Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and learning how to properly navigate their opportunities in the marketplace is definitely essential for business owners today. In this interview, I talked with Mollie Watkins, the founder of Comprehensive Consulting Solutions for Small Businesses in Northwest Arkansas, United States.
- How are small businesses finding their way around in the age of social media marketing, and along with the big businesses, with their multi-million dollars budget for publicity?
- How can small business still remain relevant in such a volatile situation and still drive sales?
- How about the opportunity wasted and the tendency to oversell, as often seen in social media these days?
These and many more questions are what Mollie will be responding to in this interview.
Of course, there is little or no difference whether you are right here within the European market, like we are, or elsewhere in the world. As long as you are part of the global economy, what affects a small business in one part of the world automatically become relevant to you: “The Marketing Strategies”, “Prospecting Tactics” and “Consumer Intelligence” are things that have almost become universal in nature these days. So, it will serve all small businesses if they learn this game well and correctly apply them for their business success.
Enjoy the interview.
For people that might not know you, how do you describe yourself?
“I live in Northwest Arkansas (NWA), but am originally from Nashville, TN. I moved to NWA in 2013 and have fallen in love with the energy, friendliness, and landscape of the area. I enjoy helping small business owners drive to their goals during working hours; in my free time, I enjoy practising yoga and being around family and friends. Through the last 16 years, I have worked in small businesses and corporate America. Those experiences helped me develop and polish my skills to lead a team, drive revenue and results, recruit new talent, motivate staff, develop structure and processes, and more. I decided to use those experiences as a Small Business Consultant and opened a consulting company, Comprehensive Consulting Solutions for Small Businesses, that helps small business with their opportunities including business planning/coaching, marketing and growth, retention and customer service, staffing and culture, and processes.”
In terms of converting new prospects, what key mistakes are salespeople still making in 2019?
“I believe the biggest mistake that salespeople are still making is not following up on leads, after the initial quote or contact. In my experience, I have witnessed the lack of follow-up many times throughout my career – a staff person gives a quote and doesn’t follow-up or tries to follow-up only three times, then they give up and never call the prospect again. Those same sales producers are the ones that don’t have a long-term sales pipeline. Some folks confuse not right now with no – those are two different answers. I think a short-term and long-term lead follow-up process is a huge opportunity area for small businesses.”
In this age of social media marketing, how can small businesses use social media to reach more people, without overselling their products and services?
“Small businesses can capitalize on social media by posting community content related to their target markets on business pages. Some businesses are too focused on posting about their service and product. There is no connection to topics that are important to consumers – the messaging is too focused on buying my product or service and could limit the perception of credibility or value from the customer’s perspective. For example, an insurance agent sells insurance and, on her page, she posts only information about insurance – discounts available, product offerings, how to file a claim, etc. Those are important areas that could be important to her customers, but to engage her followers – she needs to gain trust and credibility by posting content that is valuable/engaging and may not related to insurance such as free events, meet the team, non-profit wish lists, phone scam alerts…”
With the millions of dollars bigger companies are willing to spend on ads, how can smaller businesses survive the competition?
“Larger companies will always have a bigger marketing budget than a smaller business. Small business marketing plans may be as robust as a larger company, but not with tactics that cost a lot – more on tactics that take more of the owner’s time such as networking, referrals, and community involvement. I know small business owners that drive all of their business from referrals and social marketing, which don’t cost the business owner money – just time.”
How many roles can value proposition play in the marketing campaigns of smaller businesses today?
“To me, small businesses’ value proposition is an important factor in their success. There will always be competition – that isn’t going anywhere. Since business owners can’t control the competition, they have to focus on what they can control, which is what makes them special. Maybe the business offers popcorn to customers waiting in the waiting room, calls customers on their birthdays, has scheduled checkpoints with customers each month, has customer appreciation events, etc to make the customer feel spoiled and appreciated. Consumers may not remember everything a small business said, but they will remember how they felt when interacting with the business. The customer can get the product or service from many other companies, but can’t get the same experience everywhere. If the customer experience is exceptional, even if the product/service costs more, a lot of consumers will pay more. Price is most important in the absence of value!”
If you were to make a forecast for the next 5 to 7 years, how many roles you think marketing will have, especially on small businesses?
“I believe that marketing in 5 to 7 years will still play a large role in small businesses – the marketing tactics will be more customized and individualized to each consumer because of the pace of changing technologies and data gathering, but there will still be ways that small businesses market to drive revenue, compensation, or their level of freedom.”
Read more about Mollie Watkins
Thank you so much for your time. It has been a pleasure from me and A-classes eLearning,
Obehi Peter Ewanfoh
See you in the class.