On Wednesday, November 2, local entrepreneurs gathered at the Venable, LLP offices to participate in an engaging discussion focused on marketing for small businesses. Attendees learned how to brand their DC-based business, build a marketing strategy, and start a conversation about their brand at the last installment of the Entrepreneur Road Map Monthly Speaker Series for the calendar year. Our distinguished panel of experts included one of the District’s top design agencies and a leading social media agency, as well as a local business owner. Shared themes among the presenters included the vitality of authenticity, consistency, partnerships, and being mindful of competition.
- First, Nicole M. Cober, Esq. of Cober Johnson & Romney law firm focused her presentation on the elements of creating and growing a brand. She explained the importance of protecting your business and keeping your branding consistent. She likened building a brand to raising a child: “When your baby arrives, you help shape his or her identity and relationships with the community at large. Accordingly, there are several important factors in “birthing” and raising a strong brand.” A brand, like a baby, needs a name, legal status (“birth certificate”), unique appearance or “clothing,” and education—to help it evolve and grow throughout its life. Building strong relationships with clients is one of the best ways to help your brand succeed; positive referrals are essential to the marketing of your product. First impressions are lasting, so it is in the best interests of entrepreneurs to invest in memorable graphic design and a functional web presence.
- Next, CEO and co-founder of Embitterment Bitters, a DC-based cocktail bitters company, spoke on his five key marketing strategies for local businesses. Eric Kozlik, who is a Union Kitchen member and self-proclaimed “Search Engine Optimization (SEO) nerd,” offered valuable advice on the use of hashtags and keywords, along with personal recommendations for digital marketing resources and tools. One of his most important tips for social media was to recycle hashtags used by already established companies, rather than trying to make up your own that might not ever gain recognition or momentum. He also suggested that entrepreneurs reflect upon what being “local” means to them, and to position themselves as local moguls once they evaluate their worth in relation to, and in partnership with, others in the city. Being knowledgeable not only helps your brand succeed, but also allows you the possibility to network with and influence others. Knowing how to explain to someone, in simple terms, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it—particularly what you’re doing for your brand on digital and social—is extremely important.
- Lastly, Jamiah Fraser, President of Greene Street Communications, LLC, presented on her unique take on marketing in Washington, DC. She asserted that marketing is the nerve center of any great organization. Surrounding oneself with an excellent team will reflect well in promotional efforts; it’s vital to market a brand within an organization first before looking outward. Integrating your mission into your corporate culture will then translate into effective brand marketing when meeting with clients and providing quality service to customers. Being consistent in the design of publications, documents, and publications is also imperative when creating and maintaining a certain brand image.
Following these three excellent presentations, the speakers were joined by Vice President of Greene Street Communications, Shana Kemp, for a Q & A session. Opening the floor to the audience allowed attendees to receive more extensive and specified insights. Each question was either answered by a panelist with more obvious expertise or collectively by all members.
The WDCEP Entrepreneur Road Map series will return in 2017 to continue supporting the education of small businesses and entrepreneurship in DC. We are thankful for the assistance of our partners in this initiative.