In this post I want you to think about the people that buy from you. If you're just starting out or are restarting don't fret, this post is also for you. The questions I challenge you to think about are:
How are you keeping in touch with your customers?
Are you getting regular and timely information out to your customers that’s relevant to their experience – like impromptu closings?
Are you engaging in a way that is more than the traditional marketing touch points?
More than just flyers, coupons, surveys, and talking to the customer on the way out?
More than TV/Radio commercials, possible news interviews, and even the occasional hosted special event?
You will move yourself to the back of the memory-and-relevance-bus because your customers, even your best customers, aren't connecting with your brand outside of the basic exchange of goods and services for money experience. If you settle for just a basic vendor experience you will only be relevant in your stakeholders mind when your offering satisfies their need – not bad but you should be striving for more.
The type of business you run doesn’t matter when it comes to staying in touch with the people that support you. You are just creating excuses if you can’t engage with your customers because you’re a small restaurant, café, bookstore, pet walker, or even an electrician. The idea is that you can always provide value for people and establish yourself as a resource wherever your customer is in the buying cycle.
“I am already getting the sale. Why do I need to engage them? Isn’t the fact that they bought from me and will possibly continue to buy from enough? “
Short answer is no. Longer answer is nooooooooooooo!
A report put out by Bain & Company in 2011 reported that customers that engage with brands regularly spend a lot more money in those businesses. That is to say that customers that have meaningful engagement, above and beyond your traditional marketing touch points, reported increases in revenue between 20%-40%. That’s huge if you want to keep your business growing. Not only that, the reach grows exponentially as more and more people see your customers engaging with you in a very public way.
I can already feel your eyes starting to waver because you know what’s coming next.
Social Media, every business guru’s favorite topic. Maybe you’ve found some success or maybe it’s been a huge waste of time. Either way you have set up your accounts and get to it when you have the time. Most likely, and sadly, only if you have something to announce to your followers. Stepping up on your social soapbox to only announce when things are happening for you is not a great use of resources. You won't be able to cut through the noise.
My personal favorite social media faux pas is logging into Facebook and by the time you walk away from it two hours have elapsed – I call this “social media time traveling”. This is not a full on tutorial about social media and you should use whatever platform works best for you to engage with your customers. This post is about getting to the heart of what you are going to do to create some benchmarks to measure yourself against and some concepts to put into practice.
Here’s the plan for kicking up your customer engagement and ultimately kick up those revenues.
1. Decide what you are measuring when you start a campaign.
Are you trying to grow by acquiring email addresses to market to later? Is your goal just to spread awareness? To get people to talk to you? Then track those Facebook comments. (Be wary of “Likes”, more doesn’t mean that it is a reflection of authentic engagement)
2. Come to terms that engaging with customers is going to come in a full range of experiences.
It’s going to take work and it should feel like you are having a conversation with your audience. Think about your favorite YouTube channels – odds are they make you feel like you are part of their community every time you watch their shows. This also means you have to be an amazing listener. You need to be able to understand their needs and wants just as well as what gets them excited and is interesting to them.
3. Mobile is only getting bigger.
You don’t have to go out and create a new app (unless you want to) but whatever medium you use should be mobile friendly. Facebook groups, Twitter, and even Instagram are checked every minute of every hour so make sure you are reaching out with value and not spam.
4. Everyone needs to benefit. Remember your customers or potential customers are always going to be looking for value.
So you need to do more than just spam your happenings. Find things that your customers can relate to outside of your product or service and spread the love.
5. Listening is the opposite of just constantly shouting at your audience.
Listening is about trying to keep people talking to you after the sale. It’s about collecting information about your user’s experiences (great and not so great) and about showing them that you are making real efforts to take that information and improve the experience.
Lastly, stand for something that’s more than your sales. Get involved in your community and get to know people in a way that has nothing to do with selling to them. Engaging your customer and being a resource for them outside of the sales cycle will keep you in their conversations beyond the immediate need you serve.
“Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service, and that bring friends with them.”
- W. Edwards Deming