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In today’s social media world, companies must connect with their consumers. But many brands large and small fail to do so because they are out of touch, or simply because they are lazy and feel like they are above talking and relating to their customers. These companies will spend countless hours closing a business account, not realizing that for most consumer-driven businesses, it is the consumer who will ultimately buy their products.
As CEO, I have helped build two companies to over $10 million in sales per year with very little marketing budget. My secret? We make sure that our customers feel like more than just numbers. This allows us to build personal relationships with all customers. Despite the new-age advertising opportunities available today, I have seen that word-of-mouth marketing is still the most cost-effective method out there. So, how can you build these relationships with customers?
Position your CEO as your head customer service representative.
For a long time, CEOs had the reputation of being in an office and inaccessible. Social media has changed that. Consumers want to feel connected to the companies they do business with. Many CEOs might not be the social type, and that’s OK. Something as simple as answering a couple of consumer emails a day, responding to DMs on Instagram or sending a personal video to one or two customers a week can go a long way. That customer will appreciate it and may tell a friend, or even better, post about their experience on social media.
Include personal ‘thank you’ notes.
Our company makes it a priority, no matter how busy we get, to have our shipping agents drop a personal note in every order. A simple “thank you” goes a long way. It may seem “old school” and like a waste of time, but it does matter and will lead to a long-term snowball effect on customers. Include personal notes whenever possible.
Send out random gifts.
A few months ago, we took an item that we were going to discontinue and a list of our top 1,000 customers. On their next orders, we included this item in their packages free of charge. We didn’t tell them in advance, but simply included a handwritten note (see above) and the item. The influx of thank-you emails and posts on social media far outweighed the roughly $10,000 investment and outperformed the ROAS (return on ad spend) of anything else we could have done. Don’t ask people to show love — show love first and it will be reciprocated.
I am a social media influencer now, but I wasn’t always one. When I started my first company, I would answer questions on message boards and anywhere else I could. Now, I answer hundreds of emails and direct messages a day and have been quoted as saying I will answer a consumer email before an email from a business associate. Why? The consumer is the ultimate decision maker for your success, not the point-of-sale contact.
Budget at least 30-60 minutes daily to answer consumer emails and direct messages. You will see return on investment, even if no product is mentioned in the exchange, because you are providing value and demonstrating industry expertise. For example, I can answer a lot of fitness-related questions since I am in the fitness industry. If you are CEO of a watch company, you could answer questions about bezels. But remember, you are not above your customer. You need to relate.
Remember, you are always on the clock.
Once you put yourself out there on social media, you have to be prepared to be recognized (if you’re successful, of course). Whether you’re at the grocery store or the airport, people may begin to notice you. Make sure you are always in the zone. Be kind and make eye contact. This is likely the first and only impression you will have on this consumer. So, make it count. All you have to do is be nice. Pretty easy stuff, right?
The modern age of social media has changed everything. By letting your customers know that they are more than a number to you, you will greatly increase the number on your bottom line.
April 29, 2019 at 08:08AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs