It’s so easy, when you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, to get swept up in the online wave. I have to make sure I find a search engine optimisation expert so I have just the right number of keywords on my website for people to find me online. I need to spend half my day chatting to people on Twitter, showing my expertise on Linked In and posting interesting stories, facts and information on Facebook.
But are we being just a tiny bit short sighted in our concentration on wooing the ‘new media’ community and forgetting about a real community that still wants to talk to us?
I was recently chatting to my middle son who, at 10, isn’t particularly interested in anything online. He’s very much an outdoors kind of boy and really has no interest in a computer screen. As a reference point, I have had to forcibly remove the controller/mouse/small electronic device from his older brother’s hand since he discovered them at an early age and who has taken to the online world quite readily.
As we were talking, he was very excitedly telling me everything you could possibly want to know (or, in my case, not really want to know) about Madd Gear Pro Scooters (yes, they are online) and the different sorts of wheels available in every conceivable colour and type. As he was talking it occurred to me that he was carrying a vast amount of very detailed knowledge in his head. He doesn’t search online for information, and he is about as far from a voracious reader as you can get. So, where was he getting this knowledge from?
Since one of his talents is having a chat, he has spent a great deal of time talking to his friends about their buying experiences, where the best places are to shop for the best deals, what the latest products are, what the best options are to produce the best aerials and tricks down at the skate park, and the list goes on.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the online world. When I was at the beginning of my business journey working alone from my home office Twitter was not only a life-line, it was a great way to build my reputation and source new clients. And, I have embraced the opportunities that Facebook offers with both hands. But, concentrating all of your efforts on your online presence could mean that you are ignoring a large chunk of your potential and, even worse, existing customers.
Remembering that not everyone has embraced the online world or even likes being online could save your business from disappearing down an online rabbit hole to a world of magical mirages.
How you communicate with your market should be determined by your market, not by you. This means that you need to be mindful of where and how they get their information. Obviously, people may talk about your brand online and you should be actively participating in this, but don’t stop having your VIP customer evenings where you physically make contact with the people who support your business. Connecting online is only part of the equation. Building successful relationships requires active participation in a solid mix of communication platforms. Pressing the flesh and communicating in old fashioned ways still carries a lot of weight. So, rather than always hitting the refresh button to ‘see what’s going on’, take some time out, have a chat and make a mental note of how ALL of your customers like to get their information.
Karen Morris is creative director of Inscriptions Media.