Surveying SMB Owners and Decision-Makers

small business owners working on accounting

With over 99% of America’s organizations operating as small businesses, it presents an exciting and lucrative opportunity for B2B marketers.

However, despite this staggering number, most brands struggle to find and connect with small and medium-sized business (SMBs) owners and decision-makers.

For this reason, it is helpful to work with a market research company to survey this audience and learn key factors of how they choose to partner with vendors.

By surveying SMB owners and decision-makers, you can understand factors such as:

  • What is their preferred communication channel?
  • Where do they start their search when looking for a new vendor, program, product, etc.?
  • What is their average budget for your type of product or service?
  • Are they currently using any of your competitors? 

Take for example a recent project our online survey company completed. Drive Research worked with a global leader in the technology industry on a project targeting small businesses in the U.S.

Below, we discuss details of the market research study such as our approach to reaching this audience, sample questions, and our findings.

The Challenge

The client partnered with Drive Research on a new product development (NPD) study.

The core objectives of the study included understanding small business customer category needs, attitudes, usability,  and gaps to understand the client’s value proposition for a new security camera system. 

The brand wanted to create a vision for the product's unique attributes and benefits, which will inform product design, marketing, and strategy.

As the technology company was developing the new security camera systems for small businesses, it was trying to understand the primary target market.

The brand needed to leverage market research to find out which type(s) of business owners were more likely to purchase the product concept than others.

These necessary data points included physical limitations of the size of the business, number of employees, lease options, etc.

Another challenge the brand was facing was understanding the unmet needs of the target audience.

The client wanted to understand a general path to purchase when business owners decided to buy a new security camera or when they planned to switch systems, including drivers to switching.

Finally, the market research for new product development needed to test the concept description and stim to determine what showcased features were most important to small business owners.

Quote from George Kuhn, President of Drive Research
Unfortunately, many brands launch new ideas, concepts, products, and services without the proper due diligence and research—assumptions about the target market, value propositions, marketing messaging, price points, etc. If any one of those assumptions is incorrect, it can significantly impede success. Research can help mitigate the risk of failure, which simultaneously multiplies the likelihood of the success of a new product launch among consumers or businesses.

Participant Profile

The respondent profile outlines the screening and targeting criteria used for the survey. It highlights core disqualifiers and broader firmographics to give survey takers a complete picture. 

SMB respondents fit the following criteria:

  • Were an Owner or Partner, President or CEO
  • Had a brick and mortar office/store location
  • Did not have a marketing, PR, or market research business
  • Had a functioning security camera system
  • Did not have a landlord/franchisor who influenced or governed the security camera decision
  • Were sole or shared decision-makers
  • Were at least somewhat familiar with the use, operation, management, and monitoring
  • Had square footage/average square footage of 5000 or less
  • Had 2 to 35 employees at the location (or average employees per location)
  • Other profiling data:
    • Nearly all (96%) of respondents were in business for 3+ years, with 48% at 11+ years
    • Annual revenues ranged from under $500,000 to more than $10M
    • A mix of business regions/locations was obtained. The top states were CA, TX, FL, and NY

Survey Questions for SMBs

Although the results remain confidential with the client, the market research addressed the following questions.

  • What brand of security camera system do you own for your business?
  • What brand of security camera system do you use the most for your business?
  • How satisfied are you with your [Insert brand name] security camera system?
  • What would you like to see improved with your [Insert brand name] security camera system?
  • Which of the following best categorizes your security camera system placement at your business?
  • How long has it been since you purchased or upgraded the security camera system at your business?
  • How was your security camera system primarily installed?
  • How likely are you to consider purchasing a new or upgrading your security camera system in the next 6 months?
  • Which of the following statements best describes your decision-making process when selecting the best small business security system(s)?
  • What factor(s) matter most to you when purchasing a security camera system for your business?
  • What is the main reason(s) you have a security camera system for your business?
  • How likely are you to consider this security camera system for your next purchase or upgrade for your business? 
  • What are the most positive aspects of the small business security system concept presented?
  • What are the most negative aspects of the small business security system concept presented?
  • How desirable would a subscription service that included cloud backup storage, 24/7 alarm monitoring service, a 3-year warranty, affordable and on-demand installation service, and 24/7 after-sale service be to you as part of a small business security system purchase?
  • Please rate the description of the small business security system presented?
  • How would you rate the selling points of the small business security systems presented?
  • Do you think the novelty and uniqueness of the selling point presented?
  • How relevant do you think the selling point presented is to purchasing and using the small business security system?
  • Do you consider the price point of $599 for the security system concept to be?
  • Are the number of cameras offered in the concept?
  • How many cameras would you prefer for your security camera system?
  • What features of the security camera systems were most appealing?
  • What is the best source(s) of information to learn about security camera systems for your business?
  • Where would you prefer to purchase a security camera system for your business?

Deliverables for the Small Business Market Research

The hybrid market research study contained both in-depth interviews and an online survey. In most cases, our market research firm recommends starting with a qualitative methodology first.

After that phase is complete, we follow with a quantitative study. Doing so allows us to gather in-depth feedback from a small sample of participants and use those insights to create a well-researched online survey that a much larger sample can complete. 

Qualitative phase 1

  • The Service Provider prepared a Word document transcript for each interview completed. The transcripts allowed for quick searches on specific terms, topics, and quotations from participants. These deliverables were used to develop the report and provide the client with the opportunity to search for specifics.

  • After the IDIs, Drive Research prepared a bullet-point summary of key insights learned from the qualitative research. It was a topline report with findings from the 8 interviews. 

  • Drive Research debriefed with the company after the qualitative market research through a 60-minute scheduled conference call or video chat. Drive Research regrouped with the client team to share direction regarding adjustments to the follow-up survey, topics that require further digging, and critical themes for the product vision based on the initial exploratory phase.

Quantitative phase 2

  • In addition to the interim topline report following the SMB interviews, Drive Research provided the client with an online dashboard with live results tabulated into charts and graphs after the survey went live. The dashboard assisted the client in monitoring the progress of the survey. The reports could be exported as Excel, PDF, PowerPoint, or Word. A total of 4 crosstabulations reports were prepared with the package.

  • Drive Research prepared a full topline summary once the survey fieldwork ended. It was delivered in a PowerPoint file and included a background and methodology with a 3–6-page executive summary of key insights and takeaways from the market research with data visualizations. The document helped the reader understand the study's essential findings without navigating through the portals of charts or the raw data file. The package also included an Excel banner file of results with all questions and all cross-tabulations with significance testing. It created an in-depth pivot table-like view of the results.

  • Drive Research debriefed the client after completing the market research survey through a 60-minute scheduled conference call. After the debrief, the report with any final edits and supporting files was emailed to the client.

Highlights of Surveying Small Business Owners 

The market research included a qualitative and quantitative combination.

The study was conducted across 10 weeks including the following components:

  • Project kickoff
  • Qualitative phase 1
    • Discovery, sharing, developing a plan, finalizing screener
    • Recruit, develop an interview guide, and finalize guide
    • Conduct interviews
    • Topline report, finalize the report, executive summary
  • Quantitative phase 2
    • Discovery, develop a survey, finalize the survey
    • Program, test, soft launch, fieldwork, data quality checks
    • Full report, executive summary, recommendations

Additionally, the investment included:

    • Qualitative research:
      • Project management
      • Screener and guide design
      • Recruitment and incentives
      • Moderation of 8 in-depth interviews (IDIs)
      • Recording and transcripts
      • Topline analysis and report debrief
    • Quantitative research:
      • Project management
      • Survey development
      • Programming
      • Fieldwork for n216 responses
      • Analysis, report, recommendations, and debrief

Contact Our Small Business Market Research Company

Drive Research has deep experience working with B2B market research projects with small businesses across the U.S. As a full-service market research firm, our team can assist with qualitative and quantitative market research projects to fit your needs.

Are you interested in learning more about our market research services?

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

Author Bio George Kuhn

George Kuhn

George is the Owner & President of Drive Research. He has consulted for hundreds of regional, national, and global organizations over the past 15 years. He is a CX-certified VoC professional with a focus on innovation and new product management.

Learn more about George, here.

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