Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Yes, Twitter Can Drive Sales For Your Company

July 30, 2010

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group

Many if not most business owners I speak with do not see any value in using social media to help drive sales and cash flow.  The typical response I receive is that such sites as Facebook and Twitter are for teenagers to know what their friends are doing.

Well, tracking the activities of friends can be a reason to use social media.  However, there is a business use also and many companies are tapping into the potential that social media offers.

If you are still reluctant to use social media, then I would suggest testing with twitter.  It can be extremely low cost and it can be an opportunity to communicate time sensitive promotions that are  just for a few hours today or to link back to your business’s main site or blog.  Best of all, twitter is a tool to keep building a strong relationship with your customer by providing timely, relevant information for their use.  Here is a recent post by Jay Baer about Twitter where he touches on some pluses and minuses.  It is very good reading. Go to it right here.

Still not convinced it is for your company?

Here are some national and local companies using twitter to drive sales.  Do your own research and see if any of the tactics these businesses are using could be applicable to your company:

  • Home Depot:  read about how the customer care team accomodates customers here. 
  • Cafe Patachou:  read how this very successful local restaurent in Indianapolis receives feedback, gives out announcements of todays menu and links to local media. See it here.
  • OfficeMax:  this national chain of office supply stores does a good job promoting back to school as well as in store coupons. Read about it here. 
  • Kroger:  this grocery powerhouse uses twitter to pass on digital coupons. Best part is Kroger targets it to the local zip code. See the coupons here.   The Kroger twitter site is actually called Kroger Deals. No confusion about what is going on with this message.
  • Williams Sonoma:  this upscale kitchen store uses twitter to mention “tasting events” taking place and that there are only “2 hours left for free shipping.”  Good example of  using twitter for a time sensitive promotion.  Find it here.
  • Costco:  this big box retailer taps into twitter to let their customers in on current coupons to be used. They also ask straight up what their customers would like to see Costco doing more or less of. See it here. Great example of relationship building that is unique to twitter.
  • Birds Barbershop:  is twitter only for the big businesses? This Austin, Texas barbershop uses twitter to stay in touch with their clientele. Read about Birds if you are going to be in Austin and need a haircut.  Its right here
  • City Barbeque:  If I was hungry in Ohio, this restaurent would be hard to turn down after viewing this twitter site  where they advise that today is a good day to eat barbeque. You can get your barbeque fix right here.
  • Portland Oregon Farmers Market: probably one of the best farmers markets in the country uses twitter to promote their multiple locations. See more about them here.
  • Dairy Queen:  so you think your business is too small to use twitter. How about this Dairy Queen in Burton Michigan. If they can sell ice cream cones using twitter you can market your product. Read what they have to say here.   Hurry!  Only today you can get $1 off a waffle bowl if you call it “twitter bowl” instead. 
  • Dry Cleaners:  Dry Clean City in Charlotte, North Carolina where they ask on Twitter if your favorite dry cleaner is closer to your home or work. They also feature their $1.99 dry cleaning special.  See all about it here.
  • Penwell Insurance:  this little local insurance agency in Cicero, Indiana probably does the most effective job of using twitter as anyone. I am sure their Google ranking is soaring with all the links back to their web page. See more here.
  • Franchisees:  twitter can work for individual franchisees such as this one in Saratoga Springs New York of  Wild Birds Unlimited. The warmth of the owners comes across on the site. Learn more about them here.  If you go to the site don’t forget to list your top 10 favorite birds.

Social media and especially twitter needs to be a part of an intergrated internet marketing strategy for your company. A real strength of twitter is in realtionship building and the abilitiy to tie back to other channels of your marketing. How about tweeting to view our TV spot on the evening news tonight or stopping by our booth at the local Home Show? 

Sales, cash flow and the future of your business depends upon your ability to stay abreast of new marketing techniques as they come along.

Don’t get left behind.

10 Creative Ideas To Increase Sales Now!

July 13, 2010

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group

As a business owner or CEO you must create and maintain positive cash flow in your business.  It is your #1 priority.

Let’s be clear where that cash flow is not going to come from.  The amount of loans to small businesses fell in the 1rst quarter of 2010 compared to 2 years earlier.  Banks and other private lenders are being more choosy about who is getting any type of small business loan.  Regardless of good cash flow projections and collateral, some businesses still are not receiving the lines of credit needed to operate their businesses.

As an owner, I would not automatically assume funds will be available from my local lender.      

There is one solution that will work.  The small business owner must find ways to increase sales.  The smart owner has already cut expenses, gotten extended terms from suppliers and probably tapped into personal investments.  More sales will bring more of the business cash flow your company needs to survive and grow.

Your company will need to do creative and unique tactics to spring loose the purse strings of the consumer or business who is your customer.

Start doing these 10 things today to increase sales:

  1. Learn more about the needs and wants of your customer.  Find better solutions to their problems and market to that.  In one word, “listen” to the individual customer more than before.  You may find that there is a whole category of products or services your company should have been selling to him that will increase your sales.
  2. Monitor and use social media.  There are many ways to use social media to generate sales.  The overriding method is to use social media to build relationships with customers and noncustomers.  Monitor for  complaints about competitors and offer a solution.  Monitor for complaints about your own company and be there to take ownership of the problem.  Incorporate surveys, contests, and links to websites, including your own.  All of this can position your company as a credible source of information. The end result will be an opportunity to create a new customer.
  3. Use email marketing to strengthen customer relationships.  This is not an opportunity to just email blast special offers constantly.  Instead, use emails to target a message about the benefits of your product, new information on your industry, an interview with a local business leader or an update on coming events involving your company.  Email marketing is an inexpensive way to stay in touch with your customer.  A call to action can still be included to trigger additional purchases.
  4. Get lapsed customers reinstated.  If you sell to other businesses then call on the company.  If you sell to consumers then send a personalized letter to each customer with a special coupon.  Don’t let them forget about you.
  5. Offer extended terms.  Help your customer finance the purchase.  Chances are your customer needs your product.  Here is a way to show that you are there to help them.  Instead of normal 30 day terms, extend out to 60 or 90 days.  Of course, make sure this offer is to creditworthy customers.
  6. Offer an unusual promotion.  Check the gross margin of your most popular products and offer something different to pry loose the spending of your prospect.  It may be a discount, a free service with purchase or a bundling of products.
  7. Run a 3 day limited promotion.  Make it unadvertised and exclusive to your customer database.  Communicate this with an email and followup contact by phone or in person.
  8. Offer a special after hours private shopping event.  If you are a retailer, tie in with a local not for profit and include their database in the invitation list.  Have a portion of the proceeds go to the charity.  Include wine, music, and giveaways at the event.  This could easily be held on a Saturday or Sunday evening.
  9. Create a white paper.  Your prospects and customers are probably having cash flow issues also.  Offer tips on how to save cash.  This will work for both businesses and consumers.  They will appreciate the free advice and use their new-found cash to spend on your products or services.
  10. Ask for and get testimonials.  Then send them out with a promotion to both prospects and customers.  There is no method of advertising more effective than a third-party advocate.  By including existing customers it will reinforce that they made the right decision by buying from your company. 

Use one or more of these ideas to pump up sales and increase cash flow.  Keep track of results and show your banker the action plan, goals, and the resulting increase in sales. 

You may see your banker wanting to make a loan to this well run growing business of yours.