Online-WorldIt isn’t enough to have a pretty face today – or a beautiful website or Facebook Page for that matter. If our brand has a value that is only skin deep or only an outward facade, we may attract an initial following, but don’t expect them to hang around for the long term.

Doing business in an online world has changed the playing field for business and made the options for consumers far broader. In today’s digital world, we had better deliver on what our brand is selling, or else.

People Today Have Options

People today have options that are not just around the corner anymore. Often zillions of options! For many consumers, whether the product or service comes from someone in another part of the world or from their local community is irrelevant. Three things are important: the product, the service and the price.

Lots of variables fit into those three categories but essentially most of what people are looking for falls somewhere in those three.

Put like this it sounds like people don’t want to shop local. Actually, many people do – and often they are willing to pay a reasonable amount extra to do so – all other things being equal.

But if you want to send your customers running for other options or only concerned about the best price, if you want your brand mentioned in ways on Facebook and Twitter that are less than flattering, promise them one thing and give them something else.

Advertise great service and great products – but only to get them in the door. In fact, it’s likely to be the last time you get them in the door unless you’ve slashed prices so drastically that they can’t resist what you have to offer. You won’t make a profit but, hey, you’ll make a sale.

How To Get Customers In The Door

But turn that around and make your customers your priority. Their best interest your concern. Provide them with products and services that deliver on your promises and are reasonably priced in the marketplace. Do it, this is important, with courtesy, care and concern and, well, you won’t have to spend much money on advertising. Your customers will spread the word for you.

Word-of-mouth recommendations from people we know (aka earned advertising) are the most trusted form of advertising according to Nielsen’s 2013 ‘Under the Influence: Consumer Trust in Advertising‘ report. The report, based on findings from an online global survey across 58 countries, revealed 84% of us trust recommendations from people we know. This is up from 78% in 2007.

The report identifies the number two most trusted and influential advertising as ‘branded websites‘ (69%) and number three as ‘consumer opinions posted online’ (68%). The latter statistic ties into earlier research by NielsenWire that shows 54% of us use social media to give positive feedback and 51% of us use social media to give negative feedback to brands.

Although online reviews are important, far and away the most trusted and influential form of advertising to most of us is word-of-mouth recommendations from people we know.

Don’t Expect Overnight Results

Building a business on a foundation of satisfied customers isn’t an overnight phenomenon. It takes time. Time to initially prove ourselves, when we first open our business, and ongoing effort throughout the life of our business.

In the end, we will find greater enjoyment in our business, and be more profitable, when we deliver products and services we are proud of, along with great customer service.