Column: Influencers, X and AI … Oh My!

By George Farris

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Imagine you finally saved up enough money to start your own small business. You spend 12-15 hours a day getting your shop ready to open. Your grand opening is exciting as friends and family stop by to see your shop. Some curious folks pop in and become customers and they seem to like what you sell.

But now, six months in, you are disappointed that your business, while paying the bills, is not flying high.

What happened? Or perhaps the more appropriate question is what didn’t happen?

According to Score, 82% of start-ups run out of cash and 42% discover there is no real need for their product or service in their market.

If the business owner would have done some market research first, he or she would have learned there was no need in the market before they opened the business. If there were a need for the product or service, they probably would not have run out of cash.

And marketing, or the lack of it, is what makes or breaks many small business startups. Years ago, smart startups would use advertising in newspapers. Radio and billboards were common, and direct mail and local TV ads were great when you had the budget.

Communicating the right message to the right audience has always been the key. Make sure your product or service satisfies a need, delivers what someone wants, fixes a problem or reduces a pain someone experiences.

In today’s world where do you try to place your message? Traditionally, a good place would be adjacent to or among news – a TV broadcast or the newspaper.

But a Pew Research study indicates nearly a third of adults between 18-29 get their news from TikTok. It also found 43% of all TikTok users say they get news from the platform even though the source of that news is unreliable.

Unfortunately, marketing has gotten more challenging. With the celebrity and homegrown influencers getting much of the views, the issues surrounding X (formerly Twitter) and AI adding to the confusion, business owners often feel they can’t make an impact and get noticed.

What Can You Do?

Pick three or four social media platforms that cover your target market. Plan consistent posting but don’t expect to do just the free posting. If you want to reach outside your own followers and friends, you need to place ads or boost your posts.

Unless you have proven writing, graphic art and video skills, you are probably better off hiring professionals to produce your posts. Measure results, revise and do it again.

Don’t ignore traditional media – it’s often where most of your target market could be found at a reasonable price.

There are so many marketing choices and paths today, it’s hard to choose what’s best and where to focus. But if you are prepared, those challenges are opportunities for your business to grow.

George Farris is CEO of Farris Marketing. Email

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