Let's Talk About Marketing for Small Business
One of the biggest challenges of starting a business -for me- is figuring out who your people are and how to connect with them. I found that the customer service aspect of having a booth at the market was not as scary as I originally expected it to be. It's actually really great to talk to the people who buy your product. I am an introvert and can definitely be aloof, but I'm really a kind person and I do the best I can to be engaging. I love hearing your stories. It really brightens my day to learn about your lives on a personal level rather than "identify target market by age/gender/income/etc." as is commonly discussed in the marketing realm. I love getting to know my customers and seeing those beautiful smiles every week.
Being a successful business owner involves a certain amount of marketing boost that goes beyond chatting with your lovely customers. I have met with the super marketing-savvy Alexis Jensen of the Bowerbird Agency to work on positioning, attraction, and outreach efforts. In July, I'm participating in a workshop called Be Your Own Publicist, which is produced by a go-getter like I've never seen before, Elisabeth Edelman, founder of Golden Word, in Richmond, Virginia (watch her very inspiring Creative Mornings talk about risk).
Today, I went to a meet up at Chatham Station through Tuesdays Together to learn about tackling the internet with SEO (search engine optimization) from Cole Watts and Danielle Boone of Go Fish Digital. I took lots of notes on resources focusing on how to create leads to your work from internet searches. I actually have a BS in Graphic Design, so I know a little bit about this already, and while I found out that I'm going in the right direction, I certainly learned some new things.
The big take-away for me is that there's no overnight success with the internet. Which is frustrating, right? Because we're so used to instant gratification with tools like digital photography and same-day deliveries. When you're first starting out, SEO may not seem to be doing much. But the thing is, optimizing your website for customers to find you is an ongoing project and long term investment that does pay off over time. Marketing really is about building relationships, trust, and loyalty with people in your community. So if you see someone doing something interesting, reach out. You never know how you could help each other create something amazing. Maybe not today, tomorrow, or next week. But being open to possibilities and making connections seem to be the only rules of the game.