by Mark Doornbosch

3 Ways Retailers Can Improve The Impact of Their Consumer Social Media

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” – Henry Ford 

Retailers that deeply understand and anticipate the issues and trends facing their target audience and can respond to their compelling events and social media behavior, are much better equipped to present their products as meaningful solution to potential buyers. This opens the door to generating significantly higher quality sales from your participation in social media. Here are three ways to get you started on that path.

Discover The Key Trends And Issues Affecting Your Customers

Issues are the things that are happening within the target audience’s world. They often prompt customers to start searching for answers to their most pressing personal perspectives and concerns.

Trends are the factors that are external to the customer’s needs and wants. Trends could reflect market changes, legislation and regulation, key technology rollouts, and/or social disruption. These are likely to have an impact on your target audience’s decision making.

It’s essential to try and anticipate the kinds of problems these issues and trends create and how your customers are searching for solutions. What keywords are they using in search? Who are they likely to trust to give them sound advice?

Use the answers to these questions to create issue-based messaging that is similarly aligned and you can reap greater sales from your ideal customers.

Take Action 

Review year-over-year consumer behavior research and how it matches up to your own voice of the customer. From the results you can build a picture of the issues and trends that are most important to your target audience and interact with them in ways that will better resonate.

Incorporate these interactions into your retail operations and marketing processes. Don’t make it a one-time occurrence; over time you will gain increased credibility.

Review the intelligence collected to identify issues and trends that you can base key sales and marketing messages and campaigns around. Prioritize the ones that (1) appear to be most relevant to your customers, (2) enable you to establish a positive and distinctive point of view and (3) allow you to suggest a clear, attractive and interesting call to action.

Acknowledge Customers’ Key Compelling Events

Compelling events are particularly important in influencing the timing of the buying decision process. Common consumer examples might include changes in employment, a new home or apartment, a move to a new city, or a change in family status.

It might also be an external circumstance or a news item. The common element in such events is that the customer may need to change some pattern of behavior in response to the perceived changes.

Studies show that retailers that are able to make a connection with a customer soon after a compelling event has occurred have at least a five times greater chance of winning the purchase than an organization that stumbles along with a “business as usual” approach, ignoring the occurrence. The need for immediacy is critical because the customer may have already started to develop a clear picture of what they are looking for, or a competitor may have influenced their need.

Thus, the period between your customers recognizing an issue and formulating a plan for acting is a critical time to react.

Take Action 

In your messaging, use the voice of customer conversations as you mention the typical compelling events that caused recent new customers to start searching for your product or services.

Take the most significant compelling events and work out how to best identify when potential customers might be going through each event. Use social media and market research along with your marketing activities to systematically uncover these compelling events.

Put mechanisms in place to ensure you engage your target customers at the right time.

Actively Participate in Social Media 

Social is no longer merely a basis for peer-to-peer relationships. Customers are far more likely to use the web to research products and services, your company, user product and service reviews, and even your staff. In general, people use the web to research how to do things, where to buy things, gather information from contacts, and trust user reviews.

In fact, 79% of the population in the United States are active on social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Pinterest, WordPress), micro blogging services (e.g., Twitter, WhatsApp) and social video sites (e.g., YouTube and TikTok). The trend is set to continue and has increased in momentum and new platforms.

In some markets, participation in these platforms could be a difference maker, helping you attract and sell to more of your ideal customers. Research shows price is not always the driving factor; it’s a combination of service and convenience as related to cost that creates value. Retailers should have a strategy for leveraging the right platforms, empowering their staff to participate and connect with their ideal customer.

Further, social media-savvy customers are choosing to involve retailers far later in the buying decision process. Retailers that fail to grasp this transformation in buying behavior will fall behind to more agile and social-adept competitors.

Take Action 

Ensure that your organization has an active presence on social media, particularly on Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Establish an active consumer blog and ensure that it is updated weekly.

Use social media to make connections and to educate and share valuable ideas with your ideal customers.

Avoid selling and promotions; instead, focus on issues and trends of importance to your audience.

It’s not about you or your company. It’s not about talking at customers. It’s about having a conversation. Provide thoughtful, relatable concepts to provoke discussion and avoid dull, lifeless or unexciting concepts and messaging that fails to resonate.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

Want to learn more? Stay tuned for our forthcoming new eBook, Agility in Retail is Everything: 12 Action Steps to Accelerate Retail Growth. 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As a Retail Practice Leader at MarketSource, Mark works with national brands focused on retail distribution to execute their field marketing plans. The MarketSource message is simple; we help you sell more, faster. As the self-proclaimed Retail Sales Sensei and Master of Marketing Zen, Mark can be reached via LinkedIn or through the MarketSource sales concierge.

At MarketSource, an Allegis Group company, we believe better sales begin with better relationships. Our proven alternative to traditional outsourced sales is led by a proprietary process that helps businesses thrive by fostering deeper connections between people and brands.