If you loved big businesses, chances are you'd probably be working for one. But you are an entrepreneur; you work for yourself and for your customers. And since you opened your business, you have likely heard friends and relatives say things like, "It takes a special kind of person to run a small business," or "You have to have the right character to operate a successful start up."
Your friends are right. Entrepreneurs are in a class of their own. They're ambitious dreamers with drive and pizazz. They're charismatic, big picture architects with a flare for marketing and self-promotion. Bottom line: entrepreneurs have amazing personalities that command attention. But you're also busy and often harried; conditions that can hamper even the most sparkling personality. A laser focus on sales and that all-important bottom line can force you to forget what motivates the client to buy in the first place, and more importantly, what motivates them to buy from you. Remind yourself and your client why they are supporting a small business by reconnecting with them on a relational level.
Here are a few ways you can refresh your enigmatic persona. These are tactics that differentiate you from big business because they give you a name, a face, an attitude and allow you to connect with your customers.
Start a blog.
A blog is your opportunity to shine, demonstrating your knowledge, skills and talents. When customers and prospects visit your blog, hopefully, they'll begin to see you as an informational resource and a partner, versus someone constantly trying to close the sale. Blogs need not be complicated or lengthy, but they should be current, relevant and appropriate. Setting one up is easy. If you need assistance, ask an engagement marketing consultant for help and tips on getting started. Compile a list of topics pertinent to your industry and your clients. Listen to their concerns, and develop content based on what they need. The key is to create a blog that is interesting, but this won't happen if you're not interested in your customers. Do this while simultaneously retaining your "expert" status. Attend conferences, read books, network and keep tabs on the competition. Blogging enriches your marketability by making you a partner, and (bonus) drives traffic to your site.
Take a sales break.
We all know time is money, and with limited staffing and resources, you have to make every second count. But small business sales dynamics require the personal touch that large corporations lack. Definition: step out of sales mode every now and then. This act can be as simple as remembering to ask about a client's sick grandmother, sending a birthday card or stopping in to deliver coffee. If you do something extra nice, like take a client to lunch once every few months, focus the conversation on non-sales topics. This kind of behavior builds rapport, which leads to trust and likability; and a good business owner knows that clients prefer to buy from someone they like.
Send a newsletter.
Proactively reaching out to your clients via email is a friendly way of accomplishing many goals. First, it reminds your clients that they have opted into your list serv, and as promised, you're using it properly. It's best to send a newsletter at least once a month. Mention recent holidays and wish your audience well. Keeping the tone topical and timely is essential, as is positive energy. Include a preview of your most recent blog post to encourage visitors. Touch on new products and offer exclusive savings or specials, so the recipients know they're getting something for giving you their email address. Primarily, your newsletter serves as another relationship building tool. It will give you one more platform to show off your unique charm, plow through the doldrums and dazzle like only you can.
Remember, your clients are attracted to the benefits small business can provide: personal service, familiarity, flexibility, absence of red tape; but most of all, they like you. Don't let the daily grind and number crunching make you forget how much you like to interface with your clients and friends, or why you decided to build your own enterprise. Infuse your blog, newsletter and face to face meetings with your personal charm. Have fun, be quirky and go with your gut. The big advantage you'll always have over big business is you: being yourself is no small thing.