By Rhonda Campbell
There are nearly seven billion people the planet. Clearly, that’s more than enough consumers to allow you to achieve your small business goals. But what message are you sending prospective customers? Take the time to consider the messages you regularly send to business customers, as this message will significantly help or hurt your small business growth.
Consumers Want to Build Relationships with Confident, Committed Small Business Owners
It’s true that effective business marketing strategies and advertising and branding are keys to building consistent customer sales. Yet, these small business components aren’t all that’s needed to launch and grow a successful business. This fact may become increasingly clear as consumers become further inundated with a plethora of online and offline product and service ads.
After all, how many television, radio and print (including social media ads) do you think you see and hear every single day? Sometimes it seems as if the world is made up of ads. But ads aren’t what people want. People want to know who you are. They want to feel as if they can trust you, trust what you say. They want more than funny, sexy and expensive colorful television, radio, Internet, newspaper and magazine ads.
As odd as it may sound, people want connections. People want rewarding relationships. It’s a reason small businesses with large numbers of returning or repeat customers thrive regardless of the state of the economy. These companies have so many loyal customers because they make it a priority to keep in touch with their current customers, causing their loyal customers to feel as if they have a connection, consciously or subconsciously, with these companies.
It’s Easy for Small Businesses to Create Genuine (and Lasting) Customer Relationships
As a small business owner who focuses on improving people’s lives instead of solely making another dollar, you can gain valuable customer connections. The message or energy that you care about people gets transmitted when you make serving and bettering the lives of others top priority. Additionally, opportunities to build consumer trust can expand. It might not happen overnight, but if you’re a small business owner who genuinely cares about the people you serve, you’ll be committed long-term. You’ll be passionate about staying the course because you believe in the information, business products and services that you share with others.
Fortunately, it’s easy to start showing prospective customers that you care. But before you take actions such as those that follow, ask yourself why you want to connect with consumers. Be honest. If you only want people to give you their money then leave you alone, not sure how long your business success is going to last. And even if you do achieve financial success, the above approach might find you feeling emotionally and psychologically bankrupt. Getting without ever giving comes at a price.
Steps to Connect Your Small Business with Customers to Grow Sales
Here are a few steps you can incorporate into your small business marketing strategies to connect more fully with prospective customers:
- Attend live events (e.g. conferences, seminars, trade shows). Share conversations with people who stop by your booth. Actively listen to others, learn from others and share valuable advice and tips for free upon request.
- Donate a portion of your small business profits to community and social organizations. Let consumers know your business “gives back.”
- Mentor area youth via internship, college prep, computer training, etc. programs (some of the youth you provide work and training opportunities to might become some of your top performers)
- Set aside time at the end of speaking events to meet and talk with attendees in a relaxed atmosphere and tone.
- Call or email customers within a day or less after they contact you with inquiries, comments or concerns. (This one goes a long way)
- Send individualized “Thank You” notes to customers and business partners after they do new business with you. Even if a customer has purchased products or services from you 100 times, send them a “Thank You” note each time they support you. (Shows you care and don’t take one sale for granted. Consider building a technical application to automate “Thank You” notes, but ensure the message in the notes is sincere.)
- Build a social media page or account and offer free webinars to your target audience
- Distribute free product samples at cultural festivals, book fairs (you can do this even if you aren’t a book publisher or author), media events, etc.
- Sponsor an event that benefits members of your target audience
- Conduct television and radio interviews and answer questions viewers and listeners have
- Provide college scholarships or money to pay for college books to loyal customers via newsletter, etc. announcements
Caring About Customers You Serve Is a Key to Small Business Success
Having a PhD isn’t a prerequisite to knowing whether or not a person, including a business leader, cares about you. Think about the social, community, spiritual, financial and business leaders you admire. These people likely left you with a feeling, the belief that they genuinely cared about you and were passionate about seeing you succeed.
You too can have a similar impact on others by connecting with them in a spirit of respect, care, thoughtfulness, awareness and genuine passion. People pick up on this. As they do, they’ll see that your business has the betterment of others as its highest priority. It is at this point that your business may go viral, building word-of-mouth momentum, attracting new customers who purchase your business products and services because they trust that doing so will improve their lives in some way.
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