these methods helped a Colorado efficiency program increase both engagement and savings - Download our Small Business Segmentation Ebook here.

Download the Ebook

Kate Servais
Written by Kate Servais

Kate Servais, Program Manager
Kate Servais goes above and beyond to find solutions that work. Her primary focus is finding the best way to help utility customers save energy. She does this by working directly with customers, contractors and utility decision makers to design and execute demand reduction programs. Kate’s extensive experience with engineering solutions gives her the upper hand when pursuing energy innovation. Kate holds a master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering with a specialization in sustainable design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


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