Marketing expert Dave Clark reveals proven tactics that help lighting stores increase their social media presence.
“I’ve heard from lighting showrooms that they’ve noticed more foot traffic in their stores after they’ve had a Facebook post that received 20-30 comments,” notes Dave Clark of Clark Communications Group, a marketing and media strategy company specializing in the lighting industry. Posts that playfully engage “fans” have a positive influence in building rapport with customers. “People really care about the personality of a store,” Clark says, adding that Facebook is the perfect venue to showcase a sense of humor or impart information in an entertaining way. “Maybe you show a cat playing with a light bulb and encourage people to send in their pet photos,” he suggests.
For the most part, Clark advises against advertisement pitches on a company’s Facebook page and instead keep the tone light. “You need to think differently from when you write an ad. Get into a humorous and irreverent frame of mind,” he remarks, adding that a lot of showroom people already have that mentality, but just haven’t thought to use it in that medium.
Be patient. Building a relationship with customers on Facebook takes awhile to take hold. “You have to participate in the social media community by posting on a regular basis in order to see results,” Clark advises. “Posting every day is ideal, but doing so every two or three days isn’t bad. However, it’s not as effective if you post only once a week.”
Some store owners aren’t comfortable with technology or feel they don’t have a knack for creating the right “voice” for their business. If either is the case, Clark suggests asking a young person on staff who is passionate about social media to handle this task.
“The economy has driven retailers to be lean. As much as they want to get involved in social media, they also don’t have the manpower because when it comes down to whether you want an employee to do a Facebook post or sell a lighting fixture, you want them to sell lighting,” he acknowledges.
Have a plan
It’s not enough to have a Facebook page for your business, first you need an objective. Do you want people to “Like” you and thereby grow your customer base? Do you want them to print out a coupon? Or do you want to invite them to an event?
“One successful plan we’ve run for lighting showrooms is ‘Like us and take $75 off your next purchase of $300 or more,’” Clark recounts. “One of our lighting showroom clients went from having 50 ‘Likes’ in May 2012 to having 2,000 in May 2013. It was a slow start, but there was a tight ad budget,” he explains.
“Come up with a schedule for posting on Facebook. Let’s say that on Mondays, the post is about something that occurred on the weekend. On Tuesdays, maybe it’s about giving back to the community or publicizing a community event. Wednesdays’ posts could spotlight a certain new product, and so on,” Clark advises. Facebook also has a free coupon app available for companies to use, he points out.
By establishing a Facebook page, you now have two platforms – e-mail being the first – for reaching and growing customers. “E-mail is still the gold standard,” Clark states, but Facebook is becoming an important resource. To grow your e-mail list, Clark recommends setting up a box at the cash-wrap counter where customers can write their name and e-mail address to be entered in a contest to win a $500 shopping spree. “Because salespeople can be reluctant to ask customers for their e-mail addresses, we encourage showrooms to hold an internal contest among the sales staff,” he says. “Having e-mail addresses is a powerful tool. The salesperson who gets the most e-mail sign-ups will win dinner for two at their favorite local restaurant.”
Rewards & techniques that work
Clark has found that offering a percentage discount isn’t as big of a lure on Facebook. “Saying ‘Save 20%’ doesn’t work on Facebook as well as offering a cash amount does. That feels like real money to the customer,” he explains.
Another unique benefit of Facebook is the ability to buy ad space (which runs on the right-hand side of each Facebook member’s wall) and tailor it by zip code, mile radius, age, gender, and other criteria. “If you are in a medium to largely populated market area, you might want to invest in Facebook advertising,” Clark says. “If your store is in a low population area, the rules change a little and you’ll have it a little bit tougher to get people in, but you probably have that difficulty already. You should still do Facebook posts and Facebook advertising, but you might want to limit your budget since your response – the pay per clicks – is going to be smaller,” he explains.
There are other ways to get attention for your lighting showroom online. According to Clark, home goods resource Wayfair.com garners 16 million visits per month. “Sign up to be a ‘Get It Near Me’ showroom. Combined with a Facebook ad, this would be a strong bundle. For example, we offer this service to our showroom customers,” he says. Another resource is to sign up on Houzz.com. “It’s a free service and you can populate your store’s [page] with installation photos – not with product shots from your showroom. Make sure you have the rights to any photos that you haven’t taken yourself to avoid any copyright issues,” Clark states. “My lighting showroom clients tell me that customers often walk in with a page that they have printed off of Houzz.com and say, ‘I want my room to look like this.’” In addition, be sure to keep track of what customers are saying about you. “Check reviews on Yelp.com at least once a month,” Clark warns. “If you have a negative review, address it as soon as you can.”
It’s a process
“We’re learning all of the time and the quicker we are at absorbing information, the better we will be,” Clark says. “It’s ok to not know it all because things [on the Internet and Facebook] keep evolving and changing all the time.
“In order to improve your online and Facebook business strategy, you need to know where you are,” he remarks. “We’ve found that not many lighting showrooms have dug into their site’s statistics through Google Analytics or another method.”
One of the new techniques that Clark Communications has delved into recently is retargeting and contextual advertising. “We’ve found some lower-priced strategies that are effective,” he quips. “We’re seeing good quality click-throughs coming from those ads.”
Clark also reminds retailers who are ALA bi-national campaign supporters that their store qualifies to receive opted-in e-mails from consumers who have indicated that they want to receive more information about lighting.
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