As a scion taking over the family business, or a young entrepreneur, you are undoubtedly well aware of the marketing prowess of the internet. Websites, blogs, online community forums, email marketing or mobile campaigns are known to be cost effective tools for reaching your target customers, most of whom own smart phones and carry tablets everywhere they go. Referencing a statistic from one of my previous blogs, the Local Consumer Review Survey 2012, by Search Engine Land, revealed that 70 percent of consumers read online reviews before purchasing and 58 percent trusted a business with positive online reviews. So an online presence is a given even for small businesses.
Significantly, what this statistic also tells us is that a large chunk of your customers are NOT basing their purchase decision on information available online. So there is more than the click of a mouse or tap of a smart phone to marketing small businesses. Can the old fashioned way of presenting your business face to face, or in-person networking, still reap big results for local businesses?
Social Networking The Old Fashion Way
Dealing with business contacts in person, rather than communicating via the internet is helping the successful entrepreneurs and business owners generate $137.5 billion in revenue as per report by moo.com. The company, which is an online printing service, has also published results of a 2012 survey conducted to review the impact of networking for businesses. The survey covered 1500 business owners across the U.S and U.K, of which 30 percent were small businesses. Here are the key takeaways for small businesses from that survey –
- While the internet was the top-of-mind, most used way for networking, a significant 90 percent of small businesses reported getting fresh business from in-person networking
- 30 percent confirmed that they were able to acquire a lot of new business from people networking
- Handing out business cards is another emerging trend, with 69 percent of entrepreneurs confirming that they are effective for networking.
Tips for Effective In-Person Business Meetings
Keeping in line with the old school of marketing a small business, here are few helpful pointers for making a good impression in that all crucial in-person business meeting:
- Go prepared with a strong introduction – who you are, what your business offers and where is it based. But also remember to keep it short.
- Highlight what makes your business different from others
- Ask the right questions, get to know your customer – What can I do for you? What are your interests or profession?
- Tailor the way you describe your business offering basis the person you are dealing with
- Appear reliable in your conversation; resist the temptation of getting swayed by the discussion. Don’t over-commit or misquote information.
- Follow up on the initial meeting. The Moo survey revealed that 36 percent of entrepreneurs followed up within 2 days of the contact and 34 percent within the week.
- Last but certainly not the least – your body language can set the tone for the meeting. No eye contact, unpleasant appearance and a limp handshake could derail the meeting before you even get a chance to pitch your product or service.
The infographic is a reminder that regardless of new communication technologies, the basics of engaging clients with personal interaction remains as relevant as ever. Using the internet to reach out to potential and existing clients must be supplemented by with in-person networking. Small businesses should utilize opportunities to promote themselves at conferences, exhibitions, seminars, professional body events, parties or maybe even at the local pub!