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Marketing for Small Businesses in a Time of Uncertainty

Marketing for Small Businesses in a Time of Uncertainty on Marketing Horizons featuring Stephanie Schwab, CEO of Crackerjack Marketing

"Small business owners are not marketers,” says our guest Stephanie Schwab, CEO of Crackerjack Marketing. But she can help them become proficient, and successful, if they follow a distinct process that she shares during this episode. As the world enters a time of business uncertainty, Stephanie recommends that owners reassess their marketing, to understand the nature of their unique offering and to take stock of their customers. Listen in, as we explore the details around her process, and her marketing must-dos—including the surprising Top Tip she gives to business owners.

Cyndi Greenglass: Why is SMB (small midsize business) considered so different from other types of B2B marketing or other types of consumer marketing?

Stephanie Schwab: A very small business is almost like marketing to a consumer. When you're talking to the owner of a business, you're asking them to make a decision about what they're buying in the same way that you would be asking a homeowner whether or not to buy that new refrigerator. The costs are about the same. There are official numbers of what qualifies as a small business, and then there's the unofficial gut feeling. Small to medium businesses really need a smaller, niche audience. By their very definition they don't have the time, the money or the energy to market to the masses and so for them, it's more important that they find the niche that they're serving with their product or their service.

Ruth Stevens: If a SMB has figured out who its niche audience is, what kinds of problems do they have in developing outreach programs and what kind of advice do you give them?

Stephanie Schwab: The biggest problem for every small business owner that I encounter is that unless they happen to be a marketer, they are not a marketer. There's this weird assumption out there in the world, that marketing is easy to do and that's just not true. You have to learn how to do marketing, and not everybody is naturally a marketer and just because you're good at posting pictures on Instagram doesn't make you a marketer either. It's very hard to learn how to do marketing and run your business at the same time. I think that the best thing for small businesses is to learn the most high-powered effective marketing. When you're really small, you just don’t have a choice but to do it yourself, and you're going to have to set aside time and recognize that that is part of running your business.

Cyndi Greenglass: Many small businesses rely heavily on Linkedin as their marketing channel and are mining LinkedIn for building their email or building their contact list, have you found that to be an effective campaign?

Stephanie Schwab: What we teach is that, first, you have to have your email list set up properly. You need to have an email list with a small email list provider like MailChimp or Constant Contact. Then you need a lead magnet. You need a landing page with content on it that is an attractive magnet to your audience. In exchange for giving them that little bit of magnetic content, they give you an email address. Once you have that setup then, absolutely go to town on Linkedin or Instagram or Facebook, or whatever your favorite social platform is. We teach a nurture email sequence, which is that every week you're giving really valuable content. And then, in the PS, we give an ask. We give in the body of the email, and then we ask in the PS - we ask them to get another piece of content or an offer from us, or to schedule a call. I think that today people want more content, more help and more advice.

Key Takeaways/Three Little Piggies

  • For very small businesses, where a single owner is likely the sole decision-maker, marketing is similar to a consumer considered-purchase which is different from most B2B marketing.
  • The most productive marketing strategy for small business owners is to tightly identify their target audiences and then focus on building a robust email list of niche contacts.
  • As we enter into a time of uncertainty, business owners should take stock by reviewing their offerings, their target audiences, their points of differentiation and their messaging.

Marketing Communications Today presents Horizons, it’s forward-thinking, looking ahead, through the front windshield and beyond, into the marketing future. Join Cyndi and Ruth bi-weekly for new ideas, technologies, tools and strategies that are emerging to help marketers navigate over the marketing horizon.

Meet our guest

Stephanie Schwab, CEO of Crackerjack Marketing

As CEO of Crackerjack Marketing, Stephanie Schwab creates engaging digital marketing programs for exuberant lifestyle, tech, and education brands. Over the last 20+ years, Stephanie has focused on social media, content marketing, and influence marketing, blending management consulting best practices with agency creativity.

She is the Director of the Digital Marketing Programme at Harbour. Space, a high-tech university in Barcelona, Spain and Bangkok, Thailand, where she teaches course on fundamentals of digital marketing, social media and content marketing, and starting and running an agency.

Stephanie also works with coaches, consultants, and service providers to create profitable and sustainable marketing through her Business Marketing Blueprint program.

Stephanie received her MBA in marketing and strategic planning from the University of Illinois at Chicago. When not working or teaching, Stephanie travels, plays board games with her husband and teenager, knits, and cooks gluten-free meals.

Meet the hosts

Cyndi Greenglass

Cyndi W. Greenglass is a founding partner and president at Livingston Strategies, a data-informed, strategic consulting firm that helps clients develop, execute, and measure their customer communications with a close focus on results. Cyndi has razor-sharp strategic skills matched by impeccable on-the-ground savvy and tactical abilities. She is an Adjunct Instructor in the Data Marketing Communications online master's degree program from West Virginia University.

Greenglass has twice been named into the Top 100 Influential BTB Marketers by Crain’s BtoB Magazine and was the 2012 CADM Chicago Direct Marketer of the Year. She is a member of the Board of Advisors for BRAND United and has taught, trained and presented at over 50 conferences throughout the world.

Ruth Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, for business-to-business clients. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York.

Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the ERA business accelerator in New York City.

Interested in growing your career with a master's degree in Data, Digital or Integrated Marketing Communications? Request more information today!

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