I strongly believe that 2017 is the year of making every journey personal of strengthening the relationship between marketing and small business. Now, I would argue that is true for every year, but it becomes even more critical as the 24×7, instant gratification society continues to grow. Gone are the days of mass emailing, the general distribution of content on social media, and a Facebook ad that leads to a sales page.
It’s all about getting to know your customer (and I mean really getting to know them). Imagine if you can offer specific products and services based on how they interact with you and your business. Your customers want to go on the journey with you, they don’t want the path well-traveled, they want exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to you.
And that’s where the relationship between marketing and small business gets complicated.
2016 was the year of testing for me in search for the answers to two questions:
-What do small businesses need?
-And how can I best help them?
What I found was most small business owners were reluctant to enter the digital marketing world because it was too much and too overwhelming. And if the owners didn’t sell anything online they didn’t think digital marketing strategies would work. Well, trust me when I say you don’t need to sell online to capitalize on digital marketing strategies
The other big issues I found, which are always issues for small business owners, are money and time. But as a former business owner, if I knew I could make money, I would make the time. I used time and money as an excuse until I didn’t anymore. And that’s why the marketing and the small business relationship is complicated.
The Marketing and Small Business Relationship
Here are some of the things I learned from the testing I did in 2016. Now, all of these won’t apply to everyone, but these were the consistent themes I heard over and over again.
Small business owners:
- Know they need a marketing plan, but they don’t have the time to really go out and do the research.
- Want to invest in marketing but also want some guarantees because money is tight.
- Work tirelessly in their business so it’s hard for them to work on their business.
As some of you know, my hometown is in the midst of a minimum wage battle. Some people are saying small businesses can’t handle an increase in the minimum wage. I don’t want to have that discussion here (I’m already loud enough on my personal page), but hearing the real concerns of small business owners as motivated me into action.
You see, what I’ve heard loud and clear is most of the local business owners want more time to grow their business so they are better prepared for the wage increases. I’ve been lobbying in support of giving them more time, but I also realized I can do more to help them and all small businesses grow.
Because I believe in small business and I believe the strength of our economy rests on the success of Main Street.
So, I spent the last few weeks to really think how I can help small business and remove the barriers that will prevent them from learning and trying new ways to find more customers – building that so-called marketing and small business relationship.
Please don’t think that because it’s free, you won’t get value. Every day, there will be a little nugget of information that will help you grow your business. I guess you can say this is another test, but I’ve committed the time and resources to helping small business grow with this project for one year.