People line up for all sorts of things—to get tickets to a hot show or sporting event, to buy the latest smartphone or tablet device, to rub shoulders with the rich and famous—and the best place to be in any queue is always towards the front. You should think of your business the same way. No matter what product or service you’re selling, when the time comes for your customers or prospects to make a buying decision, you want your business to be top of mind. Here are some tips for making that happen.
Establish genuine relationships, advises Doug Brown, academic program manager of the Post University MBA program and director of the Post University Business Institute. “The first thing to remember is that people prefer to buy from those they know and trust, and trust is built by establishing genuine relationships—not business transactions,” he says.
Identify your target market, making sure not to overlook existing customers. Understand very specifically who your buying community is and why they buy from you, Brown emphasizes. There may be multiple answers to the latter question, but that’s okay. You can use them as a basis for building a relationship strategy.
Engage effectively. Understand how your prospects and customers communicate; focus on that, not on how you want to communicate with them. “People are tired of being talked at. The communications they listen to are the ones they think add value to them in their lives,” Brown says. Leverage media opportunities to engage both your direct buyers and those who influence them.
Go beyond the sales pitch. Use an email service such as Constant Contact to provide regular communications that include relevant information and expertise rather than solely focusing on sales pitches. Also keep in mind that traditional PR techniques such as donating time, money, and expertise to community groups still work in the new media world.
Finally, be consistent with your communications, which is something many SMBs seem to have a problem with, Brown observes. “Break a communication strategy into chunks that you can actually do,” he suggests. “Don’t fall victim to the myth of the do-it-all-myself entrepreneur. You have a team that supports you. Use it.”