My Journey to Understanding Small Business Marketing

Tony Lee
4 min readDec 29, 2021

It’s been a long journey, but I think I’ve finally arrived at a point where I understand how to explain small business marketing.

Of course, there’s still plenty more for me to learn, but in 2022 I feel like I have a good grasp on how to approach SMB founders and operators.

In this post, I want to share my insights with you so that you can understand where things are headed and how you can prepare your business for it.

Issue № 1: Small Businesses Do Not Ask For Help

Most founders feel like it’s their duty to actually know the answer to various marketing strategies.

So, they don’t ask questions—and often turn to gurus, masterminds and $5,000 courses. Or, they hire an agency no one heard of because they think that’s what an SMB needs to do.

Not only that, there’s not a lot of content to show how SMBs can apply marketing to their businesses.

How I plan on addressing this? Put out content specifically for SMBs. To be honest, most SMB operators won’t have time to casually view this. But, when they have time, I hope they’d come to me to read on my blog — and then ask questions.

Issue № 2: Small Business Marketing Requires More Creativity

I’m going to publish a lot of content here and here.

And The SMB Manifesto will be a home for more small business marketing strategy posts.

But, what most SMBs needs are not best practices, or listicles, or best SaaS tools. They need a customized strategy for its business.

How I plan on addressing this? Asking small businesses to come on live streams with me. Or ask questions where I can create videos for them. It requires me to provide enough value where SMBs are comfortable to ask me.

Issue № 3: SMB Operators Don’t Want To Do Marketing, Just Work

I asked couple SMB founders what was the first thing that they did when starting a business.

Marketing happened to be, like, the last thing on their list.

I asked questions about analytics. Any conversion data. Email open rates. They said, “Yes, we need those things.”

It seems like both something SMB founders feel like they can’t do, and they often outsource this thinking—which leads to slower growth, especially in 2021 post pandemic as marketing became more important.

How I plan on addressing this? Creating marketing strategies that are designed specifically for small businesses, but in a fun way. Most marketing content is funnel building, what you’d do with $500 to make it into $50,000, etc… Got to do something different if you want an honest convo with SMBs.

So I went back to basics — what does every business need in order to succeed in the digital age?

Awareness.

Small businesses need people to scream about their brand on social media, text messages, emails, etc… and even will take friends, family and strangers saying something randomly.

If I gear making more content about the businesses themselves, then it will generate more awareness for the SMBs.

It’ll require more creativity, because it’ll basically need to be content other brands haven’t done. But, I’m dedicated to this mission.

So what’s next for ‘The SMB Manifesto’ and 2022?

I want to create content for small business owners so that they can finally start marketing their businesses.

The problem is, SMB operators don’t have time to read about marketing because of how busy they are running the business day-to-day. This means that we need more creative methods in our blog posts and social media posts to get them engaged with us.

They also don’t like doing marketing; it’s not what they’re good at, but rather making money through entrepreneurship. Let’s stop creating content that doesn’t resonate with this target audience!

Follow me on Instagram or Twitter if you’d like to see my journey towards helping small businesses grow online. Whether it’s live streams, newsletters, social media content, to vlogs, I’m not going to stop until I can get others to finally ask for help.

Tony Lee (aka @sheckii) is a digital advertising entrepreneur who worked on brands like 20th Century Fox, Sam’s Club, ABC Entertainment, Nintendo, Starz, sweetgreen, outdoor voices, First Republic Bank, Kane’s Furniture and more. He currently works as a lead for Performance Marketing at Shopify for international paid social media acquisition. He’s also the host of welcome to sheckiiville podcast available on Apple and iOS devices.

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Tony Lee

Paid Social Lead @ Shopify // Small Business Marketing blogger and vlogger, SMB podcaster // Keeping my old profile pic wearing Google Glass