(Part Two of a series, Part One can be found here)?Think about your favorite part of running your business. (OK, besides counting the money.) Is it the independence you feel from being your own boss? The pride of ownership in something you’ve built? The satisfaction of having made it this far?
Or might it also be the pleasure you get from providing a service that others value?
We humans are a very social lot. Without getting too academic, a pretty common tenet of psychology states that our greatest satisfaction comes from adding value to the lives of others. I know that in my business, my greatest satisfaction comes from the result of the work we do – providing a key source of revenue for scores of talented publishers. So think about that question again – what gives you the greatest satisfaction in your business???I know the answer for my friend Mark, who runs a successful family restaurant near where I live. For him, it’s the countless exchanges he has each and every day with his customers. His place is always full of people, always buzzing, and Mark’s at the center of it all. He knows nearly everyone who comes in, and makes a point of getting to know the newcomers. He remembers your children’s names, your favorite wine, or the fact that you’ve been traveling too much lately. And when he comes by your table, nothing seems to please him more than to tell a story about his business – where he got the special cheese in the pizza, for example, or the day last week when a local winemaker came for dinner. In short, Mark’s greatest pleasure seems to be the conversations he has with his clientele.
And his restaurant is, in effect, a platform for those conversations. It’s a truism for nearly every successful local business I’ve seen: The owners are engaged with their clients, they know them well, and moreover, they are seen as leaders and storytellers – masters of their domain, and more than happy to talk about it.
Now, that is a lot of throat clearing to get to the first topic I promised to talk about in this post: Search as the driver of customer intent. But stick with me here, I think there’s a real connection.
First, as I intonated in my last post, search has become your customers’ interface to the web. It’s how they ask questions, research buying decisions, and increasingly, how they understand who you are and what service or product you provide. Given that, the question becomes: When folks find you on the web, is your site like Mark’s restaurant? If they are returning customers, does your site greet them warmly, invite them in for a glass of wine, remember their kids’ names? If it’s the first time someone’s come by, does your site welcome them in and tell a story that engages and connects?
It’s a great way to think about designing what is, in essence, a proxy for your physical business online. Online, as in your storefront, you need to be in conversation with your customers. And the better that conversation, the stronger your business will be.
In my next post, I’ll cover some simple ways your presence on the web, as well as your marketing, can become more conversational.