Harper's SBDC's Marketing Guru

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Harper's SBDC's Marketing Guru

Shawn Smith has a creative mind and an entrepreneurial spirit. That combination has helped him succeed in designing and selling video games, toys, branded art, illustrations, large-format murals, sketchbooks and other products. It also makes him a great resource on marketing, branding, design, and production for SBDC clients. 


What do you specialize in at the SBDC?

I specialize in marketing, branding, advertising and general design, and I have experience working with a variety of clients. Regardless of the industry, the fundamentals of marketing, branding and design can be applied to any client.

How does your experience benefit your clients?

I understand that small business ownership requires wearing many hats. When that’s the case, marketing often falls through the cracks. I encourage clients to tell me their stories so I can better understand where they are struggling with marketing or branding. Then I use my experience to help them overcome those challenges.

What’s a common misconception small business owners have about marketing and branding?

A lot of people think that branding is just a logo. Or they don’t think about branding at all. I help clients understand that branding is a broad category and that marketing and branding are key elements of a long-term, sustainable business model. Another misconception is thinking that social media is easy. A lot of small business owners think something magical will happen if they get on Facebook or Instagram. They don’t realize they have to take time to develop content. Nothing is automatic.

Do you have a piece of advice for someone who is interested in improving their marketing and branding?

Focus on building a strong campaign and developing good content. Marketing is communicating effectively with customers. It’s a dialogue, not a one-way street. You need to be empathetic to the needs of your customers or your campaign will fall flat.

Why do you like working with small business owners at the SBDC?

When the opportunity to serve as an SBDC advisor came along, it was a no-brainer for me to take it. I received a lot of help from the SBDC when I started out as a business owner, and it’s incredibly gratifying to share what I’ve learned with fellow entrepreneurs. I love seeing my clients’ enthusiasm and passion for their businesses. They have an anything-is-possible optimism that is very inspiring. It’s so rewarding to help them tap into that entrepreneurial spirit to get really cool things done.

How should clients prepare to get the most out of your advising sessions?

Clients should know what they want to get out of the sessions. They also should understand that the work won’t be done for them. It’s up to the small business owner to do the homework and complete the action items. We provide guidance as advisors, but the client needs to have the drive to see things through.

To schedule an appointment with one of the SBDC business advisors or to get legal, HR and accounting help, please visit https://isbdcharpercollege.acuityscheduling.com.

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