What exactly is a business conversation? As a business owner, you have a lot of conversations with a lot of different people in order to effectively run your business. You talk to your staff about how they engage with people who contact or visit your business. You talk to vendors who supply your business with office supplies. You may even have important discussions with investors about how your business is performing. But as important as these conversations are, there are three essential conversations that go on within any business that matter the most. And if you go radio silent in any of these conversations, you could miss out big time.
Business to Consumer
The primary conversation your business has with consumers typically happens online, and it’s often the first time a consumer learns about your business. And like starting any new conversation, it’s essential to introduce yourself, bring your best to the table, and leave a great impression. So what does this conversation include? It can be anything from your text ads and display ads to your blog copy, website, social media pages, and local directory listings – basically any content that tells consumers who you are and what you have to offer. And, once you’ve gotten a consumer to engage with you from these mediums, you can continue to reach out to them with additional “conversations” like email marketing and follow-up calls that help them turn into a customer.
Why It Matters: Unless you’re you are able to communicate with consumers through some sixth sense, making all of your messages in your online marketing consistent, complete, and accurate is the only way to effectively tell consumers what you offer and why they should do business with you. Demonstrating your unique value and benefits is critical to separating your business from the competition. And while it may seem obvious, it’s important to remember adding key information like your business phone number and clear call to action on your ads and website so that you keep the conversation going.
How To Kill the Conversation:
- “I don’t have time to focus on my website.”
- “A call to action on my online ads? Nah.”
- “I don’t need a business blog.”
- “I’m not making videos because they’re too expensive.”
Consumer to Business
This next conversation establishes the first receptive connection between potential customers and your business. Consumers who are taking the time to engage in a conversation with your business often do so because they are interested in doing business with you, setting up the opportunity for you to earn an valuable lead. This conversation takes place anywhere consumers contact you, from comments on review sites and posts on social media pages to Web forms, emails, and phone calls from your website.
Why it matters: Making it to the consumer-to-business conversation is kind of like making it to the second date of a new relationship. There’s intrigue and a little bit of healthy skepticism, but overall there’s a willingness to trust someone new. And as trust is a great foundation for any type of relationship, failing to take action when a consumer engages in a conversation with you can set you back on their list of companies they trust with their time and money. So, it’s important to be ready when a customer engages with your business by having a plan in place to monitor consumer engagements with your business and to effectively & quickly respond.
How To Kill the Conversation:
- “I don’t have time to listen to my voicemails.”
- “I don’t really need to monitor comments on my social media pages.”
- “I respond to emails whenever I get around to it.”
- “I’m busy. So, of course I don’t know how my staff answers every phone call.”
Consumer to Consumer
This last conversation is one of the most important conversations, yet the most difficult to manage because your business isn’t necessarily involved in it. The consumer-to-consumer conversation can take place anywhere online, from review sites to social media pages to blogs, and also offline by word of mouth. While you may not be the conversation starter or recipient, conversations are still happening about your business, and you should be aware of what is being said and know how to respond, both online and offline.
Why it Matters: Approximately 90% of consumers who have read positive online reviews were influenced to buy. That shouldn’t be too surprising. Think about it. When you have to make a purchasing decision, be it personal or for your business, how do you go about making it? For instance, you may read reviews on sites like Google+ Local or Yelp or turn to social media to see what types of comments people are posting about a brand you’re considering.
As a business owner, you need make sure that what consumers read online about your business is positive, even if you don’t start or control the conversation. You should do this by frequently monitoring review sites, social sites, and search engine results pages for comments about you, then take steps to respond to negative comments or reviews, encourage positive reviews and recommendations from loyal, happy customers, and provide excellent service that keeps all conversations about your business in the green.
How to Kill the Conversation:
- “Nobody will see those 1-star reviews about my business.”
- “I don’t know what people are saying about me online, and it doesn’t matter.”
- “The 90% of people who have a problem with my customer service are wrong.”
- “I’ll just delete the negative comments about my business on my Facebook page.”
How do you manage each of these conversations in and about your business? Let us know in the comments!