Owners who want to grow successful small businesses faster should understand what is driving the customers they want to serve.
There is a huge post crisis audience across all demographic groups that are looking for friendly, engaging and socially responsible firms to do business with.
Voting with Their Dollars
Consider nearly 67% of one survey respondents* who felt they could influence corporate behavior through what they purchased. Trends like these should be a real wake up alarm to owners committed to keep their successful small businesses thriving in a slow growth economy.
A surprising majority of consumer near this same number avoided companies whose values did not reflect their own. The central idea that entrepreneurs should not only be aware but integrate customer values with their marketing and sales approach is one of the top ideas to pursue.
It is very clear from the consumer attitude surveys that post crisis customers want to engage more actively beyond the transaction level.
How many more successful small businesses would flourish if they could tap more into this cause related marketing approach?
Do Your Own Quick Observation
Do an easy confirming test of the most successful small businesses near you. Can you identify the highest consumer values they are emphasizing through their marketing, customer service and community involvement practices?
The widely recognized Fortune Best Places to Work list has inspired similar locally sponsored surveys from area chamber groups who want to help grow small business. Study your city’s survey results about the top small firms.
What values come through?
I find that employee involvement and success sharing dominate the survey results.
In fact, many of these successful small businesses share the same core values that more post-crisis consumers now embrace (kindness, respect, empathy, community involvement, etc.)
Imagine what the impact would be in our communities if more owners knew just how close they already are to connecting with an entirely new set of potential customers!
Try another very revealing observation. Contrast the competitors who do not make these most admired lists. What do you observe is missing? In my experience they generally focus on a transactional relationship with their customers and do not venture beyond it.
Your Values Checklist
For those wanting to make progress try this simple checklist with your staff:
1) What is my company brand really about? Who do we make a difference with?
Tip: What is the highest emotional connection you bring to your customers?
2) If I had to distill our company values down to the top three what would those be?
3) What is a related need by the wider community we serve that is
urgent and compelling?
4) What is an existing non-profit that is already trying to meet that need?
5) As the business owner, what is something that is hurting in our
community I am personally passionate about?
Tip: Be sure your cause is both genuine and long-term.
6) How does the cause relate in a direct way to our primary product or service?
Tip: Public relations synergy done right is a win/win for successful small businesses!
7) What are simple ways we could integrate the support of a
community cause in our everyday communications and promotions to our customers?
Mastering how to do a good transaction well is a foundation to survive. However, to really thrive in a slow economy is an entirely different approach.
Successful small businesses are those who pay close attention to the values their customers share the strongest and simply mirror that in all their customer centered practices.