Local business owners get crash course on marketing and social media

Published 12:10 am Saturday, September 23, 2023

SALISBURY — It goes without saying that technology has entrenched itself in everyday life at greater pace than ever before. The speed in which people communicate and process information has exhilarated thanks to smartphones, computers and tablets becoming household items that kids can use better than many adults.

For people who own small businesses, the influence of technology is magnified by their need to engage with potential customers. Marketing and social media has morphed into a central piece of how business owners advertise and familiarize themselves with their audience. For this month’s “LearnConnect & Grow Business Development Mixer,” Downtown Salisbury Inc. hosted small business owners at Salisbury Academy to have them enjoy food and drinks, mingle, but also to hear a presentation on the importance of marketing and social media in the modern world.

“We are in a small town, but we’re in a great town. People won’t know about your business unless you put your business in front of them. Our attention spans are very short, if you watch television that’s why we have advertising. In order for people to know about you, you have to market yourself. This is probably one of the most important components outside of your financial responsibilities of the business to making sure you stay in business,” said Tonyan Schoefield, downtown liaison and owner of Fit For A Queen and The House Of T Grace Wellness Studio Boutique.

On Sept. 21, Liz Hynes, owner of 57 Marketing, a firm based out of Washington, North Carolina, spoke to a curious crowd on current trends, statistics and what platforms to use online. Hynes has been in marketing for 25 years and has worked in media, TV and radio. 

“I focused on small businesses, that’s what my passion is, too. To really help small businesses,” Hynes said. “Something to help, give them tips and tools and things like that to use.”

Hynes went over the most prevalent websites for specific businesses and answered any questions. She specified to everyone email marketing is still a valuable asset and Tik Tok might have to be utilized depending on what a business’ target market is.

“When you’re talking all media it’s like, ‘Do I need to do print anymore?’ ‘Should I do streaming?’ ‘Does radio still work?’ I get a lot of those kind of general questions. It all depends, it all depends on the business, a lot of it should be custom as far as I’m concerned, customized to the business,” Hynes said.

Hynes described that vertical short videos that appear on YouTube, Instagram and Tik Tok are the most effective ways to get customers to know about a person’s business. When Hynes mentioned AI, she delved into both the pros and cons and the difference between apps like ChatGPT and Bard. Marketing is a process that bleeds into a multitude of duties for a business owner. Since it is has such an expansive definition, people can make assumptions about marketing that could damage their business.

“Marketing is a pretty broad term. It can incorporate anything, it’s really marketing and advertising that I do. Anything from branding all the way down to placing media buys. I would say the biggest misconception is that they think they can just run and buy a couple ads anywhere. Whether that’s on Facebook, on broadcast television, on cable, in the newspaper, you can run one ad and everybody sees it, but really marketing is all about reach and frequency. You need to reach the right audience with the right number of ads and you have to do it consistently,” Hynes said.

Brian Hunt is the owner of Made Man Barber and Shave in downtown Salisbury. In a little notebook, he scribbled notes though out Hynes’ lecture to gain valuable insight into bettering his own business.

“Social media is probably my least strongest area of business, so it made sense for me to be here,” Hunt said. “Biggest thing is how some of the algorithms worked, how they don’t work, and the things with AI since I don’t do that much social media. That’s something that would definitely help me to post more and do more in less time.”

For Hunt, these mixers aren’t just for grasping new concepts, they are opportunities to evoke emotions as to why he started his business in the first place.

“Any time I come to one of these, it rekindles a fire because you got to get used to the humdrum, but when you get around other entrepreneurs, the other people that are driven, it reminds you, ‘Get off your butt!’ ‘Work, do these things.’ ‘Start using social media more.’ Versus you get stuck in that same routine, there’s other tools out there, things that can take your business to another level,” Hunt said.