WHAT IS A BLOG YOU ASK?
“A personal website - a web page on which an individual records opinions, reviews, or to share their thoughts and passions on a regular basis”
INFORMATION ABOUT BLOGGING IS ONE OF MY TOP THREE VISITED PAGES ON MY MARKETING WEBSITE: WWW.SOCIAL4RETAIL.COM
Our web visits have increased dramatically, almost double today from when these stats were screen shot because we started posting more blogs. We are averaging close to 2,700 pages views a day
WHY YOU MUST ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE B2C - B2B WITH BLOGS
I used to live in Minnesota, where neighbors judge your “manliness” not by the car you drive, or by the clothes you wear, but by the size of your snow blower. So what does this have to do about blogs, I’ll explain.
A few years ago, we suffered through a massive 130+” of snow in 2011 and I had a cheap/value based snow blower I purchased, that was made in China, that couldn’t blow out my driveway, much less throw the snow over our 8’ drifts. My driveway shrank with each snowfall to the point a 2 car driveway looked more like a sidewalk. I made a decision to buy a new one for the winter of 2012….a beast….maybe something with a few adjustments could be “street legal”.
These pictures were taken in March, after 3 feet of snow had already melted
We went to the usual places, Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware, etc., and looked at all these “mouthwatering MANLY models” and made a decision to buy a brand that I thought was made in Wisconsin. I knew this brand well, I grew up with it and assumed it would do the job. It was a beast.
Blogs are essentially articles that people write. The difference is that anyone can write a blog and be published on the internet for millions of consumers to have access to. Once powerful newspapers and magazines,( where consumers used to get their information and ideas), are quickly becoming irrelevant. (Newspaper subscriptions are at the 1950's level).
It used to be, in the old media, you would have one writer write about the home; now you have thousands of bloggers and they can be found with simple searches on the internet.
Before you completely ignore or skip this article, think about how you are marketing your business - you know, "to get leads” that will hopefully turn into sales? Most retailers “blast” their messages via TV, Radio, Print, e-blasts and more in the HOPE that consumers will absorb the message and act on it. That is defined as “Outbound Marketing” and is the traditional way of reaching consumers.
The internet has changed everything, and as I’ve “lectured”, consumers will FIND YOU, When they want to, Where they want to and How they want to. The consumer is in control and they are finding content that is “relevant to them via SEARCH”, not what youmay think is relevant to them.
This transformation is defined as “Inbound Marketing” and blogs lead the way. One reason may be that inbound marketing costs 61% LESS per lead than traditional marketing. Now we all know what it costs to get the consumer through the door….61% is a lot of savings.
So, let’s start out with a couple of facts that you may not be aware of about blogs:
Think about how “you” aggregate your news on the internet. You may go to news aggregating sites like CNN, MSNBC, Drudge or Fox that aggregate the type of stories and opinions “you prefer” to read. Think about decorating sites that you may “bookmark” for ideas. Think about how you make a high end purchase; a car, services and more…do you read the reviews, the articles, the “mini-blogs”? If you don’t surf the internet this way, you are missing out on unlimited access to ideas, information and new ideas.
Not convinced? Well look at these scary numbers:
So, what are consumers looking for with blogs? According to Hubspot here are the areas where consumers utilize blogs/articles to influence a purchase decision.
Think about Pinterest and how people “subscribe” to their interests.
All of these “snippets” are blogs/interactions, in one way or another. But that’s not all; a great blog also helps you immensely with SEO-Search Engine Optimization-Google Rankings and more. Look at the chart below and see how “creating a relevant conversation” can create brand evangelists for your store.
This plus the ability for your content to go viral to their friends, family and more, just expands your store’s brand.
You see it’s all about content and it’s all about placing relevant content on the internet where people are searching for answers to their wants, needs and desires. If done right, they’ll find you, your website and ultimately your store…and they will visit you educated and knowledgeable.
So here is what you need to do to get relevant with a series of blogs:
Determine what you want to blog about. I suggest you educate consumers on your products first. Talk to them about different products for their Life Style based off their Life Stage.
We have so much “slang” in our industry that you use to shop Furniture Markets for your stores that consumers probably don't understand "furniture-speak". Teach them
MY SUGGESTION, have your buyers write about the products they are purchasing and why. They probably already do this when they all get together to discuss and decide which products they plan to floor, now they can share that rationale with the consumer. Maybe add a paragraph below each product description "From the buyer" and why they chose this product, etc...
As a Brand, the same holds true. Have your designers write about the new design, the materials they used and why/ This will help inspire buyers to visit your showroom...make it personal and write with passion!
I know a couple retailers have video blogged (Vlogs) at the markets getting consumer reactions to what they are looking at buying for their store...what an awesome way to get engagement!
A few simple ideas to get started:
Brands You Carry
As one of my previous article showcased; THE DEATH OF BRANDS IN THE FURNITURE INDUSTRY, consumers have a brand awareness quotient for furniture that is equivalent with the ratings for Congress, maybe even less today. So if the Manufacturers won’t tell the story, you must!
Talk about the brand’s attributes. Do they use hardwoods, are their springs 8 way hand tied and what does that mean, what is the foam density and why is that important. Is it made in America? All of these “blogs/articles/stories educate the consumer and an educated consumer is easier to sell than an uneducated one
Talk about differences between vinyl, bonded leather (glorified vinyl) & leather. Help them make an educated choice about the products and why they are priced different; Price, durability, maintenance, warranty, etc.
Educate them about leather. Use this starting blog as a way to talk about the different leather grades and how they differ in look, style and feel. Remember to a consumer a “good hand” probably means a handshake, not the feel to the hand. (I know there are videos on-line about this, maybe ask for permissions to post them with the proper credits and back-links.
Here again, educate them. We all know that the fabric quality dictates most of the price of a sofa, so explain it to them.
Decorating and/or design tips
If you’re not an expert, consider engaging one. Look for a “local” designer that has “chops” and ask them to blog for you. Have them use New Intro’s or other products you carry in their blogs. Rather than pay them, give them a “blog area” on your website with back-links to their website. Create a “push-pull” relationship that works for both.
Talk about the difference between a solid wood, veneer and laminate. Again, depending on the life style and their life stage, this should help the consumer determine the “short or long term value” for their needs.
There are so many subjects you can blog about that consumers want to be educated and inspired with. The list can be endless, as could a new stream of revenue…all for just putting your knowledge and ideas in a blog to share with the wired world.
The great thing about blogs is you have so many outlets to push them out on: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Delicious and so many more, all with the singular goal in mind….direct them back to your website to educate, inspire, motivate and engage with the consumer. It’s hard work, but no one ever told you retailing would be easy.
CONSUMERS LOVE TO WATCH VIDEOS TO GET MORE INFORMATION..... PEOPLE ARE VISUAL!
64% OF CONSUMERS ARE INFLUENCED BY VIDEOS TO MAKE PURCHASES
STILL NOT CONVINCED?
- 57% of companies with a blog have acquired a customer from their blog. Tweet this stat | Source: HubSpot
- Keywords in blogs drive traffic from search engines.
- 31% of product reviews need to be negative for a buyer to doubt the quality of a product. Tweet this stat | Source: Weber Shandwick
- 23% of total Internet usage time is devoted to social networks or blogs. Tweet this stat | Source: Dream Systems Media
- Blogger is the leading blog site in the U.S., with 46MM unique monthly users. Tweet this stat |Source: Nielsen
- 17% of US cell phone owners do most of their online browsing on their phone. Tweet this stat |Source: Pew Research Center
WITH ALL OF THIS SAID...
WHY IS IT YOU'RE NOT BLOGGING FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
About Bill Napier
Bill Napier is Managing Partner of Napier Marketing Group. He has been the chief marketing officer of several small, medium and large companies throughout his career, most notably Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. Many in the home furnishings industry call him an industry serial disruptor. "His thought provoking blog will challenge conventional wisdom, look under the industry’s hood and seek to uncover the critical clues to improving its performance". Bill is also a featured writer and speaker in the retail industry. His vast understanding of the issues retailers and brands face to compete in the digital arena, coupled with his humorous interpretation of his knowledge of trends, facts and solutions for helping companies compete, makes for an engaging and informative session for every brand or retailer that attends his sessions. His passion is to help retail brands & brick mortar retailers grow their business by creating, guiding and deploying successful marketing B2B/B2C solutions integrating traditional marketing with the web/social media. You can see his passion for this at his FREE marketing information website;