Whenever you hear about some big advertising campaign or catch a clever commercial on TV, it’s easy to think: “But I’m a small business. I can’t do that. They must have an astounding budget.”
You’re right. It can cost quite a lot to build what a company needs to be seen in the modern age. But I want to share that marketing with little or no budget can still earn big results if you use a little creativity, some personalized effort and free internet tools.
Here are five ways you can build strong customer and community engagement:
1. Launch monthly events - No matter what you sell, there’s a reason for people to gather. I live right beside a smaller, old-timey hardware store. If they had monthly or weekly events like “Simple Fixes” where they show us how to change out a bathroom faucet, it would work well. Make the event about the product or about the kind of people the product serves. You might sell insurance. Maybe your event could be “Small Business Meet & Greet.” There are plenty of options.
2. Publish an email newsletter - My No. 1 marketing technology after all these years is a personable, well-written email newsletter. I’m advocating for a “looks just like Mom sent it” plain old black text on white background email template. And instead of sending the random “junk drawer” of whatever you find online, think about what your customers might actually want to know more about. You deal with accountants? Teach them how to sell packages instead of just billable hours. Make the newsletters reasonably brief (300 words or so) and to the point. It’s your option whether you end with a call-to-action of some kind (but I would).
3. Shoot Brief Videos - Five seconds, 30 seconds, a minute at most if you can do it. Use your smartphone to shoot small videos. What should you cover? How-to answers. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Interviews (super brief) with employees. Video testimonials where the story is about the customer, not about how great you are. “Show and tell.” Post them on YouTube and/or on your website. [Check out How to use Compelling Video On Social Media for your Small Business by Mari Smith for some great tips.]
4. Send Personal Messages to Your Best Clients - My buddy Mick runs a gaming and comic store. In the old days, when he was selling more comics (and I was buying some), he’d email me or tweet me pictures of new comics that came out on Wednesday. Not “the” comics but “my” comics, the ones I’d care about. That one move can be copied and stolen by almost any business. Send specific one-on-one messages that engage and encourage your customers or prospects to come in and visit. It makes a difference. These can be in email, text, private Facebook messages, or postcards for all it matters.
5. Build a Great Onboarding Process - A lotof customers express frustration with the “purchase and forget” experience they have with lots of smaller businesses. They buy a product or a service and the company stops interacting right there. Depending on what you sell, a great way to engage and reach people and earn their continued business (and referrals) is to follow up after a sale to see how things are going, to provide how-to instructions if that makes sense, and to offer any further assistance. There’s a wealth of “next sales” hidden in those connections.
What I love most about these recommendations is that nothing here takes a whole lot of time to put together, nor does most of what I recommended cost money. Time? Yes. Effort? Absolutely. But not much (if any) money.
If we want to sell and serve the best in our community, we will need to build better levels of engagement. It’s simple but not easy, and you can do it.
About Chris Brogan
Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.
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