Successful social media for businesses use lessons learned on Main Street to take them far on the digital highway
Those who live in small towns know the advantages of frequenting merchants who know their names as well as their purchase history. These merchants, mostly small business owners, develop relationships and anticipate needs; so customers continue to frequent their establishments, even when strong competitors emerge. Starbucks adopted this approach in their stores. They recognized that customers would buy high-priced coffees from baristas who knew not only their names, but also how they liked their lattes. In some cases these baristas would even have the right drink waiting for them upon their arrival.
This is the power of value-added services, relationship marketing and branding. Most of us are willing to pay a premium for it. Services tailored to our needs break through the clutter, relationships engender loyalty and strong brands provide us with assurances around quality and intangibles like status.
Social media and capability of enterprises of all sizes to have an online presence have led to new ways for organizations to create customer intimacy, develop brands and foster loyalty. While one cannot replace face-to-face relationships, social media can create strong connections among people and vast amounts of online data can provide information that traditional merchants could only dream of. Here are five ways to replicate the advantages of the Main Street experience:
1. Know Thy Customer – Online loyalty programs can provide information about existing customers; including their preferences, backgrounds and how they like to buy. Social media enables two-way communications and relationship building. Create a loyalty program, understand who your customers are and create a dialog with them.