What Is the SME and SMB Market Segment?

By Jessica Bubenheim, on 17 June 2021

The terms small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can be difficult to characterize because each country has its own definition of what counts as an SME or SMB. Sometimes the industry that the company works in also affects whether or not it is categorized as an SME/SMB.

Across Europe, 99% of all enterprises are SMEs and about 2/3 of all employees work in SMEs according to the European Commission. SMEs and SMBs are key drivers of innovation, and governments (both in Europe and around the world) often recognize this and offer support in the form of loans with favorable terms and tax benefits. With the growing significance of these businesses, it’s important those of us who work in marketing to understand who they are and how they work.

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What Is the SME and SMB Market Segment


The SME and SMB Market Segment

SMEs are flexible, responsive, and customer-focused. However, they may also experience problems such as financing bottlenecks and difficulty expanding their customer base. 

Often you will find your target buyer persona to be a mix of the entrepreneur, the investor and the operations manager. SMEs and SMBs are known for having flatter hierarchies, a higher degree of personal contact between employees and entrepreneurs as well as proximity to their customers.

These types of businesses can be found both in the developed and developing world and contribute significantly to the GDP of both emerging and established economies.


Marketing for SMEs and SMBs 

Although it can be difficult to categorize SMEs and SMBs because, as previously mentioned, this differs between countries and even industries, these companies look for great marketing strategies just like any others. However, the needs of an SMB will of course be different from those of a multinational corporation. 

To come up with a successful strategy for an SMB, it is crucial to think about practicality. These businesses tend to have smaller budgets and do not necessarily need an elaborate marketing strategy to achieve their goals. Due to this, they often don't have a marketing department within their company and will need to hire a marketing agency to create and oversee their campaigns.

It is important to adapt to the needs of the smaller company and focus on what will make the biggest difference. Depending on the size of the business and the industry in question, various solution may be relevant. To better understand the biggest challenges that SMBs face, Statista shared this data collected from U.S. based companies in 2020.


What Is the SME and SMB Market Segment


As we can see, two of the biggest concerns were attracting new customers and uncertainty over the economic conditions. Knowing a business's pain points is crucial to creating an effective marketing strategy that yields the desired results.


Digital Marketing Strategy for SMEs and SMBs

Due to rapid technological and demographic changes, it is necessary for SMEs and SMBs to have a strong digital presence. This of course means having an attractive, optimized website, but beyond that, it is useful to have a social media presence. This allows you to connect with a larger audience, interact with potential clients and customers, and quickly answer questions or concern they might have.

For marketers looking to attract SMEs and SMBs, it is essential to integrate highly relevant and specific offersWhen designing your digital marketing strategy for SMEs and SMBs, look at integrating native advertising and content marketing. These two methods are non intrusive ways to engage with consumers and drive conversion. For instance, companies that work with the SME and SMB market such as PaySimple, which provides credit card readers to small merchants, and Hubspot, which provides marketing and sales software, have extensive blogs and resources. This way their target market can find information about their products and services quickly and easily when they search Google for advice. This type of marketing captures the target audience's attention and provides information. In contrast to intrusive traditional ads, native ads and content marketing strive to create material that users actually want to see. 

There are many opportunities to market with SMEs and SMBs in just about every country and in a verity of industries. Just remember to formulate your marketing plan around strategies that are cost-effective, connect with the target audience, and establish a strong digital presence. 


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Jessica Bubenheim

International Business at Warwick Business School. Inspired by Social Entrepreneurs.