Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers. She is also a TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. Roth advises companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

Web: or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

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

A. Customer engagement, which is the holy grail for businesses these days with customers being so distracted, is something that small businesses are built for.

Relationships, even between businesses and customers, are not transactional.  Because of the size of small businesses, they can be better suited to creating strong and true relationships with their customer base that can engender engagement and ongoing loyalty.

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

A. Most small business owners put a lot of focus on finding new customers, without realizing that their existing customers are a secret weapon.  Customers who already love your brand and company are much easier to dialogue with. Not only is it easier to get those customers to buy more from you (whether through upsells or increased frequency), but they are a great conduit to sharing your content and special offers, as well as their positive encounters with you, with their own networks.  As most people tend to hang out with people who are a lot like them, there’s a good chance their network will have some of your target customers. The same goes for a B2B model.

“Your existing customers are your secret weapon” – Carol Roth on small business marketing.     Tweet This

Also, too many brands spend most of their time pushing offers and not enough time creating and sharing helpful content and creating relationships, creating their own customers “heroes” online by sharing good news or other information about their customers and putting them in the spotlight.

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. For better or worse, being featured in the media, both online and offline, creates the perception of expert status for entrepreneurs and their businesses. Sharing that your business has been featured in the media on your site or in emails helps to shape customer perception that you are the expert and lend additional credibility to your brand.

Also, providing helpful content through a blog, whitepapers or emails is always a great strategy to demonstrate credibility.  It also shows that you don’t just care about always landing a sale, but also about enriching the lives of your customers by helping them solve their problems.