Today I was opening some mail and I received a Thank You card. No big deal, just a nice message from someone thanking me for some things. I then proceeded to prop it up on my desk in a proud manner.
For the last hour I have been debating whether to take a photo and put it on facebook or something – but I decided I had more to say on the topic so I turned it into a blog post. You see the point is – I’m smiling because of this card.
This has kind of shocked me, as it doesn’t really have any worth, there was no voucher or gift card inside – just some kind words. I guess the thought of someone going to the effort of hand writing on the card, finding my mailing address, putting it an envelope, putting a stamp on it and sending it to me really does mean something.
Having spent a fair bit of time using facebook and lurking on various forums I have come to the conclusion social marketting may not be for you – well it isn’t quite for me anyway.
If you sell products B2B (Business to Business) you are probably going to have a hard time getting social to work for you. Now I say that in a very generalised manner, because I’m sure it can be done. For me, my products don’t have any news. I don’t publish special deals, I’m not trying to appeal to the mass market who are attracted to shiny things and big discounts. I’m after business.
Now the argument here is that plenty of my target business people who make the decisions are probably heavy facebook and twitter users. I know for me, I have been attracted to the occasional advert on facebook – but its never for a business related product – Things like xbox or some event or special t-shirt deal. I’m in social mode when I’m on facebook and my business brain is switched off.
I’m taking a new strategy with simple telecom, I am already advertising at a solid rate – however I want to grow quicker. This got me thinking, how can I grow my business for free?
Connect with your customers! For me this means frequenting a forum for small business owners. I post on there in my spare time, and I don’t mean spam, just be helpful. If people want feedback – give it, spend the time helping. Put links in your signature and do up your profile page. You can expect results from this after 3-6 months of contributions.
Talk to your existing customers. For me I take the honesty path. A conversation like: “hey Steve, I’m looking to expand my business, do you have 2 minutes right now? Would you know any other businesses that you deal with who would be interested in the services I offer? Would you mind putting a quick list together for me to contact? Would you mins mentioning me to these people, I would really appreciate it, (maybe offer a discount if you want)”.
Business is always an exciting realm. I was reflecting on the last 6 months in business and its been very interesting. I ended up making some decisions I thought were best at the time with a strong belief things would work out, and low and behold finally they have.
Its such a relief to take a stand for what you believe in and whats best for you and it actually works out in your favour. I just have to remember this time down the track and draw on the experience because I know life will not always be like this.
On Another note..
The plans for moving overseas are going very well. I’m bashing my way through the last stages of this project that I want completed before I leave, and I should even have some time to polish it and give some other tasks some much needed time.
On Friday I called up one of my business partners and had a good old whinge to him. You see, my problem was with the telecommunications industry. As with most business which has the whole passive large volume business model, it attracts people who aren’t in it for the long term. The ideal business model means growning a business to a certain size, then offloading to one of the largers players for a big price tag.
To be honest, I was one of those people when I first entered the market. I had the dream of growing massive and then selling. I would accept any client applications for credit at very cheap rates despite warning bells ringing. A few months later, those same clients would be 3 months outsanding on their invoices, but because I was desperate to gain customers and income I would take the risk.
I learned quickly from those early lessons and have since built my business around long term relationships with clients. There are a lot of clients out there who value simplicity, ease of owning the service and honest rates – which has given me a solid foundation.