Digital experts share marketing and growth tips for small businesses

Our Reboot series returns with more invaluable advice to help you drive growth

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

Experts from some of Australia’s most established and fastest growing companies are taking part in our Reboot small business webinars. Speakers include Naomi Simson founder of RedBalloon, Lisa Muxworthy, editor-in-chief at News.com.au and Tim Doyle of Eucalptyus.

With a focus on digital content skills and growing customers and brand, the webinars will provide inspiring stories and practical examples for retail and hospitality owners, startup entrepreneurs, creatives, artists and professional service businesses. See the full line-up 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 tips that small businesses can take away and implement and exposure to great minds who have worked in small businesses themselves,” said Kelly Slessor.

An ecommerce and digital marketing expert, Kelly is focused on driving growth and innovation in retail and hospitality. She's worked with hundreds of small businesses in the past 20 years to provide experience, knowledge, models and insights in a practical and easy-to-understand way.

Kelly Slessor presents at Reboot 2022

In the lead up to her Reboot events, we asked Kelly about what small businesses should focus on in the digital space and 2022.

You’re presenting the third webinar in the series which is about creating a winning online store. Has the advice you give people about e-commerce changed following the pandemic?

The advice from me has always been that you've got your digital channels and your physical channels and you need to make the 2 as connected as possible for the customer. The customer doesn't see them as separate. I think Covid accelerated that understanding. For retail and hospitality, having click and collect services was really important.

I think as we started to transact much more online, we also got used to being online. It's really shifted the way in which customers interact with small businesses.

Your second session is driving growth with online search. You’ll be talking about Google My Business, search engine optimisation (SEO), driving traffic and generating more leads. From your perspective, what are the biggest barriers for small businesses in understanding this space?

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

Historically, I see that search is the part of the business that has been left or not given the attention it needs. And I think in the last year we've seen businesses go, ‘We need to focus on this’.

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 throw money at the problem: 'We're going to get an agency to do this, or we're going to get someone to build us a website.’ Then, 6 months down the line, it could be anywhere between $1000 and, you know, a $100,000 later they say, ‘This isn't working,’ and they don't understand or know why.

Search is one of the fundamental things that I believe a business owner needs to really 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 cost-effective ways of driving traffic to your site. And a lot of businesses don't set themselves up when they set up their website. For example, say you’re selling footballs. I need to set my website up in a way that Google understands that I'm selling footballs and drives traffic to me.

If you were to open a physical store, you'd put a sign in the window and merchandise in the window to tell people exactly what it does and who you are and they'd get a feel for it as they walk past. But people don't think about digital channels in the same way for some reason.

You believe storytelling as essential to small business and one of the sessions in Reboot is focussed on that. Why is that?

One of the things I'm really excited about at Reboot is photographer Wayne Quilliam. He's talking about using photography to tell stories and how engaging that is and how you can do the same online.

In the past 6 months, online ads have gone through the roof because everyone's jumping online. Everyone's giving it a go. The noise out there is so much that Facebook and Google can charge more money for their ads. Where I see brands winning with their ads is in that storytelling piece. It doesn’t work if you've got a cut and paste piece of content – a stock image compared to bespoke content.

For example, I'm working with a butcher who just put a team picture on their website and was talking about their team. It was the biggest piece of engagement they've got in terms of content over the last few months. That's because that picture tells a story.

What advice would you give to people that are looking to get a business up and running from scratch right now?

There is no better opportunity to start a business the right now because of the access to technology and customers online. It's a great 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 plugging into online.

You need to be thinking about online first. A lot of people will start a business and then find the name of the business is really hard for customers to find online or to get the domain name.

But we can reverse engineer this right now which is exciting. You can say, ‘What's a good online brand? What category do I need to sit in? What are my customers going to search for?’ and name it from that place. There's so much insight and research online now that we can look at how that actually helps make a business more sustainable and more successful.

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

I had a digital clinic this morning with a group of retailers and hospitality and of couple of them were in incomplete overwhelm. We were talking about Google Analytics and Google Console – technical terms. I told them, with digital stuff, you've got to do one thing at a time, get that done, and then move on to the next thing.

You can't be all things to everyone at all channels on digital because you'll fail. If you try doing TikTok and Instagram and Facebook and your website, it's not sustainable for a startup and it's not sustainable for businesses, especially small businesses. It is sustainable if you've got a big team but most people haven't. For me it's about ticking the fundamental boxes: making sure your online platform's set up properly, that when customers get there they get a good experience. Making sure that they can find you through SEO and Google My Business and then growing out from there. Not trying to be on TikTok channels and spending time and energy on that when you know, customers get to your website and they don't do 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.

Reboot webinar series upcoming events

See the full Reboot program.

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