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Right-Sizing Innovation for the Small Business Owner

Increasingly our world favors BIG. BIG Companies. BIG Stars. The next BIG thing. Big business seems to favor other BIG businesses, like during Christmas when ABC’s GMA seemingly supported only the online BIG Box stores, leaving small online entrepreneurs in the dust as reported in our December 8th blog, “Scrooge Strikes e-Commerce Small Business.”Big and small

What is the key to small businesses getting ahead? Many believe it is innovation. But it’s not that simple. Innovation tailored to the unique position and qualities of a small business propel it forward. Small business owners have certain advantages over their BIG business counterparts. They spend up to 80-90% of their days working directly with their customers, discovering their needs, solving their problems, finding the things that make them truly happy, and things, that no matter what, leave suppliers or service providers coming up short.

These insights from first-hand knowledge are the competitive edge of a small business.  BIG business might have the resources to implement innovation, but often they are so far removed from this fundamental information that they are not able to “see the forest for the trees”

In the article, “Think Small Innovations to Get Big” the author, Darrell Zahorsky describes the advantages of smaller incremental innovations found in the food industry. Small businesses that actively applied small innovations had better performance and competitive advantages over its two competing larger corporations.

How should your small business innovate? Perhaps they are things you already do. In a connected blog, Mr Zahorsky went on to list the “7 Principles of Small Innovations.” They are good tips all small business owners can benefit from.

In summary they are:

Free Time: Work smarter, not harder. Use new technology and outsource to work efficiently.

Collect Ideas: Carry around a small notebook to capture ideas throughout the day.

Look Outside: Look to other resources to succeed.

Be Customer Centric: If the innovation makes you feel uncomfortable but delights the customer, you are probably on the right track. Oh, and always consider your customer’s customer.

Use All Types of Innovation: Be alert for ALL innovation. Sometimes innovation occurs unexpectedly.

Ask The Right Questions: When talking with customers, ask about the experience, instead of the product or service.

Make a Daily Habit: Innovation can occur at any time and any place. Embracing daily innovation tactics into your lifestyle instead of as a main event will allow you to implement your best ideas.

Many of today’s leaders say the Small Business sector is likely to lead America to its next step in economic recovery. Learning the art of innovation within small businesses provides owners another competitive advantage needed to compete against all things ‘BIG’.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their conversion rates by adding proven online marketing techniques to their marketing mix.

We do this by integrating inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and by utilizing digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

We invite you to comment and rate each blog, so we can ever improve our offerings to you.

Know Your Customer’s Customer

customers

Attribution to Christine Jump (Flickr)

One of the basic principles of customer satisfaction is to understand and know your customer’s customer. It is something so simple, and yet sometimes, marketing professionals overlook this. Instead they create campaigns that fit the marketing person’s profile or fancy better than they do the customer or the customer’s customer.

Whether you’re selling to a company that makes and sells stuff or selling to Moms whose main customers are her three kids, you need to recognize who the customer’s customer is. If you want to create compelling programs and assess if they are on target, then knowing your customer’s customer is the most important key to successful marketing.

Clients, the ones who pay you directly, gain a new appreciation for the professionals who do their homework in this manner. It is the most generous compliment for a client to discover that you, in fact, took the time and effort to understand what they are doing and most of all, who they are doing it for: their customers.

In online marketing terms, the customer’s customer is an extension of a Buyer Persona. As social media marketing becomes more integral to the sales process, you will see this become more critical, but I wonder how many will really ‘get it’. Relating to people, even those called consumers, is not a science, but an art, backed by a strong genuine interest in helping people and truly satisfying their wishes.

As we take up the challenge of determining how to align with customers using new media, we need to reclaim the basics we learned so long ago. Learn about your customer’s customer, get to know them, spend some time talking to them or better yet, joking and laughing with them. As you build this awareness, you also build awareness of the direction your business should take to better connect with your consumer and satisfy their needs and interests for your products and/or services. Doing this well results in relationships that can last a lifetime.