I spent some time today reading a great article from Greg Elwell on how to gain more fans on Facebook. It’s a common-sense approach to engaging your fans and pushing your results up on the News Feed feature. I especially appreciate his No. 1 item focused on engagement. The bottom line: if you’re not on your fans News Feed you’re nowhere.
I’m fickle. I’m particular. Or maybe, I’m just smart. At least I thought I was.
Four weeks ago, I came across three, long-term opportunities. Some had elements that were out of my area of expertise. I needed a partner. The opportunities weren’t huge, but I wanted to test the waters with a new partner before bringing him bigger projects. I had several choices at my disposal and decided to go local and support one of Boise’s best. We met, talked and I was assured that I’d get a proposal in three days. Excited, I wrote a follow-up note to thank him for his time. Three days passed and the proposal didn’t show. I sent an e-mail inquiry — maybe he was running behind. Nothing. The following Monday I called and was sent to voicemail. I left a message. No response. Where did I go wrong? Was I getting the blowoff? Or is he too busy to respond (impossible since he’s posting Tweets and updating his Facebook)?
I’ve learned three lessons here and I’m smarter for it — partnering requires trust; hire hard to manage easy; and never ignore your customers. As for trust, my failed partner-to-be clearly demonstrated how he’d treat my valued clients in the future. Partnering’s a lot like hiring — interview hard to manage easy. My new partner is getting more questions than he expected. And no matter how successful you are, you do not ignore new or existing customers. You never know how those relationships will blossom into something great for all.
How would you have handle a situation like this?
Are you looking for a new ways to reach new customers with immediate ROI? Forget the Yellow Pages or the newspaper. Look around your community. Do your services support community groups like families? If so, tie your advertising efforts and personal energies into triple-play revenues by supporting non-profit groups dedicated to supporting at-risk teens, families or education. Don’t think of your efforts in terms of profits, but enjoying the reputation of being socially responsible and contributing to the well-being of your community.
Consider this example. One client is an auto repair business. They’re a family-owned affair with kids in a local school. When their kids’ school seeks contributions for their annual fundraiser, they jump at the opportunity. By offering attractive automotive service bundles (like an annual maintenance package), the school wins with the deal going to the highest bidder; the kids win with funds going to supplies, continuing teacher education and services; and the business wins by turning a fellow parent into a new customer (and getting a tax deduction). But their success doesn’t stop there. Once other parents discovered that this business regularly contributes its services to help their childrens’ education, they, too, become new customers.
Lastly, consider donating your time and expertise to community-dedicated non-profits. While this isn’t a direct line to profits, it is one way to contribute to building a strong community. For example, in Boise, Micron Technology engineers donate their time to helping high school students compete in robotics competitions. I dedicate my community marketing expertise to Life’s Kitchen, helping them get the word out about their efforts to help at-risk teens with life-skills training, in and out of a professional kitchen setting.
In what other ways can businesspeople support their communities while spreading the word about their business?
Dear WinCo Foods,
In today’s tough economic times, now is your time to capture market share.
Sure, your competition offers fancy, well-lit displays; clear aisles; most name brands I like to consume; cheerful employees who offer to help me out to my car (OK, I’m not that old); and someone to bag my stuff. But I pay dearly for it.
I exchange convenience/experience for savings at WinCo — the supermarket low-price leader. I accept the fact that your idea of offering low-priced goods means that I get to suffer with grumpy employees who treat me like I’m inconveniencing them; unboxed goods in the aisle; bagging my own groceries; random inventory levels and product selection; and, in general, very little service. In exchange, I get to brag that I saved $50-100.
Studies show that consumers like to patronize less-expensive stores in tough times — and companies profit. Witness Wal-Mart’s growing profitability over the last year, compared to Target’s. Can you believe that Wal-Mart’s taking share away from Target? I’m thinking that you’re doing pretty well for yourselves right now. But your short-term gain is going to be your long-term loss.
Now is the time for you to make some cheap tweaks — engage your customers to find out what you could do to improve their experience and keep saving them money. Clear up those aisles and urge your employees to be more customer-friendly. Do it now. Once the economy begins to recover, you could have more fans and customers than at the start of these tough economic times.
For now, I’ll continue to shop at your store; smile at all of the grumps; wish for a better grocery world; and after paying for my groceries, text my wife to have that Session Lager cold and ready for my frazzled nerves when I get back.
PS — the ESOP link at the bottom of your home page does not work.