Does your business feel irrelevant? Here’s what you can do
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
There are periods in a business owner’s life when the products being sold or the services being offered grow stale and cease to feel relevant. Sometimes this can happen with the overall mission of a business. The tides turn. Interests change. Passion wanes. What’s popular and trendy loses steam.
It can feel daunting to even consider small changes, let alone do a major pivot. Perhaps staying relevant doesn’t require reinventing your business. Maybe it’s more straightforward than that.
Back in the mid-1990s when I was starting out as a marketing communications consultant, and later, when I taught business classes to new entrepreneurs, one of the key things I emphasized was relationship-building.
A very successful restaurant owner that I interviewed for a newspaper article agreed. He said the key to his success was not seeking customers but cultivating relationships with each and every person that he served. Why? Loyalty. Inevitably, loyal customers would tell their friends, who would then tell their friends, and so on.
In the digital age, we assume we’re building relationships, but are we? I’ve met lots of business owners whose online presence is minimal, at best. This might work if you run a brick-and-mortar business, but to truly stay connected with your audience, and therefore relevant, it will take more than a handful of generic Facebook and Instagram posts. Digital entrepreneur, speaker and marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk says it well, “The best marketing strategy ever: CARE.” Your online presence must reflect that.
In addition to relationship-building, here are some other ways to increase your business’s relevance.
In my experience, relevance translates to engagement. “Amazing things will happen when you listen to the consumer,” says Jonathan Midenhall, CMO of Airbnb. This means tuning into your audience, tuning into what they need (or even better, asking them) and responding by letting them know that you hear them. People love to know that they matter, and when a business demonstrates that to its customers, it exponentially increases the good feeling customers have about engaging with that business.
In addition, customers look to a business for solutions to problems. As things change in our world, so do our problems. Business that respond to those changes by offering well-considered solutions and inspire trust among both their loyal and new customers. Being on top of current problems shows that a business is taking time to pay attention to the issues facing their customers rather than staying on autopilot, assuming the issues will remain unchanged.
Relevance is also connected to the business owner’s passion and motivation for doing the business, because as guru marketing consultant Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
If you are burned out, bored, stuck or uninterested in what you’re offering, and have lost touch with your “why,” your customers will pick up on that. One of the best things you can do to become relevant again is to get back in touch with what inspires you and makes you passionate.
Finally, being ahead of the curve (within reason) can also help a business stay relevant. Rather than resting on the laurels of previous successes, it’s essential to keep certain questions in the forefront such as:
- How can we improve on what’s already out there in the marketplace?
- How can we do what we do better, more efficiently or in a way that really excites us as well as our customers?
- How can we fill a gap (a need) in the marketplace that is currently unmet or underserved?
It’s exciting to engage with businesses that care about their customers, know what they need, help them solve problems, are passionate about what they do and are regularly improving and innovating their offerings. Any one of those things can help a business stand out in the crowd, but a combination of several of those pretty much guarantees a business will stay relevant, and in turn, be highly successful.
What steps can your business take to stay or become more relevant?
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