Thursday, August 27, 2009

Are You Getting The Most Out Of Yelp?

Yelp is a great Social Search tool for businesses of all size- but especially useful for small to mid sized retailers.

By using the "power" of a peer testimonial showcased in a yelp listing, you will see the dramatic positive affect it can have on potential new customers for your business.

Take a look at this great blog posting on how to use Yelp to your businesses' best advantage.

Are You Getting The Most Out Of Yelp?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The 10 Commandments of Social Media

Retailers: I just read a great article from the Fast Company Blog. I think it's a great way of looking at your involvement in Social Media. The upshot: Think of it as a commitment you MUST make for your business in order to thrive (perhaps even survive) in today's crowded marketplace.

I agree, the symbolism might be a bit over the top, but if you think of Social Media as religion for your small business-- I'm positive you'll see the results! Enjoy.

10 Commandments of Social Media

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Tweeters - More Value And Less Babbling Please

Twitter is 40% ‘Pointless Babble’: Report

Twitter followers are more likely to hear about what people are having for their lunch than read anything actually interesting or worthwhile, according to Pear Analytics. Fears that the site was becoming overrun with spam and self-promotion from companies getting on the Twitter bandwagon were refuted by the findings, Pear Analytics said.

Only 8.7 percent of messages were found to have pass-along value. Pointless babble was the largest category with 40.5 percent. Conversational tweets were 37.5 percent, but self promotion and spam only grabbed 5.9 percent and 3.8 percent respectively.

To read full article:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

You Only Have 30 Seconds

Can You Describe In 100 Words Or Less What You Do And How It Is Relevant To Your Prospects – From Their Perspective?

When initially speaking with prospective customers, you typically have 30 seconds or less to not only get their attention, but establish a reason for them to engage in a conversation. During your “30 second commercial” you must let prospects know what you do and more importantly, why it’s relevant to them.

So, what do you say? Have you perfected your commercial highlighting key features and associated benefits of your product or service? When you give your pitch to prospects, do you obtain a favorable reaction? Probably not. At best you may hear, “That’s interesting” – even though they really aren’t interested. You may get a request for information as a way to end the encounter.

Why does this happen? Prospects have seen and heard it all before – radio, email, and direct mail marketing and advertising. Your commercial is just more of the same. Regardless of how unique, timely, and important you believe your message is, it’s just more noise to the prospect.
Unfortunately, your finely crafted commercial hurts you in two ways. First and foremost, it diminishes your credibility. You’re not someone who stands out from the pack, scrounging for your morsel. Second, you waste valuable time – yours and the prospect’s.

So how do you change the prospect’s response from “Send me some literature” to “ We need to talk”? Stop telling prospects about your company and your products or service. Stop telling them what you can do for them. Make it about them. If a prospect is going to invest any time talking with you, he wants to very quickly know “What’s In It For Me?” (WIIFM)

Use your 30 seconds to focus on the prospect’s world. Relate your product or service from the perspective of the problems and issues the prospect is dealing with or the goals the prospect is attempting to achieve. This approach establishes credibility by quickly getting to WIIFM question – distinguishing you from the rest of the pack. When prospects believe that you understand their problems, concerns, challenges and goals, they listen – making it easier to convert your 30 second commercial into a meaningful conversation.

To truly understand your prospects’ worlds, you must do your homework. You must be thoroughly familiar with their problems, concerns, fears, challenges, and goals as they relate to your product or service. You must know that the prospect would lose by not having your product or service. Then, you can create a description of your product or service around those elements, making sure to answer the WIIFM question.

Consider the following “commercial” for a company specializing in marketing and graphic design services for hi-tech companies:
  • We specialize in marketing and graphic design services for hi-tech firms who have a need , but not the resources, for a full-time, in-house department.

  • And, they need a company who already speaks their technical language so they don’t waste valuable time – time they would have billed for – educating company personnel in order for them to produce appropriate and accurate copy.

  • Because our design people have extensive backgrounds and experience in a number of hi-tech fields, we already speak our clients’ language and we’re able to help them develop and implement projects more quickly and economically.

The first sentence describes the type of work done, the companies served, and the reason a company might want the service. The next sentence address a particular challenge a prospect might be facing. The last sentence describes the value the design firm can provide.

It is short, and to the point. It very quickly answers the question, “Who is this person and why should I listen to him?” If your commercial doesn’t answer that question, your prospect will quickly tune out.

Can you describe in 100 words or less what you do and how it is relevant to your prospects – from their perspective? (The above example is 97 words.) Your opening statement will either draw prospects into the conversation or turn them away. So carefully consider what you are saying. Are you quickly answering their WIIFM question? Are you putting your product or service in the prospects’ world and telling the story from his perspective?

Whether you call it an elevator pitch, a commercial, or a position statement, a carefully considered and constructed opening with a prospect – one that focuses on the prospect’s world and the prospect’s issues – can make the difference between a prospect remaining a prospect or becoming a customer. Your 30-second commercial will become an invaluable tool that will help you make more meaningful connections in a variety of situations, including networking events, trade shows, voicemail messages, emails introductions, and cold calls. Crafting this commercial will help you make more connections and make the most of every opportunity.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Is the Retail Recession Nearing An End?

We’re through another season of earnings reports from the major retailers and there appears to be a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Most economists are starting to predict a recovery from the recession, but there still exists many differing opinions on when and how rapidly the recovery will happen - such is the nature of economics!

Retail Forward released new data on Thursday regarding July same store sales. Declines in retail same-store sales (excluding Walmart) persisted for the month, but there were encouraging signs as shoppers ease their tight rein on spending plans.

Sales-weighted same-store sales (excluding Walmart) held roughly steady at -4.6% in July for the 32 retailers - most of them apparel retailers - reporting monthly results. That was about the same as the 4.7% decline last month, but down from the 1.8% gain in July of 2008 for the same composite measure calculated without Walmart. Including Walmart, same-store sales were up 2.8% in July of 2008.

“Shoppers are not yet ready to spend freely, but the results reported by retailers provide some signs that shoppers are easing up on their cutbacks. And that’s especially encouraging given the variety of factors weighing on retail sales in July,” said Frank Badillo, Senior Economist at Retail Forward.

Read the entire report at

Can Social Networking Really Make a Small Retailer Any Money?

After spending time this week at a social media conference, it's pretty clear that many “business gurus” have social networking on the brain. It's Twitter this and YouTube that, yet, when I walk down Main Street, I don't see YouTube videos or Twitter names. I see retailers trying to make ends meet, whose hours are already chock full to the brim and who don't comprehend how such online promotions can help them. Sound familiar?

While listening to a seminar on how to demonstrate a return on investment for social media activities, I couldn't help but wonder to myself, "What can my retail clients get out of Twitter or YouTube or Facebook?" For some, a lot of their clientele is outside the tech-savvy demographic, so what good can they possibly get out of investing countless time, effort and resources into these technologies?

If you want to actually make social networking cost effective and productive for your small brick-and-mortar business, here are several ways to do it:

  1. Don't duplicate effort. Many retailers feel like they need to be on several platforms at once - and that takes a lot of time. Instead, I recommend signing up for a few services - like, for example, Twitter and Facebook - and then centralizing most of your participation. For example, you can post things on Twitter and have them automatically appear on Facebook by logging onto Facebook and setting up the Twitter application there. Also look into Friendfeed as a tool for leveraging content.

  2. Make it really easy for people to find you. Put your Twitter or your Facebook ID out there so people can find it. Put it in your ads, your website home page and on your business cards. Sign up for these sites with the same account name now so you have them registered for when you may want to use them – remember when someone started tweeting as Shaquile O’Neil under the @shaq account at Twitter. Secure your account name now.

  3. Participate in the conversations that you find. Once a day or so, visit these sites and see whether or not any conversations are going on that are related to you - and participate in them. Offer what you know - and be honest about it.

  4. Offer up deals. Go on Twitter and offer up a coupon code for your business. If they come in and say they're using the "August Twitter coupon," they'll get 15% off their next item or maybe get a voucher for a free design consultation. If you have things set up right, you don't have to duplicate effort - just post it in one place and it'll propogate out everywhere.

  5. Be focused - keep in mind why you're doing this. For a retailer, the reason to get involved is to retain existing customers and attract new ones to your store. The best way to do that is to be human and to be responsive. Answer questions and be lighthearted, but don't obsess.

Social media does not have to be a big time drain at all. Instead, it can be a very inexpensive and very simple way to retain customers and perhaps find a few new ones with little effort and almost no cost at all. Keep it simple, tell your customers about it, share what you can and start today.

So, can social media really make a small retailer any money? Yes!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

42 Social Media Tips For Retailers

Below are 41 tips to help grow your Social Media Presence. Knowing that all retailers need an extra push when it comes to marketing-- #42 is all mine! Good luck and have fun. Start growing your network today!
  1. Be remarkable - somebody worth making a remark about
  2. Become a resource to others- always
  3. Have your own unique personality
  4. Be vocal and opinionated – politely- within the community
  5. Don’t continuously push the envelope by flooding them with requests
  6. Invest time into social media – have a strategy and stick to it!
  7. Produce and share content that YOUR AUDIENCE will love
  8. Monitor what’s being shared about you
  9. Become a real member of the community
  10. Ask questions and then ask more questions
  11. Answer questions
  12. Provide value to the community
  13. Be controversial when appropriate- Get people thinking- and talking.
  14. Don’t be another “me-too” voice- create your own - and use it wisely
  15. Automate carefully - it’s about people not robots
  16. Don’t be negative—or a jerk. Neither one works in social media.
  17. Make it easy for people to share and bookmark your content
  18. Listen to the community
  19. Make at least one new connection every day
  20. Engage yourself in conversations
  21. Become the conversation
  22. You’re there to make relationships, not hard selling
  23. Take time to focus on building a loyal following
  24. Give, Give, GIVE!
  25. Treat social media like a cocktail party
  26. Be supportive
  27. Syndicate your content across all social media platforms
  28. Encourage others to syndicate your content onto their sites
  29. Fully research the community to understand your market
  30. Be fun
  31. Get to know the unwritten laws of the community
  32. Create an attractive, unique and professional profile
  33. Use a cool avatar/picture
  34. Use the same avatar for each social media service
  35. Don’t disparage others ( No trash talking allowed)
  36. Know what your followers/friends want and give it to them
  37. Form reciprocal arrangements with others
  38. Monitor your noise level
  39. Never cheat the system
  40. Help others unconditionally
  41. Be yourself

Good luck-- we look forward to watching you grow your Social Media exposure!!! Keep us posted!

Tips reprinted courtesy of