With a master’s degree and more than 20 years’ experience in marketing communications, I had been successfully freelancing out of my home for four years. I’d often find clients throughout the U.S. by networking online, but slowly, I was making a name for myself in my local community as well. By taking on a couple of local clients and hiring a marketing assistant, I decided it was time to open a small office in town.
So, we found a tiny store front, right on Main Street in Stockbridge – a small town with just a few more than 1,200 people. No street light, only a four way stop where two Michigan highways intersect. However, we’re located south of I-96 and north of I-94 (about 30 minutes from both Lansing and Ann Arbor), so we’ve been able to draw new customers not only from Stockbridge, but also from Brighton, Jackson, and Ann Arbor.
Our services include developing a variety of marketing communications materials such as brochures, flyers, and business cards, but for the most part we help businesses with their online marketing efforts. Most of our clients are very small with one or two owners and few, if any, employees. Their website is either non-existent or terribly out-of-date.
Social media is of great interest to many of our clients, but they either don’t have any presence at all or started a page or profile and never update it. Most say they know they need to be on social media, but they often don’t know how to use it or are just too busy running their operations to take the time to manage it.
Increasingly, we find many of our clients just need extra planning, coaching and guidance on how to do the marketing themselves. So, we get them off on the right foot, with an integrated marketing plan and strategies, as well as the tools and training they need to implement them. Over the course of the year we’ve grown. I added an account manager, who has streamlined our business processes. I also promoted my marketing assistant to account coordinator. She does triple duty as our photographer and telemarketing specialist. Together, the two of them staff the office and I still work mostly out of my home, going into town for client and staff meetings. This suits me as I also have three teenagers at home and I shepherd our farm’s flock of ewes in my “spare time”.
Some of the lessons we’ve learned in our short tenure include:
I don’t think we’ll entirely get away from working with clients throughout the U.S. who I come in contact with though online networking. However, we love our local business clients for a number of reasons:
Seriously though, we’ll soon have several case studies that show the results of our clients’ direct mail, social media, and online marketing campaigns. We’ll also have some before and after pictures of websites we’ve improved.
We strive to make a real and positive difference in our small business owners’ lives by helping them achieve the goals that they want to achieve. For some, that means increasing sales so that they can expand and grow. For others, it means maintaining a viable business during a time of flux when having a website and social media channel are table stakes. And, for a few it means providing the tools the next generation will need to continue making a living as a small business owner in their local community.
So, what does the future hold for our small-town agency? The vision is to continue to grow and eventually expand. I’d like to open additional offices in other small towns, hiring talented, local residents. While there is a real opportunity with the small business market segment, many of our projects are one offs. So, we rely on a steady stream of referrals, new clients, and a strong economy. I wish I had a crystal ball, but I truly believe that with everyone carrying an internet connected device in the palm of their hand, online, social media, and content marketing for small businesses is a growing opportunity.
Thank you for reading. If you are a small business owner in need of marketing services, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 734-845-2445 to schedule an appointment for a free consultation. If you know any small business owners who could use our services, please tell them to visit agiletmarketing.com for more information. And of course, like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, or connect with me on LinkedIn.