You couldn’t have a GrowSmartBiz* conference in 2010 without talking about social media, innovation, and the role of buzz in your marketing arsenal. And the panel at last Friday’s conference didn’t disappoint, offering good insights and smart tips:

  • Jason Falls suggested that the best innovation might be to “simplify our thinking” and go back to having a small business, small town mindset. He pointed out that people don’t do business with Allstate, but with Shirley; they don’t buy a car from Ford or GM, but from Tom. Falls also talked about blogging with purpose, noting that “if your Web site shows up [in search results] and you solve someone’s problem, you [both] win.”
  • Praba Murugaiah emphasized the importance of identifying your high-value customers. (Think, for example, of Sprint, which fired 1,000 customers who were using a disproportionately high percentage of the company’s customer service resources.)
  • Jeremy Epstein said that businesses need to be more concerned with the implications of various tools (i.e., how might I implement a blogging strategy?) than with the tools themselves. He also noted that, in thinking about how small businesses can cost-effectively get the word out, “viral is the effect, not the cause.” And he offered a terrific tip for small businesses: A flip cam (or your smartphone) can be a great customer relationship tool. His advice: talk to your customers and put the videos up on YouTube. Even if no one else sees them, they will. (And most customers will tell their family, friends, and colleagues.)
  • Duncan Alney said that your content strategy must be focused on  what your customers, clients, and prospects think is important (and not just what you think matters). He also had perhaps my favorite line from the conference, noting that social media usage is not age-based but rather reflected in a “mindset generation.”

Were you at GrowSmartBiz? What takeaways would you add?

*Disclosure: Comped admission; but choice to blog and what to write about are all me.

Photo by Shashi Bellamkonda, Social Media Swami, Network Solutions (Flickr).