Where Do Your Customers Build Their Brands? There is Social Gold There.

We have heard it a thousand times, marketing is now a DIALOGUE. No longer is marketing simply post and pray.  When we post to our websites, to Facebook, Instagram et al, we can see how many visit, who they are and which of our products and stories they like.  This information helps us better understand both our new and loyal clients so we may reach out to them effectively.  Terrific!  But that is only a small part of the dialogue.  There are other interactions going on that we are ignoring that are loaded with leads.

Your customers, be they trade businesses or homeowners, are also on social media and posting like crazy.  They are proudly sharing their work and their unique insights into what looks they like.  Plus each of those good customers are being followed by many similar people with similar tastes.  Social media is a treasure trove of information about your customers and future customers just waiting to be mined.  It is all interconnected like a web, a world wide web.

This can be very good information for your businesses but farming it requires hard work.  Most salespeople love getting the order and marketers enjoy creating stimulating content but slogging through your top accounts to better understand them and discover new leads requires a lot of screen time, meticulous note taking and planning detailed meetings to share the information and devise your strategies.

“We have never done any marketing for the bag — people post their own pictures, and we repost. It means a lot to us, the way people post the bag, and for us to see who our customer is,” Telfar Clemens from Vogue Business article How young designers create powerful brand identities  by Kati Chitrakorn

Are you willing to dig in?

Step one is to note which social media platforms your top accounts are active on.  Note these locations to their account information in your CRM database.  Now simply flip through their individual feeds noting what styles they tend to post, what hobbies do they partake and what projects have they done and what they are now working on.  And, if you are not following them, start by liking and commenting on their posts.  Let them know you are paying attention to their world and supporting them.  You need to be consistent; do not review, like and comment on their feeds for a week and then go away for months.  You will lose all the goodwill you had won.  Set a plan to review and interact with their feed once at least once a month.   

Step two is simple: go back through the feeds and note all who comment and like your clients’ postings.  Once you have the list, look at their social media posts and their business websites.  If they look to be a good fit for your business, follow them on social media, learn a bit about what styles they prefer and add them to your sales target list.  Also add them to your planned list of social media sites to interact with monthly.  I do not suggest you take the information and blindly add them to your customer email list.  If they are doing good work follow them and like and comment when appropriate.  Through your likes and posts make sure they know who you are and what you do, subtly.

Two things are important to remember.  There are very good customer opportunities that are right under your nose that you do not know about.   Secondly, the World Wide Web is used by most businesses and people in the capitalist world today and still offers a tremendous amount of information if we are willing to put the time in to mine it respectfully.

Do not continue to heave good money looking for new customers when some wonderful opportunities are probably posting on social media and talking with your good accounts. 

P.S. You can also look to see who is following your competitors.  I would bet they have some very good accounts that you do not work with.

A version of this article previously appeared in the July issue of Supply House Times.

Image created by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Does Your Target Market Really Know You Exist?

Working at a store that had opened when Henry Ford was 19 years old, I assumed that everyone in town knew that we sold fine plumbing and hardware.  Boy was I wrong. Even those driving fine automobiles, at gallery walks, and on historic home tours would consistently ask me, “What do you sell there?”  This brings three points front and center; the products we sell are mostly purchased by building and trade professionals, are only purchased a few times in a homeowner’s lifetime, and the DPH industry does not market outside its core customer base very well.  

For centuries, good word of mouth has built many strong brands and it is still the finest marketing tool known to capitalism.  It is simple: do your job well, sell the finest products and support your clients. If all is done to luxury standards, these happy clients will talk to their friends and show off your company’s good work.  But in 2020, the year of the pandemic, is that enough?  

No matter how well we were doing before CV-19 hit, and how proud we are to have withstood 2008’s nasty recession, there are still plenty of well-to-do customers who have never experienced a beautiful entryway with the solid feeling of a mortise lock.  Nor have they enjoyed a well-choreographed DPH designed bathroom. Even if they notice one while visiting a friend or enjoy one at a fine hotel, they do not truly understand the beauty and spa-like amenities until one become part of their own lifestyle.  

From a tactical point of view, if there are potential customers that you are not reaching, eventually another competitor will find them and enter your market.  Once established, that new DPH competitor will also offer your good customers an alternate go-to for DPH products. It all goes back to the old story, if you are number 1, you have to constantly work hard and be smart to remain #1.

Now, with CV-19 affecting your business, you are focused on getting all the business you can remotely while trying to grasp what’s coming next.  Everyday tasks and issues, along with these new concerns, pack your endless days. There is just not enough time to plan and market your story to potential clients. Especially today, with all the print, television, digital and social media options, who knows where to start?  

In my world this is a loud call to find help.  No one can do it all, and for your business to continue to grow it is time to reach out to marketing professionals.  In this digital age, it is not difficult for a DPH company to reach outside of their market to try to capture a few new clients within your market.  Instagram, Facebook and Google have no boundaries, they reach out to whom they are paid to find.

Even if you have been in business since the horse and buggy days, you still need to get the word out.  No one really needs what we offer, but their homes are so much better when we have finished.  Do you want to leave the door open, allowing other showrooms to reach into the market you built?  That is not a risk I would like to take. You have built a successful brand, why not share your story with your entire target market to educate them on how good you really are?

I know it is difficult to admit you cannot do it all and that you really do not completely understand our quickly changing algorithm-run world.  Nor do you want to continually work and study to remain digitally up to date. But there is no excuse for letting the wonderful opportunities those algorithms create slip to a competitor.  Showroom owners must find time to meet and work with people that are deeply knowledgeable about these fantabulous marketing tools and are committed to remaining up to date with the rapid changes and new avenues being created.  

There are many individuals and agencies that offer the talent to help you reach your targeted audience with your compelling story, including some DPHA professional members.  This is not something to ignore or leave to a team member simply because they are Gen-Z and use social media a lot. We have zero idea of what the future will be but, intelligently investing in your brand is a good opportunity. I suggest finding a professional, paying a professional and reaping the benefits from a professional. Then you will be ready to roar when people are looking for the best partners to make their home luxurious. 

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Photo by Leonardo Gonzalez from Pexels

The Addictive Speed of 21st Century Digital Media

Remember the old joke, “Oh, I buy Playboy for the articles…”  It was always good for a laugh and some bright blushing faces.  Today, that line translates to “I skim Instagram for the comments…”  ha, ha, giggle, giggle snort… But let’s think about that. Is it all about the image or is it about recognizing what the image stands for?  Is it just a slick shot or is it about the authenticity of the brand and its story supporting the image? Can marketing and branding survive on images alone?

One of our nation’s biggest fear is countries outside our borders influencing our elections.  Posting stories to Facebook crafted to motivate certain-minded people to do what is best for that outside organization.  They build a story on what their targeted audience WANTS and THINKS and leverage it, correct? Sounds like branding to me.  Sounds like people do take the time to read and recall the post.

Lazy marketing is simply focusing on pretty pictures but without an authentic, captivating story it is just that- a collection of colors.  With substance, images and videos that go viral lose steam at the store once the flash burns out.  

You have worked hard to build your brand and your good customers appreciate that.  Don’t lunge for the quick hit. Set your goals, formulate your strategy leveraging your brand’s strengths.  Then craft engaging stories and images that will stop your customers mid-swipe.

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