This is my last column in the series of helping the small business CEO bring the business back to life again. Hopefully, readers will have a better sense of how consumers are finding businesses online and the tools you’ll need to position yourself for success.
So now let’s focus on how to bring it all together to drive new and repeat business. The reality is that if you are not top of mind, people forget about your business. And that can cause you to lose money.
Here is how this all comes together:
- Connect. It’s all about getting people to your door or mobile-responsive website. That happens through word-of-mouth referrals, searches online, paid advertising, mobile searches on apps or through listing sites.
- Experience. Wherever your prospective customer is engaging with you, you should provide a positive experience. That’s often as simple as making sure people are finding the answers to their questions, that you’re responding and engaging with people, and generally being helpful.
- Entice. At this stage where someone is feeling good about your business, it’s a great time to entice them to stay in touch with you. This could be by following you on social channels, or even better, joining your email list.
- Engage. Next, your job is to engage with the people who have opted to connect with you on a regular basis. This engagement is at the heart of the relationship between a brand and its customers. Engagement keeps you top of mind and puts you on the path to creating repeat customers, loyalty, referrals, and increased exposure for your business. Simply, engagement creates more awareness for your business and brings more people to your door.
When your connections engage with you on social, forward your emails, or share your content with their contacts, those interactions create more visibility for your business. In turn, this engagement brings new people to your business and feeds into the ways people find your business in the first place.
And that’s how it all works together. By focusing on those core elements of connect, experience, entice, and engage, a small business can create the relationships and interactions that keep existing customers coming back and increase word of mouth and social visibility that brings new customers through the door.
Don’t forget the fundamental action items I have discussed:
- Create a mobile-friendly website as a resource for potential customers. Be sure that your website includes the key points. By answering questions of prospects and creating content that’s helpful, you increase the chances of people finding you through search, consuming the information you provide, and sharing those resources with their connections.
- Capture email addresses from website visitors. Offer a promotion or exclusive content to entice people to join your email list. Then you’ll have a way to follow up and encourage people to do business with you.
- Interact and engage on social. Remember it’s called social media for a reason. Social works best when you’re not just asking people to purchase your products. Use social to generate awareness, support customer service, and drive action. Ultimately, try to get social followers to take the next steps by visiting your website and joining your email list.
- Engage with reviews to build trust. Say, “Thanks,” when your customers take the time to say positive things about your business. Also, be sure to attend to negative reviews as well. People are looking to see how you’ll respond. Sometimes the feedback is legitimate, sometimes it’s not. Respond professionally to see if you can rectify the issue. People watching can tell if someone’s being unreasonable.
- Use email marketing to provide exclusive, helpful, and promotional content. Email marketing allows you to build more meaningful customer relationships and drive business because people have opted-in to receive information from you. They’re more engaged with your business than the typical social media follower. Provide subscribers with deals and information they won’t receive other places. Email can also drive action on your social channels.
- Amplify your efforts with paid advertising.
With your fundamentals in place, you can drive traffic to your website, expose your business to more people, and collect more email addresses to get even more business. This will help you bring your business back to life after all of the hard times of closed businesses and reluctance of customers to come “out” again.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help from a SCORE mentor if you wish to run your plans past an experienced businessperson.
Dean Swanson is a volunteer Certified SCORE Mentor and former SCORE chapter chairman, district director and regional vice president for the North West Region.