I recently took a road less traveled to meet up with two fellows who’ve launched a new business. I interviewed them for the next webisode of “Small Biz Big Time.” Scott and Joe want—and need—their business, Eco-Clean, to succeed, and since they’re both go-getting and hard working entrepreneurs, they’re already making strides and booking biz just a couple months in.
Eco-Clean is an environmentally-friendly cleaning service (commercial and residential, primarily for hard surfaces), and Scott and Joe’s initial geographic market is a blend of small city and rural areas. It’s so rural, in fact, Scott can’t get high speed Internet connection at his own home; he uses a connection through his cell phone to get online at the house. Not to mention, many of the potential Eco-Clean customers may not tend to be Internet users, even if they’ve got reliable service.
All that said, how can this new business benefit from new technology and social media? What role does online marketing and virtual relationship-building play for a business located in a rural area, targeting a customer base with hit-or-miss connectivity and usage?
This is a very interesting case study for someone like me. I live with fingers affixed to computer keyboard. For eight+ years, I’ve worked from home, successfully serving clients across the country thanks to seamless technology. With the onset of social media, I’m now absorbed in discussions about web-based communities, and my daily life is a swirl of tweeting, status updating and online marketing.
My interview with Scott and Joe was a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Life still happens at a local level. Scott and Joe are using online and social media tools—most certainly. Yet they’re also making cold calls, shaking hands and meeting face-to-face with prospects. Right now, both methods are proving effective; to grow a business like Eco-Clean, online and in-person marketing tactics are essential.
While I was on site for the interview, Joe got a call from a man he’d done an estimate for just that morning. It was good news. Eco-Clean won the bid and got the job, and Scott and Joe were ecstatic. I asked how they’d generated this lead, and Joe immediately got a just-ate-the-canary grin. A friend of the man who booked the job had seen Joe’s wife’s Eco-Clean car magnet! The custom car magnet had just paid for itself 25-times over, and Joe’s in-person estimate—at which he cleaned a corner of the man’s dirty marble floor to entice him with the possibilities of a full cleaning—had sealed the deal.
While the old school tactics merited high fives that day, Scott and Joe did go on to report that their Facebook business page had caught the attention of a local facility manager who was interested in some ongoing services. Obviously, that one lead, earned from a page that cost nothing and took just a little time to create, could also pay dividends down the line. But the pay-off will only come once Scott and Joe make the in-person connection and sell the value of their services face-to-face.
The more things change, the more they stay the same…
Look for the full story on the upcoming webisode of “Small Biz Big Time!”! I’ll be editing the story over the long weekend coming up, and I look forward to sharing it with you.
Until then, happy weekend, and as always, thanks!