Guest Post by Deanna Ayres
In today’s market it is vital to have an online presence. Consumers love having the option to go online and browse, shop and compare companies. They read reviews, look at facebook pages and then head to pinterest for creative ideas. Any great online marketing company knows this and leverages clients’ social media presence to drive traffic to their website where they convert “lookers” to buyers. But what happens when your main business is offline? How do you convert the online crowd to a crowd that heads to your “Brick and Mortar” business?
1. Give a little and take a little.
Are you curious yet? Give your customers or potential customers free advice online. Yes free. Let’s say you have a cupcake shop and people love your cupcakes, you can create a downloadable recipe with a picture of your cupcake and the name of your store. Make it look nice and neat, watermark it and then make it shareable. Let them pin it, share it and tweet it. It is great exposure for you. How do you take a little? Add a call to action like: “Bring the printed recipe with you to “Sugar&Spice Cupcakes” and receive a free cupcake of your choice with your purchase of 6 cupcakes!” See how you gave a little and took a little?
2. Create a BUZZ online.
Online and Offline go hand in hand. Customers love your cupcakes? Ask for a review on Google, Yahoo Local or Yelp. Create a foursquare location that people can use to check in. The more people check in and leave you a positive review, the more other people will consider. Add visual content to those sites. Pictures, videos or better yet, ask your customers to add a picture of their favorite cupcake tagging your cupcake shop. Having a social media presence is important because often customers trust their friends and families recommendations. You can easily tap into that market by using this strategy.
3. Have offline Events.
Create annual or biannual events, alongside “surprise” events. Use social media marketing to leverage your online community to bring them by. How? So, your cupcake store wants to be known in the offline and online community as awesome? Sponsor an event, like an Annual Cupcake Contest where you invite all hobby bakers to come by and participate in the contest. Have a panel of well-known people in your community as judges. As a price, you can offer a cupcake party for the winner and a cupcake named in their honor. Create flyers that you can share online with your following; create an event on facebook that you invite people to attend; contact your local newspaper and ask them to run a story online and offline about the event. If you really want to give back to your community, add that 10% of all sales of the event will go to a local charity. Then use social media to chat live about the event, tag pictures and location and refer back to create a buzz.
4. Blog, Blog, Blog.
Heard this before? Good, then you should be doing it already and regularly too. The key to your online customers is communication, connection, community and content that is valuable. If you are not interesting online, the chances are you aren’t offline. At least in the consumer’s mind. A blog serves multiple purposes when utilized properly. When you communicate what’s happening in your business, new trends, ideas, events, employee highlights, release of a new cupcake or whatever is relevant, it lets people know what you are up to. They feel connected and in the loop. They can relate to you. They are happy with you. Let’s say you won an award for best bakery downtown. They can have input. For example: It’s Fall. What flavors would you love to try? You can use creatives to engage them visually and so on. You can establish yourself as an industry leader by sharing, teaching, educating and being on top of your industry with news. Connect with them online, provide calls to action, and they will come.
That’s right, tease the heck out of them. If you give it all online, why would they feel the need to come to your store? This has a lot of potential when approached right, and you have a lot of options. Let’s say you have a clothing store. Clothes can be ordered online fairly easy and if it doesn’t fit you can return it. Now what? Tease. You received a new collection for Fall? Post a few gorgeous pictures on social media with a quick line like “First 5 who buy an item from our new fall collection get 10% off!” or “Limited number available> Hurry by before they are sold out!” This combines the best of both worlds, because customers can view some pieces online, you add a call to action, and you only offer it at your store. Make them want it, and make the drive to your store worth it.
These strategies are great for bringing the online market to your store but the most important thing is to remember to make that experience exceptional. People still value face to face time, politeness, excellent customer service, a clean and neat store, courtesy and respect, variety and a helping hand. Give them that outstanding experience offline and they will carry it back online. While content is king online, customer service is king offline. The two need to be combined just right so it becomes a mutually beneficial experience for the customer and you, the owner.
Take time to create a strategy that works for your business and your target audience. Plan it ahead and be patient, nothing ever happens overnight.
BIO: Deanna Ayres is the SEM Strategist and Community Outreach Supervisor at The Marketing Zen Group. She loves to come up with new content strategies for her team and believes that connecting on a personal level is vital to success. Growing up in Europe has allowed her a unique insight into cultural differences in the digital marketing world. In her spare time she is a photographer, hobby cook with a love for coffee, gamer and geek. To connect with Deanna you can follow her on twitter: https://twitter.com/