Darren over at Problogger.net drew some wonderful parallels between blogging and farming. Shortly after reading his post, I found a news article about small farms in Indiana. These small farms could just as easily be your small businesses. They rely heavily on direct sales with customers. Not only must they cultivate their crops but the relationships with customers:
The advantage of selling direct is you get the entire price you charge customers. But the hard part then is how do you find those customers? How do you build those links?
What should your company offer?
One way farmers can draw customers is by growing a crop few others are selling locally.
You will need to evaluate the competitive landscape around the area you serve. Look for a service or product that isn’t so ubiquitous that you’ll find it hard to prosper.
Pay attention to your customers
Small farms also have the ability to develop close ties to regular customers. Farmers should pay attention to what repeat customers are buying and why.
What are your most successful products? Which of your services do people frequently request? What do you sell to your return customers? Talk to your customers and ask what they think of your work or products. By asking and conversing with your clients you become less of a corporate enigma and build relationships of trust. These relationships lead to repeat sales.
Make your business worth visiting
Farmers markets offer a great venue for developing repeat customers … Farmers need to connect with customers and explain the benefits of fresh, locally grown produce to turn the novel experience of visiting the market into a weekly routine
Do you connect with your customers? Is doing business with your company so pleasant that people will want to return? When you interact with your customers, explain the benefits of your offerings. Leave the marketing fluff behind. Can you see a farmer extolling the benefits of a tomato with abstract and vague generalities? No! Lay out concrete ways your product or service can help your client reach their goals.