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Social Media and Your Business

So, a couple of our customers have seen our new(ish) presence on Twitter and Facebook and even Google+ and have asked why an equipment rental firm in Monticello, New York needs to be broadcasting our thoughts and ideas to the whole world.  “You’re a local business,” they say.  “Why worry about everybody else in the world?”  Fair question.  We’ll try to answer!

I suppose we would begin by saying that we have come to learn and understand that social media is just today’s buzzword for something that has existed for a very long time: word of mouth.  Is there ever such a thing as “too much word of mouth”?  Would you ever tell someone, “Well, thanks for telling me about that company, but I’ll never be in that part of New York, so you wasted your time telling me about them”?  Of course not!  This is because “word of mouth” is part and parcel of storytelling.  As humans, as social beings, we love hearing a great story, and just because that story is about a business doesn’t make it any less interesting.

Businesses like ours particularly thrive on word of mouth.  It’s our best and least expensive form of advertising.  We think the reason we’ve been in business all these years is because we do our best to help our customers and embedded within the very pricing of our products – we rent by the day, not the hour (so you don’t have to clock-watch, you can just focus on your work) – is the way we think about what you do.

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What makes our business so fun (apart from getting to work outside often) is that we are renting and selling potential and dreams.  People come to us with an idea of clearing a space, creating a space, improving a space, or adding something entirely new.  The wheels of creativity are spinning and they are seeing something where there is currently nothing.  We get to help them explore that creativity and “paint” with our tools.  We get to help them develop that idea into something real.  Now, sometimes that means that we have to tell them that the idea is unrealistic and we try to conceive of a realistic way to execute their notion.  Other times we are so inspired by their work that we go home and do something similar ourselves (the advantage of owning an equipment rental firm is you get to use all the toys yourself!).

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If you feel lost about this whole “social media” thing and you’re just an “old-school” business owner (like us), don’t worry.  It’s not that complicated.  It’s just word of mouth, put into the digital space, where it’s resident forever.  We ran into a great “intro to social media” podcast the other day that can walk you through some of these ideas that we took the time to learn ourselves.

And to circle back to the original question that started this post, which was why we “cared” about the whole world and not just the “rentable radius” around Monticello, New York, we hope we’ve answered it through some of what we’ve alluded to above, but in case we haven’t been totally clear, it’s because story-telling is not geographically limited.  We believe that social media is about sharing your stories, about being passionate about your brand and your customers, and about learning more about yourself and your industry.  Every single day.

If that means that, by our storytelling, we *happen* to reach the rest of the world, great.  But that wasn’t why we started blogging in the first place and why we blog weekly.  It’s because we love what we do and how we can help our customers and instead of being overwhelmed by the social media tsunami, we decided to step up, learn the languages of facebook, twitter, and google+, and share our stories beyond the walls of our store.  We continue to be humbled by the stories from our own customers – but now – also hearing the stories of other customers from rental centers far beyond our state.  It’s a way to challenge us to think in new ways to how we can always improve and serve our customers better.  And that makes all the “work” of social media worthwhile.