When your local business is competing against local giants, you need all the help you can get.
About 20 years ago I opened a clothing store in Austin. All this time, through recessions, epidemics and many smaller crises, we’ve tried and tried to give Austin a personal alternative to the big box stores that fill our city and many other sprawling areas.
Our competitors advertise at competitions and awards ceremonies. Their logos and products appear on most websites and news sites you read, and that may include this website. The highways run almost to the property lines of their stores. You can invest millions of dollars in internet marketing and Google advertising. There are many things to manage in a small business.
But in a generation my business has grown tremendously. That’s why we take every opportunity to tell our story and connect with our customers from the basics of business (sell the best products, provide the best service, build the best stores, work hard).
Over the past few years, this has translated into mastering digital marketing and advertising tools that help us better understand what our customers want and how to deliver it. Digital platforms have become a huge advertising opportunity for small businesses competing with the biggest brands and retailers in the country.
Unfortunately, due to the political discussions currently taking place in Austin and Washington, some of these tools may be at risk.
I get it: people are concerned about online privacy. me either. We need to be fully aware of how big tech companies collect and use our data, and we need to understand the difference between data use and data misuse. I also agree to laws to protect our privacy.
But there are concerns that lawmakers could go too far in a way that could have dire consequences for companies like mine.
New data laws and the conversations they spark need to take into account the needs and perspectives of small businesses. It is imperative that policymakers find a common infrastructure where small businesses can use these platforms to serve our customers in the same place as large corporations without compromising personal data.
Down the street from my store, the Texas legislature is considering a series of bills that must toe the line between big tech corporate responsibility and small business economics. So does Congress. Some resolutions have a goal we can all agree on, such as protecting teenagers from inappropriate content online.
But as a business owner, I’m concerned about the details, how these labels might be interpreted, and whether my ads will be inadvertently flagged. And regulations that prohibit the sale of personal information may inadvertently deprive us of the analytics we need to understand which ads our customers engage with and how we can better serve them.
Digital advertising and analytics have helped my business compete online in ways you couldn’t have imagined 20 years ago. They help us understand what’s working and what isn’t, and allow us to respond quickly and effectively by targeting resources where they’re doing well without wasting money on advertising to people who aren’t interested. .
National channels have many options. Eight or nine figure budgets can be spent paying for billboards and “spray and pray” television commercials to broadcast to millions of people in the hope of attracting a few.
We can’t play this game, and thanks to online forums, we don’t have to. Digital tools give small business owners what we need most: a good return on investment.
I love running a small business and am grateful for the role we play in society and the opportunity to improve and improve the character of our city. I greatly appreciate the contribution of small businesses to job creation and economic growth.
Digital platforms help us do this. To continue doing well, policymakers must find balanced solutions that protect small businesses and the economy.
Wendy Colletar Martin is the owner of Kick Plate Fashion Boutique in Austin and Houston.
This article was originally published in the Austin American-Statesman: Opinion: Crackdown on big tech should hurt small business.