It's National Small Business Week according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). But, if you're like most entrepreneurs we know, every week is small business week for you. Still, it might be a good week to regroup and make sure your company is doing all it can to keep your most influential customers happy. Sometimes, it's easy for those relationships to get lost in the shuffle of your company's daily business.
Speaking of relationships, last week I interviewed a celebrity matchmaker of sorts. No, they're not out looking for the next Mr. Jennifer Lopez. Instead, they match celebrities with brands.
Based in Paris, the company, called MyLoveAffair, aims to help brands form strategic partnerships with celebrities. So far, they've signed Lenny Kravitz up to help launch the sushi chain Sushi Shop in the U.S. The company is also working with some record labels, including EMI, home of Katy Perry, Coldplay and Norah Jones, among others, to help brands place their products in musicians' music videos.
While product placement and celebrity endorsements might seem like old hat, it's no longer as simple as it used to be (remember how innocent we all we were we first saw E.T. with those Reese's Pieces?) In fact, a lot goes into making sure that the relationship between the brand and the celebrity is mutually beneficial, said Renaud Skalli, head of artist and label relations for the company. Skalli says very few celebs are in it for just the cash. Instead, they look to brands to provide them with opportunities to reach a wider audience or offer their fans something new or different. (Think: Jay Z's American Express-sponsored show at SXSW, which provided fans with a great concert experience while helping Amex promote a new program that lets cardholders "sync" their cards and their Twitter accounts to get coupons and special offers via Twitter.)
Skalli said these partnerships have to be a win-win.
Twitter launched another partnership last week. This time, it was with NASCAR.
According to NASCAR, the relationship will allow NASCAR fans to get the inside scoop on race day by following the hash tag #NASCAR. Fans will see tweets from their favorite NASCAR drivers, NASCAR families, teams, commentators, celebrities and other racing fans and personalities, according to NASCAR.
The benefits to NASCAR are clear, but Twitter stands as much to gain as NASCAR, to be sure. With targeted advertising gaining ground on Twitter, it won't hurt to have a whole new group of Twitter users to peddle their wares to potential advertisers. It's another win-win, as they say.
Small businesses, of course, don't usually get the opportunity to form partnerships with famous faces, but creating relationships is just as important for small firms as it is for big ones. Relationships are everything in small business, and creating good, long-lasting ones with customers and vendors is the key to keeping your business going – even through tough times.
In some cases, it might be as simple as sponsoring the local Little League team. In others, it might be about finding the pollinators in your community and giving them a little of your business "pollen" to spread around. Finding the right people isn't that difficult. Keeping them happy and getting them to spread the word about your business might be.
According to a recent survey of small business owners, word-of-mouth and networking are still the most effective form of marketing. So, while the SBA hosts seminars this week, you might want to conduct a few informal events of your own. Even if it's just making a few phone calls to your most loyal customers, revisiting some old relationships or saying thanks to your best clients, the effort might pay off more quickly than you think.
After all, who needs a matchmaker when you've already found true (customer) love?
Jeanette Mulvey has been the managing editor of BusinessNewsDaily since its debut in 2010. She has written about small business for more than 20 years and formerly owned her own e-commerce business. Her column, Mind Your Business, appears on Mondays only on BusinessNewsDaily. You can follow her on Twitter at @jeanettebnd or contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.