Relationships are about trust and honesty. Taking responsibility in the face of looking unprofessional is something that not a lot of us are willing to do nor have we trained ourselves to do. We want to be seen as the most professional. To look like we know what we are doing, that we can be compared to the big businesses with systems in place to automate a customer through the process as simple and pain free as possible.
Think about the scale of a business the size of Amazon. They have systems in place that allows customers to funnel themselves through their process without help of people. In fact, they make it very difficult to contact a person from their business because they want it to be automated in its fullest extent. With little to no human interaction. And that’s how they make their money and cut expenses.
Now take your current situation. Say you are a small business or have a side hobby – you run a homemade jewellery business from your laptop. You make the jewellery, you put it on your site, you ship out your products and receive money for it. That’s essentially the entire process a customer goes through with your business.
But think about the small details that makes your business or brand unique. Think about the possibility to go the extra distance for a customer or follower. Whether that’s with the touches of personality you give the packaging of your products, from homemade tags, personal handwritten notes to that customer, or even a conversation online with a follower. These mean a lot to customers of small businesses or individual artists.
Be approachable, and not untouchable.
You may grow to a place overtime where you can’t possibly reply to everyone in your feeds, you may build an audience in the tens of thousands, or even greater, but that doesn’t mean you should remove the element of personal touch for those few people who do reply with a warm message and positive wishes for you, your product or your brand. The connection that builds for a follower or customer of your brand is immeasurable. It’s a personal connection and it always feels special that you as the brand owner has responded to this person.
You never know the impact of your work/products to your fans and followers and what it means to them. Never underestimate your work in the eyes of followers. They follow you for a reason.
Don’t promise anything. Don’t allow it to become something that people expect from you. Because when you don’t, people will be let down when you don’t reply to every comment like you promised out of scarcity and fear that people might forget you, so you promised to reply to everyone who sends you messages and comments. Don’t do that, let it be natural. Let it be a surprise that the owner of this business just replied to a random comment on a feed. It’s a pleasant experience, and makes the follower think that you are worth the time it took to take time out of your business schedule to write a message back be it small or large.
This is the same as email, but with email, it’s in a much more intimate, personal environment. You have the direct line. You’re talking directly to the person who has emailed in. They may email in their problems that they want help with, or positive encouragement, or even some feedback or criticism of the brand and what you’re doing. Think about the power of this. That someone looks up to what you are doing enough to message you with their problems.
People value being connected to you, rather than anonymous face of a lager corporation. Soloprenuers, artists and creatives find value from having a face to their brand. The face helps people connect with followers/customers on a human level. Be human with people. People don’t want to talk with robots. Don’t be afraid to share your mistakes, it’s what allows people to trust you and build a relationship with your brand.
Think of the small things where you can introduce your voice, or your personality into your brand. From an email signature. Or your avatar on social media. Changing this to an image of you instead of a logo or a piece of your artwork.
Don’t compare yourself to big businesses and trying to copy what they do to give yourself some more time. They grow to this position out of necessity. They can;’t afford to develop deep relationships with followers on Twitter and Instagram. They mean big business, and while they may have a good reputation and want the best for their customers. There is still a feeling of anonymity with who they are talking with behind the screen.
But this is something you can do, because you’re at a smaller level starting off right now, it gives you the opportunity to engage with an audience. You can do it on the bus home from your day job.
It;s the deep connections you form with your early followers and customers that allow you to scale even larger. You never know who is a follower and what influence they have in their world. By having small conversations on a regular basis you can create relationships and friendships. Someone who may end up bulk buying your products due to an ongoing relationship with your follower, who has now turned into a customer.
Never underestimate your influence on people who look up to you and your work.
Make something special for the small amount of people who do by your products at the start. Make it an experience they remember. A custom sticker, or hand-made note to that person. Something personal that enables that experience for that person.
Don’t try to automate everything in your process. If it’s products, or posting online.
Do the unscalable. Reach out to every order you make, every positive comment someone posts you and every valuable email someone writes you. Engage with people and develop relationships. Provide them value.