Author and popular American Lighting Association seminar speaker, John Arnold, urges retailers not to ignore the Internet.

In the free Webinar “Web Marketing Strategy” hosted by John Arnold and sponsored by the American Lighting Association (ALA), the Web and social media strategist advises even those retailers who do not intend to sell online to establish a Web site for their stores. 

 “You don’t have to conduct e-commerce in order to do Web marketing,” Arnold says. “You can use a Web site as a brochure for your business or as an educational resource. The point is to make it a destination for people.” 

 Whether you use a site builder’s template or have a developer custom-build a Web site for your showroom, Arnold says it’s imperative that your company can be found online. In addition to basic information – business name, location, hours of operation, phone number, and the types of products or services you sell – your Web site can also be used to dispense information that ideally will be shared by consumers and potential customers. For example, Arnold recommends posting videos. “You can create a static video that is all about your business and is pre-recorded by you, or you can do live broadcasts of an event or presentation you are running,” he says. 

 “First and foremost, you need a Web site. Outside of that, you need to be on a social media site,” he affirms. Why? Social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter is an effective way for you to communicate with your customers, which could include holding promotions, sharing photos, or perhaps announcing a recent award win. 

 Arnold recommends having your business listed on local searches using online maps and directories such as Google Places, Yahoo! Local, Bing Maps, and Yelp. Such listings are free and content (i.e. store hours, address, phone number, custom tags, logos, and even mobile coupons) can be customized by the business owner. And when it comes to “location-based marketing,” Arnold suggests making the information you provide mobile-friendly with clickable phone numbers and maps since many consumers are now browsing the Web from their smart phones. 

 Speaking of marketing to consumers on the go, Arnold recommends retailers interested in mobile marketing should start by building an application, mobile Web site, or text messaging campaign. “Everyone walking into your showroom probably has a smart or feature-enabled phone,” he states. Find out how your customers are using the Internet both at home and on the road, according to Arnold. For example, perhaps more customers are opting to take photos of the products they are interested in with their phones instead of ripping out pages in manufacturer catalogs or magazines. M-commerce – purchasing items through a smart phone or tablet – is gaining ground. In addition, customers who do not have smart phones probably have “feature” phones, according to Arnold. “Feature phones might not have e-commerce capabilities, but they do have some capabilities that you can leverage,” he states.

 “If you own a retail store, why not try an in-store promotion or coupon (this can be done by creating a barcode or texting a short code to retrieve a coupon) that can redeemed by customers showing it on their phones at the register,” Arnold suggests. 

 Today’s retailers have to become acquainted with all the different ways that consumers are researching products and making purchases. Staying up-to-date with consumer buying habits is one of the best tools a showroom can have.

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