Small business marketing. Big ideas.
As part of a small business, encouraging diverse thinking for marketing and communications starts with you. It can feel challenging to grow ideas and consider different perspectives as part of a small group. But you can take initiative to broaden your brainstorming to encourage diverse thinking.
What comes to mind when you think about small businesses marketing? Managing or working in a small business can be an uphill climb. You often find yourself in multiple roles. And you likely feel a strong attachment and passion for what you do. Being a small business owner can be both exciting and tiring. To be sure, running a small business is complex—it’s no small feat!
However, consider these words—nimble, intimate, bespoke, niche, creative, inventive, unique. They describe the wonderful attributes of small businesses and their people. Small businesses create jobs and encourage entrepreneurship across communities. They also “are much more likely to develop emerging technologies than are large firms,” according to facts and data referenced by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council.
Small but mighty is an apt descriptor for many small businesses. Yet, when you find yourself wearing multiple hats, you might wonder who has time for creativity. How can you find the energy to pursue big marketing ideas? Working on a tiny team, instead of broadening your horizons, you might fall into habits. It can be easy to settle into patterns. This is why it’s important to seek out diverse thinking in your small business marketing.
Bring Big Brainstorming to Small Biz
Encouraging diverse thinking in your marketing starts with letting your employees know their thoughts count. And having different perspectives and ideas is key to moving forward as a business. How do you come up with something unique if everyone in the room has the same experiences and thoughts? It’s when we look at problems and solutions from multiple angles that we have the power to unleash something bold and new.
Since you’re not at the helm of a big ship, you can more easily chart a new path. However, even if you are dedicated to diverse thinking, you might need to put in extra work to ensure all voices are heard, or schedule time for creativity.
As a small business owner or employee, there’s likely already a lot on your plate. However, there are some simple ways to encourage community building within your organization. Doing so will create a willingness to listen to others—and ultimately help generate better ways to run your business and serve your customers.
Listening to others is especially important in marketing and communications. Your audience may already be telling you what they like and don’t like. You won’t know about it if you aren’t listening. This is another reminder why social listening and marketing personas are key to understanding your audience.
Seek Out Knowledge and Insights
In addition to listening to your audience, it’s important to listen to your team. Whether your firm has fewer than 20 employees or fewer than 500, you can support big ideas and hear multiple perspectives.
One way to encourage diverse thinking in your small business marketing is to lean on technology. If it feels overwhelming to set aside time for a regular idea-generating meeting, go digital.
- There are plenty of apps that can help you and your team connect. Start a thread on Slack to discuss the ideas that pop into your head or assign yourself a task on a project managing software like Trello to check in on folks.
- If you are most comfortable over email, get in the habit of sending a weekly message to your team. This can help recap the wins of the week as well as questions and opportunities that have come up, and include links to interesting articles. And if writing your own email is too much, start a list of relevant newsletters or podcasts. Share a list of favorite resources and subscribe together. It’s like a more digestible kind of book club.
Whatever you do, focus on building community through conversation and connection. Inform yourself. Create platforms to share your ideas and welcome others. Encourage coworkers to suggest the news sources and resources that matter to them. Make time for brainstorming with weekly meetings, even when you’re busy. Don’t simply depend on the same advice from the same place time after time. If you have a small team, finding ways to widen it—through involvement with nonprofits, professional organizations, or local committees. Make friends with other businesses in your neighborhood or industry.
Diverse Perspectives Create Opportunities
A small business can be a friendly place to be. It can be a tight-knit group of people, who are passionate about what they do. But being comfortable can also limit your creativity. Take some of that passion and channel toward your efforts to be supportive, curious, and creative. Your efforts will show up in your marketing, as you consider different ways to reach people and ways to serve others through diverse thinking in your marketing. It will open you up to new ways to talk and listen to your community—ultimately building your brand across platforms.
When asked how diverse perspectives in the workplace can help a company’s bottom line, Vicki Choi, director of HR at online learning platform Course Hero, pointed out how different ways of thinking—and different experiences—can bring about more ideas.
“When you have a group of people with different levels of experience, each person can bring different questions, thoughts and recommendations to get the best result to move the bottom line,” Choi told Authority magazine. Additionally, Choi added, being empathetic builds respect. It’s important to take the time to learn about coworkers, because it can lead to “a productive and respectful working relationship.”
Imagine what you can do as part of an energized, well-functioning team. Together, you can bring new concepts to the table and collectively investigate solutions. This is the building block to bring diverse thinking to your marketing and communications. You may be a bit wary, especially if you have experienced negative criticism or unaccepting coworkers. Building brainstorming into weekly meetings is a good step. But you must also ensure brainstorming is run effectively and that ideas aren’t immediately shut down. One way to do this is to encourage “yes and..” thinking. It’s a concept learned in improv theater. Instead of saying no and shutting down an idea, run with it.
Different Brains, Same Team
Consider the ways you work. Do you focus on how something makes you feel? Is it about the numbers and facts? Or do you want room to be creative and playful?
There are different ways our brains respond. Unfortunately, it often feels good to be with people who agree with us and think the same way. This can inhibit the work of our teams. But presenting a plan that comes with both data and an emotional story is better than simply one or the other.
When brainstorming it’s important to consider employees who may want to share their ideas in different ways. Some might feel comfortable making a presentation at the front of a room. Others might like to share a link to an interesting article over text. Keep all channels open. And while you might be someone who hones in on data, someone else might feel the pull of a good story.
Encouraging diverse thinking in your marketing starts with you. But you taking the step to be open and available can inspire change. Use your flexibility as a small business to empower your staff, nimbly respond to your audience’s needs, and attract new followers and clients.
A willingness to listen to others, welcome new ideas, and encourage creativity will ultimately lead to growth for you and your business.