There is no such thing as an offline business in 2014

offline business

In the traditional business model sales were made following a conversation, either face-to-face or via the telephone. Then we moved to the online world and we added email communication to the mix. Now with the proliferation of ecommerce and our capability to make transactions without human involvement, businesses have been forced to adapt.

To many business owners it has been a difficult transition. In fact, for some businesses it is a change they never believed or anticipated they would make.

Take for example, service providers, let’s consider some of the reasons they didn’t need to offer online transactions:

  • their customers come to them.
  • their clients buy from them because they’ve met them and they trust them.
  • their customers come from referrals.

Let’s review the same three statements and based on today’s consumer consider how the same can be achieved through online interaction:

1. “our customers come to us”

Whilst this was a very relevant point in the past, most customers now are looking for convenience. Our lives are busy, over scheduled and time is precious. In many instances people are opting for suppliers they can communicate with via email, send files and receive information via email, and have deliveries sent to them for absolute ease.

2. “our customers need to know us and trust us”

We were accustomed to building relationships through meetings. In a traditional business model, negotiations and sales occurred in the boardroom or in-office meetings where interaction between the customer and the service provider were the key. In the earlier years of adopting the internet it was believed that this wouldn’t change. It has. Establishing a relationship and building trust is still the key to successful sales, this remains. What has changed – service providers may not have the opportunity to meet their prospects face-to-face and so must understand how to build rapport and trust without face-to-face contact.

3. “our customers come from referrals”

The best customers often come to us via referrals. Why? Because the person already feels they can trust us, or their friend wouldn’t have sent us to them. The beautiful thing about today’s environment is – every day is a good day for giving and receiving referrals and when that happens in a public place like Facebook, those referrals have much wider exposure than when we tell 1 or 2 friends. When we make referrals online we are potentially telling hundreds, even thousands, of people.

Why do many business owners resist going digital?

It is different. The transition in recent years has been paralleled to the Industrial Revolution. We have gone (and are still going) through a massive transition into the Age of Information and technology has become a much more integral part of our lives than we anticipated. Not only has impact been enormous, the change has occurred at the speed of light and just as we adjust, the next major change happens.

Whenever we undergo change, especially change we didn’t anticipate or ask for or understand, it is completely normal to experience feelings of fear, overwhelm and resistance.

It’s time to feel the fear and go digital anyway

It is time though, to know the fear and confusion is normal and DO IT ANYWAY. Business owners have to see that the change is not going away and it has changed the landscape for good.

Every business owner has to recognize the challenges and the opportunities which apply to their business, their product or service and figure out how they’ll adapt to the digital age.

The business owner must understand the tools, the marketplace, their target market and develop a strategy to go digital. That strategy must include – marketing, advertising, communication, pre-sales, post sales, productivity – there are so many ways digital can assist your business. When you leverage the capabilities of digital to your business remains competitive and efficient.

 

 

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