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Marketing mastery: The best social media platforms for business

October 9/16, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 9

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.45.16 AMI sometimes hear busy flooring dealers make comments such as, “I keep hearing about the different social media platforms I should be using to market my business, but there are so many. I just can’t keep up.” It’s understandable for dealers to feel this way because there are a ton of options available.

If you’re struggling to choose a platform, why not put your focus where the majority of your customers are interacting? According to a report released by the Pew Research Center, 68% of Americans are on Facebook. This dwarfs the percentages on Instagram (28%), Pinterest (26%), LinkedIn (25%) and Twitter (21%).

In my opinion, Facebook is still the most effective at delivering customers. When done correctly it can produce a steady stream of quality customers for your business. You can make money using some of the other platforms if you have the time and resources to design and run effective marketing campaigns for each additional social media account. But most dealers barely have the time to effectively implement one platform, let alone several.

Some of you may have already attempted Facebook marketing and received mediocre results. I have found that dealers often make some common mistakes that hurt their efforts on this potentially lucrative platform. Following are four common errors.

Trying to sell directly on Facebook. The only products that tend to sell well on Facebook are low-end, impulse items like t-shirts, inexpensive electronic gadgets, costume jewelry, etc. In terms of selling, think of Facebook as a large mall. You don’t usually see big-ticket items like flooring being sold in malls where people tend to browse for impulse buys. Therefore if you want to generate sales, your marketing should be designed to get prospects off social media and into your store.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 10.15.38 AMPoor page design. Not properly setting up your page can hurt your visibility online and cause you to miss opportunities to get people into your store. Some common mistakes include: using incomplete information, having no call to action or link to the dealer’s main website, weak or non-existent unique selling proposition, having information and branding that is inconsistent with other online listings and setting up your business as a personal profile. (This is currently against Facebook’s guidelines and can get your profile shut down.)

Buying likes. Having thousands of likes on your Facebook page makes you look more relevant, and if the likes are from real followers—and you market to them properly—they can translate into big revenues for your business. However, it can be tempting to buy likes, and there are companies all over the Internet offering to sell them to you. Don’t do it. If you have 10,000 likes from fake followers not interested in your product, then they are going to have low engagement. This hurts the visibility of your posts, and your real followers won’t see them. Fake followers are also not going to buy your product.

Having no Facebook marketing plan. Many dealers simply post photos of products or special offers periodically with no thought-out plan for systematically generating business from this platform. Your posts must fit into an overall plan for generating quality customers.

 

Jim Augustus Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring dealers. For a complimentary copy of Jim’s book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes and Escape the Cheap-Price Rat-Race of Doom Forever,” visit beattheboxestoday.com.

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Lisbiz Strategies: Add email marketing to your digital strategy

October 9/16, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 9

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Lisbeth CalandrinoDigital marketing uses online channels and methods that allow you to analyze what is and isn’t working. Because we’re talking about electronic media, this analysis can be done immediately. You can make changes on the spot if something isn’t working, which is not always possible with every marketing channel.

When I was in the retail business, I used weekly newspaper campaigns and never knew whether the customer had actually seen my advertisement. We would ask if they had seen our ads and most could not remember. Oftentimes they would tell us about a competitor’s advertisement thinking it was ours. This was just more money sent down the drain. However, this doesn’t have to happen if you plan your campaigns and stay on top of the statistics.

You’re probably incorporating Facebook, YouTube and Twitter into your digital strategy, but when and how often do you post? Do you check your statistics? Do you only post when you have a sale?

You must be consistent to get results, regardless of the methods you use. You have to determine how often you want to post and then schedule it. You need a long-term campaign to determine what to send and when. All of these digital channels have a way for you to check how you’re doing.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 10.02.05 AMMany think email marketing is old. However, it is very sophisticated if done right. What’s more, email marketing ensures your content is going directly to a known customer who wants to hear from you. You just need to have good subject lines and interesting emails.

According to Wordstream, 80% of retail professionals indicate email marketing is their greatest driver of customer retention. Another statistic, according to MarketingSherpa, states 91% of people actually enjoy receiving promotional emails, with 61% stating they would like to receive them weekly and 15% wanting them daily.

Following is what you need to do to make your email marketing work:

Have good subject lines. The subject line is the first thing your customer will see when she checks her emails. Make sure your subject lines catch her attention and spark curiosity.

Segment your customers. Don’t send the same emails to all your customers. Different customers have different needs so when you put customers in your database, choose the appropriate category. I know you’re saying, “Do I have to do all this work?” Using a technique called data mining will help you determine buying and pricing for a specific group of customers. This is what the supermarket does with the information from your special discount card. They find out who you are and what you buy. Then they target you with special offers.

Check your open and click- through rates. If your emails aren’t getting opened, you need different subjects. There’s no reason for a click through unless there’s something to read. Always have some type of offer for the reader.

Keep the focus of the email on the customer, not yourself. All customers want information to help them solve a problem, even if it’s five ways to cook tomatoes. You need to know your customers and their angst. You know, what keeps them up at night? Be personal, be yourself, be trustworthy.

Keep trying. Not everything you write will be a hit. But every time someone says, “I love those articles I get,” you’ll know you’re on the right track.

 

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Digital Marketing: Ready-made outreach programs at dealers’ fingertips

October 9/16, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 9

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Most retailers know they have to invest in digital marketing. However, not all dealers have the time or resources to run an effective digital campaign. While various marketing companies are available to provide digital help, flooring manufacturers are also stepping up to assist retailers.

Following is a sampling of some of the digital marketing initiatives currently available for retailers to leverage.

Armstrong
Armstrong Flooring’s digital marketing strategy contains many facets, including the company’s website, a campaign featured on HGTV and a promotion for Elevate retailers. Armstrong is also relaunching its residential website in November to dovetail with the consumer’s shopping journey.

“We take an integrated approach when it comes to our digital marketing strategy, seeking to connect with shoppers and drive qualified traffic to our aligned retailers,” said Ebeth Pitman, director of brand marketing. “We are continually evolving our website experience to drive more qualified leads through the doors of our retail partners. The website is a destination site for flooring shoppers and is optimized to capture that in-market consumer who is searching for flooring online.”

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 9.16.34 AMOther features of the website include a “request a quote” form available for each Elite partner store listing and co-branded web pages that are optimized for local search.

In addition to the website, Armstrong has a campaign titled “The Floor is Yours,” which is featured on HGTV and hgtv.com. This campaign is also integrated with a promotion for Elevate retailers called “The New Look of Tough,” which includes a campaign toolbox for retailers that includes video, social content, photography, merchandising, brochures and more.

Mohawk
Mohawk is committed to not only making quality flooring but also helping its retailers be successful. One of the ways the company aims to do this is through Omnify, its omni-channel solution.

“Omnify is about simple, connected retail,” said Mollie Surratt, senior director of public relations and inbound marketing. “Mohawk is focused on walking the consumer through her digital journey by empowering the retailer’s online presence. Omnify makes digital marketing easy with all the tools at her fingertips to drive qualified leads, publish relevant, optimized content and advertise using the best tools in the industry.”

The omni-channel solution drives qualified consumers to a retailer’s store through a variety of optimized content and digital advertising solutions. This ranges from organic and paid social media to web content structured for search engine optimization.

“Mohawk’s new Omnify advertising package is built to utilize the most effective strategic methods of capturing the consumer during her digital journey and delivering her to your store,” Surratt explained.

To learn more about Omnify, visit mohawktoday.com/omnify or talk to your local Mohawk representative.

Shaw Floors
Shaw offers its retail partners a complete suite of digital marketing services to help reach today’s consumers in innovative ways. This includes social media support, website building and online reputation management.

“Promoboxx is Shaw’s social media content solution, providing retailers with support, content and best practices for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter,” said Misty Hodge, director of digital marketing, Shaw Floors. “Shaw Web Studio is a complete website solution, enabling retailers to quickly and easily build professional flooring websites to remain competitive in the digital space. Share it Forward began as an online ratings and reviews directory and has since evolved into a full-service online reputation management program that notifies retailers of when and where they receive reviews and also offers education and coaching on how best to deal with negative reviews.”

As more consumers look online to shop and qualify a brand, it is important for retailers to have a strong digital presence, experts say. Shaw is helping retailers save time, stress and money by providing meaningful solutions to their digital marketing efforts.

“Our retail partners look to us as a leader in the digital marketing space, and we leverage all the resources available to us to make that task as simple, carefree and effective as possible,” Hodge explained. “It’s Shaw’s philosophy that we win by helping our retail partners win—we’re in this together.”

USFloors
USFloors has strengthened its digital presence to assist retailers in promoting the company’s products. Beyond building up its presence on popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Houzz, Pinterest and LinkedIn, USFloors also uses its website to showcase products and installations.

“We use our digital presence as a communication platform to the retailers selling our product and their customers,” said Maud Swalens, social media and marketing coordinator, USFloors. “We provide platforms where both retailers and consumers can share their experiences with us as a company, and our product. This allows us to improve and enhance our service and products.”

The goal, according to Swalens, is to be available at all times to both retailers and consumers, “whether it is to answer questions, help with requests or assist with anything else. Conversation is the focal point, and that is why an online presence is extremely important to us.”

Beyond the communication aspect, USFloors looks to help homeowners get more creative. “We lead a product category and like to inspire retailers and consumers with our innovative decors,” Swalens said. “For this purpose, Houzz and Pinterest are used mostly. We share mood boards, provide style or design advice (when requested) and invite our customers to get inspired and innovate with us.”