Help! Big brands are slowly taking over the world, influencing our buying patterns and turning us into zombie shoppers.
It might seem like a tragic scenario, but for savvy small businesses the rise of supermarket chains and juggernaut clothing labels this presents a real opportunity. You see there’s one thing big brands are rubbish at – giving customers the personal touch.
Let me give you an example…
While I was waiting in the queue in my local shop the other day I noticed that the chap at the checkout had a bag of homemade sweets on the counter. He was happily munching away and offering them to people as they were paying.
When it was my turn I took a piece and it instantly put a smile on my face: “Wow, these are great” I said. “Do you sell them?”
“No no, my wife makes these. These aren’t for sale!! I just wanted to share some with my customers.”
We laughed and ended up chatting for a while about this that and the other.
The thing is, I’d come into the shop a bit grumpy and tired, but suddenly his random act of friendliness, kindness or whatever you want to call it had put me in a good mood.
It’s such a small thing, but simple gestures like this can actually be extremely powerful. In fact some of the world’s most successful Internet marketers do this kind of thing on a daily basis…
Given the choice who would you rather visit and give your custom to?
The corporate, identikit shop where you’re hurried through beeping self service checkouts… or the place that’s friendly, has character and treats you like a person?
Not to labour the point, but my local shopkeeper turned his shop from “faceless place where you have to do the boring chore of buying bread and milk”, to “that nice place where you have a friendly chat and they give you sweets”.
Sometimes this more personal approach can instantly reap rewards because it keeps you there in the shop where there are more things to buy. While I was chatting to him I remembered I was off to a friend’s house for dinner that evening and needed to buy a bottle of wine so I ended up buying one from him.
Now if he gave me sweets every time I went in that might get a bit creepy, but you get the idea…
This is a real world example of something that is already wildly successful online.
It’s called the rule of reciprocation.
A lot of websites already use this because it’s a sure-fire way to get a steady stream of loyal readers and customers. How effective is it?
VERY. Some marketers have used this to increase their conversion rate (the percentage of visitors signing up to their website of newsletter service) by as much as 600%.
Here’s what you do:
1) Give away something for free, no strings attached – If you’ve got a website or a newsletter service give away a free report that they can download when they sign up. If they’ve already signed up, give it to them anyway.
It’ll show readers and potential customers or clients that you genuinely want to help them start succeeding right away. We’ve been conditioned to expect businesses to give us the hard sell, to ask us for money – so do the opposite, give them something of value and earn their respect and trust.
2) People buy from people, ditch the stuffy, corporate feel – People often worry that by giving their website character they’ll come across as weak or amateurish – I think the opposite is true.
Now obviously there’s a limit – you probably don’t want to start writing 6,000 word articles about your prostrate (unless of course you run a prostrate health website) and you might not want to show people ALL your holiday snaps, especially not that one. This is more about adding a personal touch, to show people that you’re real – that you have the same worries, fears and needs as they do – that you’re not doing this because you ‘have to’.
This is absolutely crucial to attracting and retaining customers – whether you’ve got a fully fledged business or are in the process of setting up a website.