While anyone can publish online to a website, a small business, with a customer base that’s local, and that’s often not looking for that businesses story details activity; this sort of business would be wasting time and money with only an online presence.
So then, how do we reach the customers?
Press releases through the local newspaper. Have an event and promote the event, but include a large dollop of background about the business, the people who work there, perhaps the unique location and the historical significance of the building. Any information and background that will catch the readers eye, giving them a greater appreciation for the business itself. Don’t forget to include the values and reasons for the existence of your business; anything that matters, and that will help to create a bond with the customers. A press release costs only some time to create. If published, it may reach a significant percentage of your community, your customer base.
Sales Flyers. Go ahead and promote the products and services that you wish to present to the community, but reserve a half page to say something about your values, what your business aspires to provide or solve for the greater good, that sort of thing. Only speak the truth. What drives you? Where is your passion, your reason for being? Give the customer a strong sense of who you are, and why they ought to do business with you.
Window Display. Why not? If you have a window, clean it, and post a welcome sign with a paragraph or two about the business and its people.
Business Cards that direct attention to a website with information that matters to your customers. This could be technical information. Maps or directions. PDF files that help the customer to use your products. Details about government regulations perhaps. Include your story on the website, include a PDF with a long version of the story if there is one. Include pictures – lots of them if possible.
Notice the four ways a story teller might tell their story, and why only the last should be used. Also, please play attention to telling just one aspect of the story at any one time, and why that’s important.
My wife and I are currently doing some remodeling. We recently had a series of bad experiences at one of the big box retailers. Ultimately, to resolve our problems with the retailer we traveled between three of their stores. I don’t want to waste my readers time on a rant about the experience, but what we noticed is that the service experience was bad in all three locations. There is something to learn from that.
Most of the problems had to do with the bad information. Items that were supposedly in inventory simply were not there. Bad inventory records. It’s the end of the year and I’ll bet they take inventory just now and may correct the records shortly. Nevertheless, it was the prime issue.
The customer service people involved were not really helpful. I’d say they were overworked, but we also noticed that many of the customer service personnel were talking with each other, wandering about, and just seemed underused and perhaps trying to find information. It makes me wonder about the record keeping and the software being used.
The items we needed were not available in one location in sufficient quantity to complete our project. The project is not overly large. The items were simply not stocked in sufficient quantities for an average project.
What does all this matter?
As an opportunity, these big box retailers are dropping the ball and giving others an opportunity to satisfy the customer demand. The demand is for the products needed, and it is in sufficient quantities to complete the work. Also, there is demand for reasonably good communications and customer service. It’s just too hard to do business with a group of persons who are not engaged and haven’t the tools, or the will to help.
Almost everyone has experienced this sort of treatment in one of these big box stores. Service and support are non-existent. Can your business capitalize on this? Maybe you don’t have the size to compete on all fronts with these guys, but perhaps you are simply better at one or more things. Isn’t that what you want to tell the customer base?
Beat them on your terms and tell the world about it.