The rapidly growing internet of things (IoT) culture and smart home devices are infiltrating the home improvement sector, most notably supported within large home improvement retailers like Menards, Lowe’s, and The Home Depot. Smart home devices are often more expensive than their counterparts and are unfamiliar to their consumers; thus, the dissemination and promotion of smart home product information through social media is critical. Retailers in the home improvement space need to have a consumer-proof social media marketing plan to reach their goals.
Smart home sales reps in the home improvement market face the challenge of faulty consumer perception. Most Americans believe it costs $5,000 or more to transform their home into a smart home; however, the new smart home consumer typically starts with four smart devices and spends an average of $200. Social media conversations are quite possibly the best option for informing consumers of the true expense and value of smart home products since many consumers rely on their phones for research purposes prior to shopping in-store.
Most home improvement representatives are viewed as both product experts and trusted voices by consumers. They are skilled in engaging customers, understanding large varieties of products, and helping customers find the best product combinations for their needs. Retail representatives are the key drivers of in-store sales, so why not teach them to utilize their skills within social media as well? Recommendations on social media ease the apprehensions around price point when it comes from a trusted voice, and conversing with someone you can meet in-store adds another layer of accountability and trust. When the proximity of a rep and their social connections are within the same community as the store, advocacy is at its strongest.
Seventy-nine percent of consumers prefer shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, and consumers are consistently interested in having the best shopping experience possible. Representatives on the sales floor create a unique emotional connection between a consumer, the store they enter, and the items they purchase. Representatives trained in social media product conversations can strengthen that connection by instilling trust and comfort before the consumer steps foot in the store, thus helping the consumer make the easy decision to choose their store over a competitor’s. Menards, Lowe’s, and The Home Depot are already well-established home improvement stores, and adding social media proficiency to a sales representative’s toolkit can strengthen their ability to further drive consumer loyalty, product sales, and superb customer experiences beyond brick-and-mortar.
Because of their position in the retail industry and current regular training schedule, home improvement representatives are in a perfect position to be trained and activated for empowering employee advocacy through social media. For example, representatives can be provided access to a cloud account of current, branded, and shareable resources that could be as simple as geotagged images or video clips of upcoming products. Vendors could allow access by adding resources like photos and videos, which would be available to reps alongside their training. The cloud access and participation could serve as an additional revenue stream for and from home improvement retailers by adding an additional marketing avenue to the launch of new, updated, and upcoming products.
There is no denying that smart devices and IoT are on the rise, and introducing new technology to traditional homeowners is a must. Homeowners are looking for guidance on purchases and need confidence that higher prices equal greater value. Local representatives who are empowered by their companies to advocate on social media can accomplish this not only during the holidays but throughout the entire year.
What does a social media-trained representative look like in the home improvement sector? They have easy access to shareable material generated by their own company—existing images, posts, and videos prepared and vetted in advance to ensure they are compliant with branding guidelines. The avenue through which they obtain this content could be a company-specific tool or a current social media platform. Regardless, it is easily accessible and approved content they can share with a large audience without stepping foot in the store.
Encouraging and training sales reps to use social media will not only benefit the company but also, the rep. Employee recognition for sharing information can be tracked and rewarded. For example, companies can sponsor and celebrate the sales representative of the month for a particular region. When that person shares their recognition across social channels, it promotes the brand and the retailer simultaneously. As a result, we see a rise in employee engagement, employee satisfaction, and maybe even a movement toward business appropriate and well-developed social media skills as part of the employee application process.
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