Regional Development Director (RDD), Ellen Williams leads Constant Contact’s local educational efforts across New York State and Connecticut.
She has educated more than 10,000 small businesses on behalf of Constant Contact since joining the team in 2011, and has more than 20 years of experience supporting small businesses.
Earlier this week I had the chance to catch up with Ellen to learn more about her background, what’s happening in her region, and her advice to small businesses and nonprofits.
How did you become one of Constant Contact’s RDDs?
I was scouted! I was a solo-entrepreneur presenting at a local business summit on the general topic of technology and mentioned Constant Contact.
Little did I know that Alec Stern, one of Constant Contact’s founders, was in attendance. He introduced himself, talked with me about the Solution Provider Program, and suggested I meet the local RDD (Wendi Caplan-Carroll – who is now my boss).
I became a Solution Provider and developed a great relationship with Wendi and eventually she recommended me when the RDD position opened on Long Island.
What do you enjoy most about working with small businesses and nonprofits?
I really enjoy listening to their individual stories. As much as most businesses and nonprofits have similar challenges and issues, they all bring something unique to the table that is fascinating.
When I was a Solution Provider, needs analysis was one of my strengths. Talking with the attendees at my seminars starts the creative juices flowing and we wind up brainstorming about how they can best use the Constant Contact suite of products.
You’re involved with some cool initiatives focused on helping entrepreneurs grow and succeed. Can you share some details?
Currently I have two great programs on my calendar.
The first is a sponsorship with The Entrepreneur Center in Melville, NY. This is a brand new facility that was created to educate entrepreneurs. There are many events happening there, from local entrepreneur group meetings, to coaching and training, to my monthly seminars.
The second project is in Westchester, NY and supports businesses with advice and some money! Partnering with Motivators and Creators Women’s Group we are producing the Perfect Pitch event on March 20. At this event, five women will have the opportunity to pitch their businesses to a panel of judges who will award the winner with cash and prizes.
Are there any tips that you’d like to offer?
Marketing is such an important element to growing, and staying in business — especially for small businesses and nonprofits. So many times when a business or nonprofit needs to cut their budgets they start with marketing, which is the last thing they should do.
Perhaps reduce the amount they spend on marketing, but never remove it from the budget. Continuing to communicate with prospects, customers, volunteers, and donors is crucial to the organization still being around when the sales and donations start again! Use delivering a valuable message on a consistent basis as a foundation to repeat business and referrals.
Also, remember that content should not be a hurdle. I hear it all the time that people don’t know what to write about.
Everyone has experience, especially small business owners and people involved with nonprofits! Their experience is coupled with passion, which can easily generate content.
Don’t be afraid that what you have to say is too basic. Business today is not the same as it was 10, five, or even two years ago. New people are entering your industry every day, and need to learn from scratch!
Lastly, consider being a curator of other peoples’ content. Simply give credit to the original author, note why the piece is worth reading, and create the link.
What is the best piece of marketing advice you’ve ever given or received?
The best marketing advice is to be consistent.
Whatever vehicle that’s being used to market, be sure to utilize it over and over. I am not talking about overwhelming your audience with too many messages, I am talking about being reliable.
When people see a brand repeatedly it starts to build trust. Whether it’s social media, email, radio, print, or keywords, be “out there” at a frequency you can maintain. Business comes from relationships and relationships take time. Once or twice is not enough.
Have additional questions for Ellen? Leave them in the comments below.