31 Jan

Match Made Online – Beyond Dating

If you’re using social media effectively, it feels a little like dating.

Several of my friends have met, dated and married men they met online. In speaking with them on this topic, it became clear how similar dating relationships are with effective business relationships online.

Therefore, if you want to take your business to the next level using social media, you need to imagine your business is like a single person, and the customer like a prospective mate. If you aren’t seeing business relationships like this, you’ll never capture her heart let alone ever make a sale.

Online dating affords an opportunity to find a potential audience of like-minded individuals that you can interact with. Using social networking sites like Twitter, you can do the same with identifying and targeting the exact audience you want to communicate with. If you’re business sells kitchen supplies to restaurants, you can easily find restaurants and chef’s online. The process makes it easier to remove the unnecessary clutter around you and focus on the prospects that you have something in common with.

If you imagine that you’re dating these connections, it might help you to edit what you type in such a way that won’t scare anyone away. For example, if you were developing a new relationship with a potential partner, do you think constant communication about how fabulous you are, how pretty or how much you paid for a suit would be appealing?

Probably not a good conversation starter.

On the other hand, if you find potential dates and ask or answer questions, to truly get to know the person, you’ll likely develop a deeper connection which may or may not result in a match…but it’s a good start.

If however the match seems like a good fit, you’ll probably next want to call the person, chat on Skype or meet for a drink. This is the same with non-romantic online relationships. I can tell you from experience that many of the guys (and gals) I communicate in the #usguys Twitter stream have turned into friends. I can’t wait to connect with them in person and meet them. We’ve Skyped and exchanged texts and phone calls. When I need a service one of them offers or has expertise on – I will contact them first.

In business, once you develop a relationship with someone online, you’ll likely think about stopping by to introduce yourself and say hello when you’re nearby. Or, you’ll remember them the next time you need the service they provide.

Imagine your online dating relationship started out great, you made a nice connection and even spoke on the phone a few times but then somehow the comments started to change. They turned from someone who wanted to get to know you to someone who wants to get you in bed and unless that’s what you want too, it would likely feel like it’s moving too fast or that it’s not genuine. Your reaction, assuming you weren’t interested in this pace, would be to either confront or ignore the person.

In business when you develop a relationship online it’s not any different. If suddenly you start sending updates on promotions or new products, the relationship may begin to take a turn. If you start pushing your goods and services to someone who was supposed to be a genuine friend and every post turns into something about your business…your posts will provide less and less value – ultimately just getting ignored.

In the case of one friend who’s now engaged to a guy she met online, the first time they met in person was charged with a physical connection. The time they spent online enabled them to develop a richer, deeper connection that made it seem like they’d known one another for ages. Isn’t this the type of relationship you want with your customers? Someone who comes to working with you feeling completely confident that you’re the right person for the job, so much so that they wouldn’t need to go elsewhere.

18 Jan

Your website sets the stage

Before even setting foot in your business, your customer had most probably already scoped out the Internet for your website (as well as what other shoppers have to say about you).  Needless to say, your website, or whether you even have one, will be making that first impression.  Your online presence can ultimately affect your customer’s view on whether your business is worth their time, or to move on to another option.  You might say: I don’t conduct any businesses online, why should I bother?  Here’s why: Your website is the first place your customer will look to decide whether or not to make that first contact with you.

What is your website saying?
If your business already have a website, or if you are considering creating one, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The quality of your website should match the quality of your product or service.  Your customers will decide if your website matches their style and aesthetic, and from there, decide if your brand and product is the right fit for them.
  • Other than style and aesthetics, your website will also show your level of professionalism.  This can be anything from how clean the general look of your website is to whether you have spell-checked.
  • Your website should not be a one-time project. Your website must be maintained and updated constantly.  There is nothing more off-putting than visiting a tacky, old website with outdated information.  Your (once) potential customer will just assume your business is equally outdated and irrelevant, and move on.

Are you using your website to reach out to your customers? And letting them reach you?
Shoppers will also use your website to gauge how you interact with your customers.  Especially in the luxury market, people are looking for a two-way communication, personal attention, and they want to know that their satisfaction and needs is a priority to you.  Having an updated contact/customer services page or other social media outlets (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc) shows that there are open lines of communication, and you value customer feedback.  If they don’t feel that your company are easily accessible, they might opt for another company that they feel is.  These outlets can be invaluable if building a strong relationship with your customers is important to you, and your potential customers will take into account how you use them.

 

10 Jan

5 Bad Social Media Marketing Habits to Recognize and Fix

We’re into the second week of the New Year. I’ve posted both my personal and professional goals (or resolutions – depending on which term you prefer) so now it’s time to focus on you. What are your New Years resolutions / goals for your business?

If you’re thinking of or have recently attempted to jump into using social media for your business, I’ve compiled 5 bad social media marketing habits that would be worth your time to recognize & fix…before you get too deep into it.

Bad habit #1: Using social media as though it’s the same as traditional media.

By this I mean using it to communicate 1-way messages. For example, Stop by for our big sale… or Check out our new selection…1-way. Instead, try communicating (2-way conversation). Social media, is by it’s very nature, more effective when social. So try posting messages that are informative while encouraging feedback.

Bad Habit #2: Junk posts – the new version of old spam.

Remember when you first used email and it was so much fun to receive a message? You felt loved and wanted. Then the junk started arriving in the old inbox and before you realized it, all that love was really spam and you started to disregard all those messages as junk and delete them. With social media it’s not much different. If you’re posting content that has little or no value to your audience – personally – it’ll start to just become clutter and eventually ignored. They don’t need to visit your Facebook page or follow you if it’s not worth it to them. And they won’t or they’ll just ignore you.

Bad Habit #3: Jumping into social media half-assed.

In my world, I really work to do whatever I do as best as I can. I can’t imagine why anybody would take the time and effort to set up a blog, Facebook page or Twitter account and post once every month or so. Why? Do you honestly feel that has the potential to be effective or are you just doing it half-assed?

Bad Habit #4: Relationships with benefits

Like in the real world, there’s all types of people online. Some with good intentions and some with a desire to satisfy their personal goals or sales. Relationships should not be viewed as a means to get the benefit of a sale. I really feel that transparency and authenticity is a key element in social media because true relationships build trust. If someone trusts you and knows what you do, you might even be able to help them when they need your service. If they feel that you’re only friendly because you want something from them, they won’t trust you and likely not use your service.

Bad Habit #5: It’s not all about you

There are a lot of egos out there. Everyone’s an expert and a guru in social media, which is incredible since it’s only been an official term for a few years. We’re all on this ride together. Social media is about people, bringing them together, learning and growing. In real life would you talk to anyone with any regularity who only wanted to talk about him or herself? So what makes social media any different? I guess this goes back to the point about having a two-way conversation and getting to know people…not to sell your wares, but to make quality connections with people you have something in common with.

Good things will come, but it all takes work and time (and a little strategy) but at the core, you need to be embracing these platforms with good intentions, an open mind and an interest in meeting new people.

05 Jan

Twitteritis

I’m self-diagnosing..I have Twitteritis. It’s not a bad thing if identified in the early stages so don’t worry, but beware; you might get it too. The condition is worsened by increased development of relationships on Twitter and can result in a time vacuum it not handled properly. If unmanaged, twitteritis can actually be damaging to personal relationships, work and hobbies, so seek time away from Twitter if the condition develops into an acute state. Note: If you use Twitter and have not yet developed symptoms; you’re not using Twitter properly and require a deeper understanding of how to use social media (see previous Twitter How-to articles for more information).

Symptoms:

  • In the initial phase of the disease, one might find their blood pressure rise upon receipt of a DM, RT or Mention.
  • Downloading a Twitter mobile app can exacerbate the condition.
  • Tweeting while exercising, moving the lawn, at playgrounds, movies and grocery stores indicate the condition has worsened.
  • Checking your Klout score repeatedly shows that your condition has moved to the next phase and might require attention.
  • Do not attempt to tweet while running, driving, bicycling or while operating heavy machinery.
  • It is not recommended to tweet under the influence of alcohol.
  • Tweeting at work should be limited both in terms of time allocation and content.

Funny how in many circles, people still haven’t tapped into Twitter. I was at the gym a few days ago, on the bike…tweeting of course…and the guy next to me made some comment about my focus on my phone while exercising. He was an older guy so I had to be nice.

I told him I was tweeting the amazing people I’ve met on Twitter. He then wanted to talk to me – which is frankly not what I wanted. I was pretty engaged in my conversation with my #usguys friends. Well, he persisted and I had a few more minutes to I decided not to get up and move to another piece of equipment.

So the guy told me he has a Twitter account (and Facebook – oh and I suggested I friend him – of course! Like that’ll happen). He went on to tell me that he quickly became tired of all of the useless babble on Twitter. Like when people announce that they’re at their favorite grocery store.  To be honest, I actually think he might have been following me because I frequently tweet about Wegman’s – the greatest grocery store out there!

Anyways, he just wasn’t into it and has abandoned it. This is not the first time I’ve had the same conversation. Twitter is not for everyone, I realize that. But, if you run a business or are just a social person, it might be for you. If you’re using it they way you should be – you will start to like it, see the benefit, meet amazing people and maybe even have a few good laughs with new friends.

Don’t be shy to give it a try!

03 Jan

What is Luxury Worth to You?

Belonging is a need we all have as humans. We all want to belong and be part of something that we feel connected to. 

With luxury brands, that sense of belonging is connected to the image that the item conveys to an audience. If I stroll up to you in a G-laden $3,000 Jackie O Gucci bag vs. a pleather bag with no-name – two different impressions may result.

This is not to belittle people for extravagance, but the fact is, that things do say a lot.

People work hard for their money and want to make purchases that somehow assure them that they are buying the best. The best, highest quality, fastest, with most memory, most valuable etc… you don’t have to be rich to identify yourself by the stuff you buy. We all do it.

Here’s the problem. It’s much easier today to buy luxury items than ever before. More people are earning more money and more stores carry luxury items so they’re available more readily (sometimes even at discounts too). Add to that that as the baby boomers enter retirement the Gen X generation isn’t large enough to sustain the Boomer’s level of spending.

What does that mean for the future of luxury and what happens when luxury isn’t as luxurious?

To create luxury, your product or service must offer a high level of perceived value in the mind of your consumer. With availability more readily available, experience plays a bigger role. How someone acquired an item, the service they received and the story they came away with makes up the experience that can elevate the level of luxury. What are you willing to pay more for?

Does your consumer coming away feeling a little more like a VIP? They should.

From the people at every level of the chain – the focus needs to be on making the customer feel special, like a VIP, to create a story of a wonderful experience. That’s the magic formula if you want to appeal to luxury buyers.

Are you taking the necessary steps to provide an experience to your customers?