I’m sorry, really truly deeply sorry but I have to say, the small business communication network is so dull if it were a colour it would be beige. As FolksBusiness was being brought to life, part of the task was market research, seeing who was doing what, where and with who (stop it!)
What became blindingly obvious was that this industry and how it presented its offering was dire. I have been forced to read some truly hideous jargon.
“Your business needs a robust communication solution that delivers flexible features, functions, and value—without any compromise. Whether you’re a smaller business, need enterprise scale, or you’re somewhere in the middle, telecommunications in the 21st century delivers cloud contact centre and cloud unified communications your way. You can seamlessly scale your solution and get to market faster with always-on resources available to meet your needs. And with cloud technology, you’ll never have to deal with technology obsolescence.”
Seriously – that’s a real website advertising a phone service – slow down, I know you are running to reach for your payment card….or maybe a thesaurus…..
I’m not just discussing a (sort of) competitors lack of humanity – it’s more a case that communication devices – you know, the mobile phones and stuff….that’s only part of it. Any small business owner and I count FolksBusiness as one too, needs to think about how to communicate. That’s what really builds trust with POTENTIAL customers.
Gone are the days when if you can’t blind them with science you baffle them with BS. We all have the interwebs at our fingers and a quick Google can usually help figure out what someone is jabbering on about.
So, fellow small business warrior, here’s some tips from some quite nerdy experts about building trust as when they trust you, they are more likely to buy and move from potential into real customer.
Customers – Everyone As A Critic And A Skeptic
Yep, we can see the critics and the keyboard warriors who spend hours ripping into restaurants, hotels and service industries on rep sites like TripAdvisor, Trust Pilot and the like. You can’t please everyone all the time for sure but the fact is, if the potential customer (lets call it PC now, I can’t be bothered to keep typing it), likes and trust you, they are much more inclined to stick their hand in their wallet and pay your for a service or product.
Yeah I know, not rocket science…. BUT, that sale starts even before you meet them. They might have read a review – maybe just a customer mentioned you on book of face or somewhere, they might have seen a flyer, your website or the signage on your van.
And that’s the thing, you need to be in front of PC’s (abbreviation as mentioned above not your computer) as much as you can as you never know who is going to see you where. It’s a good thing to be locally visible.
Nobody wants to be sold, but we all want to buy
A company called McGraw-Hill way back in 1958 published this , they called it something clever like :The man in the chair. I know, not the best name but it does what it says. The thing is – look at what they recommended back when the rocking 50’s were turning into the swinging 60’s.
I don’t know who you are.
I don’t know your company.
I don’t know your products.
I don’t know what your company’s philosophy is.
I don’t know your company’s customers.
I don’t know the performance of your company.
I don’t know the reputation of your company.
Now, what do you want to sell me?
Yes they were selling ad space but the whole point is, this stuff is the same today. You can’t walk up to a sort or fit fella in a bar and ask them to marry you. They’d think you’d lost the plot. It’s the same with customers, don’t go STRAIGHT for the sale and seem like a crazy person.
Local Business – Sending The Right Message
So your PC’s are everywhere and you need to think about when and how they might find you. So lets look at some of the obvious ones.
1. Your website
Now if you are shaking your head going, no, I don’t need one of those, let me stop you there – you do. If you don’t think you do then there’s a whole other article on that. So bear with me and hold your disbelief and then go read that when you have 5 minutes.
Your website is the first impression of your business. It is there all the time. 24/7 and 365 just bobbing around on the internet waiting to help you. Trust me on this one, think about what YOU DO. You get on google and have a look at that car review, that hotel or that table and chair set for the patio. W all do it.
When a PC wants to find out more about you, they will search the internet as well. They can’t find you? 17% will not even consider contacting you as you don’t appear real, 34% will be less likely to. That’s alienating half your potential PC’s
So make sure you have a good website, nice fonts, good colours, all your core info, where you are, what you do and some comments from current or previous clients really help as well.
2. Ask For Testimonials and recommendations
One of the most powerful and least used tools are testimonials. It’s a real person saying you’re good at what you do and this endorsement is the all powerful word of mouth marketing. Many business owners have a wobble when thinking about getting testimonials. Some companies run special offers, discounts and even prize draws to get them.
If you want to get creative persuading them to give you a review, go for your life, my top tip is just ask them. On the whole decent people like to help, and if you have done a good job and ask nicely, the majority of folks will say yes. Of those who say yes, some of them will actually do it.
3. Offer a guarantee
If you can – this is a rock solid way to back up your work. If you’re not happy and such and such fails in this time, we will give you your money back, a percentage of your money back or put it right free or some derivative of that. That offer inspires confidence. Yes, you will always get one who really takes the Mickey. That’s the law of averages.
For 100 good customers there is always 1 or 2 that are less than ideal. But go with the majority, it will get you converting more PC’s into paying customers as they really think you are putting your money where your mouth is.
4. Free trials
This is a great way of showcasing what you do. I would say that as FolksBusiness do exactly this approach. See – we want you to trust us. No jargon and freebies….not seen them – GO HERE NOW – well not now, finish this first. Testing without compromise reduces risk. Like guarantees but you give them the try before you buy approach so they get a crack of the whip before giving you any money.
This only works when you have a rock solid service or product that you know they will really like and see the benefits of. This risk reduction substantially increases the closing rate. To some extent you’re trusting them as well as them trusting you and that’s a solid foundation to build your ongoing business relationship with them.
5. Be local
As we all increasingly BUY local it makes sense to tell your customers you are near them. The big stores and providers really dominate in many areas but local is where you totally level the playing field. It’s nice to buy from a neighbour as they are on the doorstep, that usually means the PC can get what they need quicker and proximity just tends to make us trust them more.
So how can you be local? Tell or show them where you are. There is the nifty little Google tool called Google my business that lets you target where you are locally on a map. And even if you don’t have a bricks and mortar place customers can visit you can set an area where you work. So if you work 5 miles of your home or base, you set that as the area you cover.
Add to this by giving your customers a local number to call. 75% of customers prefer to call a business with a landline. Many still think its cheaper to call and it screams local as they can tell that by the area code they are dialling. If you cover more than one area code, get more than one number. It’s cheap as chips to do and you can have all the areas you cover set up but they still all come into the phone you choose.
Ok, that’s your lot. Some pearls of wisdom or just some ideas to get the grey matter engaged. It’s your business at the end of the day so do what you can to make it a success and that means making sure you get new customers in the door.