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Stop selling, start connecting

Stop selling, start connecting

Today’s consumer hates being sold to - building genuine relationships with customers is where growing businesses are going.

So says consumer guru Jack Delosa, speaking at Hospitality New Zealand’s annual conference today.

And this is a young man who knows about growing businesses. The 27-year-old Australian entrepreneur and investor is the smarts behind two multi-million dollar businesses,The Entourage and MBE Education, a company that helps entrepreneurs raise money from investors and sell their business.

"Reaching consumers in 2014 is significantly different to what it has been in the past," Delosa told more than 200 conference attendees, "The business world has been obsessed with being professional and sounding intelligent at the expense of connecting with people. Talking at people, and selling at people is a strategy of the past."

He says, in 2014 meaningfully and authentically reaching people is the essence of business. Business owners need to stop selling - building trust and relationships so they don’t have to sell.

Delosa says the most valuable asset a small business owner has is the relationship they have with their audience.

"So how do you engage consumers and build meaningful relationships so they don’t feel like they being sold to? There’s an infinite number of channels today, so go where your consumers go. If they’re on Facebook, go there, if they’re on Instagram, go there. Then look at what content you need to produce on a regular basis to educate or entertain your audience in order to add value to them. It might be a blog where you write about seven things you should look for in a 5-star hotel.

‘Recency and frequency’ is key, he says.

"When a customer makes a decision on which restaurant to go to, or hotel to stay at, the business that is at the front of mind, the one that has contacted them most recently and most frequently, is the one they will choose when making a buying decision."

Business owners want to be sending their customers communications they open in anticipation.

"What consumers now want and expect, is that we give value prior to them coming to us and buying from us. To give this value, you need to understand their frustrations, dreams and fears, then you

have permission to connect with people at a genuine level. If you understand your audience and speak to them genuinely you cut through the noise going on."

In connecting with your customers Delosa says, don’t be like the friend who only calls when they want something.

"When you contact your customers, go with give, give, give, give, ask – add value to them and then get them to come in."

Delosa suggests operators connect with the heartbeat of their business.

"Great brands stand for something. You are in a business that stands for so much more than serving food or providing a bed. And identify who, or what you have picked a fight with. Jamie Oliver for example, picked a fight with fast food. When you declare what you stand against, it strengthens what you stand for."

Knowing what your business stands for is also crucial to building a great team culture with your staff.

"In order to move people that work with you, you need to get into their hearts and lives, when you identify what you stand for, you start to build a culture where people love coming to work and want to go the extra mile – all generations, even Gen Ys."

Hospitality New Zealand Chief Executive Bruce Robertson says Delosa’s talk highlighted the importance of taking a step back to look closely at who your customers are, and ultimately what your business is all about.

"Whether you run a country pub, or an inner city hotel, reaching your customers today is about understanding them and understanding your own business. It’s been so valuable having Jack here to share his wealth of expertise on how to go about gaining that understanding."

Reaching the new consumer - Jack’s key points:

1. Build and own your audience – look at what platforms they use, and go there.

2. Understand the hearts and minds of your consumers.

3. Go for recency and frequency in connecting with your customers.

4. Start giving and start reaching by talking about things your customers value.

5. Know what your business is all about and what it stands for.


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