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To truly become a more valuable element of your shoppers’ day-to-day, you need to look beyond selling to them and consider ways you can serve and support them too. Now more than ever, consumers are looking to brands as sources of inspiration, advice, entertainment, and expertise, in addition to providing products and services.
Consider your business capabilities and your own expertise and experiences – how can you use these to create something valuable for your customers?
The more you know about your customers, the better you can serve them, so gather data from as many sources as possible to build up a picture of your customer or customer groups. You can obtain this through analysis of your website data, obtaining customer feedback and through your social media channels, too. Don’t focus on numbers too much – use your data to understand your customers as humans and always try to work out the ‘so what’ behind your figures. Customer feedback is vital for ongoing improvement and should be a standard part of your sales process (you can use a simple online tool to gather it and if you incentivise completion with a discount code, you may inspire repeat purchases, too).
Video is a brilliant way to support and build relationships with your customers. Online engagement soared in 2020 and so has the use of video by brands wanting to engage and connect with their customers on a more direct, human level.
Celebrate your customers – they need it now more than ever. Can you bring them together online to create your own dedicated community, based on their interests? You might share recipes, tips or host live cookery sessions. You could even mail out ingredients packs to support and not only will your customers thank you for the experience, using your products to deliver this will also provide a source of revenue.
If you’re selling more online, try to still deliver a personal service, even if you can’t see your customers. You can still add the personal touch to an online order, perhaps with a thank you card or handwritten note telling your brand story and an incentive to shop with you again. Try to see every transaction as the opportunity to build a relationship with your customer and always ask the question – “What am I doing to invite them to return?”
So many independents are already doing great community work, they’re just not talking about it. When it comes to giving back, we don’t do it for the praise, we simply do it because it’s the right thing to do. I’ve encountered so many small business owners who are reluctant to talk about their good deeds but I always highlight that if you showcase a good deed, particularly for a cause, you may inspire others to support too, so by using your platform you’re doubling your impact.
When it comes to your community and everything else you do, it’s important to understand and establish your brand values by asking, ‘what matters to me and my business?’. It might be sustainability and being kind to the environment, or supporting a certain cause – wherever your values lie, try to align your community efforts, so that you can showcase why you’re doing what you’re doing in addition to what you’re doing – this purpose and vision will also motivate you and your teams during tougher times and remind you that you’re not just a business – you’re contributing towards something bigger.