Small and micro companies also need to pay attention to this issue. It’s essential to understand the public and define ways to relate to it.
Paulo Nassar – Communication Specialist
President of the Brazilian Association of Corporate Communication (ABERJE), Paulo Nassar is also a professor at the School of Communications and Arts of São Paulo University – where he coordinates the New Narratives Group (GENN) – as well as being an author of several books, such as “Tudo é Comunicação” (Everything is Communication) and “A Comunicação da Pequena Empresa”(Small Business Communication).
How can a small business use communication to grow?
When it comes to communication, the first thing you think about is advertising. But this universe is much broader. Small businesses generally don’t have conditions to run ads, which are expensive, but they can take specific actions aimed at their relationship network.
How are communication and relationship linked?
Communication is a component of relationship logic. You have to know your audience and analyze the environment where contacts take place. The first step is to understand with whom you are relating to and then define the ways to deal with this public.
Can you better explain the importance of the environment?
In a shop, the way the space is organized can open-up relationship opportunities. It can also hinder interaction. For example, round tables are always better for meetings and conversations, because there is no dominant position (the head). The counter is also an important point: it can be seen as a barrier, a way to impede proximity, or it can become a meeting point.
Besides the space’s organization, what else should be considered?
Relationship and communication are connected to what we call rites and rituals, which involve the traditions that we follow and the ways we organize ourselves to do our activities. The gesture of offering a cup of coffee and sitting around a table – savoring it, devoting time to it – has tremendous value in this respect. It helps to cultivate relationships and is a differential in a society like ours, one marked by a constant rush.
Is celebrating special dates also part of this?
Dates such as Contractor’s Day, Consumer’s Day or Women’s Day can be used to consolidate relationships. But it’s necessary to evaluate well what to do on these occasions.
How is all of this connected to communication?
As I said, communication is much more than advertising. It’s the most important component of these relationship initiatives, which are what consolidate the business, the family, the brand. Any entrepreneur today doesn’t only manage goods and services but also the symbolic elements and the stories that surround them.
Does this have anything to do with the image?
It‘s essential to be attentive to the image that’s being presented. The customer notices everything, consciously or unconsciously. In a store, for example, aspects such as the facade, cleanliness, condition of the bathroom, if there’s trash at the door, employees’ uniforms, how the phone is answered and many others contribute to form a positive or negative image. At the same time, society is more attentive to behavioral issues. Inappropriate or biased attitudes are viewed negatively. In the case of contractors, the image they convey is even more critical because people care about who comes into their house.
Is knowledge alone enough for the professional’s image?
Technical training is essential, but it’s not enough. Today we talk about the need for technical training, ethics and aesthetics. That is, society requires knowledge but also the right attitude, proper image, quality service. People want to be around good, beautiful and well done things.
Can the image be valued in other ways?
The professional of this segment should value his work, knowing the history of refrigeration and knowing how to show that without this area the world would be very different. Our society can’t be sustained without refrigeration. The technician should be proud to contribute to this and use this information to his advantage. On the other hand a specialized retailer can use elements that value refrigeration or tell his story as an attention grabber: having a renovated old refrigerator or old photos on display, for example. This also arouses interest and humanizes relations.
How does digital media fit into this picture?
The possibility for relationships has broadened. We live today in a world in which the characteristic is that everything communicates with everything and the circulation of information is almost unlimited. There’s even an information and communication overload. This brings opportunities but also risks. It’s necessary to know how to use these resources well, because we’ve become much more exposed to society’s judgment: you can’t have an aggressive, racist posture, etc. At the same time, I emphasize that in this increasingly digital world, you can transform the traditional – face to face communication – into a differential. Being close to people is very positive. International surveys show that top executives of large companies spend over 80% of their time with relational activities: walking around, talking and listening to people. And this attitude is valid for every type of business.
Where can I learn more to stand out in this area?
It’s possible to get more knowledge about these topics in associations and in places such as Sebrae, often free of charge. There’s also a lot to learn on the internet, where there are reading materials and tutorials available that show you step-by-step what and how to do it. The most important thing is to have an open attitude towards communication. Anyone who wants to survive and consolidate their business needs to have this openness. Another aspect is to learn from those who communicate well in your or in other areas. This is true for both people you have relations with, who stand out for this ability and that create value, as well as for known personalities, such as the great communicators of TV, radio or Youtube. Communicating well is not only a gift. There are processes and tools that can be learned.