Why connecting with your customers is vital for any small business

by Darwin on April 30, 2012

For small businesses, reaching out to consumers is essential if entrepreneurs want to see the growth they want. Smaller companies cannot rely on massive advertisement campaigns like larger companies do, simply because they simply do not have the funding.

The good news for these small businesses is that the internet has dramatically changed how businesses and their customers speak to each other, opening up communication and the free flow of information. The result of this is an improved opportunity for businesses of this size to reach a growing market.

The platform for businesses to reach customers, to promote and engage already exists on a grand scale. The changes in social media in the last ten years, has given businesses a network they previously could only dream of. The mistake that many companies make however is to misunderstand the nature of the internet’s potential. The web provides a framework, but it does little more. It is up to businesses themselves to reach out to customers and to be pro-active in the promotion of their company.

 

Initiating the conversation between a business and its customers

 

This “conversation” between businesses and their customers is relatively new. Of course, the two have interacted before to some extent but the integration of social media into the world of marketing has allowed for a deeper level of communication which can range from exclusive promotional offers to consultation on elements of design and company practice. The key thing however is that whatever the content of the conversation, the initiative must come from the business as customers will rarely seek out a business on their own.

Because the market exists on the web; it is now simply up to businesses to use these tools at their disposal to give themselves a head start against their competitors. While the web offers businesses the most powerful tool for decades, it brings with it a number of potential difficulties which often arise from the free sharing of information and the ability to communicate so easily with large numbers of people.

 

Understanding Social Media

Reaching out to customers effectively requires a sound knowledge and understanding of the major social networking sites, as well as those on the fringe. Any business serious about connecting with their customers via the web should be considering accounts at least with the following social media sites:

- Facebook

- LinkedIn

- Twitter

- Pinterest

- Google Plus

- Tumblr (Or a similar blogging site)

- StumbleUpon

- YouTube

- Reddit

 

A company’s absence from one social media site is likely to have more of a negative impact on business than their presence, so it is best for businesses not to be too picky about which sites to create an account with. If nothing else, by spreading information about your business around the web you are increasing your overall presence. Inclusion on social media sites can also be of some help for search engine optimisation. Most customers will find the businesses that matter to them through search engines, so it is important for your business to be as accessible by this method as possible.

Being aware of the potential damages involved in using Social Media

While web presence is essential in any form, online behaviour is something businesses ought to look at carefully. Businesses should become familiar with user behaviour on social media sites before plunging in. Sites like Reddit can be particularly difficult for businesses to approach effectively, so taking the time to research online markets is of absolute paramount importance.

The way in which we use and share information online is different to the way that we use and share it offline and businesses should be respectful of this. Inappropriate posts on the wrong social media sites can be disastrous for a company’s reputation. Bad feedback for your company can spread like wildfire so businesses should seek professional advice before embarking on social media frenzies.

Advice from insurance companies about the coverage provided by policies like Hiscox – Public Liability Cover is advisable for companies looking to make their mark online. Online competition is vast and the most successful businesses will be doing something different based on in depth research.

For shrewd entrepreneurs the internet and social media growth is undoubtedly a major opportunity and while some will undoubtedly become very successful, others will be left behind, don’t let it be you.

How Training Can Help

Business owners who wish to expand their online presence might find it beneficial to invest in some internet marketing training through a reputable university. This training provides students with information on the most effective marketing tactics for an online audience, provides insight on how to implement these strategies, and gives them the skills that are needed to flourish in this environment. These training programs also teach students how to handle social media accounts, which can limit the dangers involved. As with anything else in the business world, having staff with the necessary training gives businesses a much better chance of success.

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