Does your business have a system for receiving, organizing, and processing inquiries? This is vital for converting your content marketing, SEO, and social media into profitable outcomes.
How a business communicates with its communities is marketing. Tweet this
The smart ones use it to distinguish their company as professional, caring, and easy to work with.
Since every business is unique, I’ll share key elements of our process that you can adapt to yours.
I’m confident you will learn new ideas for improving your communications, while also helping you get more of what you need from me.
Provide Communication Options and Why They Work
Many companies design a system that works for them, but that either challenges the patience of prospective customers, or fails to give them the confidence their inquiry will receive the attention it deserves.
For example, if your customers prefer to use the telephone and your business does not publish that number online, it has a problem. This is a shortcoming for many businesses.
Your telephone number should not only be listed on your primary website, but your social media networks too – at least the more trustworthy ones, such as LinkedIn. More than one colleague of mine has missed an opportunity because I could not easily locate his or her telephone number to then refer them.
The telephone is for urgent business. This is why my telephone number is clearly listed on my Speaking page, and referenced on the Contact Us page, along with guidelines for when to use it. Many meeting planners or speaker bureaus use the telephone for a quick response, because they may be competing with other companies for the same opportunity.
For many of us a cell phone is our primary point of contact. Therefore, I do not answer most calls, preferring instead to group them together for responding during a designated block of time, unless of course the call happens to be urgent.
How do I know that? Google Voice receives my voicemail messages and transcribes them to me in a text message. This at-a-glance message allows me to quickly respond to what is urgent. Give it a try; it’s free.
On the other hand, coaching and other inquiries are best handled with a contact form that allows for determining if there may be a good fit. That too is noted on my Coaching and Contact Us pages. If there is a fit, I then use ScheduleOnce to arrange a 15-minute telephone conversation to learn more.
The point is to provide options that work for you and your community, while also educating everyone about why your system allows your business to function better for them.
Track Everything and Don’t Forget Social Media
Regardless of your company size or capabilities, it is vital to have a system for tracking inquiries. There are many CRM’s that will help you to do this. All you have to do is build the discipline for consistently using them well.
When I started my first business inquiries were limited to the telephone, then email, and now social media. It is not easy to manage it all, but technology will help. Most important is to build a system, use it, and refine it over time to make it better.
Every business can save time by using email better. This means your business has to not just request, but require email addresses for responding to inquiries. Include your business email within your voicemail system, and be sure your social media accounts offer an email point of contact.
In regards to email, you can and should be personal, but also to the point. To save time, use a service like TextExpander to send prepared responses that graciously dismiss unwanted inquiries, or to initiate your process for pursuing more promising ones.
Finally, if you are not using social media to engage with your communities, you are missing the opportunity to nurture relationships that lead to new business. If you think social media takes time, imagine using the telephone or email to do this!
While you are there, use your social channels to teach your community how to communicate with your business for getting more of what they want from it.
About the Author: Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley)