By Zachary Balla
With the beginning of the 2017 fall semester, the KU Small Business Development Center began its second term helping small businesses build their presence on social media platforms.
“The KU SBDC exists as a group that is critical for businesses to start, grow and prosper. We act as group that educates and mentors our clients,” said John Merlino Jr., a graduate assistant at KU SBDC.
They offer multiple webinars every month, such as the “Business Planning in a Nutshell” webinar, which shows small businesses different ways to update their “value proposition” for different customer segments. This involves free online training for clients who need extra help developing their pitch, business plan and cash flow statement.
A value proposition is generally referred to as what makes a company or product attractive to customers. Companies use this to cater to a specific customer segment, and it typically represents why a customer turns to one company over another.
In addition to webinars, the employees, interns and graduate assistants at the SBDC organize and attend workshops designed for both new entrepreneurs, as well as established businesses looking for a push in the right direction. The dates for these workshops can be found either on the KU website, or by contacting the SBDC directly at 484-646-4009.
Merlino said that, over the last few years, there has been a growing demand for assistance with social media.
“Most clients don’t know where to begin,” he said.
Therefore KU SBDC developed the “5D process” (Discover, Develop, Design, Deploy and Data Analytics) to educate businesses about the importance and best practices of social media.
“This allows them to gain a foothold,” he said. “We want to assist small businesses any way we can, so we put forth our social media internship program to help businesses develop a social media presence and get their fair share of online activity.”
Merlino said that too many small businesses set up their social media pages, but never fully develop a presence online.
“If a small business wants social media to be a tool to boost its core business, then they have to make it a top priority,” he said. “It takes hard work, thought and dedication to develop a strong campaign.”
At the KU SBDC, the amount of effort and resources that go into a social media campaign is recognized. Small businesses typically have a lot on their plate as it is, and cannot find the time to dedicate toward an online presence.
One of the companies that the SBDC works with is CORE + CO in Reading, Pa. Director Christin Kelley said, “Working with the KU SBDC social media internship program was essential to executing our social media strategy as a new business.”
“We received the support and guidance we needed to successfully launch our new product,” she said.
This is one of the many reasons that the social media team was created here at KU. Seeing small businesses succeed is the goal, and by constantly providing new resources to assist those businesses, the goal becomes easier and easier to reach.