Small Business BIG Marketing
If you have ever been interested in starting your own business, then the annual Energise Enterprise festival can provide information and resources to help get you started.
Now in its fifth year, the Victorian government's Small Business Festival is held annually during August, running over 400 events across Victoria and attracting more than 40,000 interested people. The festival aims to help people unlock the potential of small businesses and provide networking opportunities on different scales.
Small Business BIG Marketing is the signature event of Energise Enterprise. It features everything a small business needs to know about marketing strategies, branding and sales as told by industry experts. In 2010 the event was held on August 26 at the Docklands in Melbourne. Guest speakers included Claire Hatton, Christian Schultz, Rob Hartnett and Robert Gerrish.
The digital economy
The morning was opened by a welcome from Small Business Victoria's executive director, Roger Arwas. The first guest speaker was Claire Hatton, former UK Person of the Year and now working for Google Australia. In speaking about the importance of targeting customers, she encouraged small business operators to maintain an online presence.
"We believe every small business should participate in the digital economy," Claire said.
With 84% of Australians online, Claire emphasised that the internet is usually the first place people search for business information, including looking for local businesses. A small business would greatly benefit from having an online presence that includes who the business is, what products they sell and their contact information.
It was noted that although there are 1.6 million small businesses in Australia, the rise in imported goods suggests that consumer demand is increasing, but Australian businesses aren't keeping up. Security concerns are no longer a barrier for the online economy as consumers move towards convenience and choice. It is estimated that internet access from mobile devices will exceed that from personal computers by 2013.
Camillo D'Alessandreo, CEO of Momentum Energy, spoke about key factors in "Starting small, Thinking big" for small businesses. His practical advice included targeting a market need, promoting the point of difference, delighting customers, showing leadership that is willing to challenge and change, and forming strategic partnerships.
Be on trend, not trendy
One of the highlights of the event was listening to Christian Schultz, an international branding and communication expert and self-confessed "supernerd". He emphasized the importance of marketing, branding and having patience when establishing a business. He suggested an entrepreneur's alternative to the traditional four Ps of marketing: people, passion, perseverance, and profits.
"To build a successful and profitable business takes years. Be very patient and persevere," Christian said. "The better your business story, the less money you have to spend buying media to sell it. Spend your marketing budget to reach your target audience at all relevant points."
Christian encouraged small business operators to use social media as a market research tool. He forecasted that location-based social media was the next big trend for social media.
"It is more important to be on trend than to be trendy," he advised. "Being on trend captures the current mass market and their large demand."
Christian's closing remarks addressed the need for entrepreneurs to take some risks with their businesses. "We triumph without glory when we conquer without risk," he quoted.
Strategies for success
Throughout the morning there were three breaks for the audience to network and talk to the many businesses that had set up stalls. It was a fantastic way to discover businesses that could assist with all aspects of building a small business, including securing finance, promotions, legal requirements, developing strategies and using technology.
After lunch Rob Hartnett, the founder of Selling Strategies International, spoke about strategies for success. He said brands must be developed with integration between the offline and the online environment. It is important to constantly evaluate the business and its cash flow.
The last speaker was Robert Gerrish, founder and managing director of the Flying Solo business community. His advice regarded the use of word-of-mouth referrals, which are more reliable to consumers than traditional forms of promotion. The presentation of the business at every contact point with consumers contributes to the opinions they will form. His said consumers could become fans of the business over time.
Every year the Energise Enterprise events are a valuable and practical resource for those considering starting a small business. To find out more information about the festival, visit the Energise Enterprise website (new window)
Business Victoria also provides a comprehensive online resource with information on licenses, regulations, tax, exporting, innovation, commercialisation, and grants and assistance. Check out the Business Victoria website (new window) for more.
Articles Written by Ruth
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