This is a special Small Business Week guest post from Rohit Bhargava.
Marketing is a pretty simple thing to describe. It encompasses all the things that you do to try and reach people who are seeking the types of products or services that you can provide. The only problem in traditional marketing is that you’re competing with everyone else who is trying to reach someone about the same thing. Want to guess how many lawn care businesses have amazing specials as the spring season starts?
charliecurve via Flickr
Instead of joining that same race, what if you could position your business to sell to your potential customers before they even realize they need you? Sounds great in theory – but there is a secret here and it has everything to do with YOU and your ability to build personal relationships with potential customers before they think you need them. This is the idea at the heart of my new book called Likeonomics – which focuses on why people do business with small business owners and companies that they like, and how real word of mouth, powerful referrals and unshakeable customer loyalty really happens. Here are a few tips on how to build a more likeable business, adapted from ideas the book:
1. Create An Online Micro Genius Bar – One of the greatest things about the Internet is that you can see all kinds of questions that people are asking about the things that you may be an expert in. Anything from plumbing questions to how to properly do taxes – your expertise is desperately needed. No one has the time to spend all day answering questions for free, but consider what might happen if you just spent 20 minutes a week looking at some of these questions online in forums or on Twitter, or on Facebook. By answering a few, and linking back to your website, you’re building goodwill, demonstrating your expertise, and putting your business in the position where as soon as someone needs help in your area … you’re their go to resource.
2. Forecast For The Obvious – There are certain undeniable moments in purchase behaviour that happen every year. Moms take their kids to buy back to school supplies in August. Guys desperately look for flowers around Valentine’s Day. One of the cleverest promotions I saw was someone from a local tree removal company handing out brochures near the outdoor market where we went one year to buy our Christmas tree. Not only did they volunteer to take away your tree for free after the holidays – but while they visited your property, they would look at your trees and tell you if any were in danger of falling and may need to be removed. If we do end up needing any tree removal, guess who I’ll call first?
3. Promote To Complimentary Customers – Customers of one product often become customers of another over time. People who just booked an island vacation, for example – may very soon realize that they need new luggage, or fitness classes to fit into that bikini. This may seem like an obvious connection, but those two events may be separated by six months. How could you build a relationship with that person well in advance so when they do get closer to their vacation, you’re already in their mind?
4. Introduce Your Business Through Social – The reason that so many businesses are so excited about the potential of Facebook advertiser is not really because of the super niche targeting so you can specific someone’s age, region, interests, etc. Instead, perhaps the coolest thing about Facebook is that often when you see an ad for something that a friend likes, it will tell you that your friend also likes that product or service. Built into the ad is a social endorsement from a friend. This can be a powerful motivator for someone to call your business when they do need to buy something because they see an opinion from a friend that they know and trust.
Rohit Bhargava is the author of the new book Likeonomics, a guide for small businesses (and anyone else!) to become more likeable and why that matters for business success. For an exclusive excerpt and special offer only for Duct Tape Marketing readers, visit www.likeonomics.com/ducttapemarketing