Michael Szego of OgilvyOne says there are seven deadly sins when marketing to medium sized enterprises (which he defined as having from 50 - 500 employees). Good principles to consider when managing the customer experience for this group.
1. The Middle Market "Effort". SME's have great radar for detecting the big marketing push that lacks genuine commitment. They want an ongoing relationship and follow-through to them and their company. They want to know that you are going to be there next quarter if they are going to move their business to you.
2. Talking Up. SME's may not aspire to be 1000 person companies. They don't appreciate hearing "We know you'll be big some day". It's off-putting, because they see themselves as successful now. What is intended as flattery is in fact patronizing, just like Sin #3 ...
3. Talking Down. SME's don't like that "Hey, little guy, we know what's right for you" language any better. They'd much rather you demonstrate that you know by creating service offerings that make sense for them.
4. Bargain Sales. SME's want a comprehensive value proposition, not just a low price. What looks like price sensitivity is actually just astute purchasing. When there is value to pay for, they'll pay. So don't just tell them about the low, low price.
5. Club Talk. Corporate jargon is not welcome -- you need to speak their language. This means surgically extracting tech specs that are not essential, and focusing on real benefits. Jargon talk spells expense and complexity to many SMEs. They also want you to honor their values, which are frequently different from the Fortune 500.
6. Have I Got a Box for You. SME's need customization as much as the Fortune 500 do. They don't like being offered an opportunity to force-fit their needs into your inflexible bundle.
7. Commitment Issues. They've been burnt before by companies that aren't really committed to the SME market, and they can smell this a mile away. SME's frequently believe they are misunderstood by big corporates, and you will need to demonstrate your understanding to show commitment.
Elaine Taylor, also from OgilvyOne, says that if you want to successfully target these markets, you must develop offerings that speak to their unique needs. Scaled-down versions of enterprise solutions with the guts -- and most of the value -- removed, are not the answer. She calls this "Enterprise Lite" -- just like lite beer, it lacks flavor. The same is true for taking the consumer offering and trying to move it up a level. SME's can spot the bells and whistles for what they are, and they don't spell value.
Taylor points to IBM as a company that had major credibility issues in this market segment in the past, and has met success by listening and responding.