In the previous article I discussed the ‘why’ your business needs to bridge the gap between offline and online sales in order to boost bottom line sales. In this article I discuss ‘how’ to do this is simple and practical ways.
Be narrow minded
Firstly you need to decide what online social media will be best suited for promoting your business. There are many platforms one may use such as Facebook, your own blog, Twitter and Pinterest are the ones that stand out and are used by many. Rather than put your limited time and effort on all these, instead think about which one of these you believe will give you more bang for the time and effort you put into them. The simplest way to decide is to see how they work and weigh up the time you will need to post regularly. Be narrow minded in your thinking, that is, be open minded on how you can use these online social media marketing tools, but narrow your focus. Don’t be distracted by wanting to do all, then feeling overwhelmed and giving up. Make a commitment to one.
Looking for a sign
Consumers are increasingly being ‘switched on’ to online. The gap between analog and digital is becoming blurred with Smartphones allowing to have access to your business 24/7. Simple ways in which you can begin to enrol your customers online is to place a Facebook sign in your shop or shopfront. Then begin posting regularly on Facebook so that they feel like the ‘experience’ of what you provide doesn’t end when they leave your store.
Another effective way is to place a sign with a QR code. You may have seen these matrix barcodes before. With the development of Smartphones, customers are able to download an app that allows them to scan the QR code. The QR code may be linked to your Facebook page or to your online store or blog if you have one.
Bag a customer
Another simple way is to have your bags and packaging material printed with your website address or QR code. Alternatively, you may design a simple and inexpensive black and white 10cmx10cm flyer that you staple or slip into the bag of every buying customer or simply hand out to browsing customers in your store.
Spread the news
Alternatively, you may set up a simple A4 newsletter that you print in black and white to create a community of people interested in you and your business. Provide them with useful information, tips, and promotions. On the newsletter you may include your website address or your Facebook page address.
I particularly like Facebook as a way of reaching your customers as it allows for you to get to know your customers and post not only words but images of your products. It is an effective way to market research. You can post an image of a product on your page and ask them to vote simply by ‘liking’ or not liking the post. This may have the advantage of helping you to find out if a product will sell well before committing to buying stock. It also piques your customer’s interest and may lead to sales. Even if you don’t have an online shops set up yet, it can help drive foot traffic to your store.
As you begin to bridge the gap in marketing your bricks and mortar store using online marketing methods you may sooner rather than later come to the conclusion that having an online store will compliment your offline offering and boost sales. Even when you come to this decision, setting up an online store need not be expensive. Online shopping templates can make it easy.
Keep in mind
The sooner you realise that there are many tools on the net that can help you market your business and get to know your customers, and which are free or low cost and easy to set up and use, the sooner you can begin to narrow the fear of getting started. One last word however. Don’t expect just because you join Facebook or Twitter that customers will come flooding in. Everything that is worth doing takes work and commitment and be prepared to put in the time and effort to reap the rewards.
The image above is from kimaoscarjuliet’s flikr photostream and used under Creative Commons.
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