Managing your small business has changed so much in the last few years and is getting more difficult every day. A business owner used to run an ad in the local paper or radio, provide goods or services and have customers tell them in person or on response cards “How are we doing?” Social media came along and now everyone has a megaphone and opinion to share and business owners feel helpless in trying to hear what customers are saying or control the conversation. Actually, communication and word-of-mouth has never changed – social media is just a new avenue. People are still sharing opinions about the new hardware store in town (used to be over a beer on the patio) or telling friends about the really great restaurant that just opened (Yelp, Facebook or Twitter has replaced what used to be a conversation at church). The conversations and opinions are still happening and actually you have more control and awareness available now than before social media opened new lines of communication.
On January 27th, Brian Solis shared with us that: “Your potential customers are asking questions in social networks, comparing prices using mobile apps, reading real-time reviews, and watching videos with product information”. In other words, people engage with their trusted friends on platforms then use those platforms as a way to go to the website that is recommended since no “search” is needed or hop in the car and visit your business. That is why it is so important that several aspects of your small business are optimized:
- Customer Service: You must provide the best service, project the right image and perception to the public so they understand your brand and they correctly pass on that brand and a positive experience to their friends.
- Engage and interact with customers, providing them with valuable content (answers) on the right platform, whether it is information about maintenance for autos, that you have two new rockstar nail stylists at your salon or in 2014 your restaurant will offer new region-specific wines on a monthly basis, based on customer feedback.
- You are familiar with social media platforms, purposes and usage so you know how to engage with the public to receive their feedback (free marketing research and service advice), let them know of exciting changes at your business and monitor the good and bad being said about your business.
Remember those two gentlemen having a beer on the patio while they discuss your new hardware store? Or the women chatting after church about the restaurant you just opened? What used to be private conversations are now public on social media platforms and allow you to listen to what people are saying, gain great insights into “How am I doing” and engage those customers in a positive manner: “How can we help you?” or “How can we get better?”
Your business needs to have specific goals, a unique brand, perception and what sets you apart from others. As a business owner, you need to understand social media and what role it plays in a comprehensive marketing plan that is directly driving your business towards those goals. You need to understand how to provide the best possible customer experience to get people to start talking about your business – the way you would like them to share. Lastly, you need to participate on the communication channels your customer and prospects are using or you will not know or ever hear what they are saying.
Embrace social media and understand how to use it to propel your small business to new heights. If you need to talk about or focus on anything I discussed, specifically business plans and integrating those with a comprehensive marketing plan, please do not hesitate to give me a call or send me an e-mail. I will be happy to discuss any of your challenges or opportunities with you.
If you like this post, please share it below and click on the icon in the upper right to follow my blog.