How to Acquire Real Fans for Your Social Media Marketing Spend

…buy Twitter Followers in our website, starting at $29 USD / 5k Followers…

DON’T DO IT

If you don’t get at least 1 spam solicitation a week for purchased followers via your social media accounts or via email, consider yourself lucky. Scam artists are always looking for the inexperienced social media marketer to make their money. You already know that “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” and profile scammers would be extinct, but, as long as there are buyers, there will be takers. Inexperienced social media clients often ask if they should buy followers because their established competitor has thousands.

Insights tell all

You may not have access to your competitors insights and analytics, but you can judge a book by its cover in this instance. Start following your competitors and note whether their posts, tweets, and photos garner engagement. Isn’t it interesting how an account with thousands of followers often gets disproportionately few likes, retweets, reposts, shares, or comments?

There are 2 main reasons for that; 1) they are lousy at posting, but more likely, 2) they have a base of artifically acquired followers irrelevant to their business. Those so-called followers are not responding or even noticing the posts – that is, if they even exist in real life! So while the competitor may tout a huge fan base, their success is shallowly based only in that number, not in results.

Quantity vs. Quality

Gone are the days when quantity was critical to the perception of a successful social media account. Landing pages (no longer permitted) were created as tools requiring a “like” before entry for contests, deals, yadayada, to acquire new followers – and lots of them. Slowly, it became very evident that many new followers became fans just for the freebie or perk – the attraction being the giveaway and not your goods and services. Unlikes followed or your business simply ignored.

Marketing is marketing whether on or offline. Ever had an event for your brick and mortar focused on giveaways and contests? The results? You probably got enough warm leads with real sales to cover the cost of the event and little more. If you aren’t attracting the right prospects with any method of marketing, you lose.

That’s not to say a big marketing campaign can’t be fruitful, but new and inexperienced small business owners often do not use proven tracking methods for an accurate ROI of their market spend. Year after year they spend on repeat “perceived” successful events without knowing the reality to make revisions for real success. Again, they can talk about how many people attended the event, but inquire about results and you may get an ambiguous reply.

Retention or Acquisition?

Social media business account holders are becoming savvy to the reach of a quality following because they learn that retention, more than acquisition, is the best way to keep and grow business. If you follow a successful formula in your business, you will get referrals.

Customers with needs/desires that match your goods/services

+    Excellence in Customer Service
————————————————

= PROFIT

Bottom Line?

Remember: Buying followers and contacts is as effective as inviting a whole community of strangers to your party – most come for the free food and leave without even remembering your name. Invite specifically those to your “marketing party” who can benefit from your products and services, then wow them with your service. They’ll not only remember your name, they’ll refer you to others.

Every Santa Needs a Break! Put a Bench in Your Store

Every Santa Needs a Break!

Have you considered available seating as an integral part of customer service?

The weary, bag laden, and soon impatient non-shopper leaves to shop elsewhere or coaxes the rest of the groups to leave. It’s a lose-lose for you and your shoppers. So, why encourage the non-shopper to become grumpy and negatively influence your happy shoppers?

The most overlooked fixture for your store could be a simple bench.

A bench (or seating of any type) is an important facet of good customer service and therefore, an item with a deceptively good ROI. For mostly unjustified reasons, small shop owners often have a negative mindset toward extra seating in a store.

Rethink. During the holidays, gift shoppers are often in groups – family, visiting relatives, vacationing couples. And they get weary. And since not every member of the group wants to shop in your particular store, there is that awkward, and often uncomfortable, situation of waiting for others to shop. Big deal, you say? You’re not in the business of providing seating?

Everyone stays!

Small business brick and mortar is typically limited in floor space, but there is always place for a strategically positioned chair or bench. Isn’t it better if no one leaves until the active shoppers are done shopping your establishment? You may even leave a positive visual imprint for the next shopping visit. They’ll remember, “They have a place where I can sit.”

And because of certain health issues, seating may be a requirement during long shopping days. Do you want anyone to avoid your establishment due to lack of seating for Aunt Sally with her arthritic knees?

Do be mindful of positioning seating in a positive manner. Find a spot that creates a sense of belonging rather than of being placed in a cramped corner. And if you are a clothing store, place seating near the dressing room to enable “show and tell.” Shoppers are more likely to buy when they can get that “second opinion.”

Seating means comfort

Ask other shop owners who DO have seating in their store. What benefits are they reaping?

They’ll likely tell you potentially grumpy and impatient non-shoppers are relieved to find a place to sit. Their mood shifts more positively and the begin to observe the surroundings. They soon notice the inviting displays and consider shopping with you, too (because you have invested time and good marketing principles in your merchandising and displays, right?).

Create a sense of welcome

You absolutely must train your staff to take a moment to engage with the seated! The power of interaction is immeasurable for positive reinforcement. Keep bottles of water and snacks on hand. It all goes together.

QR codes – a Marketing Opportunity not to be ignored

You can easily create QR code and signage to enable seated visitors (and everyone else):

  • to go to your website
  • to read your blog
  • to subscribe to your newsletter
  • to become a follower on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and all your other Social Media sites
  • to leave a review on sites like Yelp and more!

Give the seated an excuse to post or tweet about their experience waiting for their friends!

No money in the budget for a sturdy bench or chairs?

Buy used. Craigslist, Ebay, your local consignment store, used office furniture stores (very sturdy furniture), garage sales, … even your house!

Seating really is so simple and yet frequently dismissed. Don’t overlook it – especially through the holidays.

Boomer SMB Owners Tell Me S/He Can’t Do Social Media…

MS-DOS Command line
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS-DOS

Nothing, and I mean nothing, including social media, is as hard to master as MS-DOS was. . .

Since my business demographic is primarily boomers, I know better. I’m a boomer, too. And I know full well that we boomers had to conquer and endure the pioneering stages of modern technology. Nothing, and I mean nothing, today is as hard to master as MS-DOS was. Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials don’t have a clue what a nightmare it was to work on a black screen with green letters and no graphics, no mouse. They never had to learn commands or have ever seen “A:” , or had to save content on multiple floppy disks, and most never sat in front of a v e r y  s l o w CRT that emitted unhealthy rays!

So, Back to the Boomers

So when these boomers who cut their computer teeth on difficult, dinosaur technology are telling me that social media is just too hard to take the time to learn  – –  sorry, but I’m not biting!

What I think happened to these otherwise savvy entrepreneurs, is when they began their businesses, technology was in an ever-changing mode. Obsolescence was the norm, and many were hesitant to invest in expensive technology that would most likely be outdated before it collected dust. Starting a new business means watching every nickel; technology avoidance and frugality became almost a badge of honor.

Culture Shock

Then, before these entrepreneurs knew what hit them, all of a sudden they were far, far behind others who had the time to keep up. In addition, any technology to be learned had to center around POS and bookkeeping. The learning curve on those was a bit time-consuming for owners, not to mention the time required to train staff. Who had time to jump into the social media craze while trying to run a business?

But now – da-da-DUM – there is no escaping social media for small business marketing. While it, too, experienced its versions of continuous obsolescence, social media has settled in as the most viable and affordable marketing vehicle for SMBs.

What I am finding is the biggest obstacle to success in social media, is that most successful entrepreneurs are classic introverts, even hermits. They live, eat, drink, and breathe their business to the point of no social life, but they like that! So of course they feel awkward trying to enter a SOCIAL medium that expects casual interaction.

So, yes, it is good to hire help, but it is also good to use that help to learn social media. WHY? Because social media is not successful unless the fans get to see what goes on behind the front doors. And if you don’t provide behind the scenes material (content, images, customer testimonials, etc.), then you are simply keeping a social media account alive with memes, quotes, product images – yawn……..

My best social media analogy?

Think of how many times you have driven by a small business and felt a tinge of apprehension about pulling in and checking it out. Why?

Because we don’t like to explore the unknown, especially when it has potential to waste our valuable time or money. Your social media fans are no different. They want some behind the scenes peeks at who you are, what you do, why you sell what you sell, what makes you different, and how will it FEEL to shop or do business with you!

Damn, you don’t have to marry these fans! Just like your customers, people just need to get to know each other! And that’s why social media works for those who do make the effort to put themselves out there for fans! Does that make sense?!

If You Can Sell, You Can Market.-

What does customer service have to do with marketing?

Customer satisfaction is the basis of marketingJust everything!

Traditional marketing ads get your attention how?

      • Good advertising addresses a need.
      • Good advertising peaks curiosity.
      • Good advertising elicits an emotional response.

So, what is marketing, really?

Experts must talk about stats, but all will admit it is impossible to accurately measure the effectiveness of a highway billboard. Unfortunately for the statisticians, social media marketing is akin to billboard advertising. While posts do have a calculated “lifetime” of visibility, it’s still a matter of catching the eye of whoever sees the post at whatever time they happen to “drive” by your message.

Marketing is no mystery

Marketing is not some mysterious phenomenon understood only by marketers. Marketing professionals are just like you. They eat, drink and breathe customer behavior – for the same reasons as you – to successfully sell product. So… Marketing is “selling, ” just from a different approach. Strategize via your methods of enticing and catering to your customers needs, and you will soon “get” at least the basics of marketing.

Who is your best salesperson and why?

Whether it’s your ace hire, or yourself, recognize selling stems from the ability to satisfy customer needs. That IS the bottom line of customer service and subsequent business success. It’s about meeting the right needs to ensure there is no buyer’s remorse. Reflect this approach in all your marketing content – traditional or social media.

What you need to learn about marketing is what you mostly already know.

Can Social Media Expand Your Search Results?

Facebook Review

My client had a birthday soon, but is half way across the nation (it’s always a good practice to appreciate your clients).

At any rate, I needed to purchase a gift for a client 900 miles away in Wichita, KS. I could have used Amazon or any other national online website e-commerce site to ship something to her. But then, I remembered her business is in a large shopping plaza. Surely there should be a shop in my client’s shopping plaza or nearby that would have gifts and a Facebook page.

The Facebook search.

I searched in my client’s locale and found some local businesses that had Facebook pages. I found a business right in the same plaza – Chelmsford Tea and Gifts – with an ACTIVE Facebook page.

They were a little surprised to get my call, but offered great customer service in respect to my budget and needs. They even texted me after they made the delivery on the requested date and provided me with feedback. My client was very surprised and pleased as well which was my goal, of course!

Long story short, it was a win-win for several reasons.

  • Since both my client and the tea shop are active on Facebook, they are now more likely to engage with each other on social media, and subsequently engage more followers.
  • Both my client and the Tea shop owner learned about a fellow small business and will be more likely to recommend the other to their own customers
  • I got a more locally personalized service since I chose a business in the same demographic market as my client.
  • I saved shipping fees and found a reliable source for future gifts!

I’m a huge proponent for shopping local small businesses. If I hadn’t found one near her store, I would have purchased the gift at a small business near me. But, in this case, I wanted to help my client grow her social media presence, so this was a no-brainer.

Yes, it took a little more work on my part rather than just going straight for Amazon….but the results were worth it.

A Comedy of Customer Service Errors – a Marketing vs Sales story

Ruby Tuesday on North Carolina Highway 54 in D...
Image via Wikipedia

It is so important for Marketing and Sales to communicate. Ruby Tuesday and other chains must spend a fortune on their marketing; from print to broadcast, decor, menus, layout, everything. But if the on-the-floor experience doesn’t match the marketing, whose fault is it? Marketing or Operations – or both?

A true story. The little things really DO matter.

I was telling colleagues this story of a customer experience I had, and they all said I positively must blog about it. It’s true and not exaggerated, so I hope you enjoy this crazy little adventure of mine… To me, it is a great example of how operations and marketing must work together or both sides suffer.

Turn on the Wayback Machine

Waaaay back in 2004, I was a troubleshooting store manager at a (then) new outlet mall in a (then) fairly unsophisticated and remote location in North Georgia. Thankfully, the area has come a long way since then.

It was a tough adjustment for me, spoiled from working in major metropolitan areas with a wealth of hiring potential… “Dueling Banjos” from the movie “Deliverance” was playing in the back of my mind…

We just wanted to eat

It was time for the annual inventory, so, in anticipation of a long worknight, I planned to treat my staff to dinner and some great coffee. Simple enough – or so I thought. I forgot that this area was satisfied withcoffee that came in jars of brown powder. But I held hope for dinner… a new Ruby Tuesday had opened in the far end of the mall’s parking lot. Hooray – we can avoid Food Court heartburn!

An actual coffee bar had opened in the food court, too! I was so happy we had the option of real food and real coffee to ease the dreaded task of counting every item in the store – accurately.

Even better, Ruby’s had curb side pickup. I called ahead and ordered for everyone. They gave me my total, asked for the description of my car, and told me the order would be ready to pick up in 20 minutes. Perfect! I thought to myself, I’ll head on over while the staff closes the day’s business. How much easier could it get?

Wanted: Revolving Doors

I headed over to the Ruby Tuesday restaurant and parked in the pick-up spot in front of the curbside door near the backside of the restaurant. While watching every other waiting car get orders filled, I noticed something odd… The server did not go back in to the restaurant through the same door he exited. Instead, he walked to the front entrance… huh? He did this 4 more times, each time moving a little faster to get to that front door. Not surprisingly, my curiosity was peaking. Why didn’t he go back in the way he came out?

I was kept waiting and waiting for my order. The next time the server popped out, I waved him over and he assured me my order was on the way. Hmmmmm….  I waited a little longer and still no order. I decided I had to investigate. I left my car and now I’m annoyed for keeping my staff waiting. I walked to the curb side pick-up door and surprise! Locked. Now we all know why the server kept returning by way of the front door, but still don’t know why he couldn’t do anything about it.

We can’t make that item for ya – or anything else either

I walked to the front door and the hostess directed me to the service bar which handled curbside orders. I walked over and inquired. Someone went to check and returned apologetic. They were out of lettuce!!! They said they were waiting to know what I wanted to substitute. And they were going to ask me when?!? And what restaurant runs out of lettuce? Seriously? (only back then we weren’t saying “Seriously” so I probably said, “Really?”).

I asked about 3 other items – nope, nada, don’t have the items to make it. Finally I settled for something I hoped the staff would like and they went back into the kitchen after some more mumblings of apologies.

I didn’t trust them anymore

I decided to wait at the bar since it was hot outside, not to mention I also now had a trust issue emerging. Boy, good thing Twitter was still 2 years away… what a stream of bad customer service tweets were waiting here.

I’m still sitting there waiting… I was the only customer in the area, so I became privy to some staff chatter I probably wasn’t supposed to hear:

Why aren’t you using the curb door to come back in?

It’s locked.

Well, go get the key! 

Steve has it.

Well where’s Steve?

Nobody’s seen him for the last 20 minutes.

Ba-dum-tss….

If there had been Twitter, my feed would have been smoking! You couldn’t have scripted this better.

Then, finally, my order came out. Whew! But I was running out of time and still had to go to the “gourmet” coffee shop in the food court…

Again, what was I thinking?

So I get to the coffee place in the food court. They were still open for a few hours, so I should have no trouble here.  hahahahahahahahahaha :D

We only have regular?

I ordered a few flavored coffees. The young lady said, “We’re out of the flavored coffees, we just have regular.” I stepped back to look at the sign to make sure I was actually standing at the “Coffee bar.” Yup.  I was at the right place – at least according to the sign…

I asked her when some flavored coffee might be ready.

She said they weren’t going to make anymore.

I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt by asking if she were closing early or some such story that would make some kind of sense of her statement. She said no, that they just only make so much flavored coffee per day and so she wasn’t going to make anymore.

Wait, there’s more.

No stir sticks?

I was running out of time, so I just gave up and ordered regular coffee all around. Then I asked for cream and sugar. She wanted a specific number of creams and sugars before she would give me any.

And lastly – she was out of spoons and stir sticks! Unbelievably, I had to walk down to each of the next 3 food court stores before I could find spoons. The first one actually had some, but told me I couldn’t have any of his because I didn’t buy anything from him.

I was beginning to feel like this was some kind of customer service Twilight Zone and that surely I would wake up soon! First the food fiasco and now the food court and coffee stand fail.

Nope. It was real.

As I was walking out with my coffee and spoons, I spotted a familiar face at the courtesy desk and recounted my horrors of customer service. We agreed the hiring pool was just too dry. We wrapped up our conversation on the trials of hiring in an arena of folks that thought getting a Wal-Mart was their route to becoming akin to a big city.

Then, up walks an unshaven young guy in overalls and flip-flops asking for an application for a job. The courtesy desk host asked for which store was he applying? He said he didn’t know – what stores did they have? We all laughed and told him to turn around as he was in the middle of over 40 different stores in the food court alone.

He shrugged, we wanted to laugh.

I walked back to my store to share our regular coffee and non-lettuce bearing adjusted menu items… and went to work on our inventory.

So, corporate, listen up. What happens on the floor is what determines your ROI in marketing. You can spend all you want on marketing, but if operations aren’t up to par, your money is wasted.

SMBs, Coach Your Staff Daily for Success

City Market Tourist Info, Savannah, GADo you communicate daily with your staff?

Ever notice how the more successful restaurants have daily meetings with staff before they start their shift?

  • menu changes
  • staff issues
  • maintenance problems
  • staff division of duties and tables

It is critical in the restaurant business for the best possible diner experience to enable a profitable outcome. Management reviews these items BEFORE staff interacts with customers.

So why don’t ALL small businesses follow this practice?

Recently, at a tourist info kiosk in Savannah, Georgia, I overheard the person coming on shift complaining to the leaving shift person: “And again, why do I know nothing about this?”  Lack of communication is always the main complaint in the workplace in a multi-shift business environment. Why? Take a look at the image of this lone kiosk worker – many small businesses have staff that work alone or come on to a shift after management goes home. All too often, changes or necessary updates go unnoticed or unaware. This causes mistakes, unhappy customers, profit loss, and more.

A “Get up to Speed” daily staff session is critical for your success. Weekly meetings are not practical in a multi-shift business. Find the means that works best to communicate regularly. Email, bulletin boards, communications notebook, dry erase board, voice mails, a Facebook Group page, Google Hangout …whatever it takes!

Yes, it takes time and preparation on you or your manager’s part, but would you rather spend that valuable time fixing problems caused by a lack of communication?