Guest blog post by Alena Cloud, Marketing Artisan
Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn groups. Video. E-blasts. Blog posts. These are all social media tools that companies have started to add into their marketing mix to increase their communication within their target market and current clients. All of this takes time, resources and a financial commitment to get it done right. Is it worth it for small businesses to make this investment? It can be, as long as you keep in mind that people hire a small business for personal attention and client service; so make sure that your new online communication is an enhancement to your offline efforts, not a replacement for them.
Your company is great at what they do, however, so are your competitors. Clients and prospects need to get a chance to know you beyond your amazing portfolio and the helpful information that you can provide. They need to know that you are someone they can trust, that you have their best interests in mind and most importantly, that you are someone they enjoy working with. It’s very easy to become disconnected with others when your only communication is through a tweet, a LinkedIn conversation or a Facebook post. So while your marketing plan may outline a schedule for updating social media and sharing information, make sure it also provides a plan and guidelines for regular client and prospect offline communication.
Offline communication can be as basic as developing a habit of not answering every email with another email, but by taking the time to pick up the phone and have a conversation. Alternate regular conference calls with a face-to-face meeting, perhaps followed up by a non-working lunch. Attend networking and educational events and invite your contacts and clients to come with you. Deliver your holiday gift in person rather than through a messenger. Budget permitting, host an annual company party where your clients and people in your network can come enjoy an evening out.
Your online and offline relationship building will pay off by developing brand ambassadors through your network and clients. Positive feelings about your small business and you will result in repeat clients and increased referrals both online and offline. So go ahead and tweet, post and email. Just make sure you also call, meet and network to keep your relationships strong and your brand top of mind.