With your customers.
Gone are the days of billboard advertising. Today’s “millennial” generation grew up bombarded with multiple streams of blatant advertising that all said the same thing: Buy me!
Thus, it is the first generation that has a built-in immunity to such advertising. That’s why you — the business owner — must accommodate to this 80-million strong new consumer base.
They watch TV, but it’s all on DVR and they fast-forward through the commercials. When an ad pops up while they are en route to their respective Facebook page, they know exactly where to find the “skip ad” option. So what do you do to get the word out about your business?
You take on a new marketing strategy: Entrepreneur calls it osmosis marketing. Your business has a Facebook page. You become an active presence in the online communities to which you’re trying to cater. You have an easy way for consumers to contact you on your Web site. And you respond to those who contact you. Individually.
Yes, it’s time to start a conversation; it’s time for a new relationship. And you’d better be an active participant in this relationship — just as a girl can break up with her boyfriend via Twitter, she’ll do the same thing if she thinks it’s time to break up with your organization. That’s when it’s time to do some macro damage control at the micro level. Turning one sour apple into your champion will have a better widespread impact on your reputation than $5,000 worth of traditional advertising.
For more information on this delicate matter, read Tara Hunt’s The Power of Social Networking: Using the Whuffie Factor to Build Your Business. Hunt will teach you all about building and maintaining a positive online reputation — “whuffie” — to generate client retention and brand loyalty. Here are some of her tips regarding our earlier scenario, the Bad Apple Turned Champion:
If someone is unhappy with your products or services, and is being very public about that unhappiness, take the time to contact him or her. Find out what happened. Chances are, he or she will be impressed that you’re interested in the full story, not the 140 characters that comprised the unflattering tweet. Chances are, the next one will be far more positive. And now you’ve reached a whole new network through a trusted referral. You can’t buy that kind of credibility.
Of course, as Hunt reminds her readers, not everyone will adore you, regardless of your genuine efforts. Do what you can, but don’t take it personally.
Looking forward to your success story,
Have an issue that you want addressed? Leave me a comment with your suggestion, and I’ll tackle it on my blog entry!