What is the most important aspect of business that will make you more successful online?
There could be many answers to this but I believe there is one thing that is common to all of my successful friends and clients. It’s something that on the face of it is obvious, but is largely neglected. In particular, those who are struggling neglect it more than others.
What is it?
I will give you a clue. Go and check out my post over at the Bank of Montreal small business site entitled 4 Key Lessons All Sales People Can Learn From Grandma.
Think you know what it might be now?
OK, let me explain …
Avoiding the Technology Trap
When people look to move their small business online one of two things often happens:
- They throw something up and hope for the best (I call this abdication of responsibility “cheque book marketing” – they pay someone as if they are buying a yellow pages ad then wonder why their bottom line isn’t improving).
- They become overly concerned about the technology to the point where they obsess over elements that are not going to move their business forward.
Both of these are neglecting what is truly important to growing your small business, and is in fact your small business secret weapon!
What is it? The answer is relationships!
Online Business is Still a People Business
When you move online you do have some needs that need to be addressed, but look at the things that people ask me about as an online business consultant:
- Search engines
- Market research
What do they all have in common?
Yup, they all involve PEOPLE. People doing things. Their preferences, and their behaviour. You need people to share your content, to link to you, to visit, to subscribe to your newsletter, to read your articles, and to buy your stuff.
You have to focus on making people happy with dealing with you. If you want a long-term, healthy, business. If you want to attract quality leads. If you want to have fantastic customer service.
First, Be Human
People, given the choice, would rather work with people who they like and feel a connection to. Small, agile businesses have the ability to create those connections far easier than larger companies.
It starts with letting people know you are an actual human being. Use your photograph and your name on your website and in your social profiles.
You are not a faceless corporate brand, your brand is enhanced by your own personality and reputation. Keep the stock photography to a minimum and write more like you speak. Open up to feedback, encourage people to talk to you. Reach out.
The more you allow interaction, the more you will get to know your prospects, and the better service you will be able to provide them, and therefore the better reputation you will generate.
How to Make Every Interaction Count
Especially when you first move online and you have few visitors or contacts, you really need to make every interaction count. You do this by
- Acknowledge people – We want to be noticed even if we don’t expect much action or a full reply. It’s horrible to feel ignored.
- Keep your promises – While we might aim to exceed expectations, at the very least you need to put in your best effort to keep any promises you make (hard as that can be sometimes).
- Say sorry – If and when mistakes happen then own up, say sorry, and set about making things right. Don’t let things fester.
- Be generous – I truly believe the more you give the more good things happen. Be as generous as you can be without expecting anything in return.
- Share good news – Make your customers and contacts the hero. Tell people about the great work they are doing. And, yes, you can let people know you helped too!
All of this might seem like common sense but look around, how many people actually put this into practice? By being the best person you can be you can actually grow your business brand. Try it!
Today’s Micro Action
How do you grow your customer relationships online? Please share your thoughts in the comments …