Chances are that as a solopreneur, you wrestle with thoughts about the best way to communicate with your clients and prospects. Today we will look at a variety of methods and styles of communication to help you select the right ones for your business.
The Personal Touch
- Cards and Letters – These are handwritten and are often used for thank yous, congratulations, sympathy, etc.. The intent is to communicate that you cared enough to take the inconvenient way (purchase card, handwrite, stamp, post office). And since so few people use this method, your card will stand out. The challenge with this method is acquiring land mailing addresses. Take a look at a few business cards that you acquired recently – look at your own. This method works especially well if you have a supply of beautiful cards such as those designed by Suzanne Heron of Blue Heron Publishing.
- Electronic Cards – There are many sites online that feature humorous or pretty visuals in the form of a physical card. These are used for the same purposes – special occasions and thank you’s, etc. The intent is the same – to stand out and to let them know that you care. These work well when all you have is e-mail contact information. My personal favourite is Jacquie Lawson Animated e-cards because they are tasteful and usually include music.
- Telephone Calls – This used to be seen as the immediate way to connect. Today, it’s more likely that you will connect to their pre-recorded voice mailbox. You get to leave your message and hope your call will be returned. If you are connecting with large companies or government, chances are you will fall into the lineup listening to canned “musac”. If you are calling an individual, your call will not be answered unless your number is recognized.
- Text messaging – This method is very popular with cell phone users because it is very immediate and limited to very short messages. Texting replaces the personal phone call because of convenience and speed. It is most often used by close family and friends to communicate things like “on my way- sorry I’m delayed”. Texting online is often used for short conversations between people that are separated by distance and who happen to have their desktop or smartphone open. Google Hangouts and Facebook Instant Messaging are examples. Emoticons and abbreviations are used to speed up the process and for fun.
- E-mail – Usually used when you have a slightly longer message or possibly an attachment to send. Today so many people complain about their in-Box overload that Google’s Gmail pre-sorts in-coming mail into folders (Personal, Social, Promotions, etc.) In my own experience time permits full attention to the Personal folder and only quick scans of the other two folders. So know that your message may not land in the right place or get read.
- Face to Face – When families and clients are far away, video calls save the day. There are no long-distance phone charges and the connection is very personal because you can see their eyes and body language. Both parties are in their own space and in front of their own computer or smartphone. In business, conversations via Google Video Calls or Skype make expensive and inconvenient travel unnecessary.
- In Social Media – All of the platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) provide a way to send a personal, private message to one person. The receiver must either be cruising the site or have their notifications set so that they get these messages as they occur.
One to Many Communication
- Faxing – This was the way many companies sent out promotional flyers in days gone by; some still use this method in order to stand out. Faxing is still used when documents with signatures are required and is still used extensively by the health care system and government because it is seen as being more secure than other Internet platforms.
- E-mailing is used when you want to send the same message to more than one person. – Auto-responder programs like Mail Chimp and AWeber send out newsletters, blogs and company updates to mailing lists. The challenge here is that your message may be perceived as spam and never opened. Mailing lists are managed by these programs to ensure that the sender can be seen to comply with anti-spam legislation.
- Social Media – Posting something of interest to your audience is an effective way to communicate who you are and to get noticed. The use of text, images and videos enhances the message and therefore the interest. Most SM platforms allow for responses and engagement by +ing, liking or commenting. Each of the platforms has its own audience and culture.
- Broadcasting – Here is the latest way to get your message out to get their attention. Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook Live and YouTube Live Streaming are all video or image broadcasting with viewers interacting via text.
As solopreneurs, how do we decide? It’s important to be guided by our clients’/prospects’ preferences and not our own. One thing is certain. People dislike being sold to – they will avoid all those marketing messages like the plague. Therefore our only criteria must be engagement and relationship. How do we make that happen? One person at a time using a variety of methods until we get the connection going. Sometimes it’s out and about in the community or at a networking event and sometimes it’s in an online community where conversation, idea exchange and sometimes a few laughs make for the development of trust.
Mindset Monday Challenge
Think about how and where to make that engagement happen. Look for a local MeetUp that fits with your interests and expertise and get really involved. Never miss a meeting; put some energy there.
Look for online communities or start your own. LinkedIn has Groups, Facebook has Groups, Twitter has Chats. Lurk for a while and then join the conversation on a personal level. Ask questions, offer help, add information, offer a picture. Get to know people.