Moderator: Jeanette Mulvey, Editor-in-Chief at CO—, U.S. Chamber of Commerce,
Barbara Thau, Senior Features Editor, CO– by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Featured Guests: Gabby Bedford, Founder, Packs Light,
Kevin Hubbard, Co-founder, Rhoback Activewear,
Evan Horowitz, Co-founder and CEO, Movers+Shakers,
Griffin Thall, CEO and Co-Founder, Pura Vida Bracelets
Digital marketing is an essential tool for any small business looking to gain brand exposure, find new customers, and develop a loyal following. However, the idea of mastering social media, online video, email, and other platforms can be intimidating to small business owners also focusing on running a company.
In this installment of CO– by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Start. Run. Grow. series, successful business leaders explained how small businesses could reach customers with the right digital marketing strategies.
Partner with Influencers to Expand Your Audience
Influencer marketing is a great way to partner with popular internet personalities on social media while exposing your brand to their audience. Influencers have a range of niche, loyal followers ranging from thousands to millions who trust them and their recommendations. Small businesses may think working with an influencer is out of reach, as many may be celebrities with an infinite amount of followers. However, the most successful partnerships are about working with the right influencer for your brand.
“You do not have to be famous to be an influencer and you don’t have to work with someone who has a hundred thousand followers to have very tangible results from that partnership,” said Gabby Beckford, travel influencer and Founder of Packs Light.
Beckford stated that when she was first starting out with only a couple thousand followers, she had an intimate relationship with many of them and was able to make successful personal recommendations about her brand partnerships.
“You’ll want to understand the KPIs that you’re looking to achieve from the partnership first to decide what’s best for you but … don’t cut out the little guys, they have a lot of value too,” Beckford added.
Use Both Organic and Paid Social Media Posts
There are different schools of thought on using social media to market a business. Some entrepreneurs think the best results happen through organic social media posts, while others believe the way to exposure is by buying paid ads on the platform. Evan Horowitz, Co-founder and CEO of Movers+Shakers, stated that a posting strategy is more nuanced and entrepreneurs should be using both to expand their audience.
“Organic is always on drumbeat and then you lean in with paid ad posts that are doing well and have an ongoing paid support behind it,” said Horowitz. “I don’t see it as an ‘either, or’ [situation] — it’s probably both.”
When businesses implement an organic social media campaign, Horowitz said they don’t need to post all the time, which could ultimately backfire.
“For most platforms, three times a week is a great target to work towards,” he explained.
Don’t Be Afraid to Pivot Your Digital Marketing Strategy
When Griffin Thall, CEO and Co-Founder of Pura Vida Bracelets, started his business in 2010, the digital marketing landscape looked different. As a direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand, his business heavily relied on Facebook and later Instagram ads for marketing efforts. When asked what small businesses can do to succeed in the digital marketing space, Thall reflected on his own experience of having many eggs in one basket
“Now we’re really trying to learn other channels and figure out podcasts, TikTok, and digging deeper into email and SMS,” said Thall.
By investing in more than one space, small businesses have the ability to pivot when a digital marketing strategy is no longer yielding the desired results.
“Having one acquisition channel is the biggest thing,” said Thall. “And when it’s easy, it’s easy, but then when it gets more difficult, you don’t really have the solution for the same strategy. [Our] strategy shifted over the past 10 years, and we’ve always been able to pivot well.”