There was a book published a few years ago entitled, “Who Moved My Cheese?” In this book, the author made observations about the employment market and how many who thought their jobs safe were laid off, unawares. The main reason these former employees were finding it rough to obtain rewarding (or any!) new work was that the recruiting and hiring world had changed since their last go around. Small businesses are having a similar “wake up and smell the coffee” experience with regards to finding customers.
With the surge in social media and internet based marketing, many small companies are falling behind in their marketing and sales and don’t know how to catch up. Recently, I spent some time with a businessman who had built a business model around websites, online advertising, working the search engine algorithms, and investing his personal time in keeping it all working smoothly, despite being a millionaire. The irony? He was not in a high growth startup, the darling of the media and purported environment where people spend countless hours on such matters. He owns a number of residential facilities for people recovering from substance abuse challenges. Keeping his vacancy rate as low as possible is his primary metric. Though he is in a non-sexy industry niche, he and his team recognize that customer pipeline development begin s with an internet strategy.
The two of us were discussing his strategy and tactics with some others over a meal and the question arose as to what is the role of relationships and “boots on the street” in his model. Together, we explained that target clients are most likely to perform some internet research on your organization before a personal meeting ever occurs. Furthermore, we argued that relationships are being initiated and nurtured over the internet at a quickening pace. We were not saying that the interpersonal meeting away from all things digital was unimportant; what we were explaining was that, in a time compressed world with information at our fingertips, the small business owner must earn the right to have the personal conversation by having a strong online presence.
Some basics to creating that presence:
- Your website needs “rich,” updated content — videos, pictures, etc. that you keep current
- Making use of Google Local and other local business listing services like Yelp is key – do it!
- You should advertise online or simply use social media to drive traffic to your site
- Determining what information to share through business social media accounts begins with having a target
- Break your customer base down into segments, each of which you can target with messages that resonate
- You may need additional, mini-websites (called “micro-sites”) for each segment
- You definitely need wording that is unique to each segment
- Your social media and/or advertising needs to be a priority!
If you want more and better customers, be purposeful about how you develop new business in a digital world!