I hate to stir from my long blogging hibernation with a posting like this, but last week I encountered the results of a study that I found, quite frankly, shocking. For years, Business Partners and others in the Yellowverse have harped on IBM about the company's marketing to and perception within the SMB market. At times, there has been productive reaction, but as often, dismissal of the severity of the issue.
American City Business Journals, publisher of local business-oriented newspapers across the country, conducted a survey of over 1700 owners and executives of small businesses (under 500 employees) to determine the most recognizable brands among SMBs. The survey brings IBM's small business problem into stark relief. Of course, most of us would probably be unsurprised to see IBM behind Microsoft (#8) or Apple (#2, iPhone #5) or sadly even Dell (#9), Blackberry (#12) and Intel (#13). But to say I was surprised to find IBM didn't even crack the top twenty-five would be an understatement.
I happened to be talking this weekend with a friend at a non-profit and the subject came up. His perception of IBM was one of being over-priced and completely irrelevant to their needs; after all, he's not looking to buy a Smarter Planet for his organization, just affordable, approachable technology solutions. IBM certainly has solutions for SMB, but he and the survey respondents seem mostly unaware of them. Smarter Planet jab aside, I won't beat the drum for advertising as the sole solution; winning mindshare in the market is certainly more complicated and multi-dimensional than that. I just hope someone, somewhere in IBM is looking at the small and medium picture, as it were, and this survey provides a clarion call to put a priority on the market.
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