Technology Helps Small Businesses Keep a Personal Touch
A new survey—released in time for Small Business Saturday, Nov. 26—shows the right technology helps small businesses focus on delivering the personal services their customers want.
Long before websites, large chains stores, and social media influencers, small businesses sold goods and services—and provided the community connection—humans needed to thrive and survive. With the ubiquitous convenience of online shopping and rewards programs, is the small business personal touch out of fashion? Not according to a new survey commissioned by SurePayroll.
The survey gauged 2,000 Americans’ gratitude for the relationships in their lives. Nearly three-quarters of respondents agree that strong partnerships—including with small businesses—help simplify the complexities of life (74%). Eighty-three percent of Americans have the easiest time forming strong relationships with small businesses and are most likely to trust them when compared to mid-size and large businesses (70%).
The Upside to Connection
Americans report small businesses use technology better to form relationships with customers (45%) when compared to large businesses (32%) and franchise / chains (23%). That’s likely because small businesses link technology to a human connection—an experience mostly absent from large retailers. The neighborhood store is a hub where employees know their customers, and have a knack for anticipating the perfect item or offering a specialized service. Technology links the in-store personal experience to a larger customer base.
Digitally advanced small businesses earn twice the revenue per employee and generate as much as four times the revenue according to Deloitte. Small businesses are uniquely positioned to leverage their connection to consumers and technology to build stronger relationships, a plus year ‘round, and especially ahead of Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday—falling this year on Nov. 26—is an annual shopping holiday that encourages Americans to spend big with small businesses in their community and online.
“Americans crave connection—especially during the holidays—and prioritize trust in their personal and business relationships. That trust can be a difference-maker in the competitive marketplace, especially if small business owners directly connect their online presence to in-store promotions,” said Jenna Shklyar, SurePayroll Head of Marketing.
Six Tips to Strengthen Connections with Technology
Mom-and-pop and small businesses naturally connect with their immediate community. Technology offers the chance to expand that reach and better promote their unique products and services, and personalized, in-store experience. Here are six affordable steps for small businesses to leverage technology.
1. Target Online Communication to Encourage In-Store Traffic
E-mail marketing campaigns offer an effective and low-cost way to build relationships with new and existing customers. The best email lists are those built organically, including by collecting information in one or more of the following ways:
- Point of sale
- In-store demos or special product launch events
- Website information capture
- Special—or gated—content in exchange for contact information
- Testimonials / reviews
- Social media survey
- Rewards program
- “Click here to sign up” on your Facebook account
- Company blog
- Email newsletter
- Product feedback / reviews
- Networking group meet & greets
- Family & friends
Email campaigns aren’t just about promoting a sale to the entire customer base. Small businesses can target emails by age, gender, or regional demographic to drive increased awareness and influence purchase behavior. Curated content is another way to target specific customer interests.
2. Consider a Multi-Channel Marketing Approach
Capture special and mundane in-store moments—employees having fun, product demonstrations, product unveilings, shelves being stocked, employees helping customers, employees and customers talking about what Small Business Saturday means to them, and more—in photos and on video. Post the images on social media, the website and in the next newsletter. Technology helps extend what seems like a fleeting moment, and offers prospects and customers the chance to experience the business from afar.
3. Be Responsive on Social Networks
Social media offers the opportunity to share content, respond to inquiries and create connections. Responsive businesses boost site traffic because prospects and customers view the channel as a resource destination, or an interesting place to visit. For instance, Wendy’s has become an industry leader by responding directly to followers in a particularly humorous manner that has become a part of their online brand. Creating a brand presence is not exclusive to franchises that already have a recognizable presence, though. With a bit of thought, small businesses can build a vibrant social media connection.
4. Leverage LinkedIn
LinkedIn has evolved to offer other services and benefits besides warehousing resumes. Some people post curated content on LinkedIn, but face very little competition. That means even a modestly informative or useful post will stand out—and generate leads and networking opportunities to grow your business.
5. Reach Podcast Audiences
The flurry of podcasts now available offers small businesses an affordable way to reach new customers. Many popular podcasts struggle to find sponsors, and there are deals to be made. Podcast content producers cover a wide range of highly specified topics, and advertising budgets don’t have to be large to target the right consumer base.
6. Don’t Forget to Cross-Sell and Upsell
Small Business Saturday and Black Friday kickstart the holiday season. Take a moment to refresh your employees on the art and skill of cross-selling and upselling. A long-time “check sweetener” in food service, cross-selling and upselling offers small business owners across all industries a change to build or deepen customer relationships and increase the bottom line.
Shop Small. Earn Big.
According to the survey commissioned by SurePayroll, more than half of Americans say small businesses understand their needs (55%), offer personalized service (54%) and are available when they need them (51%). Small Business Saturday is the ideal time to leverage those strengths to additional sales, a deeper connection with existing customers, and reaching new customers.
“Local mom-and-pop small businesses have an edge over mid-size and large businesses when it comes to using technology to form relationships with customers, yet customers still rate forming an in-person connection more important than a strong online presence. Now is a great time to enhance training to ensure staff is knowledgeable, responsive, and prepared for the holiday rush. ”
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