A hierarchy of business to business needs for large & small businesses

In Seth’s Godin’s daily blog post today, he outlines the needs of [bigger] businesses (bigger businesses where the manager marketed to is NOT the overall owner owner) and arranges them in a hierarchy to help B2B marketers better understand their audience’s motivations.  The key to this hierarchy is to discover the hidden agenda of the party you are presenting to, which is almost always tied to others who are not in the meeting such as the boss, the boss’s boss, steering committees or even something as irrational as “having fun.”

In “A hierarchy of business to business needs,” Seth states:

If you’re selling a product or service to a business–to a non-owner–consider this hierarchy, from primary needs on down:

  • Avoiding risk
  • Avoiding hassle
  • Gaining praise
  • Gaining power
  • Having fun
  • Making a profit

Let’s contrast the large business manager’s hierarchy of needs with those of the small business owner.

I would argue that the hierarchy of needs for a small business owner are:

  • Keep the lights turned on…literally – make sure the business is ready and able to serve customers every day its open for business.  Has the rent been paid, how about the electric bill, who is opening today, will they be on time?
  • Maintain existing revenues – the need to keep existing customers happy and loyal.  Have the Smith’s been in lately?  Wonder if they’re on vacation…
  • Grow new revenues – the need to increase revenue by attracting more customers (patients, clients, diners, etc.), increasing offerings (adding new lines, procedures, menu items) and serving more customers (extending open hours, adding a second location, adding catering or delivery).
  • Achieve and maintain profitability.
  • Reduce the hassle of doing all the above.

What about:

  • Avoiding risk – most small business owners threw that need out the window the day they decided to go it alone.  Sure, small business owners want to avoid risk like anyone, however, I argue this need is greatly reduced.  It’s like two people standing on top of high-dive platform.  The manager from the large business is trying to figure out how to get off the platform without getting wet while the small business owner takes the plunge and knows they’re going to get soaked.
  • Having fun – that’s why small business owners took the plunge in the first place. That may have been an initial motivator to start or buy a business but that need will probably get pushed down the list as the more pressing needs of the day take over.

My point – as a B2B marketer to small businesses, be keenly aware of their needs.  Obviously each small business owner will have their own hierarchy of needs, however, I believe that at their core a restaurant owner, a dentist, a retail shop owner would strongly identify with most items on my list.

What am I missing?