Nine interviews = countless insights. We interviewed small business marketing influencers for Small Business Saturday and asked them how business owners could prepare for the holiday. You can read all the interviews on our Small Business Saturday Resources page, or learn what they seemed to agree on:

2017 is “The Year of the Customer”

  • 5 out of 9 influencers said tools that help small businesses with customer service, and focusing on providing value to customers, are going to be trending in 2017. And lucky for small businesses, most influencers highlighted customer engagement as a top advantage for smaller companies.

Do: Solve Problems & Provide Value

  • 4 influencers mentioned providing value as a way to cut though the noise and not appear spammy. Marketing gurus Michael Brenner, Barry Moltz, Jason Falls and Laurel Delaney all said solving customers problems was the best way to provide value and stand out in the crowd.

Don’t: Get Impatient

  • Over half the influencers noted that small businesses tend to be impatient with their marketing efforts and expect results too quickly. They all agreed that building a brand and a relationship takes time. If you’re not in it for the long haul, you probably won’t see the results you’re looking for.

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Do: Be Nimble, Be Quick

  • The majority of influencers all rang in with the same response when it comes to small businesses biggest asset: agility. Scotty Monty and Tim Hayden, Hannah Hals-Kelchner, Moltz, Joost de Valk and Delaney agreed that being nimble and being able to adapt to new trends quickly is an advantage big business doesn’t have.

Don’t: Go in Without a Plan

  • Influencers Doug and Polly White and Ann Handley were on the same page as de Valk when it came to planning. Each emphasized how crucial it is to have a marketing plan, which most small businesses don’t. As Handley put it, gone are the days of just throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. Small businesses, even if they need to hire a professional, should have a solid marketing strategy and plan.

Do: Get Personal

  • Jason Falls thinks small business has the upper hand when it comes to personalized messages and customer engagement. Small companies can interact more with their audience and have an easier time listening to them, reaching out to them and adding personal touches. His feelings were echoed by Monty and Hayden.

Do: Start with Organic Efforts

Don’t: Try to Do it All

  • 4 influencers stressed the importance of knowing your audience – where they populate (Facebook? Instagram?) who influences them, their demographic, etc. – before implementing any kind of digital marketing strategy. Small business owners can spread themselves too thin by trying to do it all, so it’s recommended they first do their research and find out where they should be putting their effort.

Do you have a Small Business Saturday story or advice you’d like to share with us? Reach out in the comments!

Photo Credit: i_zaac, Twenty20