Keeping it real with the Chamber

chamber - open

I had the pleasure of presenting some customer engagement tips and tricks to the local Chamber of Commerce today. In the meeting, I shared some of the basics, and I learned that sometimes business owners appreciate a reminder to step back from the weeds and think about these things. Here are some of the basics we discussed:

Keep it simple: do you want to retain your customers, grow your business within your customers and / or acquire new customers? It’s Marketing 101, and sometimes you need a reminder to think in that level of simplicity.

Three reminders

 1) Do you know your customers? Don’t abdicate the knowledge of your customers to your sales reps. Indeed, they need to have great relationships, but so do you. I have seen too many businesses in which the management team is intimidated by the sales reps. The fear of the reps leaving with customers is palpable. Remember that it is 6-7 times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer (White House Office of Consumer Affairs). And if that doesn’t get your attention, a 10% increase in customer retention levels result in a 30% increase in the value of the company (Bain and Co.). Thinking of succession planning? Know your customers and stay connected!

2) Social media: There is a difference between a monologue and a dialogue. Let’s start with a conversation between two people. How do you react to someone who only talks AT you and not WITH you?  The same holds true with social media. It should not be a one-way communication. It takes commitment and engagement, and when you decide to go onto social media it is not a “one-and-done” proposition. When a customer posts something, they expect you to respond. According to Jay Baer ( 42% of customers expect a response on social media within one hour. On twitter it can be even faster.

And social media is not free…..if you want to do it well. It is not nights and weekend work for you. An investment of time and money is needed. You don’t need a million followers if you are a local business. A smaller number of highly engaged customers / fans is better than a large number of strangers or fans you bought. Think quality over quantity.

3) Your web site: make sure it’s good. Hire a professional; don’t do this at home. What more can I say? Forrester research ( shows that 62% of U.S. online consumers will avoid a website following a bad customer experience and 52% will avoid the associated brick-and-mortar store. So it is critical  to manage your messaging across all your marketing methods, virtual and tangible.

What can you do?

  • Make sure that you use graphics wisely.
  • Use clean lines and large photographs catch people’s eyes.
  • Use photos of people. People buy from people, not companies.
  • Have good content. Key words and narratives that are searchable. Google changes its search algorithms regularly. You must keep it fresh – don’t leave it alone for long period of time.
  • Tell a story. People love stories and they are memorable. How did your business start? Who works there now? What do customers have to say about you?
  • Use testimonials; they are powerful. Your best customers will be happy to help you.

The group showed appreciation for being reminded of some of the basics, and there was one company in the room that was doing all these things – bravo! That business is booming; “we are too busy”! What a happy problem to have.

So, sometimes it is good to step back, and be reminded of some of the basics.




About Laura Gale

I've led a number of companies - large and small - during transformations in their lives. The companies are usually moving into digital environments, and a lot of change is required. I pride myself on managing change productively and positively. I enjoy helping people and companies raise their brand awareness, and determine what strategies are right for them. I'm familiar and comfortable working with companies that need help with marketing, publishing, graphic arts as well as with small businesses. Curiosity is a hallmark of mine, and it has fueled my drive to social media - that and being a former journalist. You can also view my personal blog at I look forward to conversing with you.
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