Louie’s Pizza Is Proof, The SMB Market Does Not Exist

I spent most of last week in Scottsdale, AZ attending the Sirius Decisions conference along with 500 senior sales and marketing executives from around North America. (photo: courtesy of Google images)

In addition to extremely peaceful 5:30 am walks across the property, (I was still on east coast time, lest you think I’m an early riser by nature!), I participated in several interesting sessions. Most of which I found insightful. And yet,
even at this conference which was all about the buyer’s journey, demand centers and the value of segmentation – speakers talked about SMBs, small & midmarket companies as if they are grouped together as a single market. Or in the case of Sirius Decisions the SME, small & midsized enterprise market.

I’m here to tell you there is no SMB/SME market. If you believe that there is such a thing as the SMB market you would treat Louie’s pizza in Woburn, MA the same as Domino’s. Do they have some things in common – yes. They both have roughly the same number of employees at a given location. The primary menu is pizza of various sizes and in my neighborhood they serve the same community.

And yet, the businesses couldn’t be more unlike. Louie, the restaurant’s namesake gets up in the morning and makes fresh pizza dough. He has no fancy on-line ordering system, pizza toppings are traditional, and the lunch line is out the door every day. Pizza is served until the morning dough runs out…could be 2pm, it could be 5pm, but every day it runs out.

Even though the individual restaurant looks similar on the surface, the business operations are starkly different. Domino restaurants have national advertising. They have centralized buying processes and their technology decisions are made by committee.

For everything they have in common, they have more that is different.Louie’s is a small business. Domino’s regional division is a midsized business.

As you are planning your next product launch, channel recruitment strategy or customer acquisition program think of our pizza example and remember there is a small business market and there are midsized businesses – and how you define them varies by industry, objective and organizational structure.

Lumping together organizations into the fallacy of an SMB market is a mistake. And so it would be if I ate anything for lunch tomorrow except Louie’s cheese pizza with mushrooms. My mouth is watering already.