Motivated to Succeed, Motivated to Purchase

What motivates a small-business account holder to purchase a particular product or service from your credit union?

It depends on what drives that particular business owner to succeed—that is, whether he or she is growth-oriented or satisfaction-oriented. Knowing what inspires these members, such as a drive for profit or a desire for work-life balance, can increase your chances of selling to them.

Different goals, different incentives
Harland Clarke, in collaboration with the research and consulting firm Enterprise Council on Small Business, sponsored a free webinar, which took a closer look at the factors that motivate these two types of business owners, and at how to use this knowledge to more effectively sell financial products and services. Who are these two types and what makes them tick?

What Motivates Small-Business Owners to Succeed1

Growth-Oriented Small Businesses:

  • Motivated by revenue, profit and more customers
  • Younger and less established: in business fewer than five years; age 45 or younger
  • Revenue and sales growth align with markets
  • Likely a serial entrepreneur, and more likely to be in retail than home-based
  • Failure defined in financial term: Losing money, not making as much money as planned

Satisfaction-Oriented Small Businesses:

  • Motivated by work-life balance, happy customers and doing what they love
  • Older and more established: in business more than five years; age 46 or older
  • High revenue and low annual sales growth
  • Less likely to be a serial entrepreneur
  • Failure defined in on-financial terms: Dissatisfied customers, working too much

Where to find them
These two types of business owners also have distinct preferences as to how they get information. Satisfaction-oriented business owners gravitate toward relationship-heavy channels such as blogs, discussion boards and conversations with colleagues. They prefer general-interest news media such as their daily local paper and national news outlets. When they visit a company website, they tend to click on pages that help them better understand whom they are dealing with. For example, they will likely view company history, frequently asked questions and contact information.

Growth-oriented business owners, on the other hand, prefer digital channels as well as business and trade publications. They are far more engaged in social networks than are satisfaction-oriented business owners, with nearly eight in 10 (78 percent) logging on to networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, compared with just 57 percent of those who are satisfaction-oriented. They are also more comfortable with mobile devices and the internet, and are significantly more likely to use text messaging and bank online. When they visit a corporate website, they’re not as interested in the “who” and in the “what.” Instead, they prefer business-related web pages such as product details, terms and conditions, and how-to videos.

How to engage them
The key to grabbing the attention of each type of business owner is to tailor your message to what motivates them. This is especially important given that the likelihood of small businesses with revenue between $100,000 and $999,999 to switch banks rose to 13 percent in 2009.2

Satisfaction-oriented business owners want convenience. They want to know how to better manage their time and build long-term relationships. Therefore, they respond to personal incentives, such as “Achieve the work-life balance you’ve always dreamed of.” A message for a credit card offer might talk about how they can “apply online in three easy clicks.”

Growth-oriented business owners want to hear about managing money and generating immediate results. Not surprisingly, they perk up at messages geared toward business growth, such as “Realize higher profits than last year.” For this group, a credit card offer might emphasize the ability to “transfer funds for immediate cash flow.”

Combining these message points in your sales and marketing materials helps you reach both types of small-business owners, as does communicating a consistent message across different channels.

To learn more about reaching the small-business market, contact your Harland Clarke account executive or visit us here.

1Enterprise Council on Small Business, January 2010

2J.D. Power and Associates, 2007-2009 Small Business Banking Satisfaction Studies


Questions? Contact Sales & Marketing Associate Craig Reed: 206.340.4789,

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