Small Businesses Learning Marketing Essentials Through Workforce Training Program
ARDA in partnership with the Department of Labour and Advanced Education is hosting a free, 10 week course on the marketing essentials for small business. The course, which started in September, is in its fourth week and getting positive reviews from its participants.
“The marketing class has been so eye opening,” says Lisa Myers, owner of The Perfect Fit on Main Street. “You may think you are doing everything you can to market your business but this class shows you how to rethink everything that you are doing and not doing.”
So far the course material has covered the fundamentals of marketing, the components of creating a memorable brand, product development, and marketing using the traditional channels. Future topics include how to market face to face, using the web, social media, marketing with video, and how to create a marketing plan. ARDA contracted Anne Toner Fung of the StFX Enterprise Development Centre to create the material and provide instruction for the course.
“I always thought advertising was marketing but I didn’t realize there was so much more involved,” explains Myers. “Like branding, which I am now working on, the business having a personality of its own, and how I price. I have so much more to learn.”
The idea to host the course came from the information gathered from business visits through ARDA’s Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) Program.
“Through our BRE visits we kept hearing similar opportunities and challenges throughout the small business community,” says Colleen Mitchell, development officer at ARDA. “Upon investigating our BRE data, there were four topics that kept coming up; networking and marketing, how to grow and expand a business, financial assistance, and workforce development.”
Realizing that workforce training could be a significant benefit to our small business community in addressing their identified concerns, ARDA connected with the Department of Labour and Advanced Education to discuss their workforce training cluster programs and what they could offer.
In April, ARDA, working with Labour and Advanced Education, conducted an Organizational Needs Assessment through a series of focus groups. Small business owners were invited to participate to attend and give input on the kinds of workforce training and skill development that are necessary not only for them as owners, but for their employees as well.
“Marketing was quickly identified as one of the top priorities and we immediately started planning to host our first training program in the fall,” says Mitchell. “The course has a maximum of 12 participants and we actually had a waiting list of people wanting to attend. Our plan is to continue to offer similar workforce training programs on various topics in the future.”