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Lisbiz strategies: A website isn’t enough

Volume 26/Number 25; April 29/May 6, 2013

By Lisbeth Calandrino

There was a time when your website was supposed to be the “end all, be all” to attracting customers.

Smart business people realized having a website wasn’t enough; they needed more content and contact with their customers.

Business owners are now writing blogs or having someone do it for them. The key is to keep a fresh presence for customers and keep your store on page one of the Google search. Very few people go past the first page to seek information—that’s why many companies pay to be on page one.

Along came social media and the power of the “individual brand.” That’s you and me, and our influence with each other. Some of you know I conduct product demonstrations. Recently, I was in the outlet mall in Lee, Mass. I was amazed at the number of busses from Canada and piles of women rushing to the discount outlets. I went into the Coach outlet to see its bags on sale for 80% off. These days anyone can own a designer bag or look alike for almost nothing.

So what value do the brands have?

I bought some hot shoes in the Baltimore airport and wore them to my yoga class. Five women wanted to know where I got them—I’m the new brand, just like you. I posted them on Facebook, and 35 more women wanted to know where I got them. I have a friend who teaches a course called “Savvy Strategies for Smart Entrepreneurs.” She believes you and I are the face of products.

It’s not about numbers, she says, it’s more about your ability to influence people. It’s about building trust. It’s about getting “groupies.”

This brings me back to social media. Are you influencing anyone? Are you writing about anything that’s interesting? No one cares what’s on sale unless they want it. Unless they need your products, they’re not even looking at you.

With social media you’re collecting fans, getting known and getting liked by potential customers. By connecting to people you’re building trust.

To create even more influence, you need customers writing about you. You have to get them to tell the world you’re the good guy. They need to first tell everyone you’re a wonderful human being.

I didn’t say being known for the cheapest prices. I wrote in my book, Red Hot Customer Service, how my dad said all you have is your name, and you better protect it—period.

Many of you think it’s hogwash—you were brought up to sell, sell and do more selling. I was brought up the same way, but your new customer doesn’t like it. She likes it better when you give her your mother’s apple pie recipes, and your cat needs good wishes because he’s sick. That’s why when my cat, Raineyday, tells his story he gets 35 likes and comments.

I’m not trying to convince you change is imminent, I’m telling you it’s here.

I blog for a company called The Costumer—yes it supplies costumes all over the world. My job is to get it known, make it fun and get people to want to party. For years, management thought they were in the costume business, now they know they’re in the fun business. In fact, our tag line is: For the fun of it, check out a recent blog:

So begin to ask yourself: Who are you? Who are your customers? What are they doing on social media? What are they talking about? And, how can you join in?

Change isn’t bad if it gets you what you want. So stop talking about how much you don’t like social media and start thinking how it will help you. You know, for the fun of it.