Small Business Saturday is coming up and we wanted to celebrate by talking to small business owners and experts about what works for their businesses and their clients. Scott Monty is an internationally recognized leader in digital communications, digital transformation, social media and marketing. As CEO and co-managing partner of Brain+Trust Partners, he addresses and advises businesses and groups about the power of humanity in business, particularly through digital transformation and strategy. Scott’s clients have included Walmart, IBM, Reebok, Coca-Cola, and Google, and The Economist ranked him as #1 atop the list of 25 Social Business Leaders.

He is a board member of the American Marketing Association and an adviser for a number of Silicon Valley companies. He writes about the changing landscape of business, technology, communications, marketing and leadership at ScottMonty.com, and edits and produces the widely acclaimed weekly newsletter and podcast The Full Monty.

Tim Hayden is the President of Brain+Trust Partners, a strategic consultancy that provides executive guidance and advice on critical decision-making.Tim Hayden

With more than 20 years of marketing and business leadership experience, Tim Hayden has been a founder of new ventures (NION Interactive, GamePlan, 44Doors) and a catalyst for innovative change within some of the world’s largest brands (Dell, Bacardi, AMD, ExxonMobil, Hilton Worldwide, Kraft Foods, Edelman, and others).

Part social anthropologist, part strategic marketing executive, Tim studies communications behavior and how new media and mobility are reshaping all of business. From operations to marketing and customer service, he assembles technology, adoption and communications initiatives that lead to efficiency and profitability.

Tim has also proudly served in executive board and leadership positions with the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Meals on Wheels and More, Austin Sports Commission, Austin Technology Council, International Experiential Marketing Association, Ballet Austin and other non-profits.

Q. What are some of the benefits of being “small” that a business owner can leverage to beat out the “big” guys?

A. Small businesses are naturally nimble and can operate with greater empathy to customer pains and needs. They also can be much more personal than a national chain or me-too retailer.

Q.Is there a common place where you see many small business owners go wrong when they start to market online?

A. Too often, small business owners have foregone fundamental customer service and the need to actually build relationships with customers that may return to buy again, or better, refer friends and family to the business. It is time to remember the days when neighbors knew each other’s likes and dislikes, kid’s names and more. This is exacerbated when they try to be everywhere – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and others. Focusing on the things that matter is key for small businesses: on the right channels and on customer service.

Q. We all know those emails or websites that “look” like spam, but what are some strategies you’ve see business owners do to demonstrate their credibility?

A. We like to see small shops and restaurants that run loyalty programs where offers and messages are personalized, not just a universal promotion.

Q. With so many places for business owners to turn for online advice, how do you recommend they cut through the noise in order to make an impact?

A. Listening to customers and asking through conversation and tools like surveys or polls what matters to them. Understanding customer needs and wants is a better guide than any one-size fits all “how to” blog or industry site.

Q. When working with new business owners, what are some tools or steps you use to come up with a digital strategy unique to their business

A. A Facebook page and Facebook advertising that leverages Facebook’s Custom Audiences feature made up of email newsletter subscribers is one way. Another is the use of geo-filters in platforms like Snapchat and Twitter.

Q. Can people expect to get results from purely organic campaigns these days or is it pretty much required that they have an ad budget for a campaign?

A. If you are delivering an incredibly courteous experience with high quality products and services, which is why you probably started your business, then organic marketing may be all you need. Still, the noise in today’s media makes new ad-targeting capabilities a viable way to reach current and new local customers.

Q. Online-to-offline. Any examples of companies doing a great job driving traffic to their physical store through online campaigns?

A. REI does a fantastic job of reminding co-op members that they are near a store through Apple Wallet notifications.

Q. What tool/strategy do you think will make the biggest impact in 2017?

A. The pendulum seems to have swung quite a bit in social media advertising and marketing automation; we foresee a return to a human-based communication strategy that puts the customer at the center of the business. People long for interaction with other humans, and we’re due for a course correction.

Q.Who are some of the influencers who have made a large impact on how you think about online marketing?

A. Jay Baer and the community of contributors to his blog enlighten every day of the week. Convince and Convert is a great resource for case studies and plausible ideas.

To read more interviews and find resources for Small Business Saturday, visit our guide.