When you start any social media page, you are opening yourself up to two-way communication between yourself and your audience. The public has the ability to share comments about your business with friends and others in that network. Eventually, no matter how hard you try to please everyone, there will be that one person who is incessant on posting negative things on your page. Don’t worry, this is not the end of the world. In fact, depending on how you handle this situation, you can turn a cranky customer into a lifelong shopper.
One thing that we see on corporate sites all the time is the bland, generic answer that is almost like the computer is talking, not a customer service or PR rep. Do not respond with a cookie cutter answer that is impersonal and – to be honest – mildly offensive to the consumer. The last thing you want to do when a customer gets upset is coddle them with a generic response. Imagine if you went into a brick and mortar store, upset about service, and the salesperson or store manager simple pulled out a cue card from behind the register and began reading a scripted prompt, asking you to call an 800 number or email the corporate offices. It would be a slap in the face.
If you are a professional in the public relations or internet marketing field and you are managing social media pages, you should be embarrassed if your company is responding this way. How hard is it to respond to the customer complaints on an individual level?
Doing this on Facebook or Twitter is especially damaging because now potential customers can track your conversations and decide if they like the way you handled the situation. In addition to that, the person who has complained can also share these comments with friends and respond to them in an unsavory manner. Don’t treat your customers this way. Send them personal messages and always assume that the customer is in the right – even if they aren’t. Responding with scripted answers makes your customers feel unimportant and will lose your company business.
For those of you who don’t know, a value proposition should be the X factor that sets your business apart from others just like it, giving your customers a reason to shop with you. It is the mission statement of your marketing campaign. Maybe you pride yourself on exceptional customer service or perhaps you sponsor a local shelter. Whatever your business may be, it is integral to find a value proposition that will stand as a platform for your marketing success.
Developing a strong value proposition for your business is easy, but it should be treated with care. Put some effort into deciding what your value proposition should be. Look at your company from every angle and choose something that will give you a unique quality within your industry.
After you have decided what your value prop is going to be, spend a little time writing it into a concise and fluid plan. Take time to do like most writers do – edit, re-edit and then edit some more. This could be the strategy that your internet marketing adapts for the next few years. It needs to be thoughtful, honest and striking. Having a well-shaped value prop will not only increase your brand image and customer loyalty, it will give the best chance at maximizing any marketing efforts from there on out.
It is agreed, unanimously by the marketing industry that it is important to develop social media pages. We have had many posts on branding and social media writing; however it is time to put a backbone in the newly formed organism that is your marketing strategy. It is well and good to post on your social media pages and to put time and effort into maintaining them. You should absolutely do this. But now that you’ve gotten used to being a Facebook or Twitter pro, it’s time to talk dollars and cents.
We all love that we can get free advertising through our networks of friends and followers, but there comes a time when you need to realize that a strong social presence needs to be accompanied by a strong ad presence on the web. If you aren’t using pay-per-click marketing tools, such as Google AdWords, its time. Brands spend thousands and millions of dollars on web marketing, knowing that you can’t rely solely on a social media presence to bring you sales. It’s all part of a cohesive marketing strategy and money needs to be put into online ads.
Consider how much you spend on a phonebook ad or a billboard. Those are both local, limited ad spaces, while the internet is infinite. Your marketing strategy should already have a budget in place for internet marketing alone, and if you haven’t given this any thought than it is past time to do so. There is a great opportunity to expand your brand, especially if you don’t have a brick and mortar location, through online marketing and advertising.
Many online retailers have specific industry and target audiences that they work with. While it is important to establish yourself within a niche that is going to support you, there are also ways to diversify yourself from this and grow your profits accordingly. This can be done simply by exploring coincidental merchandise or services that your customers are probably already buying. The goal is to get them buying these extras from you. Here are three quick tips to diversifying your site to increase sales:
- Do some research on your clientele. Find out what they like and what they are already doing with that extra disposable income that they aren’t spending with you. If you sold plants, you’d sell gardening tools too, wouldn’t you? This is more than that, however. What if you developed a class in which you teach new gardeners the best practices for planting and growing? Products that you sell online don’t just have to be tangible goods. Knowledge is a hot commodity.
- Think outside the box. Maybe classes aren’t something that your business does now and isn’t something that is going to make you a household name, but if you made an extra few hundred dollars a month by sharing your knowledge, wouldn’t that help with the mortgage? Be creative in when it comes to boosting your income. Think about what your customers would pay for, or what you would pay for if you were shopping for a specific item. If you had just bought a new pair of binoculars for bird watching, wouldn’t it be great if there was a tour of your local parks on the best spots for bird watching to get you started?
- Don’t be afraid to fail. This experiment in online retail is going to take you a few times to get right. You may not see the increase you are hoping for in the first few months, but don’t let that discourage you. Understand that it takes time to get the traffic you want and in turn see the sales that you are hoping for. By diversifying yourself to encompass a customer’s needs, you are already going to be a step ahead of the competition. Think of yourself as a streamlined part of your customer’s experience. A one stop for not just only product but knowledge and community.
If you are producing content for your company site or social networks, note that you need to be producing more than just well-written articles. Generally speaking, you have less than thirty seconds (sometimes much less) to wow a first-time visitor into staying on your site. While they might just be eager to glean information on your business, especially if you have a brick and mortar location, you need to add visual content and other appealing things to get them to stay on your site.
Recent studies have shown that people are less and less likely to read the information on your site and more likely to click on a photo or video that explains the same information in a visual manner. Even better, using images or videos will get your site a better share rate. People are more likely to repost about your page if they can pin an image on Pinterest or share the image on Facebook or Twitter.
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of having to shoot photos or videos, as there is plenty of editing software that makes it easy for someone with basic computer skills to have nicely crafted visuals on their site. If you are unsure of what sort of visual content you should be creating, look at the sites of similar companies to glean ideas. If you are a retailer, it is easy to make information videos about product and current events that are industry specific. Instructional videos are also popular and will get you higher rankings. Google loves content that is user-friendly, so think of content that would be useful or interesting to your average clientele.
While most people have a basic understanding of social media — many of those choosing to use the dominating power — Facebook, the word of Google+ is slowly but surely spreading through the masses. Google+ offers users an all-encompassing experience that seems seamless and omniscient. The interface is simple, sleek and efficient. While it appears that Google+ is only denting the traffic of Facebook users (only measuring to about 13% of the number of users compare to Facebook), it is now seeing the kind of results one would expect from a Google product.
One of the main reasons why Google+ will soon capture a wide audience is the hangout feature. This tool allows you to have video conferences with people in your circles, providing a service that many users adore. Families can convene online from coast to coast with ease. Shop owners can give presentations to customers outside of store hours, increasing brand loyalty and doing so in a way that doesn’t conflict with their busy schedules. Hangouts even allow users to share documents with Google Docs right within the confines of the chat.
If you have not yet developed a Google+ page for your business or even for yourself personally, you’re going to want to. Integrate this feature with your website and utilize the tools to build a brand image with Google. You can also integrate it fluidly with any other Google features that you are currently using. Google Places has even earned a spot, now being referred to as Google+ Local. It will be a way of sharing complete information about your company to the public, allowing them to share, review, rate and interact on a personal level with their networks.
- Get your business ready for Father’s Day spending.
With over 70 million dads in America, there are plenty of reasons to boost your site this Father’s Day and offer promotions that your customers won’t be able to resist. It is projected this year that more families will be spending money on Father’s Day as it has taken a hit these past few years during the economic recession. For those of you who are not the best at creating specials or haven’t given thought to a sales campaign for this Father’s Day, here are five fun ways to get your customer’s involved this Father’s Day:
- Have people upload pictures of themselves with their dads to your Facebook or Twitter page to get a discount at your online store. Customers will be interacting with your social media pages and shopping your retail site.
- Bundle a few different packages on your eCommerce site to make shopping easy. Give a discount when customers buy the bundle and give them great, fun names. You could have one with a firearm, ammo and a holster and call it the “For When your Daughter Starts Dating” package.
- Do a free giveaway with a gift card purchase. Find an item that is overstocked and use it as a purchase with purchase when anyone gets a gift card for dad. More importantly, most of the time people will find something more expensive than their gift card and your sales will be even higher.
- Create a new look for the special, giving customers a fresh outlook on your site. This can be done by uploading new pictures to your homepage or creating a new banner. Through image association, you can train your customers to know when there is a sale and build a sense of urgency – they need to buy now because there is a sale.
- Pair up with another local business, maybe a restaurant or a movie theater, and build a package that could be “Dad’s Night Out.” This is something that sites like Groupon and Living Social will be doing, so you can get ahead of the curve by doing a local event or even partnering with a similar website.
It is always difficult to establish what content is appropriate for your audience when you are posting on a company page. As times progress, censorship has evolved and many businesses struggle to identify what should be shared with customers and what needs to be flagged as “inappropriate.” While there are definitely some things that should stay far away from the office, there is also a great trend in businesses getting personal. Pictures of staff members that aren’t stuffy headshots are a big hit with customers — just check out our employee profiles. It lets customers relate to the people on the other end of the phone and develop a stronger bond – this will ultimately lead to customer loyalty and increased use of your products/services.
The important thing to know is how to maintain your professional identity while seeping your personal life into your branding. This question of brand identity has many different answers and it mainly depends on how you interact with your audience and what you expect out of this newly redefined relationship. For some companies it is an easy decision to become more personal and to bring in that humanization and humor to the workplace – mostly these are companies that can develop a personality without damaging professional relationships.
One company that completely embraces this and has since its inception in 1992 is Moosejaw. Just check out the Madness tab on their site. It includes such features as, “Crying Tomatoes,” and,”Your Weird Dreams.” Moosejaw has a lively character that it shares splendidly with customers through humor, and this has built the brand a very strong and loyal base.
However, Moosejaw is a clothing retailer and distributor that has a lot of freedom in their marketing and branding. What about the companies that have to present themselves in a professional manner, such as a financial planning organization or a law firm? These places are generally seen in a professional light and could lose credibility in their professions by sharing too much personality.
Thankfully there is a way to find balance within extremely professional environments. A great example of a professional company that also offers personality to their clients is the Slalom Consulting Group. Take a look at their About Us page. Look how they incorporate photos of their staff that make their staff seem approachable, friendly and knowledgeable. They offer up faces and bios that we can relate to and that make us trust more readily than pictures of suits and board rooms.
Lately, we’ve been blogging about subjects that are for businesses that already have developed a website and a web presence, but today we want to reach out to those who may not have a website for their business and are looking for tips on how to get started. Realistically, if you want to be successful in this day and age, you need to have a website. This is common knowledge for a lot of people, but there are those who may not be tech savvy and don’t understand the vital importance of having a strong web presence.
The internet is daunting to people who haven’t been immersed in it since they were in grade school. It has this dark side that people assume is scary and full of spam and a lot of times it can intimidate people. While there is a lot of time and effort that goes into developing software and websites, and there are certainly measures that need to be taken to make your website safe, don’t shy away from the idea if you are interested in starting a website for your business. Here are three quick tips to getting started on a website for your business:
- Think about what you need your website to do for you. Are you looking to sell products on your site or do you just need an information page? What different sections and pages do you want on your site? Some people prefer to have different pages with information about the business; others have testimonials or pages about specific services. These are all things you need to keep in mind when you start developing a plan for your new website.
- Think about the content that will be on your site. Who is going to be writing the content for your site? Are you going to do it yourself or hire a professional? Do you want to put pictures on your site? If your answer is yes, you should plan out what you want to put on the site, how often you’ll be updating that content, etc. It’s vital to keep your website current so make sure you have a plan of attack that you can fall back on when scheduling content updates. What sales do you want to run? Are you going to promote special events?
- Dedicate the time necessary to run the site. If you are serious about having an eCommerce site, it is vital to set aside the time you are going to need in order to update the site and monitor your orders. Once the shell of your site is built, you have to add to it. Look at a website as a virtual garden. It needs some sun, water and Scott’s Turf Builder every now and then. Rabbits (spam) will try to eat your vegetables. You need to protect your website from the dangers while maintaining relevant content. If you don’t have time to do all of this and more, don’t worry! That is what companies like us are for.