Are you building your brand? The answer is always “Yes!” Every step you take while operating a business brands you in a positive or negative way. Whether you are a sole proprietor or employ thousands of people, customer service and client relations should be foremost on your mind.
How are you representing your company? How do you treat prospective clients, and do you maintain positive relationships with the clients you have?
Quite a bit of what I do at Big Grey Horse Media involves marketing. Not only for my business, but for others’ businesses. I grew up in an entrepreneurial, small business environment so I learned early on to treat your customers right.
I’ve had disappointing experiences this year not only with interviews for blog pieces, but actual customer service experiences with companies I wanted to do business with.
A photographer I wanted to buy pictures from didn’t take photos of my horse. That’s cool, as I learned after the fact that the guy runs from ring to ring and is a one man operation. I offered feedback that the majority of the photos he took during the show were of kids and ponies, and to remember that the amateur adults and professional riders were the folks with purchasing power. This photographer was offended by my statement. He set me straight, so to speak, by saying that he did horse shows for free (which I knew), and if I wanted him to photograph my horse, I would have to pay him to do so (which I didn’t know).
In the long run, he missed the boat because paying him was exactly my intention. And no harm was meant when I said adult riders wanted to see photos of their horses, too. Here’s the kicker: “Adults rarely buy from me, and the pony riders’ parents do.” So in this instance, and in this photographer’s mind, kids and ponies win.
Truth is, as long as the shots were good, I would have bought every photo taken of my horse. Heck, I was interested in purchasing photos of my barn mates and their horses, too! And with those fabulous, professional photos of my horse in hand, I would have spread the word. We’re a Texas blog and we thoroughly enjoy endorsing stellar individuals and companies.
This is powerful stuff, people: word of mouth marketing.
Now I will use this experience to portray what happens when you’re rude to a potential client: You lose the sale. Further, your company can go viral in a negative way if someone chooses to call you out.
My take? The show’s prize list indicated this photographer would be at the show. Nothing was said about him being a one-man operation, just that the company would be ringside. Nothing was said on the photographer’s business cards (which were at the concession stand) that you had to ask to have photos taken or that you had to pay him in order to get his attention. Had I known prior, I would certainly have asked him to be ringside while my horse was going.
I felt that I offered this company invaluable insight into a prospective client’s mind. I also think it was a super opportunity for said company to salvage, through excellent customer service and client relations, future sales (the horse world is tiny and I’m sure I will run into this photographer again).
Building your brand is easy. Take good care of the people who come your way. Take good care of the clients you have. Forge bonds with everyone, even if you think they’re not your target market. Relationships drive sales.