It’s every entrepreneur’s dream to build a business large enough that they cannot manage every aspect of it themselves. For the few people that do succeed at doing this, however, there are unexpected challenges. For starters, the larger your business is, the more difficult it is to maintain a personal touch. Large companies quickly acquire an impersonal feel. Fortunately, with a little bit of effort (and the help of a few strategies), it is possible to grow your business without making it into an impersonal corporation.
Remain as Involved as Possible
As your business grows, you might start feeling tempted to offload all management activities onto other people. Perhaps you want to spend more of your time on the creative, stimulating aspects of your business and less time on mundane management activities. There is nothing wrong with this, but you need to be careful to stay involved on some level with managing your company’s day-to-day operations. This will help preserve your personal touch and prevent the dilution of your personal brand.
Even doing something as small as consulting regularly with management can help you preserve some of the more personal aspects of your business. It also helps if you can make time to interact regularly with all your business’ employees and some of your customers. The more time you spend with customers, the more they will feel a personal connection to you.
Ignite Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Pulling off effective word-of-mouth marketing is not as easy as it might seem, but there are few other advertising approaches that will enhance and preserve your personal brand as well. Word-of-mouth marketing is, quite simply, a more personal marketing method than almost any other. While television and print ads may ultimately reach greater numbers of people, they lack the personal element that word-of-mouth marketing has. One positive side effect of this is that customers acquired through word-of-mouth marketing tend to be more loyal than customers acquired through other types of marketing efforts.
Send Personal Emails
Think back to a time when you received a personal email from a company you had just purchased a product or service from. How did you feel? If you are like most people, you must have felt touched by the personal nature of the email.
Nothing turns people off like computer-generated emails. Customers want to feel that the owner of a business they are patronizing cares about them personally. It’s true that sending personal emails can be very time consuming. Very few CEOs of large companies bother sending personal emails to customers. (Steve Jobs was a notable exception). But personalized emails have such a positive impact on customer retention that it is worth your time to send out a few on a regular basis.
Remember Customers’ Names
Most people are delighted to have their names remembered. Forgetting someone’s name always causes at least a small blow to their ego. If you want to maintain your business’ personalized feel, you need to make a regular effort to remember the names of your business’ customers. Of course, if your business has a lot of customers, this might not be easy. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you regularly make an effort to remember names, you will do a lot better than most people (many of whom make almost no effort). With time, you can even hope to improve your ability to remember names. Practicing remembering names will gradually strengthen your ability to memorize names.
Learn from Kindlegraph
Kindlegraph is a sterling example of a company that has managed to make impersonal products personal. Kindlegraph offers a service to authors of e-books that enables them to send personalized inscriptions and updates to select owners of their e-books. This makes it possible for authors to prevent the dilution of their personal brand even as they become increasingly well-known and have less time to interact with individual readers.
Figuring out how to maintain your business’ personal feel requires a lot of creativity. There’s simply no getting around that fact. But if you start making the effort to think of novel ways you can stay personally connected with customers and prevent the dilution of your personal brand, you will be surprised by just how many new ideas you will be able to come up with. Who knows? You might even be able to have some fun during the process.
Maria Elena Duron, CEO (chief engagement officer), buzz2bucks | a word of mouth marketing firm, is skilled at making networks “work” and harnessing powerful online and offline buzz, she facilitates online visibility services and word of mouth coaching and workshops – taking companies and professionals from buzz-worthy to bucks-worthy.