Recently, I had the good fortune to sit down with some exceptional small business owners to discuss their businesses. We chatted about the importance of what we called “relationship capital” – specifically how they fostered and maintained great relationships with customers to keep them coming back time and again.
Their ideas and strategies were as unique as their businesses. Whether it was creative uses of social media, quality products, exceptional service, or using videos to reach their targeted audiences, what I learned is that there isn't only one right answer; great entrepreneurs use many different ways to deepen their customer relationships.
The interviews were done as part of a series of videos I am working on in partnership with Bank of America – “Big Ideas for Small Business.” The series of YouTube videos focuses on addressing specific small business needs, including “How to Turn Resolutions into a Vision for Your Business” which you can view here and “Relationships Capital,” which is below.
Watching the relationship capital video made me think of different ways to keep customer interactions going, because, like all relationships, they need to be nurtured if they are to be long-lasting. Here are four ways to spring clean your relationships and make your customers fall in love with you all over again:
1. Give them some candy: One reason that relationships get stale is that sometimes, one party begins to take the other for granted. This is as true for interactions in business as in anything else. So, before that happens, the smart entrepreneur will keep wooing them. How?
Give them some candy, some business candy.
What I mean by this is it is important to show customers just how valuable they are. Send them a thank you present, or a ‘discount good for long-term customers only’ coupon, or what about opening the store during off hours for a ‘best customer’ loyalty sale?
The important thing is that you let those great customers know that they are appreciated.
2. Write them a love note: When is the last time you got a thank you note from a company with which you do business? I bet it has been a while, and an even longer while since you received one via snail mail. But that is exactly what I am suggesting you do. Write to your best customers, thank them for their patronage, tell them that you value their business and personally sign each note.
3. Take them to the movies: What is the essence of the movie experience? It is about being taken away to a different place and viewing something new, is it not? Well, what do customers see when they go to your website? If you are like a lot of small business people, those customers see the same show they saw last week and last year.
Instead, you can capture their eye again if you give them a new movie, something different to view online and you can do that if you spruce up your website:
- Add some videos or photos
- Create a new look
- Develop a Q&A about what’s new going on in your business
- Use some different colors and pictures
- Add new content
- Start a blog
4. Introduce them to your friends: Do you have a Facebook page? If not, consider one. Facebook sites are all the rage because they are affordable, easy and a friendly way to interact with customers and potential customers.
Of course this is just a partial list. Check out the “Relationship Capital” video and you will see even more ways that small businesses stay in touch with their customers and show them how much they are valued.
In that spirit, let me also say – thanks for stopping by our site. Are there any topics that you think I should explore for future columns? Share your thoughts with the SBOC community below.
About Steve Strauss
Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. Steve is also the author of the Small Business Bible and his latest book is Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need. A popular media guest, Steve is a regular contributor to ABC News Now and frequently appears on television and radio. His business, The Strauss Group, creates unique, actionable, entertaining, and informative multi-media small business content.