Ruby partner feature: Authentic small business marketing with Scorpion

Small businesses don’t always have the easiest time with marketing. In fact, roughly 50% have no marketing plans at all.

Scorpion is on a mission to change that—with technology, marketing services, and expertise businesses of all sizes can rely on to achieve sustained growth. And it’s not just about bringing in more revenue. As Scorpion’s Chief Growth Officer Jamie Adams explains, an intentional and authentic marketing approach elevates a business’s values, community impact, and customer experience.

In this video, Jamie and Ruby Partner Development Manager Steffney Jones talk about the fundamentals of authentic small business marketing, as well as a few underutilized tips for growing a business. Topics include word-of-mouth marketing strategies, how to encourage customer reviews, calculating marketing ROI, and more!

Read the interview.

Steffney Jones: Hi, folks. My name is Steffney Jones, and I am a Partner Development Manager here at Ruby. Welcome to our small business series. I have the honor of introducing you to our guest today, Jamie Adams, the Chief Growth Officer at Scorpion. For 15 years, Jamie has been helping small companies leverage technology and digital marketing to grow their revenue. And Jamie, I hear that your love of this kind of work is a part of your story, having grown up in a smaller community where local entrepreneurs largely drove the economy. Can you tell us a bit about how that passion manifested over the years?

Jamie Adams:
Yeah, sure. I think I kind of tripped into it, but it was certainly when I started working with local businesses… I realized that it felt oddly natural, I think, just because of the situation I grew up in. I’m from a really small town in North Louisiana on the Red River, about 40 miles south of Shreveport, which you may be familiar with. Name of the town is Coushatta. The makeup of the town was quite simple from an economic perspective. We had some paper mills, which are really big industry in North Louisiana. We actually had a manufacturing plant. There’s a company called Sunbeam that built irons and different appliances. My family owned a farm, or one side of my family owned a farm. Another side of my family dabbled in a bunch of small businesses, owned a concrete plant at one time. But I grew up just around a bunch of people that worked in and operated small businesses.

Steffney Jones:
As a full-time marketing and technology company who consults with businesses of all shapes and sizes, some of your attention is focused on local marketing. How can businesses elevate local marketing efforts beyond Google My Business?

Jamie Adams:
I still believe that today, and probably for the foreseeable future, at least from what the data tells us, a business’ website is still a really, really important part of their web presence, their digital presence. So Google My Business is certainly a path of how people discover you, but more times than not, if they can, they’re going to click into your website. And that’s the one place, that’s the one asset that represents your business that you really do own everything about. You own the domain that you host the website on. You own the content, everything about that experience from the visual representations of your business, to the content, to the calls to action, to the things that really separate you and you want to invite your customer or your prospect to do, because it’s differentiating about your business. All those things you own as a business.

And you can work with companies like Scorpion to help you kind of bring that vision to life. But certainly, your website has got to be a key piece of that strategy beyond the Google My Business piece. And then once they’re on your website, you’ve got to be thinking about making it easier for them to get in touch with you. And a few years ago, that was clearly the phone. Make sure your phone number is prominently displayed on your website. Top right-hand corner, by the way, is a really great place to put a phone number. Don’t bury it down midway through the page. But other ways today that are really important, you need to give people an opportunity.

If you’re a service-based business, give them an opportunity to schedule an appointment directly on your website. That’s different than just putting a form fill, but actually give them specific times to choose from. Really important. And then another place that I think we both play a hand in is things like chat, or text messaging. Because again, most people today are getting conditioned through having mobile devices that they want to text instead of picking up the phone and calling. So you got to give them multiple ways to get in touch with you once they’re in your website.

Steffney Jones:
Those are what I would definitely consider to be the building blocks of a successful marketing strategy. And we do see and hear that word of mouth is a preferred method of lead generation, but it can be a tricky form of marketing. And for many businesses, it’s their primary marketing channel. What are some ways to positively impact word of mouth beyond customer service?

Jamie Adams:
Yeah. I mean, word of mouth is critical, because typically if someone else is telling someone about your business, there’s no really better form of marketing than that. That said, I think in order to really take advantage of word of mouth, you’ve got to be really intentional, and you’ve got to have a plan to do it. So it shouldn’t be happenstance. If you’re going to rely on word of mouth, you really need to formalize a process for all of your employees to play a hand in that.

For instance, hey, we’re going to say every time someone buys something from us or pays us and that transaction experience is ended, immediately thereafter when you’re standing in front of the person or you’re on the phone with that person, you need to have a scripted plan of saying, “Hey, I hope you had a great experience. And if you did, I would really appreciate you doing one of two things, or both. One, let your friends and family know about the experience you had. And if you really want to take an extra five or six minutes, go to our Google My Business page and leave a review about your experience, because that’s going to allow your word of mouth to be amplified for us across the internet.”

And really, just explain to them what it would mean to you as asking for that referral. Don’t just ask for the referral. Communicate what it would mean to you and how thankful and appreciative you would be if they took that time. So those are two simple things that I think every business should do today, because look, a lot of times, if you don’t ask for that word of mouth referral, or you’re unsure of the experience they had, you’re going to risk them just going out and saying whatever they’re going to say on a review site about it. But if you just took that extra 30 seconds or 60 seconds just to have a conversation, you may find that, “Hey, yeah, I am willing to go that extra step and leave a review.” Or perhaps, maybe they didn’t have the greatest experience, and you have a chance to influence that in some positive way that may influence how they go and talk about that experience to their friends and family.

Steffney Jones:
Yeah, I think that is a great point, especially whenever you think about those positive reviews that you do receive. They typically happen shortly after the event transpired with the employee.

Jamie Adams:
That’s right.

Steffney Jones:
So that training is so important so that it is a knee-jerk reaction, it’s something that automatically happens so that you can get that customer to be thinking about that review and what they would like to say as quickly as possible so that you can capture that. I love that. And I think it’s very clear that great marketing practices encompass far more than just campaigns and marketing tools. There’s training, but also for example, many businesses don’t take the time to concretely identify their values and mission statement. What do businesses gain by formalizing their values and mission statement?

Jamie Adams:
Yeah, I think that’s a big miss for a lot of small businesses. I think a lot of small business owners just kind of getting the motion of, “Hey, I got a business to run. I don’t really have time for the fluffy stuff like values and mission and things of that nature.” But the businesses that do that, clearly they set a tone and they set a foundation for how their business operates and what their expectations are of themselves and of their people. And I think that when they do that, they have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Because there’s the age-old… It’s becoming a little bit cliche, I feel like, in some circles, but the whole concept of “starting with why” that was made popular by Simon Sinek in his book called Start with Why. But when you really give yourself and your people a “why,” and that’s clear to them, then that’s something beyond just having a job or running a business.

It’s deeper than that, and it gives all of your people a real sense of purpose of why they’re coming in and they’re choosing to work with your organization every day. So I think that is probably the biggest reason. It sets the foundation. It gives you a guiding compass of what you’re really all about beyond just the products and services that you sell. And one of the things that we hear a lot about today in the local business space is how hard it is to get employees and to retain employees. And I think that it wouldn’t solve all their problems, but certainly the businesses that have a clear value and clear mission, they’re going to have a leg up and a strategic and competitive advantage getting employees relative to the businesses that don’t have those things in place.

Steffney Jones:
Yeah. And I often hear folks wondering: How can we get these better reviews? How can we get to this point? And I think you have to step back from the ladder. To get great reviews, you have to have excellent customer service. To have excellent customer service, you need excellent training. To have excellent training, you need to have that base foundation of that “why,” the core of everything you do as a business owner, that firm foundation. And I think that foundation is key as you consider how your business even fits within your own community. In fact, impacting communities is a smart way businesses can influence their integrity and bottom line. What’s some advice to businesses who aren’t sure how to serve their communities?

Jamie Adams:
That’s a great question. By the way, I think the way that summed up the importance of values was much more concise and better than I did, so well done on that. That’s a great summary. Look, I think in terms of impacting communities, I think the first step is just to get involved in your community. And look, within every market, doesn’t matter if you’re in a big city or you’re in a really, really small market like Versailles or Coushatta, the two places that you and I are from… But in every big city… I live in Dallas today, but I consider myself part of the Oak Cliff and Kessler Park community, which is the area of Dallas that’s probably three to five square miles that I live in and that I spend a out of time doing business in, buying from restaurants, buying from local service providers there.

So I think if you’re a business, I’d start with your community, your immediate area that you’re in, and get to know other business owners. Get to know events or networking opportunities that are made up of those business owners. A lot of my friends are part of BNI groups and things of that nature. I think that’s a really important way to start, just finding out… Hey, who are my other fellow business owners in this areas that I can network with? And what are they doing, and what events are they attending? I think another really smart play right now is there’s a newer app on the market called Nextdoor that is really made up of micro-communities, even in big markets, where the people that want to get on Nextdoor actually have to validate that they live in that specific area.

So that’s a really great way just to get involved and see what people in the community at scale are talking about and what’s important to them. And then, of course, there’s all the other traditional ways, like your local religious functions and institutions, churches, things of that nature, places of worship. And just getting out and letting people know that “Hey, I’m a small business owner in the area, and if you have a need or you have a want because you’re looking for whatever it is that you’re selling, we’d love it if you just consider us in your process.”

Steffney Jones:
It can be for businesses to justify spending time or money on something that they can’t immediately quantify a return on investment for. What advice do you have for them?

Jamie Adams:
My advice on this topic is actually quite commonsensical from my perspective. When you use the word investment, there are very few places and in your entire life… It doesn’t matter at an individual level, or as an employer, or as an employee. When you throw the word investment around, investments typically take some time to pay off. I’d like to lose 20 pounds. Ideally, I could go to the gym tomorrow and lose 20 pounds, but that’s just not how it works. In order to do that, I’ve got to invest time day after day consistently around my nutrition, around how often I work out in order to see the payoff of those things. If I put money in the stock market, I’m not going to see the amount of money back in my account that I’d love to see tomorrow.

It’s going to take years of consistency. If I’m a realtor or I’m a real estate investor and I want to go buy a home because I want to flip it in a few years, or I want to go be a landlord and have someone rent it from me, it’s going to take time for me to recoup that investment. So you can go just example after example after example. I’ve always struggled to kind of figure out why do business owners see marketing as a silver bullet, because everything you think about it from an investment perspective just takes time. So rather than get really fancy… When I have conversations with local business owners and they say, “Well, hey…” They ask a question. “Hey, in what timeline am I going to see this whiz-bang result?”

Rather than give them a really cheesy objection-handling answer, response that’s probably going to be full of BS anyway, I just try to get them to understand and take a step back and think about the word investment on a broader scale. There’s a lot of things that you can go buy today, and I think some of this is just the nature of the world that we live in, you go buy today that give you gratification immediately. But they don’t really pay off for you like an investment does, so I think we get caught up in confusing gratification for payoff on an investment. And I think a lot of it is just really taking a step back and thinking about that word and what it really means, and then on a broader scale, examples of how investments take time to really manifest and get the outcome and the result that you want. So that’s how I typically try to address that question.

Steffney Jones:
No, I think that’s brilliant. And I think with an investment, trepidation is normal. But as a business owner, there is risk involved in starting a business, and you still did it. Jamie, you have dropped so many gold nuggets. I love this. And to our listeners, I challenge you to comment on your favorite tip or revenue-generating tactic that you plan on implementing below in the comment section. To see more content like this with experts like Jamie, please subscribe, and give this video a like. Thank you so much for joining us today, Jamie.

Jamie Adams:
Oh, thank you for having us, Steffney.

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