By Yarielka Arrieta Batista
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses around the globe have shifted their business methods from face-to-face to digital. Unable to have customers in the store, business owners have to rely on digital marketing for their products and services. In an environment where millions of choices are at the fingertips of consumers, companies, now more than ever, must work to attract and retain customers.
Strong branding and digital marketing are necessary strategies for companies to adapt and stay ahead of their competitors. Strong branding is based on compelling storytelling. Through storytelling, entrepreneurs can share their experiences and the impact their organizations have on the community. At the same time, digital marketing helps business owners promote their brands and increase their online presence.
With these strategic tools in mind, the YLAI Network interviewed 2021 YLAI Fellow Nathalie Cervantes to gain greater insight into how small businesses have made the pivot from in-person to online operations. Nathalie is the co-founder of Atellier Organic Joyas de Autor, a company dedicated to creating unique handmade designer jewelry with an eco-friendly approach by processing semiprecious stones from the mines of Mexico. Aside from being the co-founder of Atellier Organic, Nathalie is also a professor at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico, where she teaches courses in marketing and entrepreneurship.
Social media as a stage
Nathalie utilizes social media platforms as a stage to elevate support for artisan workers and women, a reflection of her company’s demographic. “We promote diversity and equality in business practices,” says Nathalie. Even though the pandemic placed heavy strains on many small businesses, Nathalie adapted.
She quickly altered her focus from selling jewelry in thrift shops and festivals to selling her products on international online markets and social media platforms. “The pandemic created new opportunities for small businesses,” Nathalie says. Nathalie’s company sowed its story, mission, and purpose into the image of the brand.
Growing a defined audience
Nathalie wanted customers to feel an emotional connection to the products she sold. She says, “You can try on the products in a store, but you can’t do the same through a screen, and because of this, it is important to create emotional motivators.” For Nathalie, the goal runs deeper than selling products.
Instead, it’s about growing a dedicated and loyal customer base. In her business model, Nathalie implements storytelling as a key strategy in promoting her brand. This lesson is one she learned from a mentor, who once told her, “Your website is your business card.” The products and platforms used to promote your business are an extension of your story.
Lifting voices around the world
Although Nathalie’s brand remains the same, she uses different methods to convey messages on her company’s social media platforms. For example, Atellier Organic’s Facebook page focuses on the importance of supporting women entrepreneurs, while the company’s Instagram and Twitter pages speak more on the sustainability of its products. Nathalie also shared that it may be challenging to reach new audiences on social media due to platform algorithms, but she can always count on her website to provide enough exposure.
Branding and digital marketing go beyond visual aesthetics; they are about telling your story and using the right tools to promote businesses effectively. Nathalie’s company will continue to grow and expand in this new digital age, and it will play a crucial role in lifting the voices of artisan workers and women around the world. Beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, many things will go back to normal, but one thing that will continue is utilizing digital platforms for commercial businesses.
Thank you to Nathalie for taking the time to share her story. If you would like to learn more about branding and how you can improve your brand, check out #YLAIBrandBetter for more resources.
The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author or interviewees and do not necessarily reflect those of the YLAI Network or the U.S. government.