How the other half lives

So much of our social media conversation is focused on businesses that have the time to market themselves in traditional ways. But the mom and pop, small businesses that are often owned by the same people who run them day to day and might only employ a few people don’t have this luxury.

I didn’t realize to the degree that this was an issue until I did a bit of informal polling dealing with the business owners of places I frequent in Denver. My favorite bakery hasn’t updated their Twitter feed since early November, my regular barber cites a review I wrote on Yelp in February as a huge source of business for them to this day and added, “I had no idea it had that much influence over people’s decisions.” One of my regular coffee shops uses Twitter to post updates regularly, but it’s no accident that they have the biggest staff of the three places I mentioned and spend the least amount of time running their business from day to day.

Coming from higher ed, it’s an interesting contrast. But the real payoff is showing people how a little inertia can go a long way. For instance, a conversation about how having a web site is good, but how having one that showcases your best assets is better.

More than anything, satisfying customers is the trick to inducing new business and giving people a platform to showcase what your business has done for them can be a huge boon to sales for a small business. I never realized how much I’d taken for granted about what people know about the tools out there until I spurred these conversations, but it’s all about showcasing what they do well, while showing them it doesn’t have to take over their lives and detract from what they are passionate about doing with their time.