Pretend You Have A Store

by Matthew on August 22, 2011

It’s interesting to see the different ways people use social media. I can’t say for certain, but it seems like people who had real, successful storefront businesses before learning and wholeheartedly embracing social media have a decisive edge. A certain successful wine icon comes to mind. :)

Technology Isn’t Enough

I love the way technology continues to destroy barriers for communication and interaction between people. These days you can send an electronic note to someone who lives around the world as easily and (just about) as quickly as someone right next door. Instant global communication is available to pretty much anyone reading this.

But that ability alone isn’t enough to allow your business to fully benefit from these communication improvements. Now that the communication costs are low, you have to leverage the ability to interact personally with folks and build relationships with them.

There’s a general theme floating around the online business folks these days that you have to build relationships with people to really use the power of social media and the Internet. I agree, but if you don’t know how to build relationships with people in general, the Internet is just going to make that more difficult.

Exhibit A: Morton’s

You must read this story from Peter Shankman last week about Morton’s Steakhouse.

Even before reading this story, Morton’s has had a special place in my own heart because of a memorable dinner when my wife and I were first dating. I remember it being a bittersweet dinner because I was leaving the next day after a full and busy visit, but the ambiance, food, wine, and service were absolutely outstanding.

Apparently, Morton’s service is outstanding even for their customers who aren’t currently seated at one of their locations.

(And yes, my personal view is that the publicity component of the Morton’s story was a good reason they did this, since Shankman has a lot of social media connections, but the “personal touch” is still working for businesses.)

Interact Like You Run A Store

Now, your entrepreneurial business is probably not as large as Morton’s Steakhouse. You definitely can provide personalized interaction with your customers, and there’s probably no good excuse not to.

I’m realizing more and more–shockingly–that it’s also a great differentiator. I’m surprised at how many small and even moderately-successful online folks who won’t even acknowledge an interaction with them. Emails go ignored, comments unrecognized, etc. If you owned a store and someone walked in and said something, anything at all, to you, and you said nothing in return, how many customers would you expect would come back?

Aforementioned wine blogger is always talking about how he at least tries to interact with everyone who reaches out to him. Something to think about. I’ve gotten the impression that he took principles of running an actual brick-and-mortar store and just continued that with the Internet so he could reach more people.

Be A Shopkeeper

Pretend that people who give you the opportunity to interact with them online are people who walked into your store. Every one represents a person interested in some way in what you do. Don’t let them leave forever without engaging them.

That’s one reason I say that I always reply to every single one of my communications. Contact me and see. :)

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