It is getting to the point where people expect free services. People want free news, free email, free online storage and more. The catch is that none of these services are really being provided “free of charge.” Sure the customer is not paying for these services in a monetary sense, but why would companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Apple give away free stuff when they are obviously trying to make a profit? They are not, they are providing a service to users in exchange for something that is arguably more important: information.
When you sign up for a gmail account Google gets to read your mail and use it to show ads that you might be interested in. When you create an account for any free service, you are giving them information about who you are and what you are interested in.
Small Businesses often get tricked into trying to play catch up with larger organizations and end up giving away things like free advice or internet access because they do not have an easy way to determine what the value might be worth to the customer and capture some of that value. I am not suggesting that small businesses start building their own file hosting system or online email hosting so that they can follow their customers, but there are easier ways to get the same results.
One of the most common free services that small businesses give away to their customers is internet access in the form of free wireless internet. This is pretty easy to set up and for the most part costs the business very little. But internet access can be a very valuable thing, especially if you have a customer that is at your business and has to wait for a period of time at your location (think medical or dental offices). The problem is that everyone knows that you should never give away something for free when you can charge for it, but it is not easy to charge for internet access (yes, there are services that allow you to charge your customers for internet access, but these are expensive and have a low rate of use).
Social Media Routers Solve this problem by creating a free pipeline to your company’s internet that is separate from your internal network. The best part is that these routers ask your customer to either like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter before giving you access to the internet. Once they hit the like button, the customer is free to surf the internet while waiting in your store.
The beauty of this solution is that the router also collects information about your customer (age, gender, birthday, interests) directly from their social media account and adds them to your contact list for future marketing efforts. The routers also have advanced features available that reward them with a coupon code for signing on or alert them to any specials that you might be running.
By purchasing a simple hardware device, you can provide a valuable service to your customers and capture value for the value that you are providing – a win-win scenario!