Wondering how to breathe new life into your store or business? One solution is through digital marketing so your business can come alive for those who start their purchase journey online. Here are my thoughts on this topic.
Reenergize your store with digital marketing
By Christine B. Whittemore
Have you considered how digital marketing – which includes social elements – reenergizes the retail store experience?
Digital expands the reach of your physical store, making it visible to potential customers searching online. It lets your content work relentlessly 24/7 on your behalf. It begins the process of establishing credibility and trustworthiness so that, when customers actually come through your store doors, they already feel a connection with you, appreciate the flooring expertise you offer and trust that you will find them solutions.
Older analog bricks & mortar tools for bringing customers into your store don’t cut it. They don’t do the job anymore. Many retailers bemoan the fact that their customers no longer just walk in off the street; that their ads aren’t as effective as they used to be and that their customers no longer let their fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages to their stores.
Customers use digital tools to find places to buy what they want. Digital tools – such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr for photos and don’t forget mobile! – have taken the place of the old analog tools. Retailers who have figured out how to socialize online and encourage Facebook likes, online reviews and LinkedIn connections, will draw customers into their stores.
Customers have gone online. Consider that 97% of local customers use online media to research businesses in their community (per BIA/Kelsey Research), that customers – particularly women who make or influence 80+% of purchase decisions – don’t trust most marketing claims, recoil from hard selling tactics and look to their community for recommendations and endorsements. Customers want to buy from people whom they can count on to be their advocates, and who show up on their digital radar in multiple ways.
These customers start online, looking for ideas, context and information, visiting blogs and interacting with their Facebook or LinkedIn communities. If they come across your content, your wisdom about how to pair hard and soft surfaces, your advice on how to get chewing gum out of a shag carpet, or your celebration of community because you’ve engaged a herd of goats to munch on weeds for Earth Day, you will be on your way to building credibility and trust with these potential customers.
Digital marketing tools can help retailers and businesses. They make particular business sense when you consider them in an offline context. More specifically,
- When you exchange business cards at local business networking events, connect with each individual via LinkedIn. Send congratulations when professional changes occur.
- Look for company names on LinkedIn (you do know that you can create a company listing in LinkedIn, right?) and follow them. You’ll be notified of changes.
- Do you come across interesting business articles that you like to share with key contacts? Consider sharing that information via a LinkedIn status update, too.
- Check whether your networking organization has a LinkedIn group; if so, consider becoming involved and deepening the connections you’ve made off line.
- Don’t overlook opportunities to connect with your customers, too. Most of them work and have created professional profiles.
Think of Facebook as a community center where, on your company’s Fan page, you post photos of the softball league you sponsor or the picnic you organized. Invite existing customers, suppliers, employees and supporters to join in on the interaction. Connect with other relevant organizations in your community – hospitals, churches, animal shelters. Celebrate customers’ successes, too, as they create the perfect space or achieve personal milestones.
Fill your website with meaningful content written from your customers’ perspective using words they would use to describe products and solutions. Include photos of yourself and your sales associates with information about you. Explain what makes you so passionate about flooring, how you differ from others in the business, how you help customers.
All of these digital and social activities help you connect with customers and build with them a relationship. In so doing, you’re on your way to identifying and pre-qualifying customers who will be excited about engaging in what your store makes possible: interaction between them, you and your products.
Thanks to digital marketing, you’ve reenergized your store.
Do you know, my daughter doesn’t even know what a phone book is?
A version of this article appeared in the October 3/10, 2011 issue of Floor Covering Weekly, in my column titled "Flooring The Consumer."