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The best thing you can do for your business while you can’t do business

It comes down to one word. Connect. A lot of my work with small businesses involves understanding their market. And as part of that, I sign up to a variety of their competitors’ newsletters, which does make my inbox a challenge… but all in a good cause!

What I notice the most, is that I’ve yet to see one that connects with me. Yes, they’re full of special offers that I may or may not be interested in, or it’s a list of new features and products.

But none of them connect with me, Judy, a real-life flesh & blood human.

At the same time there are those that have my email permission, but haven’t reached out to me.

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Like the local restaurant we usually order take-away from online. I’d love to know what systems they have bought into place with contactless options. Plus a short note about how they’re coping.

And my hairdresser, whose appointment I missed because lockdown happened. I haven’t heard a word from them.

I know they don’t know when I’ll be able to have a cut as yet, but a short personal message, just like you would with a friend would strengthen the relationship.

Everyone knows it’s hell for small businesses, and people want to know your story – how you’re going, and what they can do to help.

The point is that there are lots of opportunities for you to reach out to your customers, be it via email, or better still a phone call. Be honest and real. Treat them more like a friend and you’ll be rewarded.

One of the biggest challenges for society when we isolate, is our connection – our interaction with other humans

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I’m sure, like me, you have a list of friends, family, or neighbors who you call or email to make sure they’re ok. It’s no different with your customers. In fact this is the perfect time to create that trusting connection.

My other bugbear is sign-offs on emails. In the newsletters, there’s often nothing at all, which leaves me shaking my head.

However, in many, you get the standard digital-marketing wallpaper, of “from the XYZ family”.

OK, the word ‘family’ is better than just the company name, but it didn’t make me feel like family.

Right now, you have a golden opportunity to communicate with your customers with genuine empathy and build a stronger, lasting relationship.

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To get you thinking, I have some suggestions to keep them light, informative, and real.

Read these with an open mind, and think about how you can turn your hard-sales promotion into a warm & friendly connection.

“We’re working hard behind the scenes, coming up with ideas to lighten up your lockdown. And here are a couple to put an extra spring in your next (activity)”  i.e. something that relates to your business.

Then make it engaging and personal in the sign-off …

“I’m here to bring you the joy of (how the product/service is used). Any issues or feedback reach out to me at any time.
All the best,
(owner/CEO name), and all the team here at XXX”

It’s a heartfelt message, accompanied by your personalised email (NOT ‘sales@’), and your mobile number.

Before you hit Send, ask yourself whether your email/text …
*sounds like it’s a sales pitch OR from a friend?
*humanises your business?
*offers hope and inspiration?
*provides a touch of normality?

So, this is one time to safely take your mask off, and show the real you.


By Small Business Connections’ New Zealand business correspondent

Judy Celmins, ThriveableBiz for Breakthrough Marketing


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