Workbar Hosts Marketing Panel With Experts from Drift, Yelp, Netflix and Alignable.com
Photos by Workbar Member Sooz.
Owning a business, no matter what size, is no easy task. With plenty of responsibilities and not always a lot of resources, entrepreneurs looking to build a thriving business often face tremendous obstacles and can feel overwhelmed.
Fortunately, with new trends in local marketing and free digital tools and platform to network, build community and reach their audience, small business owners now have a shot at competing with larger companies and developing a marketing plan that works for their goals.
This very topic inspired Workbar’s latest Speaker Series Event “The New Age of Localized Marketing”, held at the Cambridge coworking space. During the event, business owners and marketers gathered to hear valuable marketing hacks and tips to leverage, courtesy of a panel of experts coming from diverse industries and backgrounds.
Full House, Diverse Panel
Congregating around 100 attendees, the panel moderated by VentureFizz editor Colin Barry featured Drift’s Daniel Murphy, Yelp’s Director of Marketing and the company’s only Boston-based staff member Damien Smith, Armandina Cueva, a Global Marketing Operations Producer at Netflix, and Eric Grove, cofounder of social media platform for local businesses Alignable.
Boston’s Unique Small Business Environment
Known for centuries as a hub for top-of-the-line higher education, the Boston small business and startup community has developed a similar reputation in the recent years. With highly-trained talent and plenty of resources in the form of incubators, mentors, digital tools, panels and workshops, Boston proves to be a special location to start a business.
Building Connections with Other Small Businesses
During the event, the panelists focused on providing general advice that can prove valuable to local businesses in a variety of industries, and one of the most import tips was devoting time to build connections with other small business owners. Those connections, from a simple introduction and business card exchange to a joint digital marketing campaign, can turn things around in a local ecosystem.
Eric Groves’s platform Alignable does just that – giving small business owners the opportunity to create profiles, send referrals and establish connections with other owners in the area. For him, community and collaboration, instead of fierce competition, have proven to be help local businesses succeed.
Should Small Businesses Have an Online Presence?
When talking about the importance of a business’s digital footprint, the panelists offered insightful contributions to help owners determine how much time and effort to devote to creating a website, building social media profiles and interacting with customers online.
Yelp’s Damien Smith shared that if a business has customers who are predominantly active online, then the business must have a solid presence.
Touching upon the close relationship consumers have with technology, Armandina Cueva explained it is likely for a business to lose credibility in front of certain audiences it if does not have some kind of online presence.
Hiring for Diversity in the Tech Industry
Elaborating on the connection between race and professional success, panelist Stephanie Castaños, a Relations Manager at Resilient Coders, shared that while organizations like hers, that help folks gain professional skills to enter the workforce, the power to change how society operates around race and income ultimately lays in the hiring businesses.
The Value of Reviews and Word of Mouth
Additionally to having a website and social media profiles, another key pillar to digital presence for small businesses is managing online customer reviews. For Yelp’s Damien Smith, reviews, even negative ones, give businesses the opportunity to connect with their clients directly and show that they care about the feedback they are getting.
Moreover, he reported that Yelp users often edit negative reviews to add more stars after a business has responded to them.
And on the other hand, small business benefit every day from referrals and word of mouth. The four panelists agreed that for businesses to get loyal customers, who become ambassadors of their brand, good customer service and authenticity are crucial.
Mistakes Small Businesses Should Avoid
To close the discussion, the panelist shared advice on how small business owners can avoid common, easy-to-fix mistakes.
As intimidating as starting your own business can be, entrepreneurs who decide to pursue this venture always learn valuable lessons along the way – the most important one, perhaps, that no one has all the answers, and that seeking advice, building a supportive community and adapting a trial-and-error approach can lead to greatness.
Workbar Speaker Series is a monthly event that connects local innovators and leaders in the Boston community and offers an interactive space for discussion, conversation and networking. With different topics and speakers each session, the event looks inspire attendees with insightful contributions and to create a positive footprint in the innovation scene.