It is great news that emerging technologies are making possible a return to earlier times when business owners and their customers knew each other and had personal relationships that extended beyond the tight boundaries of buying and selling goods and services.
The public face of a business has moved from the corporate to the personal. People like dealing with people. They want to know specific names and faces. Customers want their business dealings to be with other humans. The upside is that they are more likely to be loyal because they like and trust you. The downside is that they might not buy a perfectly good product because they had a bad experience with you.
This concept may seem counter-intuitive to those who are trying to avoid tying their business too closely to their personal brand. Will it become harder to remove yourself from the business when you want to sell it? Not necessarily. You still need to make it a priority for your business to have the systems and processes in place to run without relying solely on you.
It may be that the backlash against automated phone answering services, with robotic voices offering so-called “customer service” and other impersonal ways that companies use to create efficiencies have led us back to wanting a more personal experience. But there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s become essential to personalize your business.
You may want to consider using your personal profile with your own name on social media platforms as the face of your business as well as a company profile. If you are the person with the vision behind your business, be proud of it and use yourself and your relationships to promote it.
Do you believe that customers in your industry aren’t really into social media? Statistics indicate that even if they’re not now, it’s only a matter of time. Remember, people want to deal with the people in the business, NOT the business. Social media capitalizes on that trend. Social networking is about building communities and relationships. In the business world, that translates to making connections with customers and prospects. It is traditional relationship marketing upgraded with a new style of technological support.
If your competitors and your customers aren’t using social media yet, grab the opportunity to get ahead of the curve and start finding your way in the social media sphere using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Create a presence before your competitors do and be ready to greet customers and prospects as they arrive.
Video marketing – pictures tell a thousand stories
YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google these days; people are searching for what they want online and the great news for business owners is that YouTube allows you to upload your videos for free.
YouTube visitors don’t expect to watch an Oscar winning movie; in fact they’re well trained to viewing all sorts of home grown efforts. Any business owner can purchase a decent video camera at an affordable price and start shooting testimonials, behind the scenes at work, interesting tidbits and information about their product or industry, and visual demonstrations of just how their products or services work.
It’s a powerful way to connect to your prospects in a very personal way. 80% of page visitors will view a video and 52% will act as a result of watching it – these are statistics you shouldn’t ignore when planning your marketing mix.
The average small business doesn’t have an IT staff or the budget needed to build a proprietary network. More and more small businesses are accessing business applications and programs “in the cloud”.
Cloud computing allows you to reduce or eliminate some IT related expenses such as backup systems, some server based programs, and reduce your support costs. You aren’t tied to your office for access to emails or files. It can all be done, even storing your data, by using applications that are stored and delivered via the internet. As long as you can access the internet, you can view your data, collect emails and run your business – from wherever you are. So you can actually have more freedom while staying in touch with your clients and prospects.
After being a longtime advocate and power-user of Outlook, I’ve recently switched to Google Apps Premier. This allows you to host your email on Google’s servers, maintain a contact database, share calendars, store documents, and even create intranet sites. I don’t find Google Docs robust enough for my document storing and sharing needs, but have found that Sharefile is a reasonably priced solution for my consulting business. Aside from Google, there are many other service providers, offering everything from hosting your customer relationship management system to your accounting records.
Some information in this article is sourced from RAN ONE © 2010 Bullseye