It’s 7 a.m. on Saturday and you’ve just arrived to open your counter. Upon arrival, you’re greeted by a line of angry customers who have been waiting for you for over an hour. As you unlock the door, it hits you. You posted a sign with your new weekend hours at the counter but forgot to send an email to your distribution list and update your hours on the website. The result? A long line of frustrated customers and a classic example of an avoidable miscommunication.
As a seasoned digital marketer working in plumbing supply and distribution, I’ve seen this scenario, and others like it, play out one too many times. While slightly intimidating to those foreign to the concept, my strategy for distributors, showrooms and vendors alike remains the same; select the platforms that work best for you, create a cohesive and routine digital marketing schedule and share relevant business and industry specific information with your customer base at the appropriate days and times. This strategy, when executed thoughtfully and on a routine basis, will not only aid in overall communication, but will improve the quality of your existing business relationships, attract potential new customers and provide a fun and engaging way to continue the conversation with your customers beyond the counter or showroom.
Selecting the Appropriate Platforms
While similar in concept and overall business objectives, each organization within our industry will require a unique combination of tools and resources in order to achieve marketing success. As you select which specific digital platforms make the most sense for your business, it’s important to make sure you find one in each of the following areas: website platform, email marketing software and social media outlet(s). When selecting which platforms make the most sense, be sure to consider ease of use, cost and the ability for cross platform integration.
Creating a Digital Marketing Schedule
As with any good habit, repetition and consistency are key when developing a solid digital marketing strategy. When deciding what schedule works best for you, ask yourself the following questions. When are my customers typically at my business and what are their business hours like? How frequently do I find that I have business announcements, industry news and/or relevant topics to discuss? What are my business hours like and when can I devote my time, or ask someone on my team, to create and follow a posting and sharing schedule?
In order to ensure success and repeatability, schedules should always accommodate your current business model and availability. However, as a best practice, it is recommended that you share formal communications with your customers, via email, such as price increases and business announcements at least once a week, and share slightly more lighthearted content, such as counterperson of the month or a showroom tip, on social media, two to three times per week. Having structure around the distribution of your content will aid in routine, giving your customers something to look forward to, and get you in habit of devoting time to this new means of interacting with your customers.
Crafting the Message
Cleary articulating your point in an engaging and organized way is key when crafting impactful messaging. To ensure high engagement and an overall well-received message, it’s important to always try to include the following elements: clear messaging, call to action, engaging visual aids, supporting resources and a preview of what’s to come next.
Let’s say you’ve just begun carrying a new product line in your showroom and are ready to let your customers know. When crafting your communication, you want to be sure that you clearly announce the brand, ask customers to make an appointment to come in and experience the new line, include appealing images of top products from the line and include any supporting documentation and or links, such as a brand landing page on your website or a new line card, within the email and or post.
Including each of these elements within your messaging will ensure that a clear and impactful communication is sent.
Spreading the Word at the Best Time
When it comes to digital communications, timing is everything. As an industry standard, always aim to send email communications Tuesday through Thursday within the hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. For social media, take time to learn your follower base and examine the business analytics available to you. Digital marketing outlets, social media platforms included, offer business accounts vital and free insights, such as peak engagement times. While this data should help drive your social strategy, it is usually best to post on social outlets Tuesday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The ever-evolving nature of our industry demands we implore fresh, impactful and relevant digital marketing tactics when communicating with current and potential customers, vendors and partners. Having a solid, well thought out strategy will not only help you to better communicate important and exciting news, but it will aid in the future development and overall perception of your business.