what is a blog you ask?
information about blogging is one of my top three VISITED pages on my marketing website: www.social4retail.com
why you must engage your audience b2c - b2b with blogs
We suffered through a massive 120+” 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”.
I was hooked and wanted to buy right then. My wife convinced me to wait, until she “did her research”. Yep, she reads “blogs”, consumer reviews (mini-blogs) and a lot more. Guess what, everyone said it was non-reliable, broke down a lot and rated it as a DO NOT BUY. It was made in China and assembled in the U.S. and I wasn't going through that purchase disaster again!
We didn’t buy it. Instead we “ordered” the model that had rave reviews and it had an electric start to boot…With a few adjustments, this beast could have been street legal to drive. It was awesome, and I only got to use it twice in 2012…go figure, right?
We did what consumers are doing every minute of every day. They are researching information, reading reviews, getting new ideas, learning, listening and engaging…on-line
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 you may 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:
Not convinced? Well look at these scary numbers:
- 86% - The number of people actively skipping TV ads
- 44% - The number of Direct Mail never opened
- Print advertising revenue, adjusted to inflation, is close to what they made in 1950 !
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.
- Decide on a product or service – 21%
- Refine their choices -19%
- Get support or answers – 19%
- Discover new products/services – 17%
- Re-assure themselves on a decision – 14%
- Inspire a purchase – 13%
- Execute a purchase – 7%
Think Yelp for restaurant and local business reviews.
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!
YouTube prevails to be the most influential social media for consumers who make purchases. YouTube influences 64% of purchases made which is the highest when compared to other popular social media like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. People influenced by media further influence others around them. Brands that are up to the mark create influence on consumers by catering to consumer’s passions and interests.
still not convinced?
- 74% search online for consumer electronic reviews before buying. Tweet this stat | Source: Weber Shandwick
- 28% ask social network friends or followers about a product they're considering. Tweet this stat |Source: Weber Shandwick
- 37% watch online videos about others experience with products they're considering. Tweet this stat | Source: Weber Shandwick
- 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs. Tweet this stat | Source: BlogHer
- Average buyer consults 11 consumer reviews on the path to purchase. Tweet this stat | Source: Weber Shandwick
- 65% of potential consumer electronics buyers inspired by consumer vs. professional review. Tweet this stat | Source: Weber Shandwick
- 79% of online shoppers spend 50% of shopping time researching products online. Tweet this stat |Source: HubSpot
- 61% of U.S. online consumers made a purchase based on blog recommendations. Tweet this stat| Source: BlogHer
- 77% of Internet users read blogs. Tweet this stat | Source: The West Program
- 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
some INTERESTING facts about the blog economy
with all of this said...
why is it you're not blogging for your BUSINESS?
He has been the chief marketing officer of several small, medium and large companies throughout his career, most notably Ashley Furniture Industries Inc from 2000-2005.
Currently he is a strategic management and marketing consultant to Imagine Advertising, Englander Mattress and several other companies in the home furnishing industry.
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.
Sharing frustrations as well as common sense solutions has been his M.O. for years.
Delivering the goods each and every time he writes or speaks at our National Conferences, Bill says what he means and means what he says."
The RetailerNow Editorial Staff