Small Business Owners in Rural Georgia Learn to Build a Powerful Online Presence through UGA SBDC’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp

Local search engine optimization, social media platforms, artificial intelligence, finding online customers – what does it mean for a small business? Through the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center’s Digital Marketing Bootcamps, more than 600 rural Georgia entrepreneurs have discovered the answers for their business.

The Digital Marketing Bootcamp is a three-hour program taught by digital marketing experts from the UGA SBDC. Participants are guided through setting measurable marketing goals for the business and instructed on ways SEO, social media and technology can help them reach those goals.

The programs were made possible through a congressionally directed spending request initiated by the office of U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff. The project provided funding for 20 programs across the state held in rural areas, and two statewide webinars, at no cost to attendees. Local UGA SBDC offices partnered with chambers of commerce and community resources to host the programs. As of early August, two-thirds of the programs were complete with more than 600 business owners in attendance.

“UGA’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp was so valuable for business owners and managers in Northeast Georgia,” said Jessie Owensby, community development director for the city of Cornelia. “Because the class was provided as a free session, Cornelia had almost 100 people in attendance. It proved to be very informative for the attendees, as many of them didn’t previously have the knowledge they gained from the class. Everyone spoke so highly of it because it was engaging, informative and fun.”

The curriculum covers the fundamentals of marketing that small business owners need to tell their story and connect with online audiences. From understanding their customers and mapping their buyers’ journey, to mastering social media platforms and learning how to design a website optimized for search engines and local audiences, attendees learn how to build a powerful online business presence.

“Because digital marketing is always changing, digital marketing training is always at the top of our list of requests from our small business clients,” said Kyle Hensel, director of continuing education at the UGA SBDC. “Through this community project fund and our local resource partners, we’ve been able to reach rural Georgia residents with training they need to successfully grow their business.”

The curriculum was developed by UGA SBDC marketing experts Robbie Parks, Nadia Osman and Drew Tonsmeire. Together they built a curriculum designed for the needs of small businesses, combining tested digital marketing principles, like social media, with the latest trends, like artificial intelligence.

“Through the hard work of small businesses across the state, there is tremendous economic opportunity flowing across Georgia. Part of my job is to expand access to entrepreneurship and opportunities for business owners in every part of our state,” Senator Ossoff said. “That is why I brought Republicans and Democrats in Congress together to strengthen and expand the UGA Small Business Development Center’s Digital Marketing Bootcamps, which are helping Georgia’s small businesses grow and succeed.”

Attendees have provided positive feedback about the program, one noting, “The speakers were engaging and excited about their work. The information presented was effective and relevant to current marketing needs.”

More programs are scheduled through 2023.

“We have been so impressed by the response to this program,” said Parks. “Not only is there great attendance, but participants have also been actively engaged, with many wanting to continue learning with the SBDC through individual consulting sessions.”

The UGA SBDC, one of the eight units of UGA Public Service and Outreach, provides tools, training and resources to help small businesses grow and succeed. The UGA SBDC offers low-cost training and complimentary business consulting for small business owners through 18 office locations across the state. Upcoming training dates for the Digital Marketing Bootcamp and additional training courses can be found at

For More Information: University of Georgia SBDC | (706) 542-2762