According to research conducted by Accenture, 80% of Singapore consumers prefer human interaction when it comes to dealing with businesses. In fact, the same report also found that in 2016 alone, 68% of consumers switched service providers because of a lack of human connection with everything from retailers to banks. It’s estimated that this massive movement resulted in a loss of $26 billion US.
This leaves many to wonder if companies trying to market themselves have actually lost sight of how important it is to engage with current and potential customers. Most importantly, how much money will the average Singaporean entrepreneur lose if he or she does not take the time to cultivate relationships with their customers. These questions become even more relevant when the digital age is considered.
How can a small business successfully market to their customers online if they prefer a human connection? Well, the good news is even in the digital age, there are still ways to create human interaction. Let’s talk about how small business owners in Singapore can use human interaction as a digital marketing tool.
Offer Real Value
A common mistake that many small business owners make is leading with their products or services. What does this mean? Well, it means that the company spends most if its time selling. So the first thing that potential customers think about when this brand comes to mind is the types of products or services it offers.
Some small business owners may wonder, “Isn’t this the goal? Shouldn’t customers think about a business’ products or services?” Yes, this is the goal, but if products is the only thing that customers associate with a business, then the business will not see a very high ROI.
The problem with leading with products or services is that there is nothing to make the business stand out among its competition. Even if the company offers better prices than others, customers are still interested in feeling a connection before making their final purchase. Luckily, there is a way to build this connection and its by offering value.
One of the most common forms of value is content. If a business is willing to share information that a potential customer needs or wants to know, then it will be help the company to build a loyal following. And the more time an individual spend on a business’ website or social media platform, the more likely they are to buy from that business.
Here are a few things that make content very valuable:
- It’s original. As of 2017, there are over 115 million small business worldwide and over half of them have websites. This means that businesses are bound to discuss the same subjects from time to time. However, what can make a business stand out from the rest is the angles that it takes. Originality is key when creating content that is valuable.
- It’s targeted. While people tend to have a variety of interests, it’s very important that the content offered is very specific. It needs to be focused so that a business can attract quality traffic. The better the quality of the traffic, the more likely the individuals are to buy.
- It’s actionable. Some of the most valuable content is that which can be used right away. Actionable content inspires the target audience to return because they received the desired results. So business should offer advice or how to’s that make an immediate difference in people’s lives.
Create a Community
What makes social media platforms so prominent these days? What keeps people coming back day after day, hour after hour? There is nothing too special about the layout designs. In fact, these platforms make very few aesthetic changes throughout the year.And in many cases, when they do makes changes, many users are unhappy with them. But still people still continue to visit the sites. Could it be the community itself?
Many small business owners never take the time to consider how their customers can help them. Sure, they think about the money they can spend with them, but they never really think about what customers can do for them in terms of marketing. The truth is, a business may be small but the customers it accumulates can have a remarkable amount of power. It’s just up to the business owner to harness it.
In the best case scenario, business owners should turn their customer base into a community. They should allow their clients to work together as interns, spreading the word about the business and answering each other’s questions about the business. This isn’t to say that building a community is easy. In fact, it takes a lot of consistency and hard work. However, with time, business owners will find that the community runs itself. And the more people added, the more attention and new business the company will get.
Here are a two strategies for creating a community:
- Acknowledge your customers. Part of being a community is taking ownership. And business owners can give their customers a little bit of ownership in the company, simply by acknowledging that the success the business has experienced is thanks to them. This may seem like a small gesture, but this lets the customers know how much power they have and they will develop a more vested interest.
- Ask for opinions. Another effective way of building a community is for the business to identify a common problem that customers are having and then ask social media followers for ideas on how to solve it. This will often create a significant amount of dialogue.
It’s no secret, a great way to create engagement and human interaction with an audience is to appeal to their emotions. While there are an array of emotions that a company may try to tap into such as sadness, happiness, or sentimentality, one of the best ways to leave a memorable impression is though inspiration. When potential customers are inspired, not only do they develop a sense of loyalty towards the company but they also feel compelled to spread the word to others.
A great point of inspiration often comes from the business’ itself–specifically the brand. If a small business can sum up its level of passion and dedication into a brand story and relay it to customers in an interesting way, it creates instant inspiration. There are several ways to create the perfect brand story, however, below are a few options:
Option 1- Make the customer the hero. Sure a business may be skilled in delivery great products or services. However, the business would be nothing without the customers who support it.
Options 2-Make the business the hero. Point to a problem that most customers struggle with and demonstrate how the business understands those struggles. Finally, show what the business has done to get rid of that struggle altogether.
Option 3-Make everyone the hero. Perhaps the business donates a certain amount of its proceeds to an underprivileged group or the business creates jobs in certain areas of Singapore. Demonstrate how the partnership between the business and customers has created the perfect team.
Everyone likes to be entertained. And there is no exception in the case of online marketing. In fact, there is a whole sector dedicated to entertainment called entertainment marketing.
The reason entertainment is such a great marketing tool is because it can make a company more human. It also ensures that the business is relatable. And the great thing about it is, there are several ways in which a target audience can be entertained.
For instance, Marriott International, a U.S. based hospitality company, tapped into the passion that people have for social-media gaming by launching a Facebook game called “My Marriott Hotel.” This game allows players to manage virtual hotels. Not only is this a great marketing tool but it also generates a significant amount of interest in Marriott’s brand. The key is to create content. Explore options for videos, smartphones, social networks, and podcasts.
Continue the Conversation
While even doing one of the above mention strategies can completely transform a small business’ online presence, they will be useless if they are not done consistently. The most difficult part about using human interaction as a marketing tool is that people tend to easily forget. People follow certain business as they do fads and trends and when the trend starts to show signs of slowing, people tend to move on.
This is why it is so important for small business to continue the conversation. Sure, a community can eventually run itself, but business owners must continously find new ways to breathe life and new energy into it. The relationship must always remain fresh and up to date.
Sometimes what matters most in online marketing is not the amount of ads a business puts out. It’s not the analytic software the business chooses to use. It’s not the SEO firm that the business employs. Sometimes what truly matter is how well a business is able to connect with the people whom it will be selling its good or services to. If small business owners in Singapore would place the focus on building a genuine, human connection with their online following, the business will practically market itself.