Small Business Marketing: Using a Friendly Attitude to Bring Customers Together
If the classic 1980s sitcom Cheers taught us anything it’s that people sometimes want to go where everybody knows their name.
It’s the sense of community that will always be an advantage small businesses have over their national counterparts. It results in repeat business, customer enthusiasm, and a brand name that stays on people’s minds. It doesn’t take much to create a sense of community, just the things you want to see in your own community: friendliness, civic pride, and a little time out to enjoy the company.
You don’t even need Norm and Cliff to get started!
First, if you’re a naturally gregarious type, no need to turn that off for business. Discover Card is running a very humorous TV ad campaign addressing customers’ desire to be treated like they would treat themselves. Unfortunately, we have grown so preoccupied with the pursuit of growth and profit that superior customer service has become a lost art. Now’s your chance to find it again. Remember: referring to people by their name (as opposed to “sir” or “ma’am”) is an tried and true psychological marketing technique that leaves people feeling better about themselves more often than not.
Recently, a Red Robin restaurant earned positive press (and perhaps customers for life) when a manager took the time to write a short message of congratulations on the receipt of an expectant mother. You don’t need to go through such lengths to be kind to customers, but it does show how the slightest gesture of friendliness can result in tremendous good will.
Now that you have attached a friendly face to your business, remind customers that you are connected to their community by drawing attention to it from time to time. If you have a marquee, use it to send a short message rooting for the local sports teams. Liberally place the name of your community in all your advertising and marketing material. Phrases such as “Greenville’s own” and “Serving Fairview since…” never go out of style. Lend your support to local schools and youth clubs in their fundraising efforts. Community service isn’t just for individuals. Businesses should take part in the fun as well!
Finally, If you are a bar or restaurant, try to take one or two days out of the year to celebrate a holiday (be it an anniversary or a traditional holiday like Halloween or Christmas) with your more dedicated customers. Choose a day when you are generally closed and host a party featuring some of your favorite menu items, some seasonal favorites, and music. Have your owner take time out of the day to greet guests and extend his or her thanks for their support. Everybody likes a good get together and rarely need a reason to attend.
Technology and online social networking has left people feeling conflicted about their real connections to society. Think of what a pleasant surprise it would be if your business extended a genuine hand of friendship: no sales pitches, no promotional codes, no marketing. Try it today and you may find yourself with a cast of characters even more lovable than Sam and Diane.
Editor’s Note: This post is a continuation of TextMarks‘ Small Business Marketing series. This series is designed to help Small Businesses gain a competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace. Some posts feature a discussion of SMS Marketing while others offer general marketing tips and tricks. Enjoy! – Editor