If your small business is lacking in any real online social media presence, you may be missing out—or losing—customers. In today’s marketplace, consumers are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to using social media to connect with local businesses, and vice versa. There are several reasons why consumers use it and communication is one of the biggest reasons, particularly instant communication. Not only that, you may be losing customers because your print advertising is stuck in the past, lacking the information consumers—especially those internet-savvy—want to see.
Changing Ways of Communication
Like it or not, consumers are becoming more demanding and, in some cases, are developing a “right here, right now” mentality. Some of this may be caused by the use of social media and other similar forms of communication, such as texting and instant messaging. When they use sites like Twitter and Facebook, oftentimes, they expect a quick response to whatever the posted. In the context of business, when consumers contact a company via Twitter of Facebook, it can be for a number of reasons. They might have a question about a product, a complaint or praise, or are simply looking for more information.
A good first step to make as a business is to communicate to customers that you have social media presence. Combining this with more traditional forms of advertising is a great way to do this. If your business budgets for print advertising on billboards, posters, vinyl banners, local newspapers or periodicals, TV or radio, you should include references to the social media your business uses. Things like “Check us out on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter @SmallBusinessX” can be a simple and effective way to do that, in addition to your typical information, such as a phone number, address, or website. Alternatively, simply using a familiar logo of a social networking site, similar to those found in the “connect” section on a webpage and on smartphones, can easily communicate you use a specific network while taking up minimal space.
Directing Potential Customers with QR Codes
Another way to communicate to your customers that you are hip with the times is to include a QR code on your print advertising. By placing a QR code on your posters or billboards, any passerby with a smartphone can scan it and be taken to whatever page you decide. It could be your business’s website, Facebook page, Twitter, or maybe a place where they can download your business’s app. A way to make the QR code even more effective it to put a teaser near it on the printed ad. Give those potential customers a reason to scan the code. Bonus tip: print out QR codes on stickers and hand them out to customers when they visit your business or order something from you. There’s no way to know where those stickers might end up, but who knows, within a month or two, you might find your business has gone viral. Bonus tip two: Integrate QR codes creatively into your print advertising. Don’t make it an afterthought stuck in the lower right corner. Make it so eyes gravitate toward it.
Engage With Your Customers
Once you’ve developed a presence on social media sites, don’t forget to actually use what you’ve created. Businesses may advertise that they’re using social media sites, but then have no real presence on them. Whether you do it yourself or hire an employee to take care of it, engage your customers. That communication builds relationships and reputation and online those can matter deeply. Anger a customer with poor service or product support and they can spread that grievance across the net and cause your business major problems. With social media you can address problems directly and expediently.
These small changes to your print advertising and customer communication can help your business remain relevant and effective as the way we communicate changes. Print advertising is still important on a local level, but adding these touches can bring in new customers and strengthen the relationships with the customers you already have.
Annie Harrington is a small business owner, writer, and amateur photographer. In her free time she enjoys writing about ways other business owners can positively impact their brand image with unique poster printing and custom decals.