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During my 22 years in the Army, I picked up some very interesting nuggets of wisdom.
One such nugget is that important lessons can come from unexpected sources. Some of the most important things I've ever learned have come from some of the most annoying people I've ever known.
That's partly how I look at this COVID-19 pandemic. A few months ago everything was humming along as usual. Now, just about every part of everyday life has been disrupted.
As we tip toe into the future, most business owners I know have the same questions on their minds. What will my business look like post COVID-19? What sort of adjustments will I need to make?
Much of this uncertainty is due to the fact that, during the best of times, many smaller businesses operate on a razor's edge. Finding a new customer is either a journey of discovery or a full blown adventure.
Convenience & Habit Are Poor Building Blocks
Many small businesses do very little to actively maintain their client base. Instead, they rely on customer convenience and habits.
COVID-19 brings hard lessons to the classroom. Convenience and habit are fine for holding onto customers when life is normal. There is a certain familiarity they bring to the table.
Unfortunately, convenience and habits were the first casualties of this pandemic.
If the only reason your customers visit you is because you’re convenient, what do you replace that with when convenience goes away?
While you're percolating on that, let me hit you with a thought. Stop me if you've heard this before. People like to do business with people they know, like and trust.
And if you're like me, the people you know, like and trust aren’t always the most convenient.
One of the most important tools for building and maintaining trust is communication.
So let's take a quick assessment. If you had to get a message of some sort to the majority of your client base, could you do it? And if you could, how surprised would they be to hear from you?
If the answers are "no" and "very," then that’s a very good place to start.
A Habit Of Communication
Begin by collecting email addresses and phone numbers. In the world of online marketers, this is list building. It’s a core function of their business model.
For brick and mortar businesses, it's invaluable for client retention. Being able to reach out to your customers and keep them updated on your status is always helpful.
Especially, when an event, like a global pandemic alters your standard operating procedure.
It's also useful in less dramatic scenarios. Announcing store events, changes in store hours or an upcoming promotion.
They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The first step in your habit of communication journey is to start collecting all of that contact info so you at least have the ability to communicate.
Creating a healthy communication habit is part of our Local Marketing Coaching program. Since you're going to start collecting email addresses and phone numbers, in upcoming posts, we'll dig into what you're supposed to do with them. We'll cover the conversation you should be having and how to have it.