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The Biggest Advantage Small Businesses Have Today

When you’re a small business, you have one distinct advantage over the big guys: customer relationships.

Every time you’re talking with a customer in store, emailing someone who has a question, or answering the phone, you’re building a relationship. The odds are good that you know the name of your customers and what they like. You may even know a bit about their personal lives.

It’s almost impossible for bigger companies to establish the same connection with customers (that’s why those that do really stand out).

In the days of social media and the ultra-connected customer, your ability to build relationships can be the biggest advantage you have.

Let’s take a look at why that is:

1. Your business has a personality

You have a personality.

When you allow your personality into your business, it separates you from the competition and allows people the opportunity to connect with you.

Everything from the set-up of your store to your Facebook Page is going to reflect that.

That’s what compels people to return to small businesses in the first place. People like to do business with those they know, like, and trust.

Sure, convenience and prices are factors in their purchasing decision, but keep in mind that a great experience is also a deciding factor.

In fact, a 2011 Accenture Survey found that service experience and brand awareness (your company’s personality!) are the top factors for customers making a purchase, not price.

So, ask yourself:

  • How do I show the personality of my business across all points of contact? (I.e. in store, on my website, in my emails, etc.)
  • How can I use my personality to create a memorable—or Wow!—experience for my customers?

2. You know your customers

You know your customers in a way that big businesses don’t. If someone tweets you, you may know who they are. If they call the store, you probably know their name.

Your customers will remember their interactions with you, whether it was virtually or face-to-face. If it was a good interaction, they’ll tell friends about it and they’ll keep coming back.

You can take that relationship to the next level by asking:

  • How can I give my customers recommendations that suit their individual needs?
  • What kinds of discounts and deals can I offer that I know my customers will like?
  • How do I market my business to the customers I already know, so I can keep them coming back and get people with similar interests coming to my store?

3. You can build relationships that last

A lot of your customers are coming to you because they genuinely like your business, and the more times they come back, the more likely they are to become your most loyal fans.

You’re in charge of making sure that your business flourishes and having long-lasting relationships can be the most important part of that growth.

Small businesses know that repeat customers and loyalty are the best parts of having relationships in the first place. You get to know your customers and they become personally invested in your business.

So, ask yourself:

  • How do I make sure that my relationships with customers last?
  • What do I do to reward customers who keep coming back?
  • How can I continue to build those relationships?

The next steps

The odds are good that you already have great relationships with your customers.

Continue to focus on those relationships. You’ll find that your current customers are your best source of new business, because they end up marketing your business for you through word-of-mouth.

Of couse, you may have noticed word-of-mouth has been rapidly changing over the past decade thanks to social media and mobile devices.

Tune in tomorrow to see how it’s changed, why it’s more powerful than ever before, and how your relationships are going to help you spread the word about your business.

 What are your thoughts on customer relationships? What role do they play in your business?

Comments:

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  1. Blaise,
    And let me add anther topic for small businesses: “build your community through email marketing and lead nurturing easily”

    It is very important and easy for small business owners to create a community and share content, data and news with them.

    Although it took almost one year for us in http://coldad.com to do that,but now we are getting our clients from our community.

    Sincerely,

    Nader

    Reply
  2. I would like to hear some answers to those questions:
    -What kinds of discounts and deals can I offer that I know my customers will like?
    -How do I market my business to the customers I already know, so I can keep them coming back and get people with similar interests coming to my store?
    -What do I do to reward customers who keep coming back?
    -How can I continue to build those relationships?

    Reply
    • Blaise Lucey •

      Hi Dohna,

      All great questions — and no simple answers, either!

      It all starts with deciding who comes to your store and why they come there in the first place.

      What makes your business unique? Are customers coming for convenience, prices, unique products, or a great experience?

      When it comes to discounts, you can always try offering one kind of deal, then offering another one to see which seems more popular. We have a collection of stories from small businesses that have offered some great deals: http://blogs.constantcontact.com/tag/b2c-local-deal-story/

      We also have a guide about retail stores that have used online marketing to build relationships with their customers, which may be helpful too: http://img.constantcontact.com/docs/pdf/vertical-retail-campaign-examples.pdf?+=1

      Reply
    • If you have useful content on your weekly blog, you can keep the half of your current clients for future and add new clients from organic traffic. How to inform them to come and visit your website? by building your community (your current clients) and send them weekly email campaign (reminder) for new blog posts.

      Reply
  3. This was a great post and an excellent reminder for all of us small business owners. As to Dohna’s question about how to market to your existing customers, newsletters and social media posts are a great option for reminding your customers that you’re still there and letting them know about any new products or services that you offer.

    Reply
  4. […] you probably already have great relationships with your best customers, this knowledge gives you a great place to start for thinking of marketing ideas that will really […]

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