Okay, small business owners! It’s time for some tough love from the Tech Therapist. We’re just about to get into the holiday season – the most critical quarter of the year for many of you! – and it’s essential that your marketing campaigns deliver results.
The first step in making this happen is coming to grasp with a fundamental truth: you are not your customer. You may know a lot about your customer. You may like your customers a great deal. Those of you who have been in business a long time may have seen entire families grow up, as your customers’ children become customers on their own. It’s really, really, easy to make a perilous assumption: that the things you like – particularly where marketing is involved – are the same things your customers like, and that the things you dislike are equally odious to your customers.
For example, one really handy customer service tool that’s available to small business owners is text messaging. Customers opt in to a list that allows the business owner to notify them, via text message, when there’s a special sales event or promotion they should know about.
One business owner was incredibly resistant to this idea. She didn’t see the sense in it. She wasn’t a person who texted, and she assumed that her customers, many of whom were in the same age range she was, wouldn’t like it either. Her business partner convinced her to at least give the idea a try. If customers complained, she said, they could always stop using the text messaging service.
With great reluctance, the business owner agreed that the text message campaign could go forward. Privately, she assured me that there would be so many complaints in the first week that they’d have to cancel. But things didn’t turn out exactly as she’d expected. Her customers loved the text message notifications. It made them feel special and valued to be personally informed about sales events. Not only did the store see a sales increase that week, the average sale size went up significantly. More people were buying, and they were buying more, due to a messaging vehicle the owner was convinced her customers would hate because she didn’t like it herself.
Let’s just say she was pretty happy to be proven wrong.
The takeaway is this: don’t automatically reject an idea just because it isn’t personally appealing to you. Stop and think through what your customers’ feelings on the matter are likely to be. When in doubt, talk to your customers or “bounce partner” and test your ideas. The results may surprise you – pleasantly!