NYTimes Small Business Summit: Building a Brand


H1 Today, I'll be moderating a panel conversation at the NYTimes Small Business Summit on marketing, and specifically on building a brand. The panel is composed of Founders and CMOs who will share their hard-earned advice for branding and leveraging relationships with customers.

I spoke with some of the panelists ahead of time and I can tell you you're in for a treat. This will be very hands-on.

  • Christiane Lemieux, Founder and Creative Director, DwellStudio and DwellStudio for Target — bringing product experience and a point of view on wholesale and affiliate
  • Bill Carter, Founder of Fuse Marketing Agency — sport and youth marketing have many lessons in them for small businesses
  • Brian Halligan, Founder and CEO, The Hubspot — it's no secret that inbound marketing provides better conversion rates, gets you found by the right people
  • Sean Whiteley, VP, Product Marketing, SalesForce.com — CRM and social CRM systems are your friend

I am surprised when I talk to entrepreneurs and small businesses and learn that their marketing is not built-in their business. It really does help when that is the case. Especially since striving for perfection has been replaced by making progress through iteration and with purpose.

And organizations that adopt this mindset are able to leverage digital media, where customers and prospects are spending more and more time, where they become and remain top of mind, in addition to the product and service experience the company provides.

Through content that is valuable to readers, appeals to search engines, and a puts a human face on the business, organizations of any size can gain visibility with the communities they seek to attract. The benefits of establishing a social presence include brand loyalty, insights for product and service development, and reputation management.

Our conversation will flesh out stories and examples to help attendees gain insights into how building an audience starts on the inside, with internal culture, and a plan. We intend to illustrate how the upside of loosening on control is gaining trust, credibility, and earning authority.

Some of the questions and definitions we will touch upon through practical examples, are:

  • Why transparency is not a scary concept — it means delivering an experience honestly, being responsive, and empowering customers. How do you that online? What do you get out of using social networks and digital tools?
  • What works and what doesn't for a small business with scarce resources that is looking to create or build a community. Will doing this work be converting into business? How do I track that?
  • How to build a platform by letting go of the one single marketing message in favor of multiple coherent ideas your customers can embrace. When it comes to product, how do you sell wholesale, and how do you build affiliate programs appropriately?
  • How small business owners can juggle wearing multiple hats with building relationships and staying connected with customers online and off line on a small budget and with limited resources. People often ask, is it worth my time? Who has time for yet another thing to do?

What else should we be exploring? It will be a day filled with good content, so hope to see you there.


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0 responses to “NYTimes Small Business Summit: Building a Brand”

  1. Frequently, we all encounter the business owner that says, “Well, Marketing/Social Media/Direct Mail/etc doesn’t pay my bills, building houses (or whatever they do) does, so I’ll do that.” And, of course, our canned response can easily be, “But, marketing is everyone’s job.” To me, that statement has always seemed to trite or vapid.
    Instead, I work through the logic of opportunity costs with them. If you give up 1 hour each day during which time you could get paid maybe $200 and put it toward marketing that has a 50% chance of bringing you $1000 per hour of effort 1 year down the road, would that be worth it to you? Is your business set up in such a way or are you in such dire straits financially that you have to have the small money now and can’t hold off for the big money later?
    Of course, this is an over-simplification, but I really feel one of the largest, initial stumbling blocks for business owners when it comes to marketing is acceptance of the reality of what marketing can and cannot do for them.

  2. Maybe, some actual case studies showing that social media is helpful in dealing with customers and generating revenues should thrive attention.
    The issue is to find entrepreneurs willing to or being able to delegate the task. In Italy the small and medium business is in the hands of the founders and they mostly think: I did all of this so I’m able to take care of the rest. The result is that mortality in shifting the business from one generation to the other is around 80%.

  3. @Eric – part of the issue is that marketing is not only promotion. Product development, for example, should be a consideration.
    @Gianandrea – one of the panelists is a business owner and it was great to hear her perspective of how much of her business benefited from going direct to customers vs. worrying about selling wholesale and through channels.

  4. Social media has been a great field leveller in providing small business with the ability to connect to their customers in a cost effective way.
    Engaging with customers has now become a key part for marketing a product or service. The cost to small business is now in the effort and patience to pursue this rather than the marketing budget.

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