Interview with Bonnie Harris

Bonnie Harris blogs and writes about IMC for national publications and is a regular guest on shows and podcasts discussing marketing and IMC strategy. As a part of our SMB Expert Wisdom Project we contacted Bonnie Harris  an integrated marketing expert and the founder of Wax Marketing, Inc. and asked her 5 questions. 

1. How would you define ‘small business’ in 2016?

I define a small business as less than $20M in revenue, that is not a venture-backed startup.

2. How do you think technology has re-shaped the SMEs (amazing and sad ways)?

I think that cloud-based services and the advent of the virtual worker has made it much easier for smaller compan

I think that cloud-based services and the advent of the virtual worker has made it much easier for smaller companies to compete with large brands. In many ways, smaller companies are more flexible and more innovative less administrative overhead. Fewer meetings equals greater creativity and productivity in my opinion. Technology has also made it more challenging for smaller companies as the proliferation of marketing channels, mainly content marketing and social media, has added more hours to the plate for SMB owners. It also has added more pressure. I hear a lot of entrepreneurs talk about how they “should” be doing more on a certain social media network, or they “should” be writing more blog posts.

3. Please give 5 notions that would define small business owners in the future.

I see small business owners and entrepreneurs changing in many ways. First of all, they’re getting younger and younger. For several of the reasons I described above, it’s easier for millennials to start their own businesses, even if they’re contractors offering a service. I also see a much higher number of small business owners who insist on social responsibility for their companies. The “social bottom line” has become a reality, if not a requirement, for many of the new business owners I meet. In that same vein, I don’t see this frantic race for more and more profit. This is just an empirical observation, really, but I have noticed that people are starting their businesses to have a better quality of life, not necessarily just for a big payoff at the end. I started Wax Marketing in 2002 as a way to support my family but also have the flexibility to live in two places and create more balance in my life. I used to be a little embarrassed about my lack of motivation to create this “big” enterprise, but I see my own business become more of the norm lately.

4. What’s the best strategy to overcome the Digital Divide?

Boy that’s a great question. It’s not so much of a generational issue now that many of us have grown up in the technology era. The digital divide is huge in terms of economic status. Most people don’t know that in some of the Native American reservations less than 30% of residents have Internet access. Think of how many people could go to school online if they only had access to the Internet! It’s a problem within poorer communities in the US as well. As the economic divide gets bigger, I fear that the digital divide will grow as well. Programs like Facebook’s Free Basics, free internet basically, need to focus not just on third world countries, but on ways to bring technology to areas in our own backyards that need it. Get me an appointment with Mark Zuckerberg, can you? I’ll let him know he doesn’t need to travel to India to help people gain access to the world wide web.

5. Who is your favourite blogger recently?

You probably won’t like this answer, because most of my favorite bloggers are new and don’t have huge followings. I like the fresh, independent, brand new voices out there who talk about marketing and entrepreneurship. Sorry, I have to name more than one. One of my students at West Virginia University’s IMC Program started blogging recently at Oniel on Emerging Media. I do like his stuff although there isn’t much out there yet. I absolutely love what Doug Karr has to say about marketing tech as well. I really like the Ecopreneurist too. Quick read, with a lot of good ideas. Ask me tomorrow, and I’ll probably be reading some other new ones!



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