Most small local businesses don’t carry a big marketing budget, even before the days of COVID-19.
And with his 25 years experience in branding, marketing and business development for Fortune 500 and Fortune 50 companies, Concept2Completion founder Mark Stewart knew this well.
It’s the reason he chose to focus on small, local businesses when he launched his full service marketing agency in Chandler in 2015. His objective: Offer big firm service with a next door mom-and-pop pricing.
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“The big firms are the ones the small business can’t afford. You wouldn’t be a priority. When you work with a small business owner, they need to be treated as importantly as the big guys,” Stewart said.
With Concept2Completion, Stewart helps small business owners with the basics of their vision and mission statement all the way through their strategy, content and execution. The firm takes on the role of a chief marketing officer but at a fraction of the price, he said.
The importance of this has been heightened since the pandemic hit businesses hard this spring.
When face-to-face interaction with consumers wasn’t possible or prudent, the capability to connect virtually was crucial to stay on the public’s radar. Having a digital footprint, Stewart said, suddenly became more important than ever. And with so many people’s faces in their phones for much of their waking hours, finding a way onto that device can make the difference between surviving and shuttering.
“Before, the economy was going well so people put it off. Now, there’s been an immediate adjustment with less in-person communication,” he said. “In 2020, if you’re not doing social media, it’s like opening a store but keeping the doors locked. Social media is like the new front of your store.”
Data is on his side, with 72% of Americans using some type of social media, according to the Pew Research Center.
Social media has become key between small businesses and their audience. According to Fundera, 41% of local businesses depend on social media to drive revenue while 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions. Also, customers who engage with a business on social media spend up to 40% more with them in the long term.
Many of Stewart’s clients are in the dental and medical industries. When the healthcare field started to open up after the shutdown, the main message to patients and the public was that they could return to get routine and necessary procedures and checkups and feel safe.
This was done through social media and website features like photography, videos and reassuring and detailed explanation of safety protocols. It also let everyone know these practices had reopened.
Orthodontist’s success story
This strategy was in place for client Sonoran Smile Orthodontics. After reworking the practice’s digital platform, its initial patient outreach increased from 75% call and 25% website inquires to the exact opposite, which helped them streamline their appointments and increase focus on other tasks.
While a skilled orthodontist, Sonoran Smile owner Shadow Asgari admitted marketing is not in her wheelhouse. Especially considering the last several months, Asgari is thrilled that she has benefited from Concept2Completion’s expertise for the last two years.
“I straighten teeth. I needed someone who is an expert in marketing to do my marketing,” said Asgari, who had previously done that task mostly herself for her practice, which spans four locations in Chandler, Gilbert and Phoenix. “It is a big load off my shoulders. I trust them 100%.”
In addition to the social media and website services during COVID-19, Concept2Completion sent news blasts to patients explaining how to reach Asgari and her team during the shutdown. The professional photos, videos and explanation to help patients feel safe about walking into her practice was the level of service Asgari had come to expect.
“Reassuring our patients that we are a safe place for them to be, that is huge,” she said.
Asgari said she has experienced business growth she attributes directly to the firm’s strategies. She appreciates the accessibility and quick responsiveness from the team.
“They are just full service and very honest and trustworthy. I don’t even think about marketing. I just leave in their hands and I know they’ll do what’s best,” she said.
Looking for ‘deeper meaning’
A native of St. Louis, Stewart moved to Chandler almost 20 years ago when a job transfer brought him to the desert. He was elected to the Chandler City Council and has served since 2017.
“I moved here, bought a house, raised a family, I’m on the city council and opened my own business. I love it,” he said.
He had worked as a consultant for small companies and had experience understanding how to turn fortunes around and how to build businesses from the ground up. This is where he discovered a passion for independent business owners and helping them define their purpose – and find success.
All of Stewart’s clients go through a workshop where he gets to know business owners, why they are doing what they do and figure out a unique way to present their stories to their consumer base. He needs more of an incentive to collaborate with a business owner than the motivation of money. He’s unable to market someone just in it to make some bucks.
“If there’s a deeper meaning as to why they are in business, then we’d love to work with them,” he said.
This has created long and happy relationships. Stewart said his firm’s growth and clientele has doubled in the last year.
“They are not just clients. We partner with them and I do what I can to help them,” he said. “I love the way it feels when a small business owner is successful and they start to see the results of their investments.”
Factoid: Thirty-seven percent of businesses say that social media is the most successful channel to achieve their business goals, with 70% of businesses planning to increase their investment in social media, according to a survey by industry resource Visual Objects.
Details: 800-537-0701, 2completion.com
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Chandler firm seeks to give small businesses big agency marketing at mom-and-pop pricing