by: Aaron Harris | May 13, 2013
Three SourceLink affiliates around the country just completed their own Battle of the Brands competitions. During Arkansas’s Battle of the Brands, many matchups were between large corporations steeped in tradition and small homemade startups. A lot of the time, these smaller businesses would beat out the larger companies for votes. Why? Two words: customer engagement. There is a disclaimer here: Many of the larger companies chose not to actively solicit votes for the Battle and probably could have wiped out the smaller businesses with one tweet, but they didn’t so I’ll digress. How do small businesses engage their customers? Cyndi Minister, owner of The Twisted Purl (a handmande yarn shop) and winner of the Arkansas Battle of the Brands had some tips for small businesses to get their customers involved.
It’s important to not only make connections with your customers, but to make those connections impactful. Since social media is the most common way to engage customers outside your immediate surroundings, it’s important to use a variety of different applications with each having their own target audiences and benefits. Cyndi had this to say: “The topic Social media is a funny thing. Each different place you have to engage your followers in a different way. Each network has its own ebb and flow and once you learn, it's easier to engage. I didn't just want to be coping and pasting the same thing in every place. I knew that wouldn't work. For the Battle of the Brands I used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Etsy, Ravelry, LinkedIn, multiple forums, and my own website.” Get to know your customers and how they like to engage with your brand. This will allow you to more effectively and efficiently interact.
Community engagement is also important to garner business from your social media connections. Here are tips to effectively engage your brand’s community:
- Be genuine
- Be entertaining
- Make offers
- Reward loyalty
If you love your business and what you do, being genuine will not be difficult. It will shine through in your work every day. Cyndi did a great job of being entertaining throughout the Battle. She “yarnbombed” different items representing the companies she was battling against. This included covering items like a BB gun and a pig statue in yarn. Creativity like Cyndi’s will surely entertain your customers and keep them coming back to see what you’ll do next. Making offers and rewarding loyalty also engage your customers. Cyndi offered free yarn depending upon how far she made it in the competition by asking people to like her Facebook page. She has an extremely loyal fan base, and they aren’t just in Arkansas. In fact, she sells her yarn all over the world.
Although these are examples specific to The Twisted Purl, small businesses can use the concepts explained here to get the word out about their small businesses.