If you run a small business, it can be difficult to compete with larger competitors. They often can offer more services at lower prices. However, you have an important advantage over the big box stores. Small businesses can make connections on a more personal level with their clients. With a deeper connection, customers are more likely to stay loyal to your organization. While some connections happen naturally, developing customer relationships takes some intentional work.
Understand Who They Are
Every person who buys your products or uses your services has a story. Understanding why a customer seeks out your business is critical to your decision-making process. Doing some research, such as customer surveys about your typical clients, will help you make wise decisions. If your business only reaches one age group, you can decide whether it is in your best interest to double down your outreach to that market or diversify, seeking to connect with other groups.
Provide the Best Customer Service
Customer service is key to a small business’s success. You can care for your customers in a more personal way than the larger stores. If you have loyal customers, you and your employees will begin to know them by name. You will learn which items to keep in stock for your regulars. As you expand and take on more employees, it is important to hire people who will continue to foster a culture of great customer service.
Use Social Media
Social media platforms offer endless ways to connect with customers. A Facebook site dedicated to your business makes it easy to share information about sales and special events. If you use social media wisely, your loyal customers can also become unofficial marketers. They can easily share updates about your business with their friends.
Email marketing is a cost-effective way to reach out to targeted customers. If you use a marketing platform, you will have the option to break your email list into different groups. Rather than every email going to every customer, you can break the list into groups of customers from different geographic areas, in various age groups or by the amount they typically spend at your business. With targeted email marketing, it is much more likely that the information you send will be read by the people you want to see it. Also, giving exclusive information to customers who give you their email addresses can help build trust.
Ask for Customer Reviews
By letting customers share their opinions about your business, you are giving them a sense of ownership. You are also participating in an important form of marketing. Many potential customers will search for Google reviews before they even bother checking out your business. You can provide customers with a link to a review form to make it easier for them to leave you a review. Sometimes, customer opinion will work in your favor, sharing positive impressions about your business. If you receive negative feedback, respond to it openly and politely. This is an important opportunity to learn from your customers and adjust your practices.
Tell Your Story
Just as it is important to know why your customers come to your business, it is important for them to understand why you exist. Telling your personal story is a powerful way to connect with clients. If you are able to describe a mission beyond budgets and profits, they will pay attention. By offering a compelling vision, you invite your customers to participate in something larger. They will be more willing to forgo lower prices at a big store if they feel that they are supporting something important. However, if you go in this direction, it is important that you live out that mission. Failing to do so can have a strong negative impact on your reputation.
Interact With the Local Community
As a small business, it is important to emphasize your connection to the local community. You want people to see you as a partner in the neighborhood. There are many different ways that you can approach this effort. Sponsoring local children’s sports teams is a common way that businesses get their names in front of local residents. If it is applicable, you can offer your service voluntarily in the local school system. Parents pay attention to organizations that help their children. You might also want to volunteer or support local charities. Some heating companies make it an annual practice to install a new heating system for a family in need. When consumers see that you are invested in the community, they will be more willing to invest in your business.
Your small business cannot exist without enthusiastic customers. With the right connections, your loyal clients will do some of the marketing for you, sharing their positive experiences with others. By taking the time to develop relationships with the customers in your local community, you are developing a loyal customer base that will enhance the life of your business.
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