3 Steps to Establishing Cross Channel Communication in Small Business
One of the most common pieces of advice given to people in relationships is that communication is key. This advice is most often applied to romantic relationships, but it can also be applied to business relationships. As a small business, you have a specific message about who you are and what you have to offer that you need to communicate with your current and potential customers, so it’s important that you understand all of the channels that are available to help you communicate your message effectively.
In the past, there were only a few methods of communicating with customers: either through mail or phone. Nowadays, with the advent of the digital age, we have more options to reach customers. Businesses can now connect with clients through websites, blogs, email, social media, texting, online chatting, and other media sources. Instead of limiting your business to the old methods, why not try communicating with customers through some new avenues? Keep reading to find out how cross channel communication can benefit your small business.
Step 1: Understand how to use each channel effectively
Of all of the types of communication channels listed above, each one is unique in what it brings to the table in terms of disseminating information. You could take the same message, but depending on the method of communication, package the message in many different ways. Let’s break the channels down into two different categories: direct communication and indirect communication.
To speak with the customer face-to-face is the most direct form of communicating, as it allows you the opportunity to really listen and observe (with both your ears and your eyes) to what your client needs. This method is most preferred for clients who need extra assurance or who have a lot of information they need to communicate. Speaking with customers over the phone can also provide that sense of assurance to the customer-business relationship, especially for customers who are not in a position to come to the office for a visit.
Perhaps the most common method of direct communication in this day and age is email. Because most people carry smartphones and can receive emails wherever they are, this is also the most preferred method of communication. Another form of online communication is chatting, whether through text, social media, or chat services provided on your website. The benefit of these channels is that they generally allow you to communicate with your customers in real-time. Whereas email is typically used for documents and communication that requires more text, chatting services can be used for quick question and answer conversations.
Your website is one of the main methods your small business can use to communicate information about who you are and what products or services you provide. When customers want to know more about your business, their first recourse is generally to search for your website. The design of your website and the information offered therein will give your customers their initial impression of what your small business is about. So, be sure to update your website regularly and ensure that the look and feel of the site matches the look and feel of your business.
Returning to the idea of social media, sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are where millennials spend a lot of their time. In fact, many millennials will check out your business’s social media presence before they even look at your website. Unlike websites, which contain general information about your small business, social media gives you the opportunity to create real-time updates about what’s happening with the business, from special sales and events to milestones that have been achieved. Another benefit of social media is that businesses can create advertisements with targeted audiences.
Step 2: Assign specific channels to specific audiences
Once you’ve established the types of channels available for your small business to use, it is equally as important that you understand the types of audiences you are trying to reach. Depending on the type of audience you want to target, there are different channels where you would want to focus most of your energy. For instance, if you were targeting business professionals in an ad campaign, it might be wise to utilize the services of a social media application like LinkedIn as opposed to Snapchat. On the other hand, if you are marketing a fashion brand, Instagram would be the best avenue.
In order to determine the best channel for a particular audience, you have to do some research. In all of your marketing experience thus far, there should be data or analytics for you to analyze to determine how your current audience is responding to your communications. Analytics give information on the demographics of the people interacting with your information and even the exact pieces of information that get them engaged. This should be the primary guide in getting a good sense of how to fine-tune your marketing strategy.
Another resource to use to acquire useful data on your customers is a document called a customer persona that gives you an idea of who your customers are and what they want. HubSpot offers a template to help you create customer personas so you can create content that appeals to your target audience. If searching through your own data seems like too time-consuming of a task for you or your staff, you could always use the services of a third-party. Tuxedo Impressions LLC is here to help!
Step 3: Create Standard Operating Procedures
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are a list of step-by-step instructions on how certain tasks should be completed. In a previous article, we’ve discussed how SOPs improve communication in a small business. SOPs help organize the feedback process, they make internal communication run smoothly, and they communicate job responsibilities. In terms of cross channel communication, SOPs take everything we’ve outlined in the previous sections and make them easier for every member of the team in your small to follow best practices. When you provide your employees with SOPs, you are helping them be successful in their roles.
Now, giving your employees SOPs is more than just handing them a binder with a list of step-by-step instructions. It also includes taking the time to walk through the process with them. Set up training days that allow your team to put the SOPs into practice. Give them feedback on how they’re doing, and be sure to get feedback from them as well to ensure that the guidelines are clear and easy to follow, but most importantly that they are effective. Sometimes what seems effective to leadership is not always the case for those working on the ground.
Establishing a good system of cross channel communication is a process that takes time, research, and effort. The immense variety of channels available to your small business can sometimes seem overwhelming, but as you look closely at the type of customers you already serve, you will begin to see trends arise that can help you create the perfect communications strategy for attracting new clients. If you need help in regards to making that happen, contact us at Tuxedo Impressions LLC™ today.
~ Jamara Wilson, Team Tuxedo Impressions LLC™