On Monday, October 25 NC East hosted a webinar with Evolve Inc., SBTDC, Quilt Lizzy, and Accelerate Rural NC to highlight how businesses can reach millions of customers online through enhancing their digital presence. Speakers highlighted resources available to businesses to assist with digital marketing. Susan Harris of Quilt Lizzy discussed her experience in digital marketing and how it has led to success for her rural business. Dennis Tracz discussed Shop Rural Day, an initiative to assist rural businesses in selling their products on a live stream.
Ariana Billingsley, Regional Center Director Small Business and Technology Development Center, kicked off the webinar to discuss the SBTDC and the assistance it offers to small businesses. The SBTDC is a business advisory service with 11 regional centers across the state. The SBTDC assists with business plans, marketing plans, e-commerce, and more. All services offered are free to businesses. The SBTDC can assist businesses by evaluating their online presence through an online audit. From there they can do an online strategy review and website analysis. During COVID many businesses reached out to the SBTDC to identify how to sell their services online. One way businesses adapted was by selling their products over Facebook livestreams. Restaurants were recommended by the SBTDC to utilize online delivery and pickup services.
Susan Harris, owner of Quilt Lizzy, offered insight on how to use a website and digital marketing to attract customers to a rural business. While foot traffic is typically the bulk of Quilt Lizzy’s source of customers, Susan insists a website is essential in today’s world. During COVID Quilt Lizzy’s website helped the business survive as the bulk of small businesses were forced to shut down. Susan had record web traffic and sales which was fueled by her strong web presence. Susan recommends that businesses “humanize technology” by collecting data on customers and making online purchase more personal with personal thank yous on receipts and signed notes in packages. Quilt Lizzy’s consistent branding on their website and social media has helped the business continue to succeed.
Dennis Tracz, Director of Accelerate Rural NC, discussed Accelerate Rural and how they assist businesses in getting online and taking advantage of digital marketing tools. Dennis mentioned how livestreaming e-commerce is gaining popularity and a solution for businesses with a weak online presence. On November 11, Accelerate Rural is putting on Shop Rural Day. Shop Rural Day is an opportunity for rural North Carolina businesses to sell their products on a livestream to thousands of customers. Accelerate Rural has partnered with Popshop Live to put on the event. Businesses will be able to participate for free and will not pay for shipping of any products they sell. Businesses will be charged a 9% fee on each product sold. The event will be 12 hours long and businesses can list up to 10 products during their livestream. Check it out here!
If you would like to watch the webinar recording please click here.