Digital experts share marketing and growth tips for small businesses | City of Sydney

We have partnered with the NSW Government to host 9 webinars focusing on digital content skills and growing your customers and your brand.

Experts from some of Australia’s most established and fastest growing businesses participate in our Reboot Small Business webinars. Speakers include Naomi Simson, founder of RedBalloon, Lisa Muxworthy, editor of and Tim Doyle of Eucalptyus.

With a focus on digital content skills and customer and brand growth, the webinars will provide inspiring stories and practical examples for retail and hospitality business owners, start-up entrepreneurs, to creatives, artists and professional services companies. See the full schedule below.

Digital Coach and CEO of Shop You Kelly Slessor will give 2 presentations and facilitate discussions with speakers in other sessions.

“It’s about providing practical advice that small businesses can take away and implement and exposing great minds who have worked in small businesses themselves,” Kelly Slessor said.

An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing, Kelly focuses on driving growth and innovation in retail and hospitality. She has worked with hundreds of small businesses over the past 20 years to provide experience, knowledge, models and ideas in a practical and easy to understand way.

Kelly Slessor present at Reboot 2022

Ahead of her Reboot events, we asked Kelly what small businesses should be focusing on in the digital space and 2022.

You are presenting the third webinar in the series which focuses on creating a winning online store. Has the advice you give people on e-commerce changed as a result of the pandemic?

The advice from me has always been that you have your digital channels and your physical channels and you need to make the 2 as connected as possible for the customer. The client does not see them as separate. I think Covid has accelerated that understanding. For retail and hospitality, it was very important to have click and collect services.

I think when we started doing a lot more transactions online, we also got used to being online. It’s really changed the way customers interact with small businesses.

Your second session drives growth with online research. You’ll talk about Google My Business, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), driving traffic, and generating more leads. From your perspective, what are the biggest hurdles for small businesses in understanding this space?

It is education. I’ve worked with so many small businesses in the last year, over 1000, and they don’t know what they don’t know. Setting up digital channels is not their core business. It’s like having a POS system or having your windows cleaned – it’s not what you do every day, but it’s part of your business.

Historically, I see research as the part of the business that has been left behind or not given the attention it needs. And I think last year we’ve seen companies say, “We have to focus on that.”

Going through and understanding how it all works for me is the most important thing a small business owner can do. I see a lot of small businesses throwing money at the problem: “We’re going to have an agency do this, or we’re going to have someone build a website for us.” Then 6 months later, it could be anywhere between $1,000 and, you know, $100,000 later, they say, “It’s not working,” and they don’t understand or don’t know why.

Research is one of the fundamental things a business owner really needs to invest in to drive traffic to their website.

I say it’s a free way to do it. It costs money because it takes time, but using search traffic is one of the most profitable ways to drive traffic to your site. And a lot of businesses don’t set up when they build their website. For example, let’s say you sell soccer balls. I need to configure my website so that Google understands that I am selling soccer balls and driving traffic to me.

If you were to open a physical store, you would put a sign in the window and merchandise in the window telling people exactly what it does and who you are and they would get an idea as they walked past. But people don’t think of digital channels the same way for some reason.

You think storytelling is essential for small businesses and one of the Reboot sessions focuses on that. Why is that?

One of the things that really excites me about Reboot is photographer Wayne Quilliam. He talks about using photography to tell stories and how engaging it is and how you can do the same online.

Over the past 6 months, online ads have exploded because everyone is jumping online. Everyone gets into it. The noise is such that Facebook and Google can charge more money for their ads. Where I see brands winning with their ads is in this storytelling article. This doesn’t work if you have cut and pasted content – stock image vs. custom content.

For example, I work with a butcher who just put a team photo on his website and was talking about his team. It was the biggest engagement they had in terms of content in the past few months. It is because this image tells a story.

What advice would you give to people looking to start a business from scratch right now?

There is no better opportunity to start a business right now due to access to technology and online customers. It’s a awesome time to start a business.

However, there are a few fundamentals to starting a business, especially an online business, or even just starting a new business and then going online.

First you have to think about the Internet. Many people start a business and then find the business name very difficult to find online for customers or to obtain the domain name.

But we can do reverse engineering right now, which is exciting. You can say, “What’s a good brand online?” In which category should I sit? What will my customers be looking for? and name it from that place. There are so many ideas and research online now that we can see how it really helps to make a business more sustainable and successful.

For businesses that have been through the pandemic, what would be your advice to help them grow at this stage? How do you stay focused?

I had a digital clinic this morning with a bunch of retailers and hotels and a few of them weren’t completely overwhelmed. We were talking about Google Analytics and Google Console – technical terms. I told them that with the digital stuff, you have to do one thing at a time, do it, then move on to the next one.

You can’t be everything to everyone on every channel on digital because you will fail. If you’re trying to make TikTok and Instagram and Facebook and your website, that’s not sustainable for a startup and it’s not sustainable for businesses, especially small businesses. It’s sustainable if you have a big team, but most people don’t. For me, it’s about ticking the fundamental boxes: making sure your online platform is set up correctly, that when customers access it, they have a good experience. Making sure they can find you through SEO and Google My Business, then grow from there. Not trying to be on TikTok channels and putting time and energy into it when you know customers are coming to your website and not doing anything.

The Reboot webinar series is brought to you by the City of Sydney and proudly supported by the NSW Government’s Business Connect program.

Upcoming Reboot Webinar Series Events

  • Brand building with Naomi Simson, co-founder, RedBalloon – March 29, 12pm-1pm

  • Getting Financial Fundamentals with Melissa Browne, Co-Founder, The Money Barre – April 5, 12-1 p.m.

  • Build a winning online store with Kelly Slessor, CEO, Shop You – April 12, 12-1 p.m.

  • Content that gets clicks with Lisa Muxworthy, Editor-in-Chief, April 26, 12-1 p.m.

  • How to Create Storytelling Content that Truly Connects with Wayne Quilliam, Aboriginal Artist and Digital Creator – May 3, 12pm-1pm

  • Nail your marketing mix with Sandradee Makejev, Founder, St Frock, Kelly Slessor, CEO, Shop You and Sina Klug, Founder, Nutie Donuts – May 10, 12pm-1pm

  • Digital word of mouth: growth with Instagram with Mya Nichol, Instagram expert and coach – May 17, 12-1 p.m.

  • Driving Growth Through Online Search with Kelly Slessor, CEO, Shop You – May 24, 12-1 p.m.

  • Growth hacking with Tim Doyle, Founder, Eucalyptus – May 31, 12-1 p.m.

See the full reboot schedule.

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