Online marketing is a powerful tool. Small businesses that otherwise wouldn’t be able to compete with huge corporations for the attention of consumers are now on level playing field because of the technology available today. The tools to facilitate this are countless, and growing every day. Nonetheless, all that technology doesn’t replace good old-fashioned business sense. People want and need to connect with other people, and they still prefer to do in person.
As a small business you are naturally closer to your clients, so you can excel over the big kids. It takes time and effort, but the pay-off is huge. Getting to know your customers is what makes doing business great. Hiding behind layers of technology only distances you from the people who you are trying to help. Here are a few things that can’t be replaced by technology.
- You still need to create a rapport with your prospects and customers. I don’t care what social media tools you use, nothing beats a real conversation. All of my clients have my phone number and can call me anytime. I encourage it, actually. I meet them for drink or lunch every now and then. It’s a great way to build a real connection.
- Ask your customers what their pain points are and how you can solve them. Online survey’s are great, but getting a call from the owner of the company is better. Not only does it show you care about what they think, it tells them you are deeply involved. Listen to what they have to say, you might just discover your next product or service.
- Answer your prospects and your customers’ questions. Do you think someone is going to buy from a business they can’t reach? Only if they have no other reasonable option, and they will end up resenting you. Think someone wants to stick with a business that won’t help them use the product or service they bought? Maybe, but they will complain about you to everyone. Customer service is an investment worth making.
- Showing the personal side of you business to prospects and customers will help them see you as the business, not the business as the business. When I first started Amprewave 15 years ago I didn’t hide how small we were or how we were structured (mostly freelancers with only a few FTE). My clients worked with me just as much as I did with them because they got to know me. Do you feel like you know AT&T?
- Get to know and understand your target audience fully. All the technology won’t help you if you don’t understand what your prospects and customers are facing. It’s impossible to stay on top of everything, but you should absolutely know what is happening within your industry.
Technology is great, but it can’t replace the personal interaction that is key to a successful small business. As technology continues to change at a rapid pace, I believe customers will be attracted more and more to businesses that engage on a personal level, not just through social media. Not only will your customers appreciate it, but you will find you learn and can serve your clients much better when you take the time to get to know them.