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Moving Small Businesses Forward with Technology Marketing Courses

by Kyle Hensel

Move over, college graduates because there is a new breed of graduates in Georgia. Small business owners across the state are completing the Georgia SBDC Network’s Maximum Contact series. The five week interactive series focuses on teaching students how to use technology to drive sales by using online marketing tools and web sites to reach customers, search engines to market businesses, e-mail, blogging, and social networking sites to communicate with potential clients. Laura Turner, owner of Eleste Marketing in Locust Grove, Georgia knows that utilizing cyberspace gives a business owner an edge over the competition. “No matter what type of business you operate, you can implement some form of social media into your marketing plan,” she says.

Georgia Technology Marketing Course“The idea behind Maximum Contact is to explain what common types of Web technology are out there and how a business can implement them into its overall marketing strategy,” says Kyle Hensel, Area Director of the SBDC at Clayton State University, one of the creators of Maximum Contact. He continues, “It is not about replacing all of your traditional marketing with social media, but instead using social media to supplement and enhance your strategy and reach a larger market.”

A common misconception about social media is that it only reaches a young market. In fact, people of all ages are using it in some shape or form. On Facebook, in July 2009, the number of users ages 35-45 and 55+ saw triple digit growth from the previous six months. The majority of Facebook users may still be young but the gap is closing with users of other ages. Businesses are finding that using this social network or others to help communicate with potential or existing customers can aid branding of their businesses both locally and on a larger geographic scale. Many businesses that already have traditional websites are beginning to expand into blogging, podcasting and social networking along with creating interactive web applications to reach customers. With the increased number of web-enabled cell phones being used worldwide, many consumers can have access to information online no matter where they are.

Small business owners will tell you how important word of mouth advertising is to them. The new online tools embrace that advantage and if used correctly will definitely enhance it. “Old-fashioned, word-of-mouth advertising is good,” Christen Bremnor of Home Helpers in Stockbridge, Georgia said, “but using the Internet complements word-of-mouth advertising. They work hand in hand.” An added bonus is that online marketing can be quite inexpensive. The most expensive cost is your time. Maximum Contact is held for two hours, once weekly, for five concurrent weeks. Students need an expressed interest in growing their businesses and trying to implement new marketing types into their marketing strategies. The final week of the course is designed to assist the business owners in adding the new elements into their companies. Adapting to new technology and using it to your advantage is key to keeping a business successful,” said Heather Anglyn of SERVPRO of Henry and Spalding Counties. Anglyn added, “I plan to implement what I’ve learned into our overall marketing strategy.”

For more information about Maximum Contact or any other course in the Georgia SBDC Network’s Maximum Impact Series, please contact Kyle Hensel or any other member of the Georgia SBDC Network.

Kyle Hensel is the Area Director of the Clayton State University SBDC which is a member of the Georgia SBDC Network. He received his BBA in Marketing and his MBA from Georgia Southern University. Prior to joining the SBDC, he held a management position at Wal-Mart, as well as several other large and small retailers. He also was an instructor at Georgia Southern University where he taught courses in marketing, retailing, and management. He has consulted with many for-profit and not-for-profit companies and associations. While with the SBDC, he created the popular small business series Maximum Marketing, which teaches small business owners how to be innovative, and Maximum Contact, which shows business owners how to use Technology to drive sales. His areas of interest include marketing, social media strategy, market research, advertising and logistics.
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