Presented by St.George Kick Start. We’ve teamed up with our partner St George to share new ideas from our alumni speakers, helping you to overcome the key business challenges that you face every day.
The strength of any business ultimately hinges on its ability to attract and retain new customers, and the ability to do so regularly. This is often easier said than done, however. With all manner of other immediate business concerns taking up time day to day, the hunt for new customers can often prove a challenge. How then, are business owners best able to make finding new customers an achievable task?
Take a trip through the centre of any major city, and chances are you’ll see a department store window that has been meticulously designed and styled. Considerable time and effort go into that first impression. After all, first impressions last.
For Tea Uglow – Creative Director at Google’s Creative Lab in Sydney – the digital space is simply a newer version of the same thing, but with the power dialed up. For small and medium sized business owners, when it comes to finding new customers, first impressions online also last.
“Your digital presence is just like your shop window, or your point of sale, except it can be seen by a much larger number of people. We all judge brands based on their website, so you need to know your brand, and represent that authentically.”
But unlike those decadent shop windows in those city department stores, representing yourself and your brand online and making a connection with new customers need not be prohibitively expensive. Uglow says that the most effective strategies for finding new customers online are often the simplest ideas.
Even the basic act of checking your website on several different types of mobile phones or tablets immediately allows business owners to see what potential new customers see and will flag any wrinkles that may need to be ironed out. Quality control and customer experience testing, on the go.
The trick here, Uglow says, is perspective. When exploring new digital channels, online functionality is only part of the deal. The other part is making your digital offering functional for the right people. She says that it is key to find people that understand the space you’re seeking to inject your business into online and heed their advice.
“You want to know what is missing from their perspective, not your perspective… [then] you can explore often in quite low-cost, simple ways.”
Armed with this knowledge and potential customer perspective, Uglow says business owners will then be able to take a more direct approach telling new customers what they are about. She notes that a huge number of Google searches start with the phrase ‘How to…?’. Her advice again is simple. Make answering that question a part of your business and branding.
And in order to do that, the digital space provides some obvious yet powerful tools.
“My first suggestion is always YouTube… because you have a great asset in being a small business owner – you are almost always passionate about what you do – and that comes across really well on video.”
Intuitively, this may seem overly simple or mundane to business owners, who largely have an intimate and sophisticated working knowledge of their industry. But in the simplicity of that message, Uglow sees a lot of power to provide potential new customers with the answers they are seeking.
“Simple to the business owner, complete genius to most consumers. So make a strength of what you know, and make your business more personable and visible. Start by asking, ‘What question do I get asked every day?'”
All the beauty here says Uglow, are that the tools to answer these questions are already at hand. Digital device video technology and editing capabilities have come a long way in recent years. Be it iMovie for iPhone or VivaVideo and FilmoraGo for Android (both of which are free), the ability to make quality video content and do it very cheaply is very real.
Beyond that, Uglow says that Google is now working on utilising the information garnered from existing GPS mapping technology to give potential new customers an initial experience of your business without them having to even be there.
“For example, a Google tool that is getting a lot more interest is Street View, the part of Google Maps that lets you take a walking tour with 360-degree views of your location. Google have a series of trusted agencies or photographers who can take photos inside your shop, which Google can then put online. It allows you to share the experience of being at your venue or inside your bar.”
This, effectively, gives business owners the chance to offer potential customers with a ‘try before you buy’ option. This again goes to the importance and value of having a slick, well managed and designed digital presence.
Ultimately, for Uglow, finding new customers in the digital space is still a human challenge. The challenge is to understand your brand, your potential customers and the power of communicating with those customers directly and with purpose.
While we all use the internet differently, we all use the internet. And how we do that day-to-day informs its potential power in growing businesses and attracting customers.
Uglow says, “The creative decisions that you and your friends and family probably make on your phone all the time can be transformative to a business when done with the right strategy and execution.”
Simple, right? That’s because it is, she says. And good digital marketing, inherently, doesn’t have to be overly complex or expensive. “It’s about understanding how your customers use the web and giving them something of value, in a place where they can use it.”
And that is a challenge that all businesses, no matter the size, can readily embrace and rise to.
This content is proudly brought to you by St.George Business Bank.