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18 Tips For Turning Your Followers Into Customers From Business Owners Who’re Doing It

There was a lot to pick up during the Girlboss Rally in Los Angeles on April 28.

Attendees picked up ideas during the talks and panels, skills during the workshops, and advice during the keynotes. But they also had the opportunity to pick up some seriously cool products, straight from their creators.

Partnering with Google #SmallThanks,we curated a selection of our favorite women-run small businesses to sell their wares in the Small Business Bazaar. These are women who are talking the talk and walking the walk of small business savvy IRL—and, perhaps even more importantly, online.

The Small Business Bazaar also featured a Get Your Business Online(GYBO) consulting station ready to offer up advice for taking your small business to the next level. Google’s GYBO, launched in 2011, is a program aimed at helping small businesses increase their web presence and therefore sales by offering everything from tools for website creation to lessons on search engine optimization. Needless to say, the girlbosses present took advantage.

We asked the women running the 18 business in the bazaar to share their best tips for building client relationships in the digital space and turning those established relationships into physical transactions.

Debbie Bean

“Honest communication and listening to what people are saying to me. I am always mindful of other people’s time, so if I am reaching out to someone, I try to be as succinct and clear as possible. We are all super busy, so I think being respectful of other people’s time is critical. Also, I firmly believe that please and thank you goes a long way.”

Margaret and Katherine Kleveland of DÔEN

“We’re incredibly proud of our cultivation of a true grassroots community/customer base that feels connected to the brand above and beyond a typical customer/retailer relationship. We look to build a safe environment for women to encourage and lean on one another. For instance, as a feminist, women-owned business, our audience has also been very receptive to our vocal stand on political issues. Using our brand as a platform to promote positive messages is hugely fulfilling and we consider it a great achievement. Building this community is crucial to us in forming a customer base of women that want to buy from a brand they personally align with.”

Elizabeth Di Prinzio of Earth & Element

“Building client relations in a digital space has never been easier than it is right now. If you’re willing to put in the time to sit and go through messages, comments, etc., it allows you build relationships with other artists, customers, and potential large orders with bigger, established companies. I also have written many companies asking them if I could send them an email in regards to carrying my pieces. Some write back, some don’t, but there WILL be a win in that scenario if you keep trying.”

Stephanie Beard of Esby Apparel

“Being present online—commenting back when we have customers reach out. Using Instagram as a tool to bring people to the site. Keeping audiences engaged by posting often and providing perks to our online customers (giveaways, etc.).”

Janessa Leone

“Create unique and thoughtful designs and experiences that are true to your brand and vision. Be authentic in your approach to all aspects of the business.”

Kayti O’Connell Carr of MATE the Label

“It’s important to have a consistent tone throughout each interaction—in every channel and across platforms. We aim to communicate to our customers in a thoughtfully-informative way, but also kind of like we are hanging out on the couch. You want customers to feel that you are accessible across the digital space. Meet them where they are at: direct messages, IG comments, Twitter, etc.”

Maya Brenner

“Be attentive! I do my very best to respond to every DM and comment in a timely and helpful way. I want our customers to feel as confident as possible in their purchase!”

Heidi Baker of Ozma

“Engaging with them! Whether it be a DM, email, or comment, I like to personally respond.”

Elizabeth Kennedy of Paradise People

“I think building client relationships in the digital space is similar to building relationships in real life—be genuine, listen, be transparent, and create a reciprocal relationship.”

Kari Jansen of Poppy and Someday

“Reviews and comments are very important. One person leads to another. It always works that way. It is the same as word of mouth. People love to spread things that help heal or inspire them.”

Brit Roennigke of Roen Candle Company

“I have been testing the waters with leveraging influencers as a means to build my following. If someone is a good brand fit, it is a great way to increase exposure and get additional content that fits your brand aesthetic.”

Sophie Assa of Roseview LA

“Before you can build a client relationship digitally, you need to have a voice and that voice must be true to your brand. It’s not just about how curated your Instagram feed is, because unfortunately likes are not product purchases. So in order to create a relationship, you need to first give reason for your followers to want to do more than just like an image or follow along. It takes time, but it’s vital you engage and interact. It is somewhat of a business platform now with a very personal,voyeuristic influence. Spend time to create those relationships and build trust. It used to be just about the right branding, but now it’s more about community, as there is so much competition out there.”

Ali Hoffman Sloan of Sloan

“We simply try to be as responsive and warm as possible. We do not push our products onto people or speak in technicalities. Our chats and emails with customers are pretty identical to ones we have with close friends.”

Giselle Hernandez of Someware

“Establishing fluid, transparent, and honest communication from the beginning, as well as payingattention to the client’s needs and making sure those needs are being addressed.”

Sophie Monet Okulick of Sophie Monet

“Don’t be afraid to reach out on social media. A DM can go a long way. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.”

Eileen O’Dea of The Wooden Palate

“Reach out to let them know who you are and your successes and then do your best work for them!”

Hillary Peterson of True Botanicals

“Education is key. Helping our customers better understand skin nutrition and clean beauty empowers them to make informed decisions about their products. And then, of course, it’s critical to make products that deliver results.”

Ellen Nguyen of UnitedOther

“Be real. Be present. Be kind. Probably stating some obvious no-brainers but relationships are built on connections, be it online or offline. Relationships are partnerships of mutual support, respect, and exchange of creative energies—and this is even more imperative in the digital world. I cherish the community that UnitedOther encompasses. I value the support and loyalty of my community so I strive to be a loving human first and a business owner second. This feels right to me. I’m not sure I can do it the other way around.”


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