Where SME influence really flourishes

Where SME influence really flourishes

I was approached by one of our clients this week and asked to participate in a video for their sales conference to discuss what we have been doing for them and how we like working with them.

The experience gave me some personal insights and moments of clarity. I enjoy tremendously working with this client. They want outside-the-box thinking — which we are quite good at — which allows us to apply unique thought across some really great ideas. In addition, they have stable of solid online, offline and social media communications, and we are able to optimise on an ongoing basis based against performance. A continuous cycle of testing and learning, dropping what doesn’t work and amplifying what does. Just perfectly formed and executed — and calming for my OCD tendencies!

Most importantly though, I really like the people at this company. They work with us well, and we all work alongside each other and have a lot of fun along the way. We recently filmed a series of videos for digital and social channels and they trusted us to take them on a journey, outside of their usual format, and it worked. “Trusted partners” can often be an overused phrase but not in this case.


Nicholas Humphries from Bibby questions Fi Bendall


Their target audience is people like myself; SME business owners. And this client actually walks the talk, which is heartening. Like many of my SME peers, I find getting authentic communications from brands wanting our business are not always very apparent – it’s just marketing 101. The SME segment to large organisations is so important — it’s the new women’s segment to marketers. However the bland marcoms, huge volume of offers, social media gimmicks, oddly communicated blog-outreach programs I get invited to, as well as, of course, the freebies, have no bearing or influence on my business decisions, but real people do.

Overall, I came to the conclusion that despite technology, it’s really all about how we value people and relationships. We therefore need to balance our approach to social media and look up and consider our real connections as opposed to continually looking down at our screens and the volume of virtual connections.

For me social media has delivered some really meaningful relationships and actual business, but these partnerships have flourished offline. I regularly meet up with other SME peers, with whom I first connected online, in the real world. I regularly meet up with other female business owners, but the influence and genuine connection is offline. Unsurprising research out of the US has claimed influence is 67% drawn from offline interactions. That is still a big percentage that is social media and search-engine led, but the majority comes from our real lives.

The balance therefore is in the people, the personal and the network. What social media channels are very good at, is amplifying, while delivering reach and visibility to the offline experience.

You can have all the cute social media campaigns and blog outreach programs you like, you can keep looking down and feeling good about all those thousand of followers, but my advice is to look up, as it’s the real people that influence our decisions in the end

A great example of this in action was meeting more “real” SME people last night at The Smart Company Growth Seminar , where I attended with the team from Bibby

You will see the shares on social media and the connections that occurred with real people in real life by following the hashtag #bibbygrowth or @bibbyfinancial or @smartcompany or @fibendall.

To attract influence follow the steps:

1. Make social media contact 

2. Make a Real contact       

3. Authentic content from shared experience     

4. Share on social media          

5. Distribute to my SME peers and networks       

6. Discuss offline.

No bribes for blog content, no weird blog-outreach program, no SME marketing holler, just straightforward influence through real connections and real conversations.

That’s a line of influence that flourishes and it is all about the real people network. Get under the bonnet of that and work your connections and network, and you will find the network of influence.

Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.




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