Recently I was enjoying a cup of coffee and chat with a close friend who also happens to be a small business owner. During our conversation she lamented to me how worried she was about her small brick-n-mortar store and the effect the economy was seemingly having on her business. She expressed feeling nervous and powerless to turn things around.
Though I do agree the economy has many people peering worriedly at their checkbook balances, feeling “powerless” is far from accurate. Small businesses may not have the buying power and resources that the Big Box Stores do, but they do have the opportunity to cultivate something the Power Channels can’t; a real person-to-person relationship with their customers. When was the last time you went to Target and had someone say “hey Ann! Nice to see you back again!”
If you are a small business person, take heart and take heed. These tough economic times are going to make you dig deep, get create, and put on your Big Kid Pants and be proactive. Ever heard of out-of-sight-out-of-mind? Or even “the squeaky wheel gets the grease?”
Be the squeaky wheel.
Use your storefronts, front counters, and front windows to encourage patrons to connect with you on social media channels. And then follow through and have a presence there. And not just a “hey I have shoes on sale” presence. You need an on-line presence that shares, engages, and asks the customer what they want and need.
Join your local Chamber of Commerce and networking groups like BNI. Participate in a trade show or hold a table-top show in your own place of business. Offer to speak at civic groups or create your own company newsletter. Volunteer. Volunteerism itself is an amazing tool of business. You are doing a good thing for your community by volunteering your time, and at the same time meeting a whole new pool of connections and potential clients.
If you’ve been sitting behind your sales counter staring at the front door waiting for your customers to come to you, sista, you got problems. You need to go to them. Pay your customers a personal. Be heard, be seen, and constantly be sticking your hand in the air shouting, “HEY, don’t forget about US!” Be creative. Think outside of the box. But do what you need to do to stay in the forefront of your customer’s minds.