My partner is a big fan of Washington, the Australian singer otherwise known as Megan Washington. As a result, I know all the songs, as he has her music on high rotation in our household. And I have (almost) been to more Washington concerts than Bon Jovi ones (yes, my musical preferences are nothing like his). Don’t get me wrong, I think Washington is amazingly talented. In fact, she’s mesmerising. Although who could imagine that, while sitting in the audience of the Concert Hall at the Sydney Opera House, Washington’s dark and moody “conceptual” performance would inspire an Enterprise post on entrepreneurship …
On Wednesday night I went to see singer Washington perform at the Concert Hall at the Sydney Opera House. She played to a sold-out crowd of more than 2000 people. Not only was she backed by her band, there was also a small string orchestra, conductor, large video displays and mood lighting to support her “conceptual” performance. It’s a far cry from when I saw her in concert less than a year ago at a venue holding about 60 people, when the band set up their own equipment, tested the mikes and chatted to the audience after the gig.
As artists become more popular, sell more CDs, and perform in more concerts, it becomes harder to maintain the same level of accessibility they used to have with their fans. The same applies when you’re in small business.
When you’re starting out, chances are that you know some of your customers intimately. You help them by suggesting products/services that you genuinely think they’ll benefit from. You may even tailor some of your products/services based on their needs. Many of them help you by spreading the word about your business and referring their friends to you.
However, as you grow, it becomes harder to stay in touch with your customers in the same way. And yet, it’s so important in order to keep your finger on the pulse.
It’s a process that I’ve experienced since I first started my own business six-and-a-half years ago. I run a centre that provides writing courses. Back then, I had six students in my first class and I was the only teacher. In fact, I was also the accountant, receptionist, marketer and cleaner. I negotiated the rent, created my own website (with help from my cousin), figured out how to use Google AdWords and even bought the toilet paper!
I was equally hands-on with my customers and I’m still friends with some of those first six customers. Last week, we celebrated our 10,000th customer (and sent her a bottle of bubbly and some goodies) and there are now 30 teachers who are part of my team. When you’re growing a business, the demands on your time increase 100-fold. So it’s physically impossible to spend even a fraction of the time that I used to spend following up, nurturing and connecting with customers.
Yet this is so important because it’s your customers who are going to spread the word about your business. In many cases, they will do your marketing for you. So what strategies can you put in place to stay connected with your customers, without it taking a chunk out of your schedule? Because, let’s be honest, you also have a business to run.
You can read the full Enterprise post here.