Fads and Fancies

February 24, 2015 in Marketing, Small Business Advice, Social Media by lizbygrave

by Marcia MacLeod

Have you got the latest smartphone? Do you read all the fashion press? Are you eating your goji berries? (Or is it now avocado smoothies, ugly fruit and yak’s milk cheese?) Is your web site the most stylish on the planet – complete with lots of photos, a list of Facebook ‘likes’, references to other social media and ‘sharing’ your business routine with anyone who cares to look?

In short, are you hip, cool, wicked or whatever the youngsters call it today?

That’s great. I’m sure you have a wonderful social life. But how does this relate to running a small business? How does this relate to the success of your small business? Are you in danger of alienating potential customers?

In the rush to be seen to be up-to-date, to embrace instant, constant communication and all forms of social media, it is easy for small business owners to forget who their customers are, and what they want. If you are designing a new range of T-shirts for teenagers you need to be as ‘cool’ as you can: in fact, find your nearest group of teens and ask for their advice and opinions about what they would queue up to buy. If you are starting a catering business it helps to know what foods are in fashion – but they still have to be prepared in a way that looks appetising and tastes delicious.

But what if you’re an accountant? A business coach? A life coach? Or you provide any other business service? Unless your small business is in the running for the trendiest design company in Britain, ‘cool’ shouldn’t come into it. Your customers want expertise, knowledge, experience. Small business owners want someone (probably another small business owner) who can help them efficiently, possibly quickly, and at a fair price. They won’t care if their adviser turns up in the latest fashion or has the latest smartphone or iPad.

The same goes for other small businesses. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Would you prefer a personal trainer sporting the latest Nike or Adidas trainers – costing enough to fund 10 training sessions – but who doesn’t seem to be able to work with your individual level of fitness or someone who turned up in slightly scruffy, unbranded footwear, but seemed to know instinctively what exercises were best for you?

If you sought the services of an alternative health practitioner, would you be looking for someone wearing a replica of that very dress Kate Moss wore to the party last week, talked the right talk and had a penchant for dropping names – or would you want someone who was trained, experienced, and could provide the names of clients who had been more than satisfied with their service?

Think twice before embracing the latest fad and fancy: it may you look great in the eyes of your kids (or your peers), but for small business owners, substances is much more important than style.