So to all of you running a business, I say, “You are the message, stupid.”
We, as businesses and as people, must create our message to differentiate ourselves. One problem I see is that many people use technology to build walls around themselves and hide behind the technology instead of using technology to spread their message. For businesses, the question becomes: how do you use the technology at your disposal?
Technology has now brought us back to a time where we had to communicate with our customers. We had to appreciate each of our customers and could not take them for granted because our businesses were local and word would get out around town and affect your business one way or the other.
Today businesses deal with a consumer base that will consider traveling further to buy their product or can, with the touch of a mouse, buy their product online. That sense of local for many people is different today or may not exist. For businesses, this can be a dangerous audience to embrace. One potential pitfall is a feeling that you do not have to take care of each customer because the pool of customers is so large.
My caution to businesses is that not only do other businesses have the same technology to promote and reach out to this vast audience, but more importantly, these customers are using the same technology to reach out to their own large “social town” to share experiences, just as they did locally years ago.
Our customer service must change. It has to go back to the thought of being local where you never knew who would go talk about you well or not so you had to treat everyone well.
When I worked in hospitality in NYC, the owners were always waiting for the NY Times’s food critic to give you a positive review to help publicize your restaurant. The owners would post pictures of the critic so the staff could be aware and let everyone know if the critic was there. Unfortunately the critic would dress up differently or send in friends so you would not be able to skew service differently than what regular customers would receive.
The reason why I focus on this was our owner was looking to find the important communicators to help spread the message. Today everyone who has a smart phone is a reporter, moviemaker and publisher. You cannot decipher who has a lot of followers or is influential. Even if you try to find out, many people hide online behind avatars or photos of objects so you will never know who is the influencer and who could go home and push out a message to their 1000 followers who read their opinions on food, customer service or business.
Anyone can take a quick video and post it online and link it to your businesses name for the next person who searches for you by name, service or location to view.
Technology is not the answer to your message. It is a device or platform to share a message.
You are the message.