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Posts Tagged ‘sobcon’

Making a Business Irresistible with Liz Strauss

April 20th, 2010 :: Thursday Bram

Liz Strauss’ list of accomplishments is lengthy: she’s the founder of Successful Blog, which in turn lead to SOBCon, a conference that brings together successful and outstanding bloggers and businesses. Liz also helps businesses to build online communities and brand strategies that will attract not only customers but loyal fans. Liz answered a few questions to talk about what she does in the context of small businesses.

How did you get into blogging and social media? When did it click that this was something you wanted to do?

I’ve been in publishing for most of my adult life. So, when I decided to go freelance “for good,” moving online was a natural progression. It allowed me to use my experience and skill set to take on new and exciting challenges. I think I was hooked the minute I realized that it was about connecting with people in real ways that formed community and lasting relationships.

Why is building a community online crucial to a business? Do you see any difference between the needs of bigger companies and smaller businesses, as far as community goes?

The Internet, particularly the social web, has disrupted many industries and started new ones. These days we can’t rely on a great location — the corner of State and Main — to ensure that the people in our community will see us. The whole changes when the world becomes our marketplace. People no longer have to rely on what we provide them. They can look for exactly what they need by searching the Internet 24/7 anywhere in the world.

By bringing our online customers together where they can participate in our thoughts and ideas and allowing us to help us build something that serves them, we give them a chance to own and steer the choices we make on their behalf. We also give them an opportunity to connect to each other and build relationships. By introducing our offline customers to that online community, we open up our business to even more vibrant feedback and input that makes our business intelligence richer and more customer centered.

It’s slightly easier for smaller companies to do that, because they more easily form and communicate their message and brand, which allows them to open up the whole company to speak with customers easily and with confidence. Some larger companies may have to start more slowly to adapt their “big company” culture to retrain their evangelists to reach out and listen rather than broadcast.

You’re known for making companies irresistible to customers. Can you break down what you might do with one of your clients to make their business irresistible?

I always start with the basic principles of business, particularly leadership. Leadership has a strategy — knows where it’s going and which customers it wants to work with. We make sure that we can articulate those two points clearly. Then find and honor heroes and champions: people inside and outside the company who love what the business is doing. We listen and learn from the heroes and champions how we might align our goals to grow together. Leadership that loves the people who helps the business thrive, invites them in to participate in meaningful ways, and does that with intelligence, heart, and vision is irresistibly attractive.

How has bringing together businesses and bloggers at SOBcon changed those business’ efforts in promoting themselves online? Have there been any particularly key take-aways from the conference?

SOBCon is more of a think tank and business retreat than an all out conference. We keep it in an intimate mastermind format where content is presented then teams immediately discuss what they heard and apply it to their business. That sort of interaction ignites a high-trust environment, attracts serious business people, and develops deep networking relationships. I think we all walk away knowing that we do better when we test and try our thinking in a room of great minds who want to help us. A number of businesses have been born in the room that is SOBCon and from the network that it has become.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a small business owner trying to figure out how to build a brand online, what would it be?

Look to combine your passion with your skill set. Then weave your personal values and integrity throughout all of that. You choose your brand and live up to it and you choose your customers by the values you put into your brand.

Image by Flickr user Geoff Livingston