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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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Marketing Online: Turning negative reviews into positive outcomes

July 31/Aug. 7: Volume 31, Issue 4

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.34.03 AM

The above exchange between a would-be customer and specialty flooring retailer appeared on Yelp in June. While the complaint was relatively benign it nonetheless resulted in two dissatisfied customers walking away from a potential purchase.

The flooring retailer in question usually receives favorable reviews on Yelp, so the complaint was out of character. Still, even the best flooring dealers can receive negative online reviews no matter how great their intentions.

In this case, many social media experts say, the retailer responded appropriately.

“Nobody likes getting negative reviews,” said Taylor Cutler, demand-gen specialist for Podium, a company that specializes in social media and online marketing. “In fact, it can be hard to not get upset when a customer leaves a bad review. That being said, a small number of negative reviews adds to the authenticity of all your reviews. Consumers know that no business is going to be perfect, so they will be understanding when they see one pop up from time to time.”

The key to dealing with negative reviews, Cutler explains, is to view them as an opportunity to improve your business. “When responding to negative reviews the first thing you should do is remain calm. Lashing out at customers is never going to end well, even if you think the review is unwarranted.”

Here are a few tips from social media experts on dealing with negative reviews.

Be responsive. The age-old retort, “I am not even going to dignify that with a response,” might be a way to handle certain situations but not online complaints, experts say. It may be tempting to delete negative feedback. However, responding well to negatives can actually turn into a positive when other customers see a thoughtful and respectful response. “Typically when people come to social media with a complaint it is a result of some sort of miscommunication,” said Frank Chiera, senior vice president of marketing and advertising, Flooring America/Flooring Canada. He recommends flooring retailers reply as quickly as possible and do whatever they can to help the customer out. “Good service and a prompt response can go a long way to make that customer happy. In most cases, his members have already worked directly with the customers to resolve the issue they are experiencing, and they are a result of things outside of our store’s control—like subfloor problems or issues with independent contractors who installed our product. If you’ve done everything you can already to please the customer, we recommend you briefly recap the steps you’ve taken in your response and invite the person to get in touch directly if she would like to discuss it further.”

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.34.22 AMFlooring America’s F.A.S.T. (Flooring America Social Tools) program, for example, provides comprehensive monitoring across all social media platforms so the buying group is able to find and address these complaints quickly as they come in. The My Floor Story creates a place for reviews to live on all member microsites.

Don’t wait too long to act. Numerous surveys have found that a high proportion of customers regard online reviews as credible. While negative reviews still make up a relatively small portion of all reviews posted— according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, only one in 26 customers will take the time to complain publicly—when you do get a bad review you should take it very seriously.

Research the incident. If necessary, speak to your staff to get their side of the story, and communicate privately with the reviewer to find out more details. If you’ve joined a review site, you should be able to message reviewers privately. If you haven’t joined, you can post a public message asking the reviewer to contact you offline (i.e., by phone or email) to discuss her concern. If the negative comment is on a blog, Facebook page or Twitter, you may have to respond publicly and ask the writer to contact you privately. The last thing you want is a public he-said-she-said argument. You can respond to inaccurate reviews to set the record straight about facts without getting into a tit-for-tat conversation.

Learn from it. Successful business people learn from negative reviews, improve their business—if need be—and then move on.

Offer a solution. According to Podium’s Cutler, apologizing to your customers is great but what they really want is a solution. He recommends including a detailed plan of action to remediate the problem as part of your response.

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Creating Your Space joins with Google, Wordstream

cyslogoSan Rafael, Calif.—Creating Your Space (CYS), a Google Partner, is participating in a conference hosted by Google and Wordstream live from New York. Layla Altman, search engine marketing director at Creating Your Space, was invited to attend this conference along with other paid search experts and strategists from Google and Wordstream. CYS has since developed and presented educational webinars based on the key takeaways resulting from this conference.

“Our invitation to participate in this event was prompted by our status as a Google Partner,” said Jay Flynn, vice president, CYS. “We are proud to have had this opportunity and look forward to continually provide the most relevant education, best service and value to our clients.”

CYS is the flooring industry leader in the development of custom websites, SEO, pay per click and social media services for over 400 flooring stores, including a third of the country’s top 50 flooring retailers.

For more information visit the Creating Your Space website.

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Digital Marketing: Putting social media to work for your business

Expert advice on helping dealers take the virtual plunge

November 7/14, 2016: Volume 31, Number 11

Achieving success at retail in today’s high-tech marketing, media-rich world requires a departure from traditional consumer-outreach thinking. Experts the world over agree that a solid social media strategy should be at the core of any marketing program.

That begs the question: What’s the best way to get started? It might sound elementary, but the first order of business is to get to know your audience. Experts say a retailer’s customer demographic will shed light on where they are spending time online. Facebook, for example, is the most popular social media platform for women ages 34 to 54.

Next, review the various social media platforms to see what might work best for your needs. The possibilities on social media are growing and evolving, with new platforms launching frequently (see graphic). Among the most popular are Houzz, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn. Before deciding on a platform that best suits their needs, objectives and, yes, capabilities, retail business owners and operators should consider how much time they can devote to social media. Many experts agree that about an hour a day should be spent on each social network (at least when first starting out). Next, retailers need to consider the audience and demographics. For instance, which social networks are used most by your customers?

Many online marketing proponents believe Facebook tends to deliver the greatest results given its widespread use across varied demographics. According to Christine Whittemore, chief simplifier and digital marketing specialist at Simple Marketing Now, it’s helpful to start with Facebook as most dealers are already familiar with this social network on a personal level. “I’m hopeful that someone has done some experimenting and is somewhat familiar with one of the networks,” she said. “It really helps to understand the network from a personal point of view before getting involved with business perspective.”

Starting off small with Facebook makes sense, experts say, as consumers often search that platform in much the same way that they look for a regular webpage. At the same time, marketing advisors and professionals only recommend posting something on Facebook that has a purpose. In the case of floor covering dealers that means attracting new customers and retaining customers that dealers have already sold.

On the flip side, many retailers remain hesitant to get involved with social media because of seemingly inevitable negativity, particularly with customer reviews. Most dealers know all it takes is one unhappy customer sounding off on a social network or review site to potentially affect other consumers. However, business owners should take these reviews as opportunities to turn negatives into positives.

“More frequently, consumers who are thinking of replacing a floor are looking online for answers: what to buy and where to buy it,” notes Paul Friedrichsen, owner of BrandBiz, a marketing and branding consultancy. “That means she’s probably paying close attention to online reviews. In fact, research says 70% of online customers rely on reviews before making a purchase. So, if you’re not listed on a review site then you’re not in the game. Even worse, if you are online but your reviews are lousy, you’re already losing.”

Ultimately, presence on the top social networks is key, particularly visually based platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. Posting original, engaging content on Facebook is paramount, along with short, attention-grabbing blurbs on Twitter. Business listings on Google+, Yelp and Angie’s List will help with search rankings and garnering customer reviews. Houzz—which allows users to express their creativity—is another network rising in popularity in recent years. It works like Pinterest in that it is based on inspirational photos, which falls right in line with the home furnishings/fashion industry. Once a dealer has selected a platform—or group of platforms—the next move is allotting a budget for online marketing initiatives. One of the best things about social media, experts say, is it offers an advertising vehicle for a very low price. You can actually choose to spend nothing, but experts suggest working with a budget—it can be as little as $35 a week—to get additional exposure. “It’s the cheapest media money you will ever spend,” Friederichsen said. “You could spend $10 on Facebook to boost a post or ad and get 1,000 people to look at it. The return on investment for this doesn’t compare to anything you’ll spend in mass media.”

Whittemore also encourages boosted posts. “You are basically paying Facebook for increased visibility. It’s a fabulous tool because you can target certain people in specific locations and you can do it for very small amounts of money.”

But don’t boost everything and anything, she noted. “Before you boost, see if the post gets some organic attention [with likes and comments]. If it’s a dud, don’t waste money on it. You want a mixture of updates—some about you and some about topics that are of interest to your customers. You have to test what works.” social-infographic2015

Creating a connection
At its core, social media is a helpful tool for building relationships with customers. It’s an opportunity to give them a behind-the-scenes view of your business or how “human” you are. It also enables dealers to highlight top-notch customer service and the quality of completed jobs. Experts recommend dealers share photos of their best installations.

“If you want to attract new customers or get the word out about your business, you may want to focus on what’s new in the store or talk about some events you are hosting,” Whittemore suggested. “Think ahead of time to decide what you are going to share and when. And if someone comments on your post, be sure to respond in a reasonable amount of time.”

Experts also suggests dealers get their customer service reps and sales teams involved with social media as well, as this helps with consistency. “It’s not a matter of showing up once; you have to be there all the time,” Whittemore stated. “It’s like joining local business organizations or attending chamber of commerce meetings—you have to go regularly to meet people and hand out business cards. Social networking serves the same purpose, except you’re doing it all online.”

 

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Mohawk, Google help flooring dealers capture today’s consumer

February 1/8; Volume 30/Number 16

By Nadia Ramlakhan

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.54.20 PMLas Vegas—Google’s Ben Tyson, head of sales enablement for SEM and directory partners, spoke to flooring dealers about the importance of keeping up with today’s educated consumer in “Lunch with Google,” co-hosted by Mohawk Flooring and FloorForce, held Jan. 20 at The International Surface Event in Las Vegas. Tyson was joined by John Weller, vice president of marketing for Floor Force, and Tom Lape, president of Mohawk residential, who said helping retailers gain an advantage on the digital forefront was part of the reason for the company’s return to the show.

“It’s about so much more than just product,” he explained. “It’s a different side of business, and we are all trying to confront it. It’s about training; everybody here is trying to think outside the box and grow their businesses and expand in the marketplace. At the end of the day we can’t just make product—we have to be partners with the independent retailer and understand what is happening in digital marketing and make sure we specifically understand your world.”

Mike Zoellner, vice president of marketing services for Mohawk, added that Mohawk aims to work with digital leaders to provide the best opportunities for its retailers. “Mohawk is honored for the opportunity to partner with the very best companies that are leading experts in the digital space. We understand the responsibility we have to capture quality leads in the digital space and deliver them directly to our retailers. Mohawk’s digital transformation is enhanced by our collaboration with FloorForce to develop a game-changing ratings and reviews program, and now we are continuing that momentum as we make advances in SEM marketing.”

Tyson, known as “Mr. T,” said Google is “honored to partner with Mohawk and FloorForce, both leaders in the flooring industry, to help retailers capture more customers online.” He said his goal for “Lunch with Google” is for flooring dealers “to walk away with a greater understanding of digital marketing and its power in generating sales.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.54.32 PMTyson noted the digital divide that has impacted shoppers in the flooring industry and encouraged dealers to “shift your mental model to think like a consumer.” In recent years, there has been a change in the way consumers find retail businesses and, according to Tyson, dealers have yet to make the corresponding adjustment. The proof is in the numbers: 44.6% of our media consumption time is spent on digital yet it is only 25% of dealers’ overall advertising budget.

Whereas consumers in the past have looked to the Yellow Pages or advice from their friends for information on a local flooring store, the Internet has made this information easily and readily available through online searches, ratings, reviews, etc. To capture today’s buyer, Tyson urges dealers to have a digital presence across all platforms including desktop, tablet and mobile devices and feature content that speaks to the individual.

Mohawk launches ratings and reviews system

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.54.06 PMGiven how consumers today take to the Internet for feedback, Mohawk has launched BuzzLocal powered by FloorForce to provide a new and improved ratings and reviews system. Mohawk’s research states 88% of consumers are influenced by online reviews and comments, and believes the ability to search on Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube will connect potential customers to these comments quickly and seamlessly. BuzzLocal includes the three most important aspects of managing a dealer’s online reputation: review, respond and reach.

Review: Ability to collect and display reviews on the store’s own website, the Mohawk Flooring website and the most important and relevant social media platforms.

Respond: A single, consolidated, simple dashboard giving dealers the ability to respond to reviews real-time on their websites, as well as on the most popular review websites such as Yelp, Google+ and Facebook.

Reach: Greater SEO for the retailer’s website driven by positive reviews and access to an automated, outbound email campaign that allows dealers to directly reach their customers who have left a review with floor care tips, decorating ideas and special offers that generate new leads for the business.

“My takeaway from this is all the naysayers out there who think social media is nothing but a waste of time and just a place to socialize, if they don’t get busy and get their businesses onto all those social networks they are going to be left in the dust,” said Deby Winter, Carpet & Tile Warehouse, Vero Beach, Fla.

Aaron Hirshberg, Green Building Supply, Fairfield, Iowa, added, “For years they’ve been harping on marketing online; this is a continuation of that and [Google] has narrowed it down. It’s hard to find people you trust who are experts, so it’s great to see Google aligned with the industry.”

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U.S. Green Building Council announces grant from Google

San Francisco – The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced today, on the main stage at its annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, a $3 million grant from Google that will catalyze the transformation of the building materials industry and accelerate the creation of healthier indoor environments. Continue reading U.S. Green Building Council announces grant from Google

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Social networking becomes tool for success

by Emily J. Cappiello

Social networking is no longer an added part of success; it has become one of the main tools to help businesses thrive. Social networking allows companies to get closer to their customers and can even help consumers find local flooring stores, since Facebook is becoming an ever-increasingly popular search engine as well as social networking site. YouTube can enable people to network with each other but can also be used to supply partners and potential customers with educational information about products. And with new additions like Pinterest, social networking is growing by leaps and bounds. Continue reading Social networking becomes tool for success

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Suppliers set to jumpstart sales via spring promos

From March Madness and the Grapefruit League to spring sales and rebates, many phrases and terms make their way into the conversation this time of year. Numerous flooring companies gear up for the season by running special springtime promotions, an annual rite of the season. Here are just a few specials being offered. Continue reading Suppliers set to jumpstart sales via spring promos

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How to rank higher on the search engines

by Josh Hoffman

I am often asked, “What can I do on my own to improve my rankings on the search engines?” The answer, quite simply, is organic search engine optimization (SEO). Organic SEO is the process you go through to obtain a natural placement ranking on search engines, hopefully page one.  Continue reading How to rank higher on the search engines

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Formica announces social media campaign

Barnwell, S.C. – Formica Flooring announces the launch of a 2012 social media campaign, which includes a blog (appropriately named FormicaFloorum) on formicaflooring.com and an enhanced presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+.

The FormicaFloorum blog contains helpful entries on choosing the right laminate flooring brand and style, and informing the consumer about the difference between hardwood and laminate by sharing stories of actual homeowners. Formica Flooring’s Facebook and Twitter pages are consistently updated with informative and engaging posts and links, and a YouTube channel will soon host videos on a variety of topics related to laminate flooring. Continue reading Formica announces social media campaign