Marketing Maven

Toya Wilson-Smith helps businesses reach clients through word-of-mouth

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For TOYA WILSON-SMITH, founder and chief marketing officer of NexGeneration Digital Marketing Agency, marketing is more than a strategy. It’s a business’s lifeblood.

“Marketing is an essential aspect of any business,” Wilson-Smith says. “If you can’t attract customers, you can’t function, and you won’t exist down the road.”

Wilson-Smith first learned about marketing at her grandfather’s knee. He inflamed a passion that, with a few detours, led to her life’s career. Wilson-Smith started her professional career in finance, then moved to sales. However, the lure of marketing called, and in 2002 she earned an MBA in marketing.

In 2012, Wilson-Smith left sales, and the corporate world, to start her own business. After a brief stint making mobile apps for entrepreneurs and business owners, Wilson-Smith returned to her first love and pivoted to marketing.

In her work, Wilson-Smith heeds her grandfather’s advice: that the best marketing is word of mouth. What’s different is that she uses targeted messaging that brings her clients their ideal customers and social media strategies that reach large audiences but cost little or no money.

“Social media is nothing more than word-of-mouth marketing magnified,” Wilson-Smith says.

It’s a method that works. Wilson-Smith’s clients include large and small businesses that hail from Wilmington, Amsterdam, India, Singapore, and beyond. It also works for female and minority entrepreneurs—a group that comprises a large part of Wilson’s business: 70% are female entrepreneurs, and 40% of those are minority females, she says.

Wilson-Smith generously shares her marketing savvy with new and experienced business owners. She gives workshops on marketing through SCORE Cape Fear Region and the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Minority Enterprise Development Week.

She was also a featured speaker and coach at the 2018 Black Enterprise Conference. At these venues, she stresses that entrepreneurs must make it easy for their customers to find them and recommends that they register with Google My Business and follow DICE to do so which stands for: make it easy to be Discovered, provide customers with Information, and Connect and Engage with potential customers.

These marketing tactics are particularly important during COVID, when street traffic has fallen, she says.

Wilson-Smith has a bevy of goals beyond her marketing agency. One of her top ambitions is to empower younger women to become entrepreneurs soon rather than later. She’s already mentoring an 11-year-old video editor who codes. Wilson-Smith also recently added a new focus to her consulting business—each year she wants to help five female business owners take their business to six figures or above. Finally, Wilson-Smith plans to launch a course for female entrepreneurs called “From Introvert to Influencer: Word of Mouth Still Works.”

For Wilson-Smith, marketing is her business, but it’s also how she makes a difference in her community.

“Any time you can help a business grow and make money, it’s about more than your bottom line,” she says. “It’s that internal satisfaction you get because you feel like you are helping businesses in your community succeed.”

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Categories: Women to Watch