Every business is interested in pleasing customers. When I taught leadership and principles of management classes, I would ask each learner, “what is your brand? Describe what you do.” Crickets.
It seemed each learner would struggle with the reaching out, or brand issue. I knew how I wanted to be viewed as a teacher and shared it with the class. Your brand is how customers connect with a business.
So, let’s define brand. Thanks to Google’s definition, a brand reflects a, “strategic personality,” for your organization and/or the, “strategic personality for your product or company, so that ‘brand’ now suggests the values and promises that a consumer may perceive and buy into.”
If we talked with one of your customers, how would they describe you and your business or service? Have you written down your mission, your vision, your personality to be seen by your customers?
When I first started my business, I had finished a career in corporate and decided to begin offering services where I had expertise. If you asked me at the time who my customers were, I was relying on an outside source, strategically not the best approach. Over the years, I have worked hard to determine who my customers are and have, through communication with them, identified their needs.
One common theme for all businesses is to serve the needs of current customers and add additional customers.
I had the opportunity to reach out to Pam Collins, Executive Director of the Musser Public Library and HNI Community Center, and asked her about our library’s approach to servicing their customers. Her response was most insightful regarding an approach to customers:
In library school, the staff talks incessantly about the reference interview, the exchange you have to understand patrons’ needs. Numerous techniques and methods are recommended, but it is straightforward. “Shut up and listen.” That sounds so easy, but it is the hardest thing to do. Your instinct is to jump in before they are halfway through the first sentence. It takes time, and you listen to the same requests over and over, but you also hear some critical complaints and suggestions, usually, things you would never think of, since they have a completely different perspective.
Then, how do you reach out to listen? I went to Google again and entered “reaching additional customers.” I had to smile when there were 121 million results. The first result came from Constant Contact and gave six suggestions for reaching new customers. They were as follows:
- Encourage people to join your email list
- Start a blog
- Host a photo contest
- Encourage reviews
- Ask for referrals
- Write a survey or poll
I also came across an interesting post from our friends at SCORE. I saw where they were addressing this issue by a webinar that they had called, Build a Relationship – A Guide to Effective Customer Communication Through Video, Text, and Email.
I have been posting monthly on my LinkedIn account with a surprising number of readers, kind of a blog. It would be interesting to see what formula you could use to reach out to your current and future customers. The results might be surprising.