Businesses Need to Get More Personal
Let us start the new year by getting personal, because Jeff Korhan believes that 2011 will be a year of personalization for small businesses.
Korhan is a new media marketer, an award-winning entrepreneur and a top-ranked blogger who helps entrepreneurs and small business owners maximize their Web visibility, reputation and referrals with social media and Internet marketing.
He noted last year that human-centric businesses, collaborative markets and sustainable communities would set the pace in small business. Today, he considers them to be the foundational principles for being a relevant business in the new economy.
In fact, his small business trends for 2011 - more personalization, greater accessibility and increased relevance - are a natural evolution. And, once again, the focus is on your relationship with customers.
It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this space that each trend will be strongly influenced by technology and social media.
So, with Korhan as our guide, we will now take a look at each of the trends in greater detail.
"You can see that 2011 will be a year of taking what we learned in 2010 to the next level," he said in a recent blog. "The stepping off point for all of us began by indeed recognizing that business has become more about collaborating with customers, as opposed to the traditional model of selling to buyers.
"As social media goes mainstream, more personalization will be expected. That's the next level. Consumers know that technology gives you the capabilities to learn a great deal about them, so they will expect you to have done your homework."
Korhan points out that personalization starts with acknowledging that your customers have just as much to say about how you run your businesses as you do. So he recommends that you use the social networks to engage with them and participate in those conversations.
"You have to really make that shift in your marketing to something you do with your customers," he said. "Like it or not, they are your new business partners."
When it comes to greater accessibility, Korhan states that entrepreneurs and small business owners will have to work on their businesses this year to stay current. He believes that this will probably mean you will have to work "in" your business.
Obviously, such an approach runs counterintuitive to a common catch-phrase that consultants love to use - work on your business, not in your business.
"I can assure you today that can be a slippery slope," Korhan said. "If you are not intimately involved in your business, you could miss what your customers want most."
He adds that today's consumers want open and easy access to the businesses they work with. And one of the hallmarks of working with small businesses is that they are accessible.
Finally, Korhan believes that entrepreneurs and business owners should be thinking of relevance in terms of attention.
He acknowledges that you are most likely familiar with the expression that nothing happens until there is a sale. Given that marketing precedes the sales process, you should be highly tuned into everything that gains and holds the attention of your customers, including that which precedes marketing.
"You want to be the all knowing one that understands the big picture, especially as it relates to the most intimate thoughts of your customers," he said. "What is really driving the decisions of your customers? You will never know ... unless you are investing in your relationship with them. This circles back to the first trend of personalization."
Korhan concludes by stating that if you are looking at your business as a series of transactions, then your business is dying, and you don't even know it.
So get personal with your customers this year.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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