Updated: Mar 9, 2020
Hey everyone! I know a secret – and it’s going to help you succeed! Shh.. don’t tell anyone else…. Customers want some kind of personal connection with the businesses they patronize. They want to hear your story and will pay more for that connection!
What makes a consumer chose one service provider over another? While there are many studies and theories out there regarding price, reputation, availability, etc., I believe that consumers (either B2C or B2B), crave a connection with companies and the people who run them. That might not be true for commodity items like toilet paper or bananas or internet service; but for many small business owners, that connection is the secret sauce that keeps customers coming back.
What do I mean by connection? It could be lots of things – Let’s start with similarities – age, life experience, physical appearance, hobbies, even politics. If I hear that one merchant has similar interests to mine, let’s say, rescuing dogs, then I’m more likely to shop in their store.
Or, if I know of an insurance agent who graduated from my high school, I’m more likely to pick her over a complete stranger. There’s something about seeing yourself reflected in your providers that’s very powerful. If you’re not convinced, think of the converse situation – have you ever refused to do business with someone because they were dissimilar? I will choose not to do business with someone who has opposing political views displayed in their store. No matter which end of the spectrum you are on, chances are you aren’t going to chose to do business with someone if you know they are on the opposite side from you on key issues. Dissimilarity is just as strong of a behavior driver as similarity.
Another kind of connection is an empathetic response to your life or business journey. Am I the only one who shops with an “underdog store” who’s facing a giant competitor? If I grow to understand the journey and motivations of why someone is opening a family run restaurant in the neighborhood, and I meet the family, then I’m more likely to chose to spend my discretionary food income there than a big restaurant chain. There’s a local restaurant in my hometown of Robbinsdale – Travail Kitchen opened in 2008 and soon became nationally known. They now sell out every night – and are so popular that they opened another restaurant (Pig Ate my Pizza) with a different theme and moved down the block. We went to Travail when it first opened and there were lots of open tables.
Feeling sorry for the clearly genius lads, we also got some entrées to-go for our teenage boys. We go back whenever we can fit it into our schedule, and while we don’t frequently fight the crowds to sample their brilliance – we do go back, because of their journey to success.
One of the most powerful connections I’ve seen comes in the form of personalized service. Someone who thinks of specifically you and your needs in your interactions with them. I recently met Karen, a jewelry designer who is interested in learning more about what LittleBox Social can do for her business. As she described her process of making jewelry, I felt the most powerful urge to buy her product! One of her specialties is to re-create jewelry from what I call “bits and bobs” of jewelry the customer already owns. I wouldn’t call it re-cycled or even up-cycled – she takes what was once several lovely pieces of jewelry that may have broken or passed out of style, and unites them into a special creation. Custom made for the recipient, I know this jeweler puts her heart and soul into each one of the designs. Wouldn’t you rather do business with someone who was inspired in the creation of your unique piece of jewelry? (you can find Karen’s jewelry and read her story at: www.krjewelryonline.com )
Another great connection with personalized service is “my” piano tuner. I inherited this lovely, but woefully out of tune 1911 Steinway from my dear mother. After placing the piano in my home, it took a long time for me to find someone whom I would trust to tinker with the old thing. I’m talking years. By that time, it was even more out of tune then ever. And when I found Simon, a certified Steinway tuner, I invited him over with great trepidation. I knew I had no need to worry once I saw the respect with which he regarded my piano. The way he gently set out his tools, and lovingly tickled the ivories – without so much as a wince when she played way out of key. Instead, he was like a doctor that was listening to a heart in need of surgery. I knew that I could trust him with the care and restoration of this family treasure. This truly personalized service was more than I could have asked for. I even tipped him 100% of the bill because I was so happy how he treated us!
You may be saying – wow Captain LittleBox Blog-Obvious – those are just your stories – there’s no research behind that! And you’re right. But seriously, haven't you sought out a connection when making a purchase decision?
Here’s how Making Connections relates to social media and why I’m blogging about this for LittleBox Social: Social Media was created specifically to make connections between people. What better platform do you have to tell your story than Facebook? With pictures, video and story telling-friendly format, I can’t think of a traditional advertising medium (Newspaper ad, radio commercial, TV spot, yellow pages, or post card) that can give you that kind of dynamic story telling capability. Your customers will learn more about you and will find similarities that you wouldn’t be able to establish in a face to face transaction in your store! Twitter is a great way of frequently updating your journey to success – 140 characters at a time is easily consumable – remember the Burma Shave signs? (Ok, if you have no idea what those are – consult the googles). Those signs told a story along the roadways of America. Consider your tweets doing the same thing! LinkedIn allows for people to connect personally but stay on a very professional level – which is critical in Business to Business situations. With listings of academic credentials and supported philanthropic organizations – people want to know more about you when they choose to do business with you! Instagram, Pinterest and SnapChat all tell stories through visuals. These are powerful connection points for customers.
Unlocking that potential takes a bit of thought, some creativity and some time. This is where LittleBox social comes in – we are expert story tellers, and we come to you with fresh eyes of a consumer. We listen to your story and craft it into a social media strategy. Our mission is to help you establish that connection with your customers – whether it’s seeing a similarity with a certain target demographic, or helping tell the story of your business’ journey or simply showcasing your personalized and inspired service. LittleBox Social can help you take your story and shout it from the technological rooftops! To find out how – send Jenny@littleboxsocial.com an email and she’ll tell you the story of your future success!