Best Marketing Strategy for 2014: Storytelling via “Share” Media

Given the current smart technology use and rampant personal data sharing trends among consumers, companies are looking for effective ways to connect and engage with their target customer base without appearing too pushy, insensitive, or intrusive. This is a tricky endeavor since most companies are also starved for time and pressured to beat the competition in terms of financial performance. To add another layer of challenges, companies are also expected to deliver results and respond to customers’ issues within minutes rather than days. Simply put, industry environments are changing fast and companies do not have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines to see how things play out.

To truly succeed in today’s intensely competitive industries, marketers must shift their focus from traditional “push” and “pull” to “share” marketing strategies. Print advertising (“push” media) provides information about products/services, but does very little to engage with the target audience. Television advertising (“pull” media) entertains and evokes emotions, but does not enable the target audience to respond and engage. In essence, both “push” and “pull” media fall short of allowing the target audience to engage with the advertiser and build reciprocal relationships.

Face-to-face and social media interactions are forms of “share” marketing tactics that facilitate two-way, reciprocal interactions between marketers and their target audience. Such efforts foster empathy and build trust, and therefore prompt the target audience to engage with the advertiser and emulate specific (“advertised”) behavior. In the “share” marketing realm, customers are not viewed as targets, but rather as partners who are there to help the company achieve its goals (introduce or sell products/services, promote various causes, or expand its customer base) and provide feedback. “Share” marketing strategies focus on storytelling and effectively using stories to connect and build long-term, “We” relationships with customers. Neither side has the upper hand. Instead, marketers and their target audience are equally needed to tell a complete story. Without either side, the company’s story is incomplete.

push media

Aside from face-to-face interactions with customers, social media websites, such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, are the next best vehicles for effective customer engagement. Such websites blur the lines between producer, seller and consumer, and enable all three groups to connect and share common interests and experiences. This mutual exchange helps companies appear more humble and human, and also gives a powerful platform for consumers to voice their opinions. Furthermore, with the help of storytelling, companies gain valuable insight and build long-lasting relationships with customers, and customers gain access to brands they like, as well as the opportunity to influence those brands.

The beauty of storytelling as a marketing strategy is two-fold; it inspires companies to share what is special about their brand(s) and it brings consumers closer to the brands they follow. Companies’ stories do not have to rival those of professional storytellers either. The most important ingredients are thoughtfulness, genuine want to interact with the audience, and encouragement of the audience to respond. A story can be five paragraphs, five sentences, or five words long. Each company’s stories are unique and therefore do not need to conform to any cookie cutter rules. There often is a lot of beauty, spontaneity and genuine value in messy stories. The overall goal is to share and engage, and not to publish award winning essays.

Here are a few types of stories that companies should share with their customers:

  1. Historical/Timeline. Retelling the company’s history or the history of its products/services in form of a timeline is a great way to convey longevity and credibility. For example, a photo status update on the company’s Facebook Page can show some type of a timeline and ask its Fans to share what they remember about a specific time on the timeline.
  2. Testimonial/Proof of Recovery. It is never a good idea to shy away from sharing negative customer service scenarios, as long as the company can show that the customer’s grievance was resolved and the customer was made whole. Such stories show that the company does not pretend to be perfect and that it works hard to correct imperfect customer experiences. Positive customer feedback stories show that the company can be trusted.
  3. Humor. This type of storytelling must be extra scrutinized because it lends itself to potentially offending customers. Funny stories that are too sexual, have heavy religious undertones, promote specific political views, or carry any other offensive connotations should be avoided because they can alienate certain customers and devalue brand equity.
  4. Special Cause. Generally speaking, consumers like to do business with companies that support various charitable causes, especially if such causes are close to their own heart. Such stories show the public that company management “has a heart” and also encourage customers to get involved.
  5. Celebratory. People like to be happy, and happy stories make people happy. Sharing videos and photos of various celebrations, especially if they include the company’s customers, is a perfect way to re-live such events and also include those who were not in attendance.
  6. Biographical. It is true that most people are looking for their fifteen minutes of fame. What is even more true is that social media websites allow companies to make their customers feel famous, even if it is just for a few minutes. Companies should profile customers on their social media pages and encourage others to submit their own information to be featured in future posts.
  7. Nostalgia. Sharing photos of celebrities, famous quotes, or pop culture events awakens nostalgic feelings and prompts customers to associate such feelings with the company’s brand(s). This is a great way to tell customers that the company know what they like and value, and also that those things also mean something special to the company itself. This creates a sense of “we are the same”.
  8. Special Announcements. Whether it is a new products introduction or new employee hire, customers like when such information is shared with them. It makes them feel like they are “in the know”. It also helps them get to know the company better and encourages them to offer their own feedback.
  9. Solicitation for Help. Asking customers for help does not mean that the company is not capable of solving its own problems. Instead, it means that the company values its customers’ opinion and wants to hear what they have to say. This is a very powerful way to introduce new products or ideas, and also get fast customer buy-in.
  10. Exclusive Offers. Posting an online coupon is not a good example of storytelling, but posting a story about a special offer that helped a customer save money and accomplish his/her goal with the help of the company’s product/service is a brilliant way to use storytelling as a promotional tool. Such stories can be cheesy, but they should not be too gimmicky. Customers will pick up on stories that are not genuine and may revolt as a result.

The bottom line for marketers in 2014 is to focus more on sharing and caring than on preaching and teaching. Companies must go the extra mile to be perceived as genuine, caring and authentic. Storytelling helps them do just that. Once the company has captured consumers hearts, it is much easier to capture a share of their wallet.

Please contact me at mirela@chopperexchange.com with any questions.

3 Marketing MUST DOs for 2014

This is the time of the year when it is nearing its end, holiday shopping season is on its last week, and marketing professionals are planning for 2014. This brings us to the big question; what will 2014 look like in terms of companies’ marketing efforts?

Take a look at this photo, as prepared by Pew Research Center and Deloitte in March 2013, and let your mind make some assumptions:

pew research

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you assumed that marketing is going to be even more social and mobile in 2014, you are spot on. More specifically, consumers are expected to use mobile devices, such as tablet and smartphone to consume online content and make purchases, a lot more in 2014 than during any previous year.

To succeed in 2014, every business must do the following three (3) things:

  1. Invest in social media ads in an effort to capture consumers’ attention while they are checking their personal accounts from their mobile devices.
  2. Create a mobile website to make sure that customers can easily view their products/services and make purchases from a tablet or smartphone.
  3. Genuinely engage with customers via social media websites in an effort to forge long-term, meaningful relationships that will weather any market storm.

If you have any questions about getting ready for 2014, feel free contact me at mirela@chopperexchange.com. I will gladly answer any questions.

Happy 2014!

Facebook Advertising and Content Management for Motorcycle Dealers

facebook advertising

As we approach the holiday season, we are also approaching that time of the year when marketing budgets are reviewed and set. Many small businesses, including motorcycle dealers, are wondering how much time and money they should dedicate for social media marketing, such as Facebook. Not only are such websites often too complicated to master in order to realize a positive return, but they can also be time consuming.

This is why we have decided to offer a quick fix for motorcycle dealers who want to make Facebook part of their daily routine, but do not necessarily have the expertise or time necessary to effectively use Facebook for business purposes.

Our Facebook Advertising and Content Management Services for Motorcycle Dealers explains how businesses of all sizes can conquer Facebook and make money while doing it. Please take a few minutes to read it and let us know if you have any questions and if we can help you with your Facebook marketing efforts.

If you are unable to open the link above, please click here to download the full PDF file.

Pin and Facebook Your Way to Record Holiday Season Sales

black friday

Whether exciting or stressful, the 2013 holiday season is upon us. It is also a short holiday season; with just 26 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. For retailers, this means more scrambling to sell as many products as possible within a shorter period of time than during the previous year. For shoppers, it means fewer holiday shopping days and less time to find the best deals available.

Given the time constraints, both retailers and shoppers are expected to turn to online shopping options this holiday season. Retailers are rolling out their holiday campaigns earlier and banking on social media, such as Facebook and Pinterest, to boost their holiday sales. Motorcycle dealers should follow suit, especially in terms of apparel, gift card, and accessory sales.

According to Internet Retailer, 65% of U.S. consumers will search for products/services online and make their purchase in store during the 2013 holiday season. Half of the surveyed shoppers said that they will also shop at online-only retailers, such as Amazon.com. Furthermore, eMarketer predicts that 16% of this year’s holiday season purchases will occur on mobile devices, such as tablet and smart phone.

Since most shoppers will enjoy a long Thanksgiving weekend and will then return to work on Cyber Monday, it is a smart strategy for retailers, including motorcycle dealers, to offer online deals which can be redeemed between November 29th and December 2nd. Not only will shoppers spend quality time with family and friends during the Thanksgiving weekend, but they will also spend a lot of time on Facebook and Pinterest, and most likely spend most of Cyber Monday shopping online rather than being productive at work.

As a motorcycle dealer, here are some ideas for reaching your customers online during the Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday:

  • If you have a significant follower base on Pinterest, create a Black Friday Deals and Cyber Monday Deals boards, and then pin 5-10 great deals to each board. Make sure that you pick popular items and that your deals are better than than your usual deals on such items. Focus on items that make great holiday gifts.
  • Take each of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that you selected for your Pinterest boards and create a status update post for each of them on your store’s Facebook Page. Make sure to schedule the posts for different times and days to avoid cluttering your fans’ Facebook news feed.
  • To get even more exposure and sales, create Facebook ads to promote each of your Facebook Black Friday and Cyber Monday status update posts. Facebook allows you to set up a budget that is comfortable for your store/department, which means that you do not have to spend crazy amounts of money on Facebook ads. This is a great option for attracting Cyber Monday shoppers while they are checking their Facebook activity during work hours. Please visit Promoted Page Posts page to learn how to promote your status update posts.

As always, please do not hesitate to e-mail me at mirela@chopperexchange.com, if you have questions about this blog post. I am more than happy to help at no cost to you.

Are You Spending Your Advertising Dollars Wisely?

We are getting closer to the end of the year, which means that 2014 advertising budget planning is also approaching. This is the time when dealerships decide how much money to spend on each advertising medium in the upcoming year. It is also a good time to step back and consider how profitable and relevant each advertising medium actually is for your business, especially if you have a small advertising budget. Going with the most traditional, which often happens to be the most expensive and least trackable, advertising media is not always the best idea. Such advertising media often drain companies’ budgets and produce very little return (ROA).

To keep things in perspective, you should take a look at a broad comparison of various advertising media, as presented with the following graphic, to decide which ones are best suited for your dealerships’ goals. Please click the comparison table to zoom in.

cost of advertisingWhile television commercials and magazine ads may be cool, they are often very expensive and produce very little sales leads. Even if they do produce sales leads, they are almost impossible to track in order to determine if a particular advertising campaign is a success.

On the other hand, as presented in the above advertising cost comparison table, for a fraction of the cost of most traditional advertising media, ChopperExchange.com, our own classifieds American V-twin motorcycle classifieds website, gives motorcycle dealers the opportunity to reach a national American V-twin motorcycle rider base and track all online sales leads. Dealers who are interested in maximizing the return on their advertising budgets cannot go wrong with ChopperExchange.

The bottom line is that each dealer should carefully consider each advertising medium’s cost, reach, and sales generation potential. It is sometimes the less expensive options, such as e-mail marketing and online classifieds, that bring the most bang for your buck.

To learn more about ChopperExchange dealer accounts, please visit our Dealer Advertising Information Page or contact us at info@chopperexchange.com.

One Very Important Reason to Be Interesting on Facebook

Businesses are always walking the fine line between selling too much and posting interesting content on their Facebook Pages. Both are important, but too much of either one is not a good approach to social media marketing.

One of the biggest negative consequences that can result from selling too much and posting boring/irrelevant content on Facebook is loss of Page likes (fans). If your fans (likes) do not enjoy what they see from your Page in their Facebook feed, they will most likely tell Facebook to hide your posts. Even worse, they will unlike your Page.

Here is what typically happens:

You post a Facebook status and it appears in your fans’ news feed. Your fans then have the option to comment, like, or share the content you posted. Facebook also gives them the option to opt out of seeing your posts.

harleys for heroes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your fans decide that they do not like what you are posting on your Facebook Page, they can hide it from their News Feed with a couple of clicks.

News FeedThe scariest part is that your fans will most likely Unlike your Page if they do not like the content that you are posting. They can do this without even visiting your Page.

unlikeThe bottom line is that Facebook Likes are not free and every business should post content that will increase its Pages’ Likes and not encourage the current ones to Unlike its Faacebook Page.

5 Free Tools to Help You Manage Your Social Media Presence

logos

If you are responsible for managing your company’s social media accounts, you are most likely looking for ways to save time and determine how successful your current efforts are. The bottom line is that you want to figure out what content is most desirable by our followers and how to spend less time on your social media management efforts.

Here are five FREE tools that will help you improve your social media management and save time:

  1. Hootsuite allows users to schedule content posts on Facebook and Twitter ahead of time. It also offers enhanced analytics reports for social media profiles.
  2. PicMonkey enables users to edit photos and create cool collage images, which can be shared on social media profiles. This is a great way to personalize your social media content and engage with your followers.
  3. TweetBinder gives social media content managers the ability to figure out the most popular terms and hashtags on Twitter.
  4. SemRush gives marketers the ability to find out what keywords are generating the most organic and sponsored traffic for their competitors.
  5. Canva is a brand new website (still in the beta mode) that allows users to create cool and catchy graphics for their social media accounts.

All of the above mentioned tools (websites) offer free options and are very easy to use.

If you have any questions about any of these tools, feel free to send me an e-mail at mirela@chopperexchange.com.

 

Sell via Pinterest for FREE

Let’s face it. With 25 million users, Pinterest is a social media website that is very difficult to ignore, especially for establishments with a significant female customer base. This translates to about 10 million unique visitors per month, who are predominately young, female, well-educated and have a significant amount of disposable income.

Another impressive fact is that Pinterest users are not simply browsing and pinning images that they like or wish to have. They are actually buying items that they find on Pinterest. According to the Business Insider, individuals who buy items via Pinterest spend an average of $170 per shopping session. For comparison purposes, this is 179% more than Facebook shoppers who spend an average of $95 per session and 243% more than Twitter shoppers who spend $70. These figures alone should be a pretty good wake-up call for businesses of all sizes to consider Pinterest for their marketing mix.

While smaller businesses may be afraid that Pinterest may be too time consuming and present difficulties in tracking return on investment (ROI), many successful and innovative establishments are jumping on board with hopes of capturing a significant portion of the website’s 25 million user base. Some companies are going as far as focusing more attention on their Pinterest page than Facebook. For example, Lowe’s, a home improvement store, has 3.5 million Pinterest followers and 2.5 million Facebook likes.

Another very important metric that is prompting businesses to embrace Pinterest is the fact that 70% of brand engagement is generated by users and only 30% by brands. This can be considered online word-of-mouth, which is one of the most powerful forms of advertising. Think of your Pinterest followers and customers as your online brand soldiers who promote your products, defend your brand, and encourage others to buy from you.

If you are still skeptical, I encourage you to take a few minutes to visit Pinterest and search for some key words relevant to your line of business. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised. So surprised that you will probably want to create a page for your business and begin pinning right away. If you are nervous, don’t be. You do not have to be an expert. That is the beauty of Pinterest…and the fact that it is FREE.

Out of curiosity, I did a search for “Harley-Davidson”, “motorcycle”, “lady motorcycle riders”, and “motorcycle riding gear”. The results blew me away. I was able to find photos of beautiful motorcycles, best riding gear, and fun ride destinations. But, the biggest shocker was the fact that Harley-Davidson Motor Company is NOT active on Pinterest. The company has a Pinterest page, but no boards and only 826 followers. This is a stark contract to the company’s 4.8 million Facebook Page likes. This is a huge missed opportunity for the Harley brand, especially since the company is currently trying to increase its female customer base.

harley pinterest

If you are a motorcycle dealer or any business that caters to the biker community, especially lady riders, Pinterest should be of strong interest to you and your staff. It is a simple, yet powerful (and free) vehicle to promote your products, engage with your female customer base, and sell. It is also a lot of fun! If nothing more, try it for at least 30-60 days. I am pretty certain that you are going to notice its potential right away.

HOW TO GET STARTED

As mentioned earlier, you do not have to be an expert to successfully incorporate Pinterest into your company’s marketing mix. Here are a few very basic tips to get you on your way to pinning and selling on Pinterest:

  1. If you do not have a Pinterest business page, you should create one by going to Pinterest Business Page to get started. This page will give all the details and guide you through the sign-up process.
  2. Once you create a Pinterest Business Page, think about different categories of products that your business offers and that would be of interest to your female customer base. If you are a Harley dealership, you may want to focus on different lady rider fashions, bikes, and accessories. Think about what your female customers like and want. Also, you may want to create some boards that cater to your male customer base because chances are that majority of your Pinterest female followers have a man in their life that they shop for.
  3. Use the determined categories from step 2 to to create boards for your page. For example, you can have a board for “tanks and tees”, “earrings”, “bracelets”, “vests”, and other similar categories. To get started, create 3-5 boards just to get your feet wet and add more with time. Start with 3-5 most popular categories.
  4. After you create your boards, start adding items to each board. You can upload photos from your computer or directly from your website. You should always add a brief description and a link for each item that you add to your boards. This allows your followers to learn more about each item and access it on your website.
  5. Your final step is to encourage your customers, especially lady riders, to follow you on Pinterest. You can do this via Facebook, Twitter, and any other vehicles that you use to communicate with your customers.

VERY IMPORTANT: It is very important to regularly add fresh content to your Pinterest boards. Your followers want to know what is new at your store. Pinterest pages that do not have new content are considered stale and boring. Be fun, interesting, and accessible. Most importantly, engage with your followers.

Lastly, here are a few examples of Pinterest business pages that cater to the biker community (you can click on each image to access the Pinterest page):

chopperexchange pinterest

 gateway pinterest

 steel cowgirl

As one final, final piece of advice, please keep in mind that the most successful brands did not become huge on Pinterest in seconds. Success takes time, and Pinterest is not an exception. It is the best idea to set aside 30-60 minutes on slow days to update your Pinterest boards and interact with your followers. Do not be too pushy and focus too much on sales. Start planting seeds and sales will come with time.

And, of course, if you have any questions or need free advice, feel free to e-mail me at mirela@chopperexchange.com. I will gladly help you with any of the points mentioned in this post. I want you to love and benefit from Pinterest, and I truly believe that you can do it.

How to Verify Your Google Places

Almost every motorcycle dealership has a Google Places page, even if the ones that do not want to have one. Google automatically created Google Places for almost all businesses in its database. If you have not checked if your business has one, you should immediately. Make sure to read all the reviews that may have been written on your Google Places page, especially if you have a low customer rating score.

jims harley davidsonThe best aspect of Google Places is that it is a 100% FREE business listing that allows you to upload photos, write about your business, offer coupons, and respond to customer feedback. Google also uses your Google Places information and customer ratings in the search results when someone searches for you on Google.com.

jims hdThe most important initial step is to claim your business Google Places listing. Below are the required steps to make this happen:

verify google places

For additional information, feel free to call us at 1-800-523-7274 or visit Google’s Google Places Help Page.

 

Are Your Employees Properly Trained and Appreciated?

shutterstock_35694748I recently read a Forbes article about lack of employee development and appreciation at most companies. It reminded me of numerous interactions with motorcycle dealership employees who appeared to lack the skills and enthusiasm necessary to perform and provide exceptional services to their customers. The Forbes article reminded me that such employees are not necessarily bad employees, but more likely employees who did not receive adequate training and do not feel appreciated at work.

One of the most prominent examples of poorly trained employees that comes to mind is a sales person who has not been taught the major steps of the company’s sales funnel. Recently, I listened to a recorded sales call that came in to a Harley dealership. The caller was calling the dealership to inquire about a particular motorcycle she saw on their website. The sales person who took the call told her that the bike sold. The caller then mentioned that her husband is on the road and that they will have to look at some other bikes during the upcoming weekend. The sales person told her that it was a good idea and hung up the phone without collecting any information or asking to follow up with the caller. This is a prime example of an employee who does not understand the full scope and goals of his job. His employer did not teach him the importance of customer service, follow up, and sales.

Another very common example of poorly trained employees at motorcycle dealerships is a receptionist with an unprofessional telephone greeting who puts callers on hold for too long. Even worse, this receptionist puts caller on long hold for too long and then transfers the call to an incorrect department. This type of employees need to be taught the importance of customer service, attention to detail, and company’s overall goals.

Companies overlook employee training for the following reasons:

  1. Most managers focus on day-to-day tasks that prevent them from considering each employee’s long-term goals and potential.
  2. Companies’ training policies and procedures are often outdated and cumbersome, and are therefore only done once and abandoned.
  3. Employee training is time consuming.

In addition to enabling employees to better perform their tasks, proper training also increases employee appreciation and job satisfaction because:

  1. Employees care more about companies that show interest in their personal future.
  2. It builds loyalty and increases productivity.
  3. It prompts employees to take ownership of their tasks and company goals.

Here are some negative effects of bad or no employee training:

  1. Unhappy employees
  2. Low production
  3. Increased expenses
  4. Loss of customers
  5. Loss of revenue

In a nutshell, proper raining makes employees feel empowered and appreciated, and it also increases customer satisfaction and revenue. Employees are not robots. They want to work for companies who care about their individual skills and goals, and incorporate those skills into the overall company vision. Companies must make sure that their employees have the tools needed to perform their job and that they are given opportunities to learn and grow.