Thursday, December 11, 2014

Building Social Relationships

Recent research from Forrester finds that posts from top brands on Facebook and Twitter reach just 2% of their followers. Of the 2% that see the post or tweet, a mere 0.07 percent of followers will actually interact with those posts.  The low reach and engagement has gotten even worse since Facebook made the announcement that it was drastically cutting the organic reach of a post in an effort to encourage boosted (paid) posts. With so few people seeing and engaging with posts, it is hard to truly have a social relationship with your customers.

While having and updating a Facebook page and Twitter account is still an important component in an overall marketing strategy, it shouldn’t be the center of your marketing strategy. So what should you be doing to help build a social relationship with your customers? Try the tips below:

  • Email marketing – The average open rate for an email campaign is between 17 and 30 percent based on your industry and relationship with the customer. If you have to decide between gathering an email address and gaining a fan on Facebook or Twitter, get an email address. The chances of them viewing and engaging with an email is much higher than the view and engagement stats on any social media platform.
  • Blogging - Blogging allows you to create a branded community full of information, anecdotes, case studies and will help showcase your corporate personality/culture. Not only will an active, relevant blog drive traffic to your website, but it will also create a space for your evangelical fans to share with others what they like about your company. Encourage interaction with each post by posing questions and encouraging users to make comments. BONUS: Blogging helps your website SEO tremendously by adding fresh, relevant content on a regular basis.
  • Bring your Social Updates to your Site – Just because your latest Facebook post wasn’t seen on Facebook, doesn’t mean it can’t be seen on your website, blog or email updates. Add a “weekly” update section to your website where you round up all your social posts into one page. This could showcase your latest Instagram image, your tweets, facebook posts, YouTube videos and blog posts all on one page. If the users won’t see the posts in their original form, they can at least review them on your site.
These tips are all fairly low tech ways of increasing your social interactions with current and potential customers. What are you doing to increase your social relationships with your customers?

10 Tips for Trade Show Success

The very words “Trade Show” make some small business owners shudder. Attending a trade show or business expo can take a lot of time and money. Quite frequently, those are two things a small business owner just doesn’t have a lot of. With some careful planning, however, a trade show can not only be fun but profitable as well.

Here are 10 tips we’ve picked up from attending trade shows, not only as vendors but participants as well. They may be basic but the best tips usually are.

  1. Set clear goals of what you want to achieve at the show. Do you expect to sell products, launch a new product or promotion, or possibly meet suppliers? You can set more than one goal but be clear and focused on what your participation will involve. In our business we don’t expect to take orders on the spot. What we do look for is hot leads. At each trade show we attempt to identify 3 – 5 hot leads. We do this by gathering business cards from participants. When someone hands me their card, I do a quick assessment of the card itself. I look for complete contact data, type and quality of paper and color quality. Then, I ask them two simple questions: How happy are you with the performance, response time and quality of your current printer? How happy are you with your website? Based on their response, I quickly note on the back of their card how “hot” they are. If they expressed some sort of displeasure or dissatisfaction with their current provider, I mark them as “hot” and follow up with them right after the show is over.
  2. Find out everything you can about your space in advance. There’s nothing more frustrating than showing up only to find that your booth is too big or too small to fit the space. Finding out the location of your booth in advance prevents you from lugging around boxes and products in search of the right spot. Finding out everything that is included (table, table cloth, electricity, etc.) in advance is a big time and headache saver.
  3. Have everything you need, like extension cords, tape, push pins, etc. with you when you arrive to set up your booth. It prevents last minute searching for items needed to set up your booth which, if you’re in a strange town can quickly turn into a nightmare. We have a trade show box that stays with our booth that contains a hammer, thumb tacks, pens, rubber bands, notepads, band aids, extension cords, replacement light bulbs, tape, breath mints and much more in it. It has been used at every trade show we’ve been to and it always comes in handy.
  4. Make sure your display is appropriate for the group you are targeting. Who is your target market with your trade show display? What kind of questions will they have about your products and services? With a trade show, it is entirely possible that you will be mid-conversation with an attendee when another attendee comes to peruse your booth. Make sure your booth offers promotional signage (if you are giving something away), answers your most frequently asked questions and provides an attendee with something to do or look at while you are otherwise engaged.
  5. Advertise in advance of the show. Let the public know that you are participating in a particular trade show. Invite your clients, customers, suppliers and be sure and give them your booth number. Advertise your attendance to the trade show on your website as well.
  6. Stand out! Don’t just be another booth and vendor at the show – find something different and unique and use that to draw visitors to your booth. Arrange your booth strategically so that everything can be seen quickly by visitors. Put larger items in the rear and shorter items up front. A table runner on top of the table cloth is an effective way of making your table stand out. Be creative with your booth, include pictures if possible and be sure your company name and logo are more than obvious.
  7. Should you give something away? Most people who attend trade shows are expecting some giveaways and food is always popular. Make sure you package your food in a way that allows you to have your company information on it. Gift Certificates for some of your services are another great Trade Show giveaway – there’s nothing better than getting a deal on your services. And when they redeem their certificate, they will learn how great your services are and come back for more. Offer a drawing for a prize that complements your business and appeals to everyone. Have visitors and guests sign a guestbook, fill out a form or drop their business card in a bowl. You can then use this information later to follow up. We gave away a Wii last year at a trade show and we were one of the most popular booths at the event! We collected over 300 business cards and have closed 7 deals from that show alone.
  8. Arrive early enough to the trade show and make sure everything is set up correctly and that everything works. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes – you’re going to be on your feet!
  9. During the show, never turn your back to the crowd and don’t sit down unless you’re having a conversation with a guest and you both are sitting. Stand in front of your booth, if possible, saying “Hi” to those that turn and look toward your or your booth. Have your elevator speech ready. More importantly, be ready to listen to what your guests have to say, you may learn a lot about them and be able to fill a need that they have.
  10. A portfolio or display of your work should be on hand for visitors to see. A digital photo frame or PowerPoint® presentation on a laptop is an excellent way of showing your work. Your visitors will find this visually appealing and it will draw their attention. Offering a brochure with your best work for them to take with them will serve as a reminder once the show is over.
These 10 basic steps to Trade Show exhibiting will make your booth stand out, draw visitors in, and save you time, money and stress. What is the coolest trade show booth you have ever seen? Let us know about it in the comments below.