Winning and keeping customers is much like a courtship ritual. You have to get the best dress on, make the best impressions, then convince them you’re worth staying with. Just as with people, it’s not all the same thing, either.
With people, you need to dress right, say the right thing and keep showing your value. If you want to catch your customer’s’ eye and get them falling in love with you, you’re going to have to learn a few things about the laws of attraction.
1. Be personable
When you run a small or medium-sized business, then getting people interested is about more than dressing up the company itself. You have to be personable yourself. This means taking the time to properly brand yourself.
You need to dress professionally, for one. This doesn’t always mean a suit and tie, so you need to know what your audience expects. Being personable isn’t just about being listened to, either.
If you’re talking to leads and clients, then really listening, letting them direct the conversation and staying engaged in it shows a business owner whose mind is on satisfying the customer, not just trying to sell what it is they sell.
2. Prepare for client meetings
If you are in the kind of business where you often have sit-downs with the clients, then you’re going to have to do plenty of homework to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. For one, choose locations that are closer to them than you. It shows a bit of dedication on your angle rather than a demanding nature.
As for the bulk of the meeting, the conversation, this is going to require some research. Find out more about who they are and how what you offer might fit into their wants. Figure out some key talking points specific to them but, again, let them have a chance to direct the conversation.
These meetings about their needs. You need to find the opportunity to fit your answers into those needs when they bring them up. Don’t memorize them completely, either. Know what you’re talking about, not what to say.
3. Know your brand’s audience and its message
On a broader level, when you’re not communicating on a one-to-one basis, you are relying more on your brand to communicate instead. Good branding does use visual appeal, yes, but that’s not the core of it. The core of it is finding the brand’s story.
That story shouldn’t only get to the heart of what value your business is offering the target market. It should get to the heart of who that target market is and what they want. Ensure that all branding is informed by the market research you’ve done when you started the business.
4. Treat your people well
The customers who get to know your business are likely, at some point, to come in contact with your staff. If you work in retail, you rely almost entirely on service staff to help the customer journey. If you have clients, then it’s likely that you’re going to be using members of your team to communicate with some of them.
People will get an impression of your business based on the enthusiasm and happiness of those they directly interface with. Keeping your team happy is essential, in that case. Make sure you’re hiring people who are motivated to work in the sector you’re in and keep morale high with things like employee recognition schemes.
5. Have a core set of ethics
Treating your employees well might sound like the response of any decent human, but people have come to expect all kinds of unethical and selfish behaviors from the world of business. It’s the unfortunate truth that there have been enough cases of businesses lacking virtue that it’s now a very valuable tactic to signal your own.
If you have ethics that govern how you run your business, from environmental friendliness and fair trade practices to the personal development of your team and customers, then wear them proud.
Make a mission statement out of them and use it in your branding, on your website, and in press releases. Sharing values with your customers fosters a connection that goes a bit deeper than simply buying goods and services.
6. Take care of the work environment
Besides your team, there’s a good chance that clients and customers are going to come into your commercial property at some point. If you have a storefront, then keeping it in top condition is crucial and should be a part of the daily duties of the staff working there.
If you own an office, then creating a positive work environment helps everyone involved. Taking employee satisfaction in the décor and organization of the workplace creates one that’s not only more engaged and creative.
It creates an energy of positivity that the guests of the business are going to feel. To make sure it sinks in, you need a proper reception area where people can wait in comfort to see you or whomever their appointment is with.
7. Shaping first contact online
Of course, nowadays, not all first contact is made directly through you or the others in the business. As often as not, people see it online as well. If they hear about your business, they’ll search for your site online. If they have a problem and they’re looking for someone to solve it, they’ll search for any businesses that provide it.
Ryan Ruud explains in this guide: how to hire an inbound marketing consultant. Inbound marketing, when done right, ensures that people are brought directly to your site whenever they make those searches and makes the links to your site all the more appealing.
8. Manage that reputation
Making sure that first contact begins with your site and not someone else’s is important. That’s because you can’t always manage how what people say online will affect your reputation. Even the best businesses will get a bad rap.
Sometimes it’s from out-of-date information, sometimes it’s from a particularly outspoken customer, and sometimes it’s even from a disgruntled ex-employee. Negative messages will appear and it’s up to you to ensure that you protect the business’s reputation from them.
Responding to criticism like that might be scary, but if you’re open, transparent, and you make an appeal to fix issues then people will see that you’re handling it as a professional should. Whatever you do, be careful about deleting negative comments. If you delete legitimate criticism, it doesn’t just look anti-consumerist, it is anti-consumerist.
9. Last impressions are as important as the first
It’s not all about getting people to buy your products and services, either. The image and reputation aspects of the business are an ongoing project that you’ll have to contend with as long as you’re in the industry. Customer satisfaction is just as important or perhaps even more so than customer attraction.
People tend to treat word-of-mouth, online reviews, and general opinions as a lot more truthful than any marketing methods you might have to push out. Make sure customers are satisfied and if they tell you they are not then work to satisfy them. Otherwise, you get caught in the kind of reputation battles highlighted above.
Alongside all the points above comes the meat of the business, of course. You’re going to have to deliver on what you offer and make sure that what you deliver is good enough to keep them coming back. But if you forget the laws of attraction, it doesn’t matter how good the business is. No-one will care to find out.