Air Date

June 17, 2020

Featured Guest

Marcus Jones
Founder and President, Miss Essie’s Southern BBQ


Jeanette Mulvey
Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, CO—


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has presented a lot of challenges for small businesses, including cutbacks and closures. The extra financial strain these small businesses have been suffering can make it difficult to spare the funds that are usually reserved for their usual marketing spend.

That doesn’t mean, however, that small businesses have to skimp on their marketing efforts, according to Marcus Jones, founder and president of Miss Essie’s Southern BBQ. One of the most effective and low-cost marketing tactics Jones practices is giving away free samples of his product.

According to Jones, giving away samples of his products allows him to get a true sense of how people really feel about them.

“You know, you never know what somebody thinks until you do that [...] and let them try it,” Jones explained.

While the social distancing measures due to COVID-19 may make it more difficult to safely give out food samples in grocery stores, you can still take advantage of word-of-mouth to spread the word about your business.

“When people come in, especially close friends, don’t be afraid to say, ‘Hey man, listen, if you like the product, give me a positive write up on Google, on Facebook, or on some social media networking sites,' so that people could know you’re out there,” Jones said.

Posting to and Interacting with Your Fans on Social Media Is a Great, Low-Cost Way to Market Your Business

Posting content about your business on social media is a low-cost and effective marketing tool you can take advantage of. Jones reminds business owners not to be afraid to “take pictures of your product and send them out socially.”

Beyond posting pictures of your products, Jones encourages small business owners to interact with their followers on social media as well, especially if they comment on your posts. Not only does interacting with your fans on social media show that your brand is active, but it also helps to foster a deeper connection with your target audience.

“Comment back, ‘Hey, thanks a lot, man. I appreciate it. Come by the office next time and we’ll get you a plate free, barbecue sauce, [or] something,’” said Jones.

While Jones admits that the marketing tactics mentioned above are low-hanging fruit, these low-cost strategies “can be very successful, and as time goes on, those people will remember you and they will be loyal to your brand.”

From the Series

CO— Blueprint