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Chameleon Power introduces new director of marketing

Novi, Mich.—Chameleon Power has added Fred Cizauskas as director of marketing. Cizauskas will be responsible for developing and implementing an overall corporate marketing strategy, directly engaging and managing the marketing team, and translating the company’s business objectives into marketing strategies that drive revenue. In addition, he will help overall brand development and messaging in the marketplace.

Chameleon Power is looking to expand its marketing efforts and provide a stronger presence across the United States. “I’m excited for Fred to join the Chameleon Power team” said Dan Dempsey, Chameleon Power president and CEO. “His integrated marketing experience and skill set around modern, scalable marketing and public relation methods will allow us to capitalize on the strength of the Chameleon Power brand as we continue to innovate and grow.”

Cizauskas comes to Chameleon Power most recently from the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society where he served as marketing director for services and advocacy. In this role, he was responsible for developing and executing corporate marketing efforts, including brand awareness and event marketing for the National MS Society’s 500-plus programs along with directing all marketing efforts around the societies Public Policy Conference, State Action Days and communicating out the efforts of the society lobbying efforts and successes from capitol hill.

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Guest column: Why going ‘mobile’ in your flooring business makes sense

March 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 19

By Kurt Wilson

 

With the explosion of mobile devices in the last few years, many new software programs and apps have come on the market that are designed to be used by flooring professionals. That begs the question: Why should you get onboard the mobile train?

Answer: Mobility enables your sales, estimating and installation team members to be more productive. For example, sales professionals can use their cell phone or tablet to look up product pricing and availability from the showroom floor and even give their clients a proposal document before she leaves the showroom floor. Using a mobile application, sales professionals can create a quote with product quantities after they have used the app to draw the floor plan and estimate these quantities.

If your business employs dedicated estimators, they can use mobile applications to receive project assignments from the sales staff or management, then send the estimated project back to the salesperson within a work period. Consider the Measure Mobile and Mobile Order Entry programs from RFMS, for example. Tim Blanchard, district manager, Design Source Flooring, Lenexa, Kan., can attest. “Measure Mobile and Mobile Order Entry have significantly empowered our sales team to independently and professionally close sales calls without relying on office staff or after-hours legwork. We have also seen a substantial increase of greater accuracy in regard to floorplan layouts, providing an increased cost savings on material and labor charges to our clients.”

Blanchard is not alone. Andy Coomer, account manager at ProSource, Nashville, is also a believer. “After using Mobile Order Entry for several months, I am 100% on board. In my opinion, this is the best thing to come along since I have been at ProSource. I’m able to hand my customers a written estimate and email them a copy before they leave the showroom floor. I’m even able to check inventory on the showroom floor. That’s efficiency.”

As technology improves, the costs of deployment have significantly gone down. This means flooring dealers no longer need to pay large sums to purchase hardware and software. Today’s mobile devices are affordable, and many apps either have free versions or can be used on a cost-effective subscription basis.

Must-have tools
When deciding on what software or apps you use, consider the way the apps work together with your main business management system. This is important to prevent duplicate entries. Check to see if the software has features that allow remote access to your main database, real-time inventory checking, payment acceptance and posting, along with attachment of signed documents. In addition, the software should sync to your main database back at the office.

Mobile apps should also have the ability to use cell phone camera technologies to improve the way orders and quotes are created. For instance, many dealers use the camera feature to put together a project in the software and take photos of the product to attach to the quote to give to the customer. The warehouse can also use the attached photos to immediately confirm the receipt of the correct product when it arrives.

Bottom line: In today’s competitive business environment, it is vital that we take advantage of technology and use it to make us more professional and profitable. Mobile devices are here to stay. With our economy and business sector enjoying a very healthy and busy climate, it is critical that your business can keep up. By utilizing time-saving devices and apps, you can improve your profits and keep your staff current with their technology skills.

 

Kurt Wilson is the apps product manager for Measure by RFMS. His role entails working with RFMS’ mobile applications and their integration with the RFMS Business Management System. He can be reached at kwilson@rfms.com.

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Technology: Embracing artificial intelligence is a smart move

March 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 19

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Mention the term “artificial intelligence” (more commonly referred to as AI) and most people think of science-fiction movies. But the reality is this emerging technology stands to reinvent business as we know it today.

So, what is AI exactly? In essence, AI entails software, machines, etc., designed and programmed in such a manner they think like humans—all while learning in the process. Truth be told, we have only just begun to see how AI is already improving our lives. Some examples include: Apple’s Siri, Google’s self-driving cars and Facebook’s image recognition software, to name a few. Personally, I don’t know how these things happen; I just know they enhance my experiences and interactions with the world.

In that same vein, more businesses and brands are expected to use AI to customize the user experience by analyzing data, consumer-buying trends and browsing history. In the world of tomorrow, you won’t have to ask for the customer’s name, email and contact information; it will all be available through AI.

But the biggest impact of AI, industry experts say, will involve social media. We will continue to see a rise in real-time personalized content targeting with the aim of creating increased sales opportunities, mainly because AI can make use of effective behavioral targeting methodologies. There are other benefits for business as well. For instance, the capabilities of AI-powered fraud detection tools are available to help companies protect against fraud schemes. Speech and face recognition as well as chip readers are also common AI technologies that provide consumer protections. Interestingly, some people hesitate to embrace AI. Skeptics often ask, ‘Will they outthink us?’ or ‘Aren’t we smart enough?’ In truth, AI tries to understand our patterns of behavior and how we think. From that we can build “smarter systems” and better understand how to expand and understand our concept of intelligence.

AI has actually been around for some time. In 1950, English mathematician Alan Turing published a paper titled “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” which opened the doors to the field that would be called AI. (Siri, for instance, is an intelligent personal assistant included in Apple’s iOS, watch, Mac and TV operating systems.)

I started thinking seriously about AI while listening to an interview with Eric Yuan, the CEO of Zoom on Masters of Scale, a podcast program hosted by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn. This is my favorite podcast because the interviews are with the new business leaders in our country.

There are many video conferencing and webinar platforms out there, but Zoom is beta testing AI technology designed to help businesses by testing matching voices to facial recognition. How it works: Once you match a voice to a face, you will be able to know who is talking and who is listening. Yuan calls this an engagement score. The meeting, which will be recorded and transcribed, reveals helpful information about the participants. For instance, if the transcripts show you’re talking 80% of the time and only listening 20% of the time, what are you learning? Probably not much. Imagine if your managers have this information and can explain what it means to employees; this feedback can be used to help employees improve their listening behavior.

Retail businesses could use AI to determine if a customer is willing to purchase the product, seeking support or switching to another provider even before she actually approaches the store. AI might also collect essential data on the customer for the purpose of improving the overall shopping experience. How many businesses have an in-house person that can collect and decipher this invaluable information?

AI should be embraced, not feared. The technology is being used in ways to make our world more secure and allow us to immediately know what is going on around the globe.

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Abbey Carpet & Floor: Merchandising, digital initiatives mark group’s 60th

March 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 19

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Long Beach, Calif.—Abbey Carpet & Floor celebrated its diamond anniversary here last month, marking the occasion with new partnerships and programs designed to elevate members’ games to the next level.

Coming off what members and executives called a good year in 2017, excitement was high at convention as members learned about the new vendor partners, private label programs and plethora of new digital services available to them in 2018. “We have gotten far away from the slump we had back in 2009 and 2010,” Phil Gutierrez, chairman and CEO, told members during general session. “I hope this year business can be really good and not just good.”

The group aims to support members in this venture with its new merchandising and digital initiatives, which include the addition of Engineered Floors and Phenix Flooring to its list of approved vendors. “Both Engineered Floors and Phenix have their own respective strengths,” said Dave Hardy, executive vice president, merchandising and member services, Abbey Carpet & Floor. “Phenix is a large customer of Stainmaster and we want to expand our Stainmaster assortment. They’re a perfect target to be able to do that. Engineered Floors has a strong presence in the property management/home builder segment. They represent an opportunity for us as well. Between the two manufacturers, they dovetail right into the products we are offering from other carpet suppliers.”

In the exhibit hall both Phenix Flooring and Engineered Floors reported strong booth traffic. The convention gave both manufacturers the opportunity to meet with current and new customers.

“Over the past years we’ve had the opportunity to sell to some of their membership outside the program,” said Mark Clayton, president and CEO, Phenix Flooring. “Now as an approved vendor the opportunity escalates. Our close rate has been very strong. With the exit of some of the other carpet mills I think it made sense for us to work together. We’ve been very pleased with the response so far.”

Both Phenix Flooring and Engineered Floors are also contributing to the pot of private-label products available to members. Phenix is offering specific Stainmaster Pet Protect products, while Engineered Floors has three collections of products under the Abbey Carpet name.

According to Gary Hollowell, vice president of sales, Engineered Floors and Dreamweaver, the manufacturer brings the benefits of styling from solution-dyed carpet to the buying group. “We were surprised at how many members weren’t buying from us till they stopped by our booth. We think we’ve filled a bunch of voids they have in product. They really don’t have a big footprint in residential products in solution-dyed, and I think we answered a need in that area.”

Along with Engineered Floors and Phenix, the group also welcomed Healthier Choice, Heartland, JJ Haines, LW Flooring, Morgan Stanley, Soho Studio and Teka as new partners.

The expansion of Abbey’s lineup did not go unnoticed. Jason O’Krent, flooring consultant, O’Krent Floors, San Antonio, was excited with the offerings from current and new vendors. “There’s a lot more newer collections than we usually see.”

For Tempest Hoover, showroom manager, Gillespie’s Abbey Carpet & Floor, Fairfield, Calif., Mohawk’s RevWood struck a chord. “It was really neat to see,” she said. “It’s interesting to see how all the manufacturers display their waterproof products because we don’t have those [displays] in our store.”

Digital leaps and bounds
In 2017 Abbey Carpet & Floor unveiled a new website at convention. This year the group is supporting its members’ websites with various digital services developed to increase success in the digital space. Some of the new initiatives shown at convention include: digital display ads, remarketing (meant to help to reconnect with consumers); social media engagement (to create the full customer experience); customer reviews (with the help of vendors such as Podium); and Abbey’s partnership with Google.

Bill Wilson, vice president of marketing services, Abbey Carpet & Floor, explained the strategy behind the various digital marketing initiatives. “We are taking the original concepts from our pay-per-click program, which we’ve been running for 40 years, and looking at the expansion into other digital services. There are bundle services available out there, so we’ve expanded into digital display advertising, remarketing and social media engagement. We’re helping the members reach more of their targeted audience.”

Wilson added while digital and social media might not be the be-all and end-all of marketing and advertising, it gives dealers an opportunity to build their reputation. By providing these various digital services, the group hopes to help members engage with consumers online.

Even though Abbey introduced the new website only a year ago, it is already undergoing updates. “We have to stay current,” Wilson stated. “The website really paved the way to open up our extended marketing. Anything you do digitally that brings users to a website requires a well-put-together site.”

Growing with Google
Abbey’s new digital initiatives are all bolstered by its partnership with Google. The group has been partners with Google for about four years and the search engine’s involvement has increased year over year. “Google offers guidance to us—everything from building our own websites for our members to the digital marketing programs we have in place,” Wilson explained. “They play a key role from industry statistics to best practices and how to set things up digitally. It has really helped bring our services up to a top-notch level. Plus, it’s nice having a Google partner we can turn to. They’re really interested in bettering our programs.”

Google’s involvement in the Abbey’s digital services has sparked the interest of many members. As a Premier partner with Abbey, Google works with corporate’s pay-per-click services in hopes of driving more consumers to member websites.

“We used pay per click through Google, but we were also talking about using the other remarketing and display ads with Google,” O’Krent said. “The company is going to do a much better job of targeting the people we need to get. With the way they’re managing our ad words and pay per click we’re seeing results.”

Gillespie’s Abbey Carpet & Floor currently partners with Abbey to create PDFs and flyers. However, the store is looking to do more digitally with the buying group, Hoover explained.

“We understand the value of having somebody like Abbey who knows the industry doing these services for us. The presentation that Google did was also really interesting.”

Levi Wolfe, store manager, Abbey Carpet & Floor of Livermore, Calif., also plans on incorporating more of Abbey’s digital services. Abbey currently maintains the store’s website and has assisted Wolfe in uploading a video he created to promote the store. “The Abbey program is tailored just for us and they know the branding and the products we carry so it’s great to be involved with them digitally.”

Programs galore
Abbey also provides members with additional value-added services beyond online/electronic programs. This includes professional marketing services designed to connect members with their target audience. More importantly, the group makes sure that connection happens at the right time and in the right place. What’s more, Abbey provides marketing solutions for all members regardless of their business strategy.

“Whether they advertise with the most cutting-edge technology or rely on traditional forms of advertising mediums, we have marketing support to capture the attention of the consumer and drive leads into the showroom,” Wilson said.

Then there are the various financial services the group offers members. Historically, Abbey has always been a leader in providing members with consumer financing programs that are not only competitively priced but ones that are also flexible enough to meet their customers’ needs. For instance, Abbey provides shoppers with additional buying power so they can purchase floor coverings while helping them preserve their cash savings and reserve their bank credit lines.

“For years, financing programs have been used by big-ticket home improvement retailers to drive traffic and improve close rates,” said Ted Dlugokienski, CFO. “Abbey recognizes there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to financing programs, with consumers looking for both short-term bridges and long-term cash flow management options.”

Through its Credit Connect and Home Solutions credit programs, Abbey provides members with an array of options that are competitively priced and available as needed to meet the requirements of virtually every customer. “With both revolving programs and closed-end financing options available, our members have the tools necessary to increase their average ticket and improve their bottom line by selling more and/or selling a better product mix,” Dlugokienski said.

Beyond that, Abbey offers its members credit card processing relationships that are not only priced below market, but they also aim to eliminate the confusion associated with all the fees and interchange rates charged by the major credit card companies.

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QFloors unveils updates, additions at Surfaces

Las Vegas—QFloors generated notice at Surfaces, as the flooring software company showcased new products, features and technologies.

“Our booth was flooded with people, both current and potential customers, who wanted to learn more about our new commercial, mobile and cloud products,” said Chad Ogden, president, QFloors. “We are really excited about these new and unique offerings, and I think the word has gotten out.”

Following its partnership with MeasureSquare, QFloors has developed even better integration to MeasureSquare’s flooring estimating software products. The QFloors ERP software system and the MeasureSquare takeoff estimating system work together to provide a seamless mobile solution, from initial measure to final payment.

Utilizing this integration, QFloors created its new Mobile Office Suite, which allows dealers to take their office with them to the job site or customer’s home. The new Office Suite makes it possible to effortlessly move through a range of activities including: measuring and estimation, checking stock, creating a proposal, emailing the proposal/invoice to the customer and capturing a signature—to name a few.

New commercial additions have also been developed. “We made it possible to treat commercial work and retail work completely separate from one another, for those floor covering dealers who do both,” Ogden said. “The reports are calculated differently, depending upon commercial or retail. We created a new dashboard that helps you see all of the projects going on at the same time. We’ve also added new updated reporting, new AIA reporting and several other finesses that just make QFloors ERP software much more commercial-friendly.”

QFloors has also officially released the first edition of QPro POS+, a 100% browser-based cloud software. Benefits of this new type of cloud technology include: lower operating and material costs; greater device independence; easier customization; more flexibility and compatibility (now and in the future); easier 3rd party integration and enhanced security and redundancy.

All current QFloors customers will eventually be grandfathered into the software at no additional cost. “Not only will these customers not have to pay for upgrades,” Ogden explained, “but they also will actually typically have costs decrease, as some of these IT and licensing fees go away.”

For more information, visit qfloors.com.

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Creating Your Space, Google partner at TISE 2018

San Rafael, Calif.—Shail Choksi, Google agency development manager, will be participating in Creating Your Space’s (CYS) panel discussion during the company’s educational seminar at Surfaces 2018, Jan. 29 at 1:40 p.m. The session, “How to Maximize Your Online Marketing Presence,” will focus on the contemporary digital advertising landscape and how businesses can effectively capitalize on these trends. The panel of retail flooring dealers and the Google strategists will be facilitated by Jay Flynn, vice president, CYS.

“Google is excited to join CYS at the Surfaces Expo to educate dealers, manufacturers and brands on the latest trends in digital advertising and the unique opportunities that exist within the flooring space,” Choksi said.

Additionally, the Google team will be joining CYS exclusively in the company’s booth on Jan. 30 for one-on-one pre-scheduled appointments with premier clients. For flooring retailers who utilize Google Paid Search in their businesses to optimize their results, this will be a unique opportunity to work personally with Google experts and the CYS digital marketing team.

“We are excited to have Google working directly with us to ensure our clients maximize their leads from the Google services we manage for them,” Flynn said.

Register for the session at intlsurfaceevent.com/en/Home/REGISTRATION.html.

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Creating Your Space introduces new features

San Rafael, Calif.—Creating Your Space is introducing a host of innovations for 2018. These introductions include programmatic advertising, YouTube advertising, a “More Like This” feature as well as an e-commerce platform.

The company’s programmatic advertising aims to help dealers reach new consumers across the web with banner ads utilizing behavioral data and intent-based targeting. This technology analyzes consumer’s behavior on a dealer’s website and then finds new audiences similar to the dealer’s existing customers.

According to Creating Your Space, video advertising is one of the fastest growing forms of ad formats to promote a brand online. These YouTube video ads can be used to put a dealer’s brand in front of the right audience.

The introduction of “More Like This” for selected Creating Your Space website dealers now enables consumers to look for products with similar colors across all the brands in their custom catalogs.

In addition to the features mentioned above, a fully functioning e-commerce website platform is now available for dealers, providing the capability to market and sell their products directly to consumers via their current or new Creating Your Space website marketed specifically to this customer segment.

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WFCA partners with Mill Creek Media Group

Dalton, Ga.—In an effort to help member constituents stay on top of their game in today’s competitive business landscape, WFCA has aligned itself with another organization whose mission is to help retailers expand and enhance their business presence with desired audiences. Mill Creek Media Group, based in Rocky Face, Ga., offers services in a wide array of marketing and communications capacities including videography, photography, online and social media content, to name a few.

Mill Creek Media Group has over 30 years of experience in the flooring and media production industries. They have served a wide variety of clients including Shaw Floors and Novalis International. Their strongest suit of talent lies in branding strategies designed to help individual and small chain retailers enhance market share in their local communities.

As part of their suite of offerings, Mill Creek Media Group offers a full scope of corporate services including: training, marketing and how to videos, commercial development, product introduction marketing and promotions. The company also creates content that can be used on social media platforms, conducts live streaming and product launch debuts as well as a wide line-up of photography services including product, room setting and corporate portraits.

WFCA members will receive discounted rates on all services offered by Mill Creek Media Group.

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Marketing mastery: How to manage your online reputation

November 27-December 11, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 13

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

I was doing an online marketing assessment for Susan, a dealer from California, when she said, “Jim, I can’t believe this dealer has a higher star rating than us. He operates out of a storage container, and he once pulled a gun on a customer.”

I said to Susan, “Let’s walk a mile in Cathy Consumer’s shoes so you can see what your prospects are seeing.”

I then Googled flooring and the name of her town. Susan’s store came up No. 1 on the organic search, but Mr. Storage Container came in No. 2, right below her listing. I pointed out that Mr. Storage Container had five positive reviews on Google, but she had none.

“In other words, while you have worked hard for more than two decades to build a phenomenal offline reputation, this joker who operates out of a metal box and once pulled a gun on a customer has a better online reputation,” I explained.

To which Susan replied: “But this guy is absolutely the worst. I’ll bet those reviews were posted by his friends.”

I replied, “Probably so, but the only thing that matters is what Cathy Consumer sees when she’s looking online for a floor dealer. You have to assume she doesn’t know any flooring dealers or anything about flooring. That’s a big part of why she is researching online. She’s going to choose which store to visit based on who has the best online reputation.”

This kind of situation is very common. I was recently meeting via video conference with a dealer from Nevada to assess her online marketing position. She, too, has been in business for more than 20 years. When I Googled flooring and the name of her town, she and a competitor came up near the top of the search. However, she had only one review and her competitor had more than a dozen.

“I can’t believe this,” she said. “This guy has only been in business for a year and he doesn’t do great work. How does he have all these reviews and we only have one?”

I said: “He’s probably doing a better job of asking for, and getting, reviews than you. Based on the strength of your online reputation alone, which dealer is Cathy Consumer more likely to visit?”

I explained to the retailer that very few people will review a dealership on their own. You have to have a system in place to request reviews and make it easier for your customers to leave one. The dealer with this system will win the online reputation game.

Some dealers think, “Well, I’ve been in business for three decades and get a lot of repeat and referred customers, our reputation is great. Why do we need to worry about online reviews?” If this is your thinking you need to consider these statistics:

  • According to Business 2 Community, 92% of consumers now read online reviews.
  • Business 2 Community also found 94% of consumers would use a business with a four-star rating.
  • According to BrightLocal, 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • According to Synchrony Financial, 85% of consumers begin their path-to-purchase online for big-ticket products.

In other words, the rules have changed. Just because you have a great offline reputation doesn’t mean it will be automatically reflected online. With 85% of consumers beginning their flooring path-to-purchase online, it’s critical to have a plan to generate more positive reviews.

 

Jim Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring retailers. For a free copy of his latest book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes Online,” visit BeatTheBoxesOnline.com.

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Marketing Online: Make the most of social networking

November 20/27, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 12

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.43.18 AMMost retailers understand the importance of developing a digital marketing campaign and having a strong social media presence. However, simply being on social media is not enough. In order to social network on these platforms retailers have to create and engage in conversation. If used correctly, experts say, the online world provides multiple avenues for retailers to connect with potential and existing consumers and stay top of mind.

FCNews spoke with several digital marketing and social media experts to uncover how retailers can make the most of their social networking.

Connect your plan with your tools. Retailers should make sure their overall marketing plans align with specific social sites before jumping into all of them. As Lisbeth Calandrino, FCNews columnist and retail industry consultant, explains, “It’s one thing to have LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, but if you don’t have a marketing plan to go with those tools—and you don’t use those tools with consistency—then you won’t see positive results.”

Aligning a company’s goals and marketing plan with social networking sites can also save retailers valuable time. “It’s really important for businesses to understand what the company’s goals are for being on social networks,” said Christine Whittemore, chief simplifier, Simple Marketing Now. “Is it just to promote your business? Is it to generate new leads? Is it to address questions people have? It may end up being a combination of all three because people hang out on networks and they may try to reach you there.”

Have a strong home base. While social networking generally occurs on social media sites and review sites, experts urge retailers to have a strong website as well. “It’s really important for retailers to make sure their home base (their website) is as strong as it can be,” Whittemore explained. “It’s a good idea to make sure the website is mobile friendly and has helpful information.”

The content on a retailer’s website can help influence the posts or conversations he or she has while social networking, Whittemore added.

Do a quick company Google search. Most retailers aim to have their website appear on the first page of a Google search. But what they often forget is other public profiles, including social media accounts and review sites, can also appear on that first page. Experts warn retailers to look at those other sites and make sure branding and key information about their company is consistent.

Whittemore suggests: “Do a Google search on your company name and find out what public profiles files exist about your company. There are a lot of profiles that will be created automatically by virtue of you having a business phone number and address, and you want to claim them.”

Adding pictures and logos, along with making sure the information about the business is consistent across all platforms, helps as well.

Be consistently active. Most experts agree a retailer cannot network socially unless he or she is “in the conversation” or active on key platforms. It is also crucial for retailers to find out where their customers are interacting online. In addition to having a presence on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, Paul Friederichsen, marketing expert and owner of BrandBiz, suggest retailers explore LinkedIn. “[This platform] is vital for business to business, particularly if you’re a dealer who does or wants to do a lot of Main Street or commercial business. LinkedIn is probably best at facilitating networking within your community of decision makers. Facebook is best for residential/consumer networking.”

Part of being active on social media sites is creating and maintaining conversations. As Calandrino explains, “One way to do this is to pose a question on social media—find out what people think. The more people write and say, the more opportunities you have for connecting.”

Examine the analytics. Why post on multiple platforms if only one or two are delivering positive results? Cutting down the number of active social media sites to include only those with positive results can save a retailer time and potentially money. Retailers can determine which sites are crucial to their success by looking at weekly or monthly analytics.

“Analytics are what help you change your campaign,” Calandrino explained. “It’s very important retailers look at their analytics and take the time to really see what has been successful.”

Provide helpful information to consumers. While social media would appear to be the ideal place for highlighting new products and flooring specials, experts suggest retailers provide consumers with useful tips and resources instead.

“Retailers need to approach social media and social networking as being a local facilitator of home fashion ideas, solutions, advice, tips, resources and value from the flooring point of view,” Friederichsen said. “Social networking is not the place to hawk the latest special in wood flooring by [this brand or that brand]. It is the place, however, to convey advice on the best place to install that particular wood flooring, how best to care for it or link the advice to a blog article on the retailer’s website.”

Today’s selling environment, Friederichsen added, is all about relationship building and trust. “That’s the huge advantage the independent retailer has over chains and big boxes.”

Be human. Social networking is very similar to traditional networking in that it involves a conversation between two entities. However, a major difference is social networking often occurs between a customer’s personal page and a company’s business page. Unlike personal social media accounts, business pages can often feel cold or look exactly the same. According to experts, social networking is most effective when a company comes across as a person and not business. This can be achieved through the types of posts on a social media page and how a retailer chooses to engage with the customer.

As Whittemore explains, “The more you can be human, the more successful you will be with networking socially.”