Engagement Marketing, by Gail Goodman
WHAT is the biggest problem facing small businesses?
Retaining customers and attracting more. (Ditto large businesses.)
On the face of it small businesses, be it a boutique store,
a two-person law practice or a garden services provider, have a marketing
problem not faced by large organisations: insufficient time and insufficient
Goodman's book shows how small businesses overcome these
limitations through the use of "engagement marketing".
In fact, small businesses have a consequential advantage
over large business using this method.
In a survey conducted by Small Business Trends it was found
that 83% of respondents attributed new business to referrals recommend by
people who already know the business.
It will, of course, only be your highly satisfied customers
who would do this. Highly satisfied customers don't wait for anyone to ask
about your business, they talk about their experience over lunch, at work and
anywhere they have a ready listener.
This scenario, however, presupposes the quality of the
experience so the follow-on question is how do you deliver that experience for
everyone who does business with you?
Goodman offers many pointers, all of which can be subsumed
under the advice: determine how people enter your business and ensure you
provide a great experience at each entry point.
Pause and reflect on this, because it is Step One in
engagement marketing. How is your phone answered? Queries handled? Complaints
addressed? Requests responded to? And so on. If it is not a great experience,
Word of mouth has always been a source of new business, and
still is. You need only think of how much more likely you are to try a new
restaurant that was recommended by your foodie neighbour against an
advertisement you saw in the newspaper.
All that has really changed is that we now have the social
media megaphone which can let many more people have your foodie neighbour's
Social media has the added benefit of enabling you to know
exactly where your referrals are coming from, so you can track the source of
the referrals and encourage them to keep at it.
If Step One is to provide the memorable experience, Step Two
is to entice people to keep in touch with you whether via email marketing or
social media so that, with their permission, you can continue to stay connected
and market to them.
By staying in touch you achieve two crucial objectives: the
first is that you extend the experience beyond their purchase of goods or
services, and the second is that you retain your place in their active memory.
How often have you had someone do good work for you, but
when you are asked to recommend a provider of that service a few years later,
you just cannot remember his or her name?
We all have enough to do to fill our lives and are hardly in
need of engaging in anything more that we have already. This being so, you will
need to entice your satisfied customers through the benefits they will get from
remaining connected to you.
You will also have to ensure that remaining connected is
easy - very easy. There is no shortage of platforms to enable this connection
such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, and more.
Make social media work for you
Another reason for wanting this connection is to know what
they are saying about you. Many of the smaller businesses you use - the
hairdresser, the dentists, the tailor - know you by name, but what they don't
know is what you say about them to others.
The social media context into which you entice your
customers will solve this problem.
After gaining permission to stay in touch you now need to
engage with them through social media, email newsletters, blog posts, and other
methods to ensure they find value in staying connected.
If they find no value in staying connected, disconnecting is
just one delete button away.
The book is full of examples that will stimulate your
thinking and aid you in finding appropriate offerings. Some examples: Goodman's
favourite kitchen utensil store hosts a meeting at which people can exchange
cook books they don't use with other people who enjoy cooking - held, of
course, in the kitchen utensil store.
A yoga school could send out a mailing of a different pose
each month together with the correct posture and its benefits. A wine store
could feature a wine of the month and the food it is best paired with.
The enablers of all this activity is the existence of social
media. A considerable portion of the book explains how to use these platforms
effectively and, best of all, does so in a manner accessible to even the most
Goodman works with small business and non-profits and is
well aware of the objections that arise whenever the suggestion to spend time
on marketing is made.
In the chapter on Overcoming Common Obstacles she deals
thoughtfully with objections a small business owner might raise: "I don't
have time," "I don't understand the technology"; "I don't
like to impose on people" and more.
She offers suggestions that are convincing and viable and
even provides a quick start guide to the four largest platforms: Facebook,
Linkedin, Twitter and Google+.
I cannot imagine a small business that would not benefit
from working through Engagement Marketing and applying what is appropriate to
their time and funding constraints.
Readability: Light +---- Serious
* Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on
leadership and strategy.