Every business wants to win with an online strategy but very few are willing to put in the work to ensure victory. The few, who are patient, reap the benefits of a well thought out campaign while others stand around complaining about not understanding the internet. Even those who step up to make the effort sometimes miss out on an untapped resource that many businesses seem to neglect. If you have a brick and mortar business, your greatest and most valuable advertising tool―also a free resource―walks through your door every day.
What will you trust more, an advertisement or a recommendation from a friend? Here is a fun experiment I like to share with people, go on to your personal Facebook page and write, “I am craving pizza, who has the best pizza in this city?” When it comes to pizza, opinions are facts and your status will fill with brand loyalists lobbying to make your decision for you.
Why is that pizza case study relevant to this topic? It is proving a point, your customers are your greatest asset when it comes to spreading the word of your brand, business or service. Word-of-Mouth has transcended the barriers of the grape vine and is now published as facts for the world to see. On average, the normal Facebook user has 350 friends and when you think about the amount of customers who walk through your door every day, you are missing out on a lot of potential by not positioning yourself for the win.
That brings us to the million dollar question, how do you tap into your customer’s networks?
Advertise your Social Presence and Include a Purpose!
Are you advertising your website or your social presence within your location? That’s good to do but so is everyone else. A “Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram” sign hung on the front door will do very little to increase engagement. Approaching anything with bare minimum effort will produce bare minimum results. If you’re going to advertise your social presence, include a purpose, a reason for people to share their experience.
Treat Customer Engagement as Currency:
Before Foursquare confused everyone releasing the Swarm app, legitimate deals were a driving force behind the success of that app. Week after week, I found myself visiting Houlihan’s as they were the only restaurant near me who rewarded me for my checkins. My reward, a small plate of gourmet parmesan frites just for checking in, their reward, free promotion through my network and continual business from myself and whoever decided to accompany me.
Ask yourself, what is true value of having customers to do something as simple as checking into your location and how can you reward them? 10% off their purchase, free food, gifts, etc.
Make Customer Engagement Easy with the Facebook Bluetooth Beacon:
Facebook recently made a power move for all brick and mortar businesses by releasing (for free) the Facebook Bluetooth Beacon. A small device that you stick to a centralized location within your business and that is all you need to do. The beacon works with people’s Facebook app automatically displaying simple checkin options as well as previous posts from your friends and others. My guess, you’ve already noticed the new prompt while visiting a local business and didn’t even realize what it actually was. If you’re looking to increase engagement, the Facebook Bluetooth Beacon does the work for you!
Explore New Hardware Options that are Aligned with Today’s Technologies:
A business can end up spending thousands of dollars on POS systems that are completely restrictive and uni-functional. Those clunky old POS systems will soon be a thing of the past as new tablet integrated POS systems such as Clover are beginning to take over. Using a tablet opens you up from the restrictive functionality of the old POS machines to a world of free and paid apps specifically designed to help you better run your business.
Reorient Your Strategy with Personalized Service and Loyalty in Mind:
The personalized experience is invaluable so make that your focus. Beyond just reengaging the customer after they share something from your business, how are you rewarding loyalty? Apps like LoyalTree and Belly solve that problem and function as a rewards program for your business. Loyal customers should be rewarded and there are many options that allow for your business to reward your customers.
Create an Educational Environment for Product Discovery:
One of the best ways to sell is by educating and no matter what is being sold from your brick and mortar location, providing a little more education behind your products or services will only help. Transparency is key as mega-corporations such as McDonald’s and Subway have learned the hard way. Your customers have the power to make or break you, provide the information they need as opposed to letting them assume or investigate on their own. You can do this a number of ways but it can be as simple as printed handouts or a bit more tech oriented with app integration, on-site tablets and computers or even unique website features.
Most Importantly, Have Fun:
I talk about having fun with you online efforts a lot and using Dr. Michael Salzhauer as an example may be a bit extreme but it is proving this point. Dubbed Dr. Miami on social media, Salzhauer has garnered an impressive following by giving his followers a peek behind the scenes into the operating room using Snapchat where you can see his patients go under the knife.
Too many people discredit the true value of what they do. Your business is what you do and to you it can seem boring and mundane. To others, it’s not, because it’s not their job or what they do everyday. If reality television has proven anything, if the content is presented correctly, we will watch just about anything. Leverage this as an opportunity to show your network a behind the scenes look at what it takes to run your business. You may be surprised at how your customers react.