Celebrating the Small Business Community

www.jeffkorhan.com small business saturday

Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday.

It’s a day that may not necessarily be on the radar of of many consumers, but it is one that is especially important for local small businesses.

Small Business Saturday is an initiative that was created to bring greater awareness to the small businesses that form the foundation of the communities in which we work and live. This day is about more than business; it’s a celebration of community. 

Local businesses are more than commercial organizations; they are your neighbors, friends, and part of the same ecosystem that supports you.

Community Conversations are Moving Online

Every business, large or small, seeks to leverage the voice of the customer. Small businesses in particular are especially sensitive to earning the loyalty and trust of each and every customer, because this “word-of-mouth advertising” is often their primary means for attracting new buyers.

Thus, the seeds of social media marketing success are practically hard-wired into DNA of every small business. The challenge for them today is learning and adapting to these new digital technologies to nurture and leverage their local relationships to build their tribe.

Nurturing customer relationships is as vital ever – only now these community conversations are happening online.

Local Experiences are Personal

When you visit local stores you can access the energy and enthusiasm of not just the staff, but other patrons too. This the magic of community that Apple amplified with their retail stores that revolutionized retail.

Apple is one of the biggest brands in the world today because it designed its stores for a personalized customer experience.

Apple used their extensive creative and financial resources to take what is best about local retail to design an experience that engages buyers that are often fanatical about the Apple brand.

Personal care is what distinguishes every local small business. Yet, it’s a quality that Apple proved any business, large or small, can use to create an experience that feels personal.

And Zappos proved personal care works to build community even when a business is not local.

Technology is Making Business more Human

It is significant to note that awareness of many initiatives like Small Business Saturday would fall short without the power of social media for leveraging the collective voice of consumers. It is ironic that technology that once created barriers between people, and especially people and companies, now brings them together.

For small business to succeed in this increasingly competitive world, they have to develop more than a brand promise. There has to be an expectation of a friendlier and personal experience. That’s one of the hallmarks of small business.

The surest means for creating this expectation is not with traditional advertising or promotions, but direct experience. This is why it is so vital for local businesses to get buyers into the store. This is something that is more readily accomplished with content marketing than traditional advertising or promotions.

When I wrote Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business, I focused on the local small businesses that I knew best, having founded and operated one myself for two-decades. The reason for this is these local, mainstream, small businesses are ideally suited for using this technology for making a difference in the communities they serve.

 Author Jeff Korhan at Anderson's Bookshop in  Naperville, IL before the local launch of Built-In Social

Author Jeff Korhan at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL before the local launch of Built-In Social

I will be delighted if you purchased a copy from your local bookstore. If you happen to be near my local community of Naperville, IL, you may be able to grab one of the autographed copies still available from my local signing event at Anderson’s Bookshop.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, helps mainstream small businesses create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth. Get more from Jeff on LinkedInTwitter and Google+.

Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)

How Live Events Enhance Social Networking and Marketing

Jeff Korhan and Joe Pulizzi www.jeffkorhan.com

Jeff Korhan and Joe Pulizzi reconnect at the Green Industry Conference shortly after Content Marketing World

In the days before digital, if you wanted to network you had to get out of the office. That’s where we developed relationships and consummated deals.Telephones were only used to supplement those live interactions.

Live events are where you experience firsthand the energy and enthusiasm of other like-minded people who share your interests and business objectives.

A few years ago it was predicted that webinars and other digital forms of online training would eventually replace live events, thereby putting professional speakers like me out of business as we know it.

That is not what is happening, and this trend – the resurgence in live events – is also relevant to your business networking and social media marketing.

The Live Version is Always Better

One of the frustrations with social networking is that you can invest a great deal of time and yield few results. Thus, it becomes increasingly tiresome and is ultimately abandoned in favor of more urgent business matters.

The solution is literally getting out of the office to meet the people that you are connected with online, and make new connections that you can then bring to your social networks. When you integrate the two, you enhance the effectiveness of both.

Make it a habit to periodically attend live events such as expos, conferences, and community benefits. In addition to building more meaningful relationships, you will acquire abundant material for invigorating your content marketing.

Put Serendipity to Work

Your social networks want to hear about your life just as much as your business. So, if it’s not all that exciting you may want to get out of the office to increase the number of planned and serendipitous interactions, what online retailer Zappos refers to as “collisions between employees.”

This is actually an intentional practice that online retailer Zappos uses, and one reason why they moved their offices from suburban Henderson, NV to the old Las Vegas City Hall.

CEO Tony Hsieh has a vision of transforming downtown Las Vegas to create “The most community-focused large city in the world, in the place where you least expect to see it.” In addition to their own facilities, Zappos is funding start-ups to join their intimate community ecosystem.

You can read more about the social business model in Built-In Social. It’s a model that closely resembles the concept of a small town or local community where (almost) everyone knows your name.

How This Works

The reason for the resurgence in live events is somewhat surprising. Now that we are more connected than ever due to social media, people want to meet those connections to further develop their relationships with them.

After meeting people live it adds a richness to your relationships online, while also leading to new alliances, including relationships with new clients.

So, if you are not getting results from your social media marketing, I encourage you to find more ways to make it come alive. The power of targeted events is that you can benefit from the energy of like-minded people that share your interests and business objectives.

I’m still mining ideas that I gained from attending Content Marketing World a couple months ago. Additionally, I developed new relationships and opened up some cool new opportunities, one of which is speaking at the upcoming Social Media Marketing World.

2013 was the first year for this event and it attracted over 1,000 marketers and business owners from around the world. The expectation is there will be will be over 2,000 attendees in San Diego for the 2014 event in March.

Consider joining us in sunny San Diego. I’d like to get to know and your business.

Click on this link or the image above to learn more about this live event. Incidentally, there is a $370 discount available now that expires this Friday.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, helps mainstream small businesses create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth. Get more from Jeff on LinkedInTwitter and Google+.

Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)

Preparing Your Business for Digital Disruption

In a recent guest post about the intersection of customer service and marketing I realized this: There are two questions every business should be asking: #1 – How will digital change or even eliminate proven business practices? #2 – How soon could that happen – and what then? The premise of the aforementioned article was […]

Read the full article

Market Like You Understand Your Customers

One of the most underrated qualities in business is understanding the customer. On many levels this is significant, but especially for marketers that want to attract the attention of an audience. Assuming you have the technical capabilities, there is one a simple test for determining if your marketing is likely to be attractive to your […]

Read the full article

Social Marketing is Relationship Selling

Mainstream small business will more reliably get better results from social media if they view it more as selling than marketing. Why? Because effective relationship selling is personal, and now marketing is too. As social influences continue to profoundly affect business, just about every business activity is going to require relationship building skills. Traditional marketing or advertising was […]

Read the full article