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Many times business owners and marketers are so focused on one type of media, either online or offline and they lose sight of the fact that these worlds don’t have to be completely separate. In my work at our Minneapolis jewelry store I have found many opportunities to leverage online tools to drive more sales offline and vice versa.
Another issue I have run across lately is non-online retailers, typically brick-and-mortar locations, feel that since they’re not an online retailer with an ecommerce site that they don’t have to use online mediums to get in front of customers. This notion is flawed and could lead to oversight and disregard for potential revenue-building opportunities.
5 Ways to Improve Your Offline Business with Online Tools
1. Mark your territory
If you haven’t claimed your business on websites like Yelp, LinkedIn, Foursqure and Facebook (just to name a few) make sure to do that ASAP; this should be your first priority. You can then build your presence on these sites which builds your online visibility. Get on these and test things out and see what works for you. These sites will be vital to getting found by your customers so that they can interact and recommend you.
2. Bring your offline activities online
It’s likely that you have a strong client base and that many of them are very loyal to your business, but you may not always be on their mind. This is definitely the case if your product or service is governed by an infrequent or sporadic buying cycle.
Engaging with your clients on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest offers a chance to turn these customers into raving fans. The more potential touches you have with a client will increase the likelihood of repeat purchases and even better, referrals!
3. Use referrals to build trust
Encourage your current clients to follow you on Facebook and other sites you stay active on. If you’re not active on one or more of these sites it is time to change that. Post at least once a day and your customers will engage with your brand.
Have them review you online on Yelp, Google Places, City Search and the like. These reviews will not only increase the trust and reputation on the Internet, it also helps you rank better organically on the search engines. Double win!
4. Talk back to your customers… in a good way
Your sales people are on the front line of your organization so they get asked questions constantly and I’m willing to bet there are a lot of repeat questions. Instead of continuing to answer the question over and over you can educate the consumer in many different ways.
My personal favorite is by addressing the issue or question in a blog post or an FAQ section of your website. If they ask the question in person you can answer it and also instruct them to the vast resources on your website.
This will educate them and build them into an empowered and informed client. They’ll trust you because you gave them to tools to make an educated decision, and a trusting client is a happy client.
5. Monitor what is being said about you
Google has created some of the coolest products and tools that can be leveraged to transform your business. My favorite is Google Alerts because they allow you to find out what people are saying about you.
You can set these alerts for different key phrases and any time this term is indexed by Google, it sends you an e-mail. For example I have an alert set up for the term “Wixon Jewelers” which allows me to know what is being said about our brand—reviews, mentions, experiences, articles and more!
These are fantastic ways to expand your reach even if you’re not an online retailer or service provider. When you’re running a business it’s crucial to have an expansive tool belt, you may not need every tool for the project but it’s essential to know how to use them all.
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