If you have a small business, read this (Part 1)
by Lynette Sowell
My Front Porch
How’s that for a click-bait headline?
Small businesses have never had an “easy” go of it, even with technology advancements that should be able to help them connect with customers like never before.
In ye olden days, most small businesses were the only show in town and had little competition, advertising options were limited yet easy, and advertising showed immediate ROI (return on investment). But now, the waters are muddied, there’s competition everywhere, and it’s everyone for themselves.
What’s the best way to promote your business? An effective method is word of mouth. Now, word of mouth can go both ways. There’s not much you can control as a business owner about word of mouth, especially if someone doesn’t think much of your business.
Customers fall into several categories, to include ardent fans, loss-leader shoppers, indifferent, and the unhappy.
The ardent fans are golden and they make you remember why you’re in business. Not much to say about them other than they’re the ones who show up for customer appreciation days. They truly are golden and make you remember why you're in business. Be thankful for them.
Loss-leader shoppers are the fickle ones. They may shop with you because of a freebie or another deal, but once their time is up, they may or may not be back. They’re wild cards. Will they shop with you again? It’s uncertain. Another service provider might woo them in with another deal, or they might not need your product again.
The indifferent aren’t much different than loss-leader shoppers. They are not dedicated to you or your product. They might not need you. Or, they have another option they might like better at the moment – such as a restaurant. There are few, if any restaurants we might like to eat at every night of the week. Restaurant owners should know this. This is why they need to get momentum going and advertise, and gain more ardent fans. Indifferent will only shop with you when they feel like it, when they have a need, or when you catch their notice with an offer they can’t refuse. For them, you are out of sight and out of mind.
Unhappy customers need little explanation. They might not shop with you again and will not recommend you. The unhappiest will be sure to let all their friends know, far and wide. Plus the masses of Facebook. This is not the word of mouth you want to have.
I’m not a statistician, but it sounds to me from the above like small business owners need to maintain your loss-leader shoppers and remind the indifferent that you are open for business, here to serve, here with a great product.
You want to achieve something called TOMA – top of the mind awareness. It’s what all the big brands do and many of them do well.
What’s the best way to do that? A knee-jerk reaction is to “let’s do this the free way.” And, “Oh, social media is free.” So, the small business owner opens their Facebook page and starts posting in every group and tags all their friends, and asks “everyone” to “like” and “share.”
If you are a side-job small business, that might work to get you a few customers here and there, and start interacting with you. But again, it can be hit or miss. Not everyone needs your product or service every day or weekly.
If you’re depending on this business for your bread and butter, you will come up short. (I can offer you names of businesses who solely did social media for ads. The ones who come up short – shuttered, closed, downsized – far outnumber the small successes.)
The small business owner might also think, “I should take out an ad or two and see what happens.”
The trouble is, one or two ads or even three or four are not always the best ROI (return on investment). Why is that?
Well, you will have to wait for Part 2, to hear about that one.