Online Marketing: Is It Better for a Family Business?

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The definition of the words “family business” differs depending on whom you ask. Some might think of the small scale businesses like pizza parlors or that mom-and-pop shop down the road. What many people might not know is that some of the biggest companies in the world are family-owned. Walmart, Ford, and LG are just a few of the numerous massive enterprises that are actually family-owned.

In fact, Frank Hoy of Worcester Polytechnic Institute cites that these companies provide jobs in many countries and represent a big part of a family business. While these big companies have no problem maintaining their online presence, more traditional businesses find ways to reinvent and establish themselves in the new playing field. This is especially true at a time when people are relying on online services more than ever.

This kind of business structure is unique in more than a few ways, some of which include:


Those involved in the family-owned companies benefit from the previous experiences of their predecessors who have created the framework of things. This experience gets passed on from generation to generation and evolves by bringing in new ideas that complement the traditional methods of conducting business. These methods include using each family member’s strength and managing a specific department in the company, or building customer loyalty.

Family Atmosphere


The phrase “we’re like a family here” takes on a bigger meaning in this kind of business. Even for employees who are not part of the family, they still get treated as such, resulting in a community-like atmosphere that fosters more positive and long-term working relationships.


Loyalty is a common theme in business structures like these, not only within the company but also with its partners. Suppliers, vendors, and the like often have long-term working relationships that result in repeat business and possible insider information about the industry.


Consumer behavior is changing, and it is up to the new-generation business owners to pivot to avoid losses in customers or assets. The younger generation of family-owned business owners is starting to do this by creating new opportunities. These opportunities come in the form of new product lines, creating new businesses, or even offering opportunities for people to invest in the company. These methods provide businesses with the opportunity to sustain their current target market while generating new leads and attracting prospective customers. Aside from this, having a hand in different industries protects family wealth by having different sources of revenue in case any sector suffers.

Even McDonald’s, which started as a family business between brothers, grew to become the world’s largest fast-food chain with the help of Ray Kroc, specifically through franchising.

His philosophy was based on the simple principle of a 3-legged stool: one leg was McDonald’s franchisees; the second, McDonald’s suppliers; and the third, McDonald’s employees. The stool was only as strong as the three legs that formed its foundation.

Despite acquiring companies like Krispy Creme and Chipotle, McDonald’s has stood its ground in the industry thanks to its franchises. But how can these franchises stay relevant in their areas in an ocean of online business? The answer is simple: business digital marketing.

Digital Innovation for Family-Owned Companies

With the rise of e-commerce showing no signs of stopping, businesses are shifting their focus to digital platforms to help build their brand and generate leads to keep their companies relevant in an online world where people have many options to choose from. Brick-and-mortar shopping is decreasing, and traditional operation practices are slowly becoming defunct, so the only viable option right now for family-run companies, both big and small, are going digital.

Of course, this is not to say that traditional marketing strategies need to go, but innovating old ideas by combining them with new ones can go a long way. Smaller businesses might find it hard to come to terms with as the digital world is always moving fast, and younger members might find it difficult to convince their elders to implement newer technology into the firm. Utilizing this technology by including it in simple tasks like e-mail subscription lists or setting up a small website can help pave the way to explore more complex technologies like online shopping platforms.

In a business structure where family members work together to manage operations, adequate preparations must be made. While employees continue to work from home to stay safe, it is only natural that these family-owned firms make the necessary steps to transition and adapt to the growing digital economy successfully.

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