We’re happy to welcome a contribution from the the bright and talented wordsmiths at Canadian online lifestyle magazine Vitamin Daily to the pages of the Merchant Advance Blog today. Check them out for a daily dose of all things fashionable, beautiful, sociable, original, delicious, and local!
As an entrepreneur, you are likely likely always looking for tips on how to find new customers, drive web traffic, improve your product and stay ahead of the curve. To gain some new insights on highlighting the unique qualities of your small business’ brand and creating a distinct voice through digital strategy, Vitamin Daily attended Social Media Camp 2015 in Victoria last month and collected our top takeaways to share. Hit the Read More link below to find out what we learned!
- Unbranded content is your secret weapon. Monitor Twitter, Google, etc., for genuine conversations people are having about your industry, generally, rather than only search/hone in on references to your explicit brand name (some people talk about Bud Light, for instance, but more talk about “light beer,” and those conversations provide clearer insight into consumer minds.) Be attuned to what people say (“all light beer tastes the same,” “light beer has sexist marketing campaigns”) and ensure your marketing is relevant and responsive.
- Not sure what your customers want? Ask them (again, and again.) Short, sweet customer surveys every six months or so should be informing consistent short-term strategies for your business. People like to be heard, and like it even more when they can see you being responsive to their desires. Encourage feedback and welcome criticism; if one person pipes up to say you’re doing something wrong, many more are likely quietly agreeing.
- Establish your brand’s story and stick to it. There’s no quick trick to telling a good story, but according to Unleash Culture founder David Reeve, a baseline rule is you need plot, characters and access to universal themes. Your story should articulate the particular reality your company inhabits; so ask yourself all the basic questions, “why are we here, what is our goal, what need to we fulfill?” and structure an engaging narrative from your conclusions.
- Confronted by online criticism? Respond by thinking about the honourable and kind way to act as a person would, rather than as a brand. Here’s a great example: Nurse Next Door, a home care service, began to send 4lb apple “humble” pies to unhappy clients, along with letters honestly owning up to shortcomings. The company claims it wasn’t a PR stunt, but no matter; it garnered them media coverage and shone a sunny ray of “good people” vibes over their whole brand, transforming a gaffe into a positive story about their unique approach.
- If you have a choice between gaining social/Facebook followers vs. gaining a newsletter subscriber; court the subscriber every time. Some good newsletter tips? Make sharing and forwarding easy, with buttons located after stories as well as top-left (where eyes naturally fall,) make everything look excellent on mobile, use attractive, clickable photos with plenty of white space around them and ensure your subject heading is thoughtful. You have 2.6 seconds to get someone’s attention! If you’re not quite sure how to best capitalize on this short window, don’t be afraid to experiment. Set up an A/B test with new styles, formats, and even times of day to send out your newsletter, and see which ones work best.
Social Media Camp sounds like it was a great opportunity for businesses to get in the know about emergent marketing strategies in a fantastic setting! We’ll have to send a Merchant correspondent next year. Until then!