By Lisa Capobianco
For business owners Traci Selinske and Suzanne Shamleffer, the recent Small Business Marketing Summit, sponsored by the Southington Chamber of Commerce and Liberty Bank, served as an opportunity to expose their new business, Posh Pear, which recently opened in downtown Plantsville. Although they have been using a variety of social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, Selinske and Shamleffer said they hope to expand on what they already know in order to engage more customers.
“We are still new and still trying to get our name out in the community,” Selinske said. “There’s so many different ways now to market and advertise.”
Coordinated by Image Marketing Consultants and presented by the town, the Small Business Marketing Summit provided a complimentary breakfast and also featured three different speakers who educated business owners about different marketing strategies, including social media, public relations and video marketing.
Keith Atchinson, the owner of Fusion Interactive Group, presented on small business social media, focusing on how to turn “followers” and “likes” into customers. During the summit, Atchinson provided business owners an overview of the social media landscape, including Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine, Google + and Snapshot.
“The key to these social networks is deciding which ones are going to work for your business,” Atchinson told business owners, adding that they do not have to be on every social media website.
During his presentation, Atchinson also advised business owners to create a content strategy by posting relevant or valuable content, making connections with customers online, and having conversations with them through a bi-directional relationship.
“Tell a story, ask a question…post a poll out there,” Atchinson told business owners. “You want to post something that is useful to your audience…know what makes them excited about your business, and encourage them to share.”
Like Selinske and Shamleffer, Amy and Eric Kline of Vintage from the Heart have also used social media to engage customers, posting pictures on Facebook to spotlight certain parts of the store on a daily basis to engage customers.
Through the summit, Eric, who helps his wife Amy with the marketing aspect of Vintage, hopes to enhance his understanding of how to engage more customers on social media websites like Facebook.
“We want [customers] to come in and experience the shop,” said Kline.
During the summit, Michelle Bonner, the former anchor of ESPN’s Sports Center, advised business owners how to pitch an attention-grabbing press release to different media outlets as well as how to network with local TV stations and newspapers.
Michael Miceli, the owner of Miceli Productions, a keynote speaker during the summit, engaged business owners with his presentation on using professional video to engage customers in a short amount of time.
“Our point with video is to reach people in a new way, give them something to look at and respond to very quickly,” Miceli said during his presentation. “There’s so many ways to use video, you have to figure out what is right for you.”
For Pete Cambi, the partner and director of Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Centers, incorporating videos is the next marketing tool he hopes to pursue.
“We’re interested in adding video to the website,” said Cambi, adding that Physical Therapy in Southington has become active in community events such as the Apple Harvest Festival and road races. “It’s an avenue we’re going to look into.”
Shamleffer also said using video served as an avenue worth pursuing.
“The video part is something we haven’t explored yet,” she said.
The summit also gave business owners an opportunity to network with each other. Karen Bobik of Century 21 AllPoints Realty said the event served as a great networking opportunity both residentially and commercially.
“Marketing is everything for us,” said Bobik, who has been a realtor for ten years now. “All of us realtors are our own boss.” “Any way you can get exposure is great.”
Kline added that networking allows business owners to refer their customers to other businesses located nearby.
“We all have the same goal,” said Kline, noting that attracting a large number of customers is a goal that all businesses hope to achieve.