The last eight months of COVID-19 have posed challenges, as well as opportunities, for small businesses on so many different levels. One key question we get asked many times is, “How should I continue to do my marketing, and should I be marketing at all?” Marketing is storytelling and branding, and branding is critical during tough times. What it all comes down to are image and one critical question – what do your customers want?
So how you talk to your customers and who you want to gain as a customer are important and more critical today than ever before to your success. Humans are complex creatures who may not articulate precisely what they want or what they are looking for, but know it when they experience it. So, it comes down to doing two things for your customers:
- THEY WANT THEIR PROBLEM SOLVED
- THEY WANT TO HAVE A CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE BUSINESS WHO SOLVES THAT PROBLEM
If your customer problem solving and product is “nice to have,” but not a “got to have,” your business will lose out with your customers. They will eventually be willing to try something new and different, even from another business. The first key is knowing what problem you solve for your customers and clarifying how you solve that problem.
If you don’t build a relationship with your customers, they will drift toward convenience and purchase from Amazon. So, telling your story is part of the strategy to keep customers coming back time and time again. That story, perhaps, can be about the fact that you are locally owned and have been involved and active in the community for over 30 years. We are relational beings, and that translates into the transaction.
As market space gets more competitive and more businesses enter into your business category, your relationship with your customers can help you attain an advantage. Recently, my wife and I ate at Romano’s Macaroni Grill for lunch. One, we were hungry (problem to solve), and two, we know Rick Guerra, who is one of the owners (relationship). We have a relationship with Rick, and we want to support him and his ownership group. We had lots of choices, but we went there because of the relationship (and also because of the great food!).
Customers want to feel good about their purchases and want to feel they are making a difference by shopping and picking where they spend their money. Don’t underestimate the power of the relationship. There are so many relationship connections locally for small businesses to make. Many big box stores and national stores do not have these relationship connections locally. Relationships for small businesses will make a difference between success and failure. It is important to know and develop the power of relationships.
As we enter this critical holiday season for retail businesses, I encourage everyone to shop locally and support small businesses. To small business owners, I encourage you to continue building relationships with your customers; it may make the difference between your success and failure.
Better, Stronger, Together