As a small business owner you have probably thought about how you will market your product or service. You hopefully have done market research, tested a few marketing strategies and formulated a marketing plan. These are all highly recommended steps in becoming a successful marketer. However, if you allow these tasks to be the primary focus of getting the word out about your company, you will find it difficult to be successful.
Think about your last purchase of a product or service from a company. Chances are you chose the seller based on a promotion or prior knowledge of the business. You knew what to expect throughout the transaction and you were fairly comfortable with the process of the sale. If any part of this interaction had gone wrong, you would not have made the purchase. The key word here, “interaction.”
If your customers feel like they are being “sold” or if your marketing comes across as just another step in the process to separate the customer from their cash, you will reduce your chances of success. You have to make a connection. You have to interact with a client, not “sell” them. Here are a few tips that might help you move from marketing to interacting:
Be helpful, be a resource.
If you are constantly in sales mode, customers will avoid you. They will unfriend you online and do their best not to set foot in your establishment. If, however, you welcome customer questions and provide sound advice (even if it means losing a sales opportunity) then customers will look forward to interacting with your business. In fact, you will likely become their “go-to” resource when they think about your product or service.
Flexibility shows you care about the customer.
If you are an insurance agency and you are promoting an insurance product to families, you have to be willing to work outside the normal 9-5 model. If your marketing successfully generates leads but you are unwilling to meet with clients after-hours or over multiple appointments, the client will feel you don’t really care about them as much as you do your own schedule and the process you have set for the sale. You will lose your opportunity to interact with the client, even though your marketing was successful.
Pick up the phone and listen.
If you have ever been in one of our marketing classes, you have heard it said, “You will sell more by listening than you ever will by talking.” In this digital, virtual world we have a tendency to hide behind email and social media. Get in front of your customers and ask them what they want. Listen to why they are working with you and how your product or service solves their pain points. Talking directly to the client opens up opportunities you cannot see in a digital world. It allows the client to interact with you on their terms and it shows a genuine concern for their needs.
Hopefully, you will take a step back from your “marketing” and start interacting with your customer base. You will find that the two go hand-in-hand and the process will be more of a natural extension of being human and less of a sales transaction.