I attended a meeting this morning sponsored by the Economic Development staff of my small suburban community. I was at this meeting representing one of my client, a local area retailer. About thirty or so other small business owners joined me to attend the 90 minute presentation.
The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the local area small business owners to a Holiday Promotional Plan the City was sponsoring and funding. Just to be clear. This is not a Chamber of Commerce marketing initiative. It is an initiative led by the City Council and the Economic Development group. Yes, I and every small business owner and retailer in my community are very fortunate to live in a suburb that is aware of such a need and has the ability to spearhead marketing initiatives to address the needs of the small business community.
Here is what I find so mystifying. Small businesses everywhere have been complaining about how tough the economy has been for at least a couple of years. Yet, over 550 local area Chamber members never bothered to attend this morning’s meeting. Many of these business owners could benefit from participation in this marketing effort as there are several low to no cost ways for them to participate during the Holiday Season. Yet less than 5% made the effort to attend this meeting specifically held before most retailers open their doors.
Did they not get the memo? Did they not understand what was being presented? Did they not care?
Another mystifying fact
Part of this promotional presentation included a portion around social media marketing. Again, because time is so critical to small business, this aspect of the Holiday promotion was specifically designed so all that was required of the small business owner was to give temporary admin rights of their Facebook Page to a specific person. This person would add a special promotional tab on their Facebook Page so retailers and other business owners could participate and benefit from the promotion.
Rather than being appreciative for this forethought, a few in the audience also wanted someone to create their Facebook pages and manage them…apparently for free. One lady asked why the City couldn’t go to the local area High School and find High School interns to create and handle Facebook Pages for small business owners…for free. The thought apparently was they could just turn over the social media marketing of their businesses over to kids who, while they understand how how to use Facebook, know little if anything about the marketing of a business. All would be okay because it was free and a warm body was assigned to handle it for them.
Is this realistic? What do these questions say about the value the small business owner puts on marketing? What does it say about their refusal to accept responsibility for the marketing of their business? What does it say about the resistance not only to social media marketing, but marketing in general.
I left this meeting feeling good because I knew my client would benefit from some of the low/no cost promotional opportunities during the upcoming Holidays. On the other hand, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this is a missed opportunity for many small business owners in my community…some of whom may well not be around for the 2012 Holiday Season. Why does this matter to me? Because it is my community and I enjoy the richness of choice and variety each of these small business owners provides. Seeing a lot of vacant retail space is darn depressing, particularly when you know it could be avoided.
As a marketer, I couldn’t help but be confused by those attendees who thought so little of ‘marketing’ as to think it was a) worthless…something that should be free and b) is something any High School student could do. While I can rationalize the resistance to social media marketing because it is something new and can be overwhelming, I was having a hard time coming to grips with how little value they put on marketing in general.
The marketing of one’s small business is a serious responsibility that can make or break a business.
If you are a retailer, a restaurant, a salon owner or a work-at-home consultant, you HAVE TO take full responsibility for YOUR BUSINESS.
There is no magic marketing bullet. No one — NO ONE — will do your marketing for free, at least not well.
Suck up the courage to admit that all of marketing, including social media marketing, is your responsibility and DO IT! Spend 20 minutes to set-up a Facebook Page for your business and DO IT! You don’t have to know everything at the start…you just have to get started.
Should you decide not to take on this responsibility, then face the hard fact it is your own inaction that is jeopardizing of survival of your business…not the economy, not the consumer…but you!
If you don’t like the sound of that, I suggest you take immediate action to change it.
- Social Media Marketing vs. Traditional Advertising (themarketingbit.com)
- Social Media Marketing in Business (themarketingbit.com)