Know Your Starfish

One morning an old man was walking on a nearby beach. He saw, in the distance, a boy surrounded by thousands and thousands of starfish that had been washed up on the beach. As eagerly as he could, the young man was picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean.

Puzzled, the older man approached the young boy and asked, "Little boy, what are you doing?"

He responded without looking up, "I'm trying to save these starfish."

The old man laughed and said to him, "Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. This will take you all year! And anyway, you’re not going to make a difference to the beach like that."

Holding a starfish in his hand, the boy turned to the man and threw the starfish into the water in front of him saying, "Well, it made a difference to that one!"

Sometimes online we forget that everyone who uses our services and products is an individual that we are helping with our knowledge and expertise. We focus sometimes too heavily on numbers and getting our customer base up so that we can make more money, forgetting that it is much more about the quality we can provide than the number of people that use us.

Yes, it is great to get more people, it means we are doing well, but in order to get to that stage, we must treat every client as an individual. When we do this, the results are much more powerful, even if it makes the process a little slower.

In the long run, we will retain more long term loyalty and word of mouth will be that you are a decent and caring person to come to. Often, this is the motivating factor to enable people to choose you over a competitor in your field. People want to be valued and treated as if you are speaking directly to them. Internet Marketing is not just business, it’s personal. Remember that.

So here are 3 ways you can individualize your services and make people feel valued even if at first, it doesn’t seem like you should put so much attention into one little starfish –

  1. Do something unexpected

When I make a significant purchase or go to an important event, a follow-up call, email, or handwritten note lets me know that I wasn’t just a job or a big-money sign for you and your company - that you’re thinking about me at that moment- and that makes me like you and want to use you again.

Even something as simple as replying to my questions on Twitter, engaging with me by using my name, or adding a lovely personal/complimentary (even funny) thank you message that has my name in it.

  1. Return phone calls and emails as quick as you can

I know we are all busy with home stuff and work stuff, but nothing shows customer importance more than how quickly or slowly you get back to me as a client. The return call or email response that comes within minutes after I leave it, tells me that you respect me enough to show that sense of urgency. You know that famous statement that a satisfied customer makes when they say – “Wow! Thanks for getting back to me so quickly!” That is an impressive skill to have, use it if you can.

  1. Respect my ignorance

There will be a lot of things your customers know and don’t know and the level that they are on will be dependent on their experience. The problem is when you are at the end game of a subject that you know most things about and a customer keeps asking you the most basic questions about it, you can get frustrated with their ‘stupidity’.

But you’ll never win by making them feel stupid or losing your cool and giving a short, sharp or sarcastic reply. Indulge a customer’s question, even encourage it, giving as full and as gentle a reply as possible.

This will help them to like you and believe in your brand and also will place you as an expert. People who ask questions and are met with dignity and encouragement will come back to you to buy more of your stuff because they will trust that you are the person that knows and that is able and willing to help them.

The world is full of lost starfish, I hope that you came online to do better for yourself and the only real way to do that and make it lasting is to treat each one as if they are the full focus in the moment – because I guarantee you, it makes a difference to that one.

 If you'd like to learn more about you can make a difference with your own online executive coaching business, check out my free training video here.

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