Getting Online Exposure – Part One
Words like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have become buzzwords even for those who spend very little time online. These social networking tools open up a whole new world. A world that scares the bejesus out of some business owners.
This new world goes well beyond tried-and-true Yellow-Page advertising concepts and traditional print and radio advertising campaigns. These days, websites have become a common tool in a retailer’s marketing mix.
From working with retail owners over the past ten years, I realize retailers are busy people. I have also seen discomfort or scepticism towards online marketing for those forty-five and older.
Are you feeling the pressure of needing to understand and get on the Twitter bandwagon before it’s too late?
Some business people are doing just that; investing a great deal of time into writing blogs and tweeting on Twitter. They’ve done this so much that they have submerged themselves in the online world, yet they aren’t following a road map. As a result, their efforts have become a time waster instead of an income generator.
Let me put your mind at ease. Putting the brakes on everything you are doing in business so you can switch to social media is not the answer. For example, writing blog postings is like anything else; it represents just one layer of your overall marketing strategy. As an owner, you can’t rely on just one form of marketing to create enough awareness to sustain your business.
If you start using social media to gain and retain customers, it’s best to develop one method of online marketing and build or modify as you go along. In keeping with your marketing budget, you many need to pull back on some of your other marketing investments in order to manage your overall marketing budget.
For example, Yellow Page directories are becoming obsolete. Consumers over 45 rarely pick up a copy of the Yellow Pages to find out where to buy the products and services you sell. Some of Lift Strategies’ clients are now phasing out their Yellow Pages advertising over the next year or scaling back substantially.
What can become overwhelming, especially to the unseasoned social media marketer, is the sheer number of different options available and where to get started. It is important to start by ensuring that your website properly represents your retail business. Does it include the type of information your customers want and need to know? Is it easy to find out store location(s) ? Is it easy to find out what time your store(s) open and close? Does the website position your business as specialists in your area of expertise? Two websites from our clients which have achieved these objectives are: www.vangasfireplaces.com and www.sofasogood.ca.
Once you are happy with your business’ website, it is time to choose and commit to one type of social media. Blogs are a great way to reach your ideal customers with new and relevant information. Blogging is simply a way to communicate your thoughts, opinions and timely information to prospects and customers using a website as your method to get the message out to your ideal fans. Often, blogs can be incorporated into an existing website or linked to your retail website.
Although you can start a blog very easily without any step-up fees (using, for instance, www.blogger.com), I recommend talking to your web developer about the best method of integrating a blog into your existing website.
Once the blog is up, it’s time to start writing. If you can’t write your own material, there are hundreds of eager writers who will do it for as little as $20 per blog posting. The most important aspect of blogging is consistency and frequency. I write a one-minute marketing tip twice a month, post this to my blog, and send it out to my client database. I can ensure this happens every month. In order to boost my blog content, I ask other experts to contribute to my blog under a section called “Meet the Experts”.
Do you have an employee who would love to write for your blog once or twice a week? It would be ideal to find someone within your own organization who would be interested in taking charge of a project like this. This person will require some writing guidelines so that they can properly represent your company. They will also require a schedule and reliable commitment to posting entries every week.
As soon as regular blog postings happen, it’s time to reach a broader audience through Twitter. You can set up a Twitter account at www.twitter.com and then start tweeting your blog messages to your followers. Entering the Twitter world is a beast in itself. I suggest you find out how to set up a Twitter account by going to www.youtube.com and doing a search under “how to get started on Twitter.” There are hundreds of videos you can watch that will provide excellent guidance as you venture into this new field.
Twitter is simply one of many methods of getting your message out to prospects and customers. Although social media is not for everyone, the average consumer does online research well before walking into your store. In the next issue of Retail Connections, I will share more information with you on why and how social media can play an important role in helping your business maintain a strong presence on the map.
Jen DeTracey runs Lift Strategies Inc. a strategic marketing firm. www.liftstrategies. Sign up for our one-minute marketing tip. 604.255.2098.