Tere Stouffer's digital marketing strategy advice for small businesses

After we sat down with Tere Stouffer to talk about fashion, women and work we found that, true to form, she was unstoppable.  We could not stop her from sharing insider tips for digital marketing strategies that are invaluable for small businesses. So, here is Tere Stouffer's digital marketing strategy advice for small businesses....

PW: What would you encourage small businesses to adopt or change in their digital marketing strategy?

TS: I suggest that they have a strategy. There is a lot of mystery around this term but the strategy is just a couple of paragraphs – it is just a vision of what you want to achieve; the tactics you intend to use to get there, like who is who is going to do it and how we’ll measure it. 

Then take each of those components and write out a process model for it,  four-five pages tops. Identify what tools you will use. Include who will sign off on each detail.

So here is what you need to do:


Page 1: 

  • What’s your vision of your digital marketing: what does it look like if everything goes right?
  • What are your specific goals: what audiences will you reach, and how will they respond?
  • What social media channels you will use? What about your website…does it need overhauling? How will you use email marketing? And how will you tie digital to your physical (that is, non-digital) efforts?
  • How will you pay for digital marketing (mostly labor)? How much and out of whose budget? 
  • How will you measure success?

Page 2-4 (or 5):

Write a process model for each of your tactics. For social, for web, for email, for live-streaming, etc….who will is responsible, who is accountable and who is signing off.

What content will you be creating for each digital channel? How will it link to the other content? 

PW: What should a small company know?


  • You want all your media to work together, not in isolation. Facebook posts can take the follower back to your website and that can link to Instagram or Snapchat. You want to engage your following so that they go from one medium to another, so the content has to be related but a little different so they benefit at each place.
  • Don't assume because you are small your work cannot be as good as a big company, you will not have the numbers but you can do great work. You can fully engage and enamor people with your work, which means that your clients will be sharing and expanding your base all the time. Great images and well written content. Check and double check your work. Excellence goes a long way.
  • There is no such thing as failure, try something and see if it works. You can delete social or web posts.

PW: Tere, really mistakes?

TS: Yes. I have made mistakes, once I put out a post on Columbus Day that received immediate pushback. The post referred to the courage required to take a long voyage on the seas back in the 1400s. But Columbus also represents repression of Native Americans. 

Rather than run and hide from mistakes, Tere embraced them, she turned this incident into an opportunity to engage and encourage opinion. She apologized individually to followers who were upset, left the article online for another hour to allow everyone to see that she was acknowledging a mistake, and then removed it and posted something else. You can delete social media.

The Art of Making Mistakes

Furthermore, Tere told us, she learned a valuable lesson from her boss at Alpine who allowed her to make any mistake once, but not twice. He encouraged her to take risks, take note and use the data to see if it works. Mistakes are invaluable as data-points, “try something” says Tere, “if it doesn't work, move on, it is not failure it is just an idea that does not work”. But make sure you learn from it. All that latitude referred to first-time mistakes. Making a mistake twice was grounds for firing.

PW: Final thoughts on women and the future of Digital Marketing?

TS: Women: what I learned from working with men: men don't seem afraid to claim their greatness. Many men have no trouble saying, “I’m great at this one thing or these two things.” Women, on the other hand, seem to want to say “I am good at a lot of things,” but do not claim their greatness in any area. I suggest that we can look closely at where we excel and claim that. What are you an A+ in?

Digital marketing: Try to keep up with the trends and take advantage of what’s hot. Video on Facebook is leading to tremendous engagement right now. If you upload your video (rather than linking to YouTube or Vimeo) you will get significantly more engagement. Words are back too – oddly, in long form copy. For example Medium.com is huge and is from one of the founders of Twitter, which specializes in short form. With digital, it is never all one thing there will always be balance. Stay up to date.

Read Tere's blog for up to the minute tips

Tere will publish 10-Minute Manuals later this year, the first three are described online now.

Coming soon: 60-second Ask Tere videos – answering questions from clients in 60 seconds to help you move your digital marketing genius forward.

Tere has already authored and co-authored 20 books, she has more expertise on the way


How Rock Climbing Can Help You Reach the Top of Your Career

You reach out, shift your weight slightly, reach again. Fail. Fall. Chalk up, swing yourself back, reach again. Fail. Chalk. Try again. A little closer this time. Fail. Fall. Catch. Chalk. Reach.

The sweat and chalk of rock-climbing and the business of fashion – seemingly so far apart, but stand any rock-climber in front of the mirror and you will see someone en route to the top.

I have had three passions since the age of six that have been running concentric circles around each other, providing me with balance, drive and a sense of direction and honing my vision.

I learnt to sew when I was six, developed a passion for writing at eight and started running when I was  ten. In my teens I bought books on design and taught myself pattern-making while competing in national track competitions ... and documented it all in a combination of fiction and fantasy on paper.

I still love to run, but now I have broadened my sports resume to include whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, snowboarding, skate-skiing and rock-climbing. Each of these sports has taught me so much about life, technique, strategy, pain, survival and knowing that failure is just the start of success.

I recently overheard a conversation at Brooklyn Boulders where a very beautiful and graceful woman, obviously early in her career, was relating her office politics to her climbing partner saying “...my co-workers don't like ambitious women, but I can't be any other way. I just want to reach the top and I'm going to get there.”

And that is just how it is with rock-climbing, your ambition and drive lures you to the wall where you try, and try again, to reach for the top. Your journey is clearly delineated between the goal and the route. Failure does not mean you give up, it is merely a challenge – a challenge that you need to go back and work on again and again until you can solve it and move past.

Rock-climbing requires balance, strength, technique and commitment. Commitment will guide you through failure, it will drive you back to revisit the problem in a fresh way. You need to unerringly rely on others, knowing that they are going to support you and knowing that you will support them too. You learn technique and develop a strategy. The struggles of rock-climbing mirror the difficulties of running a company, you have to stay true to yourself, but rely on others. You have to be accepting of failure, yet understand that failure is just the wrong route, it is not personal, it is trial and error, an opportunity to choose a new route, explore a fresh approach. Business is full of challenge, and it is your commitment to getting past the challenges that will determine how your business or your career is managed.

So...take a risk, reach for the top and...climb on.