RBC joins Tony Chapman on small business podcast

Chatter That Matters will highlight the struggles and triumphs of a different Canadian entrepreneur every week.

Tony Chapman2

Brand strategist Tony Chapman makes his living on the convention circuit. When COVID-19 put a stop to that, he thought about all the people in the event space who do planning day in and day out, and then all the small businesses put on hold.

That’s why he decided to create a podcast to get a sense of what small businesses were going through.

Chapman tells strategy that these businesses are not only the heart of the Canadian economy, but also the ones hardest hit by COVID-19. The idea behind his podcast, Chatter that Matters, was to personalize entrepreneurs’ stories so listeners could better identify with them, the numerous challenges they face and understand how vital they are to a functioning economy.

He warns that the likes of Amazon are a category killer that that can lay waste to Main Street: “What frightens me the most is how accustomed we are to waving our phones like a magic wand, and the world comes to our door,” Chapman says. Small business, he maintains, are what keep neighbourhoods vibrant and alive, and what maintain property values, but are less able than most major businesses to be able to weather the challenges brought by the pandemic.

RBC recently came on board as a new sponsor for Chatter that Matters, which originally launched in November, through Chapman’s connection to Mary DePaoli, the bank’s EVP and CMO, as well as Chapman’s talks at RBC meetings and marketing conferences.

“When I presented the idea, the only thing they asked, was don’t make this about it us, make it about small business heroes,” Chapman says about the RBC partnership, and adds that it wasn’t about selling credits cards, but about genuinely and legitimately raising awareness about small business concerns.

RBC does have numerous small business clients, though, and the bank recently announced it is assessing the needs of business owners who have been affected by COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis to provide relief solutions that are tailored to their circumstances, including business loan payment deferrals and waiving of credit card minimum payments. Small businesses were also among the first that began laying off staff due to the pandemic, and with more than one million people having lost their jobs over the last month according to Statistics Canada, that means a significant number of personal clients have been impacted as well.

Tony Chapman

Each episode of the podcast begins with a central question, like “can small businesses survive?” then taps into an entrepreneur’s dream, backstory and how COVID-19 has caused a pivot to their business.

The biggest misconception about running a small business, Chapman says, is that from the outside it looks like you’re your own boss, having fun and controlling your own destiny as an entrepreneur. But, he says, you’re running on shifting sands, and that comes with heightened stress.

Chapman’s show was available as a podcast across typical platforms, and he pitched the idea to a consortium of radio owners, including Rogers and Corus, which came on board.

To promote Chatter that Matters, podcast excerpts will be on 67 radio stations weekly, comprising 100 million radio impressions over ten weeks. “We are encouraging radio stations to personalize it to businesses that are local to them, favorite restaurants in their neighbourhood, and to do this on air,” he says.

There will be a “major social media push done with RBC”, through the bank’s social channels like Instagram and Facebook and via Chapman’s own LinkedIn page, which earned 1.5 million impressions last year. Chapman say he is also going to tap his relationships with the likes of the Restaurants Canada and Tech Manitoba.

“We know we are standing for something, and we are hoping we stand out,” he says.

The latest episode features Traci Shepheard, who left a 24-year career in the alcohol and beverages space to pursue a mobile meditation studio run out of an Airstream trailer. Next week, the show will feature Paul Hemburrow (chief customer officer and EVP of sales & marketing for digital patient engagement platform Healthhub) and Lisa Taylor (founder and president of small business consultancy The Challenge Factory).