The answer is simple – put money into being the business that helps bring small businesses together to network, learn from each other and grow as a community.
Why? Because it’s the one thing all small businesses are calling out for, and is the ultimate expression of ‘help me don’t sell to me’ – the philosophy that sits at the centre of good small business marketing.
The importance of community was something we heard over and over again when we travelled across the UK to meet with a variety of small business owners. It became clear to us that there is no such thing as one type of small business, every organisation functions by being part of a network of businesses working together to achieve a particular goal.
Whether it’s the operations that rely on partners and suppliers to run smoothly, the network of other small businesses that are part of their supply chain, or just the support networks from friends, families and other business owners providing advice and guidance – these networks are something all marketers not only need to be aware of, but also have to understand how to tap into.
So, our advice would be if you want to avoid being seen as an out-of-touch corporate behemoth, kick that brand advertising into touch and get out there doing your bit on the ground and helping to build networks. Be a brand that is providing a platform for small businesses to share and benefit from each other’s expertise.
But how do you do that? Here are three ideas to get you started
Small businesses are already running their own ad-hoc get-togethers – meeting above pubs, in cafes and at each other’s places of work to share ideas and insight. But these could always do with financial and logistical support to make them more efficient and effective. It’s a great opportunity for a brand to show they care and become part of the small business conversation.
A number of small businesses we have spoken to say they really want to meet and learn from other small business owners, but often find it hard to connect with people outside of their customers or current supplier network. There is a huge gap in the market for someone to build a platform to help small businesses find others in the local area, arrange a coffee and share wisdom (that is much better than LinkedIn).
There is a growing trend to be the brand that facilitates small business coming together to work and sell, and helping each other out along the way. From WeWork to the small food and drinks market, Mercato Metropolitano, the most favoured brands in small business owners eyes in the future will be the ones who are part of this trend – either through partnerships or doing it themselves.
These are some examples of what businesses can do, but brands also need to think about how to build networks and become part of communities as a central part of their small business strategies – you can read more about this over on Think Small.
If you would like to talk about how to make these ideas a reality, please do get in touch.