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Marketing for Small Businesses and Behavioral Economics

Over a year ago, I discovered Melina Palmer, host of “The Brainy Business” podcast and author of a book called “What Your Customer Wants and Can’t Tell You”. I’ve written on the behavioral economics insights in the podcast and book as they apply to technology companies before, here is a twist on how they apply to even very small businesses.

·         Do your homework—ask your current customers what information they ultimately needed to make a decision. What pushed them over the edge?

·         Ask yourself “Why aren’t people buying my solution already?” Better yet, use a survey tool to ask website visitors what alternatives they are weighing.

·         Remove as many steps in the buying process as possible without disincentivizing potential buyers.  For example, even if your website doesn’t have e-commerce capabilities, create a path for people to buy without having to call. Two ways to do that are with Live Chat and email. In the process, don’t discourage people from calling.

·         Don’t shy away from using the word “free”. It always has positive connotations. However, this word is poison to many marketers who equate it with the word “cheap” and end up using less impactful phrases such as “no-cost”. The fact is, “Free” is a more attention-getting, visceral term than any substitute.

·         People are 2X as motivated to avoid loss as they are to receive gain. So, focus on what people are missing out on by not buying your solution. As an inherently positive person, I had trouble believing this was true until I tried it myself (you’ll see it on my homepage). The people that need to use your services already know they need to use them—they just need you to articulate why.

·         The Scarcity message still works. As a very small business, focus on being able to procure anything that is in demand and in short supply and also any personalized solutions you offer. There are many benefits of working with a very small supplier—be sure your prospects know what they are.

·         Social Proof is important.  For very small businesses, this means case studies, references, referrals, certifications, awards, etc.

·         Most people will stick with the default unless there is a compelling reason to change. Promote the benefits of switching to a smaller company—especially expert, accessible service and support.

·         Personalize everything you can. And as you grow, don’t stop personalizing. Things like a Post-It note with a personal message, and a LinkedIn “Happy Birthday” put you in a different category than your competitors. The caution here is to be sure that it actually is a personal message and not a mass-produced note posing as personal (i.e. a “personalized” email subject line). Note: there is no such thing as “mass personalization”.


As a very small business, you have a lot to offer that bigger industry players don’t. Leverage those advantages and don’t abandon them as you grow.

For a no cost discussion of your situation and how we can leverage metrics-based marketing to grow your business call 630-363-8081 or email Find out more about Marketing Services for Technology Companies.


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