By David McGorry
No matter how successful your business, you can never stop building your brand, evolving your dialogue with the marketplace and communicating about your value. Although this may be challenging it is also a way to learn about your customers and identify new business opportunities.
The brand is a living, breathing organism. It has to be nurtured and communicated or, even when it is well known and successful, it can die. There are numerous ways to communicate the brand story these days and the mix of vehicles you use will always be evolving because of new technologies, changes in your business model and changes in customer needs. Fortunately for small businesses, the last twenty-five years has seen the growth of new technologies that make it easier for marketers to speak directly to, and get useful information from, their customers.
If you are a local or regional business you don’t need a marketing budget to reach customers when you use Twitter or Facebook. These two options also offer a “two way” dialogue so you can also get feedback that lets you know what interests your target audience. This can help you identify words that can be used as hashtags in Twitter feeds and that will help your reach among people who might be interested in your business.
By opening and building a Twitter account, you can provide more topical information and you can begin a dialogue without incurring any expense. This is valuable for experiential businesses such as restaurants, sports centers or special events. If you aren’t able to invest in a website, you can use a Facebook page to develop and expand on the content of your tweets. This way you could manage several components of your communication initiative without incurring cost. There are also other options such as Instagram that enable you to provide a more visual experience. If your business is experiential such as a hospitality company, pictures of the rooms and amenities on Instagram followed by the photos of guests enjoying themselves can be helpful in drawing people to something experiential.
It is important and valuable to invest in a website as well so there will be a place to put more long-term information that will always be valuable to customers. And, even though it is an expense, the price of maintaining and updating a website is nowhere near the cost of an advertising campaign. If you hire a consultant for a traditional Wordpress website and put in some time and effort, you can even learn to make updates yourself. Depending on the level of sophistication you want, a website could cost up to $100K. A simpler website site could be developed for $20K.
Whatever you decide to do there are numerous options to help you define your business and then drive people to it. Twitter can be your most important tool for attracting business. A Twitter link to your Facebook or Instagram site allows you to tell visual stories that are compelling, and the website can provide you with more depth of relevant information.
So with your tools in place you now have a dialogue with your customers that helps them understand the value of your business and enables you to find out what your customers like. It is also an opportunity get feedback and ideas from them about what would make your business more attractive. This cycle of communication helps you reach out to new customers and also learn from them about how to grow your business.