Putting small retailers in the online game
William Guth helps small retailers and service providers grow their businesses through a stronger online presence that includes website development and design, social media campaign management and search engine marketing. | Jackie Pilossoph~for Sun-Times
North Shore Media Company
Updated: April 1, 2013 6:14AM
EVANSTON — One of the challenges of owning a small business today is competing with big chain stores for exposure, as well as reaching large numbers of people.
That’s the untapped market that William Guth saw two years ago when he started North Shore Media Company, his Evanston-based digital marketing business, which helps small retailers and service providers grow their businesses through a stronger online presenc.
That includes website development and design, social media campaign management and search engine marketing.
“In today’s small business environment, it is absolutely necessary to have a website, social media and search engine marketing,” said Guth, a Columbia College graduate who has taken several Google courses, as well as courses for Web design at the Illinois Institute of Art. “A strong online presence levels the playing field for small businesses who are looking to find their customers, grow their businesses and maintain their client base.”
Because of social media, Guth said the online user experience has changed, driving two way interaction between customers and businesses online.
“By having the right marketing strategies in place, the searcher is exposed to the results they are looking for and they are driven to the website,” Guth said. “Now they can choose their own adventure on what they want from the company, either to learn more about something, or look for something or buy something.”
Matt Arden is the vice-president of the Eve J. Alfille Jewelry Gallery & Studio in Evanston, who hired Guth last year to help the company organize and use social media more to its advantage.
“Advertising and marketing has changed significantly over the past 10 years, and you can’t reach people the way you used to,” said Arden. “Social media is very effective in some ways and in other ways it’s frustrating because you’re never sure where you need to be.”
Arden said he chose North Shore Media Company because of Guth’s experience.
“Because he works with so many retailers, he can see what social media is best,” Arden said, “He’s quite savvy, he’s caught a lot of mistakes, and he keeps our information fresh.”
“We had a lot of different social media accounts and William put them all together and he taught me how to effectively post our social media,” said Elaine Kemna-Irish, executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, and a client of Guth’s. “We now have a broader reach because he signed us up for other pages that we didn’t know about to get us more members.”
Guth charges a flat fee for website design, which is dependent upon the amount of time the project will take. For a one-time social media set up, Guth charges $500, with an optional monthly retainer of $400 for upkeep.
“I’m giving small businesses a makeover,” Guth said. “My goal is to make North Shore small businesses as search engine-friendly and user-friendly as big chain stores and competitors all over the country.”
“He listens to what you want to do and he’s already thinking about what he can do to make it better,” said Irish. “As you’re talking, he’s getting ideas.”