For decades, we’ve been looking internally for our future. We’ve made enormous improvements to our businesses, equipment, and the way we function day to day. The accomplishments speak for themselves. But where do we go now? Yes, there will always be innovations that create value for our business, but I’m not convinced that the answers we need are in our circles anymore. We need to look elsewhere. We need to go beyond our walls and start taking pointers from the rest of the world. I’ve been looking for years at what’s happening in and around the industry, and I genuinely believe that the next significant step we all need to be working toward is integration with the digital world. I understand how daunting this can be to many who will read this, and it may even ruffle a few feathers. I think that’s a good thing! That’s why we’re talking, and I’m here to make my case.
We Live in the Age of the Customer
Today’s customers are empowered, and they’re used to feeling that way. They want valuable and consistent experiences across the board, whether digitally or in person. They want to know about your business and how you’ll add value to their lives, even if it’s just a more family-friendly waiting area in your store. If we want to thrive in the coming years, this is where we begin. The catch with all of this is that customers also don’t care how involved or how much money you spend on ensuring a universally pleasing experience. They just want it. Now I’m not saying to break open the piggy bank and bleed your business dry catering to every whim of your customers. Far from it! What I am saying is that it’s time to start listening and providing for your customers. That’s the only future that will solidify your relationships, whether you’re a laundromat owner or a distributor. Getting everyone on the same page in your organization might not be easy, but it’s worth it. Share communal insights about what you’re seeing from your customers or clients, especially how they respond to your business. The better you can align your business with your customer, the safer your future becomes. Become obsessed with your customer.
Let’s Up Our Offers
Along a similar vein, you need to be able to show immediate and lasting value to attract the people you want to your business. Before, we relied on being an epicenter to whatever community we were a part of. Now, many businesses are struggling to find ways to stay relevant and keep attracting customers whose lives are only getting busier.The most straightforward and best way to do that is through an irresistible offer.Digital offers take on numerous forms. There are webinars, helpful PDF flyers, free tools, demonstrations, consultations, and even coupons – just to name a few. The offer you use depends on who you’re selling to.When it comes to selecting and implementing an offer, there are three questions you should ask:
1. Is it good? – Remember to think in terms of value. Is what you’re giving worth more on the surface than what you’re asking?
2. Is it focused? – Targeting specific audiences, or segmenting, can help you create more universal experiences based on what you know of your clientele. Be as accurate as you can.
3. Will it work? – There’s no assurance that any offer will ever work, but you can certainly test it. Don’t just settle in on one offer because you think it’s good. Test various offers and refine the best.
We also need to start addressing the lack of quality online relationships.The impact your business has shouldn’t just end when someone leaves your location or clicks away from your website. Social media and email allow us to build lasting, day-to-day relationships that serve as a foundational pool to grow a business.How is this accomplished though? It’s quite simple. Be a good listener and find out what your audience is talking about in order to speak to their needs. That means asking the right questions and paying attention to every need, not just the ones that are convenient for you. Once you find out what’s important, then it’s time to start some consistent and open communication through the proper channels.As long as you are genuine, sure of yourself, trustworthy, and fun, you’ll have no problem building a high-efficiency relationships.
Focus on Tools
While we’re talking about the future, we need to talk about the tools that will get us there. Social media is one of the most influential places to begin.We have to have a platform that builds our relationships and spreads our offers, and the social spaces are prime for these actions. But how many of us are using them efficiently? Are we setting goals, creating engaging content, or utilizing a clear strategy?To start pushing your business toward what we’ve been discussing, you need to take time to clarify what your goals are. It might seem like a waste of time, especially with the hundred other pressing items on your list, but you’ll see no measurable success if you have nothing to measure against.Evaluate your current social media status. Are people engaged? Is your content relevant and interesting? Do you have a strategy? And are you tracking your results?Putting a strategy, tactics, budget, and timeline in place will elevate your business and position you for more growth in the coming years.
Don’t Shy from Paid Ads
Paid advertising always brings up questions. The first of which is usually some version of “why pay for a service when there are other ways to do it with less cost?” I understand that concern, but it’s not the right way of looking at it.Ads aren’t a vehicle to replace other digital marketing methods. You still need strong social media, blog posts, and search engine optimization to have a well-rounded digital presence. The only way to effectively advertise is to have all of those pieces in place.Think of paid advertising as a way for more people to see what you’ve created. Without being pushed toward your website or social presence, many potential customers may never find you.You have options – Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google, and more. So don’t stop creating, but do start finding ways to target and reach new audiences via paid advertising.
Let’s Start Making Smarter Sales
All things considered, we have a lot of work to do. Becoming more aware of customers – as well as how to approach them, and how to engage with them via social media, blogging, and advertising – will take some time. And that’s OK. In the end, this all revolves around a need to hone in on how we’re handling sales. As you change your approach and win new business, you also need to consider how scalable your business is. Can your current capacity handle more business? Is your point of sale or customer relationship manager able to deal with higher volume? And how do you process new orders or new business? All of this needs to be considered and improved upon. We have a lot of questions to ask. Conversations need to begin, and we still have a long way to go. I firmly believe that we are at Ground Zero for our future. Start looking for ways to digitize and personalize your business.