All businesses need to take a moment to become aware of a trend happening right under their noses. We are heading back to a “local“ sense of doing business and although you have heard that catch phrase from pundits, it is real and let me explain what I mean.
My grandfather owned a music store in New Jersey during the 40’s through the 70’s. He relied on two things: word of mouth and excellent service to deliver that great experience to those who came to his store.
Why do I focus on this? I believe that in growing a business, nothing has changed from my grandfather’s time. Today we have so many options to choose from because of the Internet. One problem with the Internet is how big it grew and has overwhelmed many and they are looking online for something had in years past. They are looking for a sense of reassurance and a sense of community to bounce ideas off of.
The beauty is that this community is stretched across boundaries. It is no longer geographic. I call it our social town.
Today we have 500 channels on our TV but we watch only 15. I will offer that we have the same situation in our social town. We have over 500 in our community but interact and rely on 20-25.
Our brains cannot comprehend dealing with 500 people. We could not do it in real life and our online life is no different. We create tiers as we did in real life. We rely for those we have connection with.
The task for businesses in our social town is to get your message out. Just as you created a billboard on the highway, so now you have Facebook Ads. You had people talking about you in their circles of friends, now welcome those discussions on Google +. You wanted coverage in the local newspaper, those“feel good” articles, welcome to blogs, press releases or others posting online of your involvement in the community. Things are no different in our social town; we just have new technologies.
The next step is for your customers to share with their own social towns.
First, you have to make your message easy to share. If it was easy to get someone in to do business with you and you delivered excellence, it then should be easy for your customer to share his experience and talk about it online.
We also need to ask them to share this experience. We cannot rely on those who are connected and love sharing. There are those who love to help and feel compelled to share with their friend, but this is not enough. Nudge everyone because each person who lives in your social town is a resource for someone. Never take a person’s potential influence for granted.
You need to advertise online to grow your business in your social town. You have to engage your customers as you did in the past town. Your business needs to be seen as viable and helpful in your social town just as it was in your real town.
You may need help doing this, so search out the experts just as my grandfather did when he was leveraging the media available in his time.
Those of you who pass off social media and online reviews as a fad or not relevant to your business will be left behind. Remember that store in town that eventually shut down? Do you remember why? Because you forgot that they were even open. They stopped being relevant.
Just because we have new technology does not mean the rules have changed.
Execute or get help.