By Michele Scism
The Results Lady
As I drove through town earlier I saw a sign for a local monogram shop and a banner that said “Find us on Facebook”. Although I do not know the owners I was very proud of them (and I might add I am a fan of their page on Facebook).
That really made me start thinking about the retail industry and social media – How can a local retail store or local service provider find success with social media?
I must say I have several friends that own retail stores and can't seem to wrap their minds around how beneficial social media can be for them.
It seems to me that the problem is that as a retail business owner you are focused on closing the sale when someone walks into your store. Building a relationship with that person to get them to buy later is a secondary issue. Not that this is bad, this is the way it has been done for a very long time. I know, I was raised in my grandfathers grocery store.
Can a retail store make sales on social media? Yes, but that should not be the main focus. Before I go on you may be wondering how a retail store can make a sale on social media – you could have a products page on your Facebook Fan Page which displays items and has an order now button, you could tweet about new items and include a link to your website where they can order, you could post videos to YouTube of your products with your website address at the bottom of the screen.
On Social Media Making The Sale is Not The Main Objective
It is important to understand that people (your potential customers) do not join social media sites to spend money. They are there to reconnect with old friends and family, make new friends, research products and get recommendations from their friends and family.
They are not there to be sold and they will quickly block you or delete you if they feel like that is your main objective.
So knowing this, how can a retail business benefit?
You must focus on building a relationship! People need to know you, then they start to like you, then hopefully they will start to trust you and at that point, once they trust you, they will buy from you. They are then referred to as qualified buyers. They have already made up their mind that you are a good person for them to do business with.
Top 3 things to do or not do with social media!
1. Add value to their life – You can do this by sharing valuable information. Not just about your products or services but about things relating to your industry. Let's say for example that you own that monogram shop I was talking about – maybe you can find articles or videos about babies or weddings or back to school that would add value to your potential customers life. Not necessarily about monogramming but if it was that would be helpful.
2. Use social media to build your leading authority(expert) status – People prefer to buy from those they think are experts in their field. How can you do this?
- You could blog and post your blog entries on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any of the many other sites.
- You could make videos and post them to YouTube and then to all the other sites.
- You could write a short book or ebook about your industry.
3. Don't try to sell to them – do things to move your relationship off of the social media sites to sell.
- Offer them something for free to opt-in to your email list. Yes retail stores should have a mailing list.
- Post your blog entries so that they will visit your website and once there check out your products and services.
- Create contests or challenges to get them involved with you off of the social media sites.
Social media sites offer you, as the retail business owner, the ability to expand globally. The number of people on them at any one time is staggering. Do yourself a favor and pay attention to what is going on in the world of social media.
This is excellent advice for retail businesses. This is where a lot of retail businesses mistake “marketing” for “advertising”. They don’t understand what they need to achieve with social media, and they view it as a possible “advertising” outlet, which it isn’t really. It’s an avenue to engage with your potential customers, and build dialogue, and show your experience and expertise.
I think if they follow this advice, and stick to the tips, then they would start to embrace real social media “marketing” 😉
So well put Fiona – “mistaking marketing for advertising” – I may have to borrow that in the future. I think that really sums it up. It can be such a great opportunity for expansion for retail businesses. Thanks for the comment, Michele
Just putting up a sign inviting people to visit you on Facebook or inviting them to follow you on twitter gives your customers the impression that you are “in the know” and therefore an authority. Perception and branding is half the battle of sales whether you are are online or have a brick and mortar businesses.
I think the biggest mistake brick and mortar businesses make is not having an e-mail list. They have an excellent opportunity to build a list fast with every customer that walks in the door. That’s the place they can announce new merchandise, sales or offer discount coupons.
Hey Kathryn, I agree with you on that email list part. I do not think that retail businesses understand the importance of an email list. Maybe we can do something to change that. Thanks, Michele