Step by step instructions on how to turn your Facebook presence into more business.
Furniture Marketing by Mike Root
The web centric online world is now focused on social networking with Facebook being this generation’s obsession. TV used to be the way to reach mass audiences, but with Facebook’s intimate knowledge of its members’ likes and dislikes, this social networking behemoth, can deliver the right customers to the right businesses.
Marketers are, therefore, redirecting portions of their budgets from mass media to social media. Retailers in the home furnishings industry need to adapt or be left behind.
Social media consists of a number of new media solutions that directly target a one-on-one relationship between two parties – in our case, buyers and sellers. The Social Media universe consists of vehicles such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Linked In, Blogs, Geo-location like Foursquare, online coupons like Groupon and many more. The top social media tool in today’s environment is Facebook. If you are trying to attract the attention of today’s retail consumer, you need to have a Facebook presence.
New Enterprise Built Solely On Social Media
My daughter graduated last month from college and was immediately hired by a small clothing boutique as store manager, marketer and buyer.
This boutique has a lot in common with many furniture stores insofar as it buys merchandise for a certain customer base, displays it in a nice retail store environment, and then must go out and find customers. Besides the actual product sold --- women’s clothes versus furniture, there is one other big difference. This boutique has never spent a dime on traditional media. They run their entire business on social media and in particular Facebook. In the course of the last couple of years their business has grown every month.
Now granted, this is a small boutique with low overhead. They have a certain customer demographic that is best reached by social media, and with limited marketing funds, Facebook is a great solution. This is not to say that you should abandon all advertising and put your money into social media. That would be extremely foolish, especially if your current advertising expenditures get quantifiable results. However, social media is something that furniture retailers should consider adding to their marketing mix as a means of diversifying into new media solutions and away from costly TV, Radio, Newspaper, and the Yellow Pages if the results are not specifically measureable.
At last count Facebook had over 500,000,000 members, so it’s an attractive venue for local brick and mortar furniture retailers to pitch their wares. According to Nielsen Company, there were 135,700,000 US consumers who accessed Facebook during March 2011. They spent on average 6 hours and 35 minutes on Facebook versus 1 hour and 21 minutes spent on Google.
By interacting so much with Facebook, consumers are giving it an enormous amount of information about their likes and dislikes. They share information about their marriages, divorces, children, homes, lifestyles, and career situations. All of this paints a profile that smart furniture marketers can use to specifically target their ideal customers, and do this in ways that are not possible with other media because Facebook knows so much more about your prospects.
There are three ways to attract attention of prospects on Facebook. First, you can buy Facebook ads with very specific demographic profiles. the ads are so ‘smart’ that they can help you to find customers even before they realized they want to start looking or shopping. Ads can be purchased to target a specific demographic, location, interest, birthday, education, job description, etc.
A featured ad appears on the Facebook News Feed page while Marketplace ads appear with other ads on the profile page. Think about targeting all people in a furniture store’s region who recently told their Facebook friends they bought a house. Or offer a free bridal registry to all future brides who indicate this event on their Facebook wall. These are two of many opportunities to target prime candidates for new furniture through the use of Facebook ads. Facebook’s ability to target the ideal prospect with offers that are suited specifically for them is a major benefit.
Facebook has recently introduced a service called Facebook Deals that is Groupon type offer. It is only available in select markets right now, but is worth watching because of the ability of Facebook to match up the right offers to the right person.
Facebook Fan Page
The second way to attract the attention of prospects on Facebook is by building out a Facebook Fan page. As an individual you have a Facebook account, but as a business you need a Fan Page. If you have always had a personal page and want a business “Fan” page, there is a wizard in the Facebook Help FAQ page that will walk you through converting friends to fans.
The purpose of a Fan Page is threefold
A good landing page for a Facebook Fan page should encourage the visitor to become a Fan. Visitors become “fans” by “liking” you. A “like” is an endorsement. The customer basically says she likes the business and will tell her network about it. There needs to be a clear call to action to get any visitor no matter how they found the fan page, to decide to “Like” you. Look at Elmore’s Furniture’s page, a good example, at www.facebook.com/elmorefurniture.
You can send “fans” who visit your Facebook page over to your website where you can have a lead capture feature set up. That way, you can stay in contact with customers through email, direct mail or whatever other means you choose.
There is a really cool advanced strategy developed by Web4Retail.com that builds a one tab mini-website right into the Facebook Fan Page. An example of this can be found on the Facebook Fan Page of Slumberland of Joplin. Go to www.facebook.com/SlumberlandJoplin and “Like” the site. A video will pop up and you will see a tab that says “furniture”. Click it and you’ll see their catalog.
Another purpose for having a Fan page is to have people endorse you to their friends. The average Facebook user has 130 friends, which means that every time the user likes a business or makes a comment, it will be seen by up to 130 people on average.
Once a person likes your fan page, your store automatically gets seen by their network. If they talk about you, share pictures of the furniture they like, post videos or photos, their entire network sees this and they are spreading the word about your store to others for free.
Here are five specific ways to try and drive up the visitors to your Fan page:
- Drive Facebook ads to your landing page where they can become a fan.
- Send out emails to your list encouraging them to become a fan. Send out an email announcing you are now on Facebook and tell them the benefits of why they should become a fan (special promotions, free designer tips, first look at new introductions, etc.). After the first email, send a second reminder about 3-5 days later.
- Have a button on your website that customers can click on to become fans.
- Set up a twitter account and drive people over to your Facebook Fan page. Twitter is limited to short messages whereas a Facebook Fan Page can give customers a bigger picture of what your store is all about.
- Give benefits that are exclusive to Facebook “Fans” thereby offering another reason to “like” you.
There are over 200,000,000 people who access Facebook via mobile devices like smart phones and IPADs. Thirty four percent of Facebook users visit the site at least once a day using their smart phone according to the 2011 Social Commerce Study. People have a couple of minutes while commuting or waiting for an appointment and they hop on their smart phones to log into Facebook. Fiona Swerdlow, Head of Research at Shop.org said, “the popularity of mobile devices will only boost the power of social commerce, which presents an incredible opportunity for retailers.”
Facebook Places merges a store’s physical place with their Facebook Fan page. Facebook began testing this feature last November. You can offer “Check In Deals”, which is a free service that helps businesses reward their customers for checking into the store. Facebook Places was created to allow users to check in where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing.
According to Facebook, mobile users are more than twice as active as computer users. Targeting them with specials while they are in your store increases the chance of a sale. Everybody loves a deal, and Facebook Places allows you to offer a special to anyone who checks into your furniture store.
Facebook Tips to Build Your Furniture Business
- Use the “Like” Button plug-in wherever you can. Facebook has a plugin application that you can put on your website, in emails, on your blog, in press releases or news articles. If a customer clicks it, they automatically become a Fan of your page. When the consumer clicks the button, this information is shared on Facebook.
- Use the Facebook “Comments Box” application. This allows comments to appear both on the website and on the Facebook page so friends of the customer can see their comments about your store or products.
- Friends of Friends can be reached through Facebook ads. The theory is if a customer liked your product well enough to buy it, their friends probably would like the same thing. Facebook allows you to advertise specifically to those friends.
- Work on getting “fans” and leads at the same time so your money goes twice as far. Don’t just settle for getting them to become a fan, try and get them to give you an email address as well so you can follow up via email also.
- Fan pages allow you to use video. This is effective, especially if you allow fans to upload videos of their new furniture to your site.
- Consider running a contest that solicits entries featuring the “ugliest sofa” with the winner getting a new one. Have customers submit videos that explain why their sofa is the ugliest and ask them to make a presentation about why they need a new one. This video will go out to all their friends and direct them over to your Fan Page.
- Become a fan of a related business so that their “fans” will find you.
- Create a Facebook event for your Fans. Maybe a special video about designing a room on a budget with your interior decorating staff, or invent another event that makes your fans feel special.
- Make sure you encourage activity through contests, posts, comments, link sharing, or uploading of photos.
- Keep your Fan page up to date with current posts.
- Lock up your name, your brand and your company name on Facebook.
An advanced strategy you might try if you are adventuresome is to emulate Jimmy Buffett and develop a Facebook game about furniture. Jimmy is launching Margaritaville Online where visitors can buy virtual cheeseburgers and margaritas to send to friends. They can also play to earn real burgers or beers at the restaurants. That might be a little too advanced for the furniture industry, but I think Jimmy Buffett is a great example of a brand, so I bring it up for your consideration.
Social media expert Sev Ritchie and I created a webinar on how to integrate online personalization with social media marketing. It is an excellent one hour training session on how to integrate a variety of new media marketing solutions to build your furniture sales.
Furniture World’s readers can see it at www.GetCustomersOnlineRightNow.com.
Next issue, we take new media marketing in another direction to help you break out of the same old boring advertising with a marketing solution that will be outrageous and profitable. Questions on this article or any aspect of social media, advertising or furniture store marketing can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mike Root is Founder of Get Customers Right Now, a marketing company that provides online marketing systems, promotional campaigns, and premium incentive ideas. His techniques are designed to help retailers build sales through the use of low cost and no cost direct response marketing strategies.You can find him on the following social media sites where he gives marketing tips and tricks. It is different content for each:
• www.Facebook.com search for Get Customers Right Now
• www.YouTube.com/GetCustomersTV TV show on You Tube
• www.GetCustomers.TV TV show website
• www.GetCustomersRightNow.com business website
Visit GetCustomersRightNow.com to get a free resource for furniture retailers entitled “7 Little Known Customer Acquisition Strategies You Can Quickly Implement To Get New Customers And Explode Your Income That Your Competition Hopes You Never Discover.”
Mike and his son, Jay along with Huey the Marketing Dog also host a free WebTV show called Get Customers TV (www.GetCustomers.TV) that spotlights the best of the best customer acquisition strategies for retailers. The show features helpful tips and tricks furniture retailers can use to spend less money on marketing while attracting more new prospects.
Mike also is President of Furniture Sales of Mid-America, a furniture wholesale and rep company in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states. He serves on the Executive Committee of the IHFRA and is a third generation furniture guy with experience in retail, wholesale and rental. He was recognized by the SBA as an Entrepreneur of the Year, and his furniture retail stores were honored by the Omaha Chamber of Commerce as one of the Top 25 Fastest Growing Enterprises three years in a row. He has been recognized by national furniture factories for sales excellence more than 15 times. Free articles, blogs and instructional videos can be found at www.MikeRoot.com.