Categorized | Business


Digital Firewalls

By Tom Irmen

Increasingly I’m observing a growing number of potential new clients electing to do business exclusively by email. In fact, many of these clients do not provide a contact phone number, which is important when following up.

I certainly understand the need for greater efficiency in business, particularly since this last recession. Conducting business via email and text messaging are certainly expeditious, but doing business digitally can also be problematic, creating a type of firewall that could result in your small business being viewed as just one of many generic alternatives available to your potential new client. If you offer a value proposition that successfully differentiates your business from your more generic competitors, then doing business via email and text messaging will require you to rethink your existing strategy, which has likely been based on the strength of the successful relationships you have cultivated over time.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you abandon the years of personal relationships that today still remain the foundation of your small business. Just be prepared for doing business with potential new clients who may prefer to do business “digitally,” where it’s more difficult to successfully differentiate yourself from your competitors who likely receive the same Request for Proposals that you receive.

No, I don’t know where this is heading or what the future holds. Only time will tell. But I will tell you that I’m contacted by at least a half dozen or more businesses every year, requesting that we help them leverage their businesses with our existing customer base. I’m generally of the opinion that they’ve exhausted their online options, social media, etc. and are attempting to capitalize on the personal relationships we have cultivated, which are the cornerstone of our success.

I don’t wish to sound pretentious. If there were a shortcut to success, we’d be all over it. While today’s digital world has fundamentally changed nearly every aspect of our business, I simply see no alternative to the relationships to which we owe our success.

Again, if you have built a small business that has successfully differentiated itself from its peers, then today’s digital communications may represent a potential firewall, but not one that can’t be overcome. The same creativity that differentiates you from the competition will help you to once again successfully differentiate yourself in our new business environment that is increasingly growing more dependent on 30-second communications.

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