How important is marketing for a woman-owned small business? We talked with Crissy Heron, founder of the small business information site IndieBizChicks.com , on the role played by marketing in the success of a business. Using the ideas she has used for her women-oriented small business web site, Crissy shares the strategies and tool women entrepreneurs can adopt. Learn from this dynamic young woman:
What is IndieBizChicks? What are your goals for the site?
IndieBizChicks.com is a website ‘for women who’d rather work for themselves, than work for the man.’ My goal is to provide quality information to women interested in starting and growing their own business.
What inspired you to start this website?
I saw a huge need for this website. When I was in my early 20s I moved to Alaska. I began looking for a way to work from home so I could go back to Michigan and visit my friends and family whenever I wanted, without having to worry about taking time off of work. I found a lot of work at home mom sites, but I wasn’t a mom (and still am not). I wanted to create a site that provided the type of information I was looking for, but was also hip and modern.
What services and information does IndieBizChicks offer?
The site offers all kinds of business information, from day to day business topics, such as handling email overload to specific marketing topics such as tutorials on writing press releases and building media pages.As far as services, I can help businesses with all of their marketing needs, whether it is helping them create a marketing plan, teaching them how to use Twitter, or helping them get featured in their local paper.
From your experience, what do you think is the most common mistake of small business entrepreneurs with regards to marketing, including online marketing?
I think that most people simply do not spend enough time on marketing. While it does take time and energy, it’s essential. People cannot become your customers without knowing your business exists! And if you are simply too busy, you can always outsource this task.
What tactics, tools and strategies should be included in the marketing arsenal of small businesses?
Every business is different, so there really isn’t a “cookie cutter” approach to guarantee success. I recommend that people get involved in social media (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr); send out press releases to local and online media on a regular basis; and most importantly, I think business owners should be blogging regularly, at least 3 times each week. It’s important to keep track of your statistics, so that you know how your website visitors are finding you. One of these methods should really stick out, and that is the one you should be putting the most energy into.
How important is networking for small businesses?
Networking is one of the best things you can do for your business. A word of mouth referral is worth much more than any advertising you can buy. Social networking sites allow business owners to easily connect with their customer base, other businesses, and potential business partners. Plus, it’s so easy. It doesn’t matter if you are shy or if you live in a small town without any traditional networking events. Now, all you need is an internet connection and a Facebook or Twitter account.
What do you think is the biggest need of small businesses right now?
I think a lot of people are looking for ways to market their businesses without spending a lot of money. This is exactly the type of information I specialize in. There are so many ways to do this! I’ve spent less than $150 on advertising since I launched my site, two and a half years ago. If I can market a business on a shoestring budget, anyone can.
What other advice can you give other women entrepreneurs?
My best advice is to know exactly who your target market is. Be very specific with this! It’s important to know who’s most likely to buy your product or service. That will set the tone for all of your marketing efforts, including the look and feel of your marketing materials, not to mention the places that you market your business.
For example, someone who makes hip baby clothes may think that all pregnant women and new moms are her target market, but they are not. This business owner needs to go after modern moms and moms-to-be who are in their 20s or early 30s who most likely live in an urban area.
Instead of marketing on general parenting sites, it would make more sense to market on hipper parenting sites, especially regional ones, focusing on places such as Chicago, New York, and LA. See the difference in that marketing strategy? Your target market defines EVERYTHING!