4 Focus Areas in 2013 (Part 2)

Don’t Miss Invest­ing in These Key Mar­ket­ing Areas

As the weeks slide by in Decem­ber, you are like­ly (hope­fully!) plan­ning your major ini­tia­tives to make 2013 a big suc­cess.

Here’s a list of 4 focus areas that you should con­sider invest­ing in for 2013.

Why invest in these? Because when they are done right, they will enable you to con­nect with your cus­tomers, boost your sales, and strength­en your brand.

Detailed below are the Focus Areas #3 and #4. Last week I cov­ered Areas #1 and #2. 

3. Help your customers be better business people

You want to build a long term rela­tion­ship with your cus­tomers, yes? Of course, you do.

Here is the base­line: be sure your prod­ucts pro­vide the val­ue your cus­tomers expect (for retail­ers, the prod­ucts must “sell-through” at a strong mar­gin as this makes them mon­ey).

But how do you become more val­ued by your cus­tomers? Lead them to improv­ing their over­all busi­ness by help­ing them be bet­ter busi­ness peo­ple.  

Most of your cus­tomers have depth and expe­ri­ence in select areas (say in mer­chan­dis­ing or prod­uct selec­tion), but few are strong in all areas. So why not offer them easy-to-fol­low insights on how to be capa­ble and knowl­edge­able in these oth­er areas. It will strength­en their busi­ness.

How can you pull this together?

First you’ll want to fig­ure out what the top­ics should be and then how to develop/obtain the mate­ri­als.

  • Why not start by ask­ing your cus­tomers about the top­ics with which they strug­gle the most. Per­haps they include inven­to­ryTopics con­trol, event plan­ning or social media.  Then nar­row the list down to a few that you will focus on.
  • If you know the topic(s) well, you should draft the arti­cle or shoot a video of your­self dis­cussing the top­ic (more on videos in Focus Area #4).
  • If you don’t know the top­ic or don’t have the time, find some­one who does and invite them to write an arti­cle. This sub­ject mat­ter expert will like­ly be inter­est­ed in expand­ing his/her brand with your cus­tomers. And since it is like­ly the expert may already have writ­ten an arti­cle on the top­ic, it should be easy to come up with the mate­ri­als.
  • Or you can search the inter­net for good arti­cles and ask for the per­mis­sion of the pub­lish­er to dis­trib­ute the arti­cles to your cus­tomers. I often secured first-class arti­cles from the gra­cious folks at Gifts  & Dec­o­ra­tive Acces­sories Mag­a­zine and Home Accents Today.

And how should you share these materials with your community?

Why not start by send­ing out a reg­u­lar month­ly newslet­ter to cus­tomers and prospects that cov­ers these top­ics.

You should post these arti­cles on your company’s blog. The email would point back to your web­site- increas­ing the traf­fic there. And post on your social media sites.

Also, be sure your employ­ees know about the mate­ri­als so they can offer them up as well. This valu­able pro­gram makes your

Retail­er Mary Liz Curtin speak­ing to retail­ers in Dal­las

sales­peo­ple more valu­able in the eyes of their cus­tomers.

You can also invite an expert to speak on a web sem­i­nar (using a con­fer­enc­ing sys­tem like webex) or even at a live sem­i­nar in your show­room. Or even bet­ter, part­ner with Mar­ket Cen­ters (like the Dal­las Mar­ket Cen­ter) to co-spon­sor the speak­er in their sem­i­nar rooms. At OneCoast, we part­nered with the var­i­ous Mar­ket Cen­ters to spon­sor dozens of retail­er sem­i­nars. And our buy­ers always told us they loved them; we even had sem­i­nar “groupies” attend them reli­gious­ly at each mar­ket.

In sum­ma­ry, start small with these val­ue-added pro­grams by offer­ing one top­ic. Part­ner with experts who can eas­i­ly help you pro­vide these valu­able  insights. Expand the pro­gram as you get your retail­ers engaged.

Aim to become more than sim­ply a provider of prod­ucts; shoot to be a val­ued, trust­ed part­ner to your cus­tomers who can­not imag­ine being in busi­ness with­out you.

4. Tell your story with an engaging video

You have a sto­ry to tell about your brand.

And each prod­uct release also has a sto­ry which needs to be told.

Sure, pho­tos in cat­a­logs can be effec­tive ways to dis­play the visu­al dimen­sion of the prod­ucts. But video can con­vey a whole lot more, espe­cial­ly when you include an appeal­ing audio track.

It used to be that cre­at­ing videos took a lot of time and expense. In the past I have spent hours in video edit­ing suites with high­ly trained edi­tors to cre­ate top-notch videos. And the costs were high, typ­i­cal­ly over $5,000 per video.

Now, afford­able soft­ware pro­grams allow a novice user to eas­i­ly put togeth­er fun, com­pelling videos to share with cus­tomers and prospects. Here are a cou­ple exam­ples:

Telling your company story

Beat­riz Ball lifestyle video

Beat­riz Ball, CEO of the met­al table­ware com­pa­ny which bears her name,  is a fan of the video for­mat and has exper­i­ment­ed wide­ly with dif­fer­ent videos to tell her com­pa­ny sto­ry.

She cre­at­ed this ter­rif­ic lifestyle video “We Make It Easy to Live Beau­ti­ful­ly”  about her prod­ucts and their ben­e­fits for a mod­est bud­get:

  • Beat­riz and col­league David Rive wrote the script them­selves
  • She worked with a friend who had dig­i­tal video cam­era and they shot and edit­ed it them­selves (cost: $300)
  • She asked friends and fam­i­ly to be extras (she gave away a hand­ful of table­ware to “extras”)

I think this short video tells the sto­ry of her col­lec­tion very well.

To see all of Beatriz’s videos, click here.

Fun videos featuring your products

If you want to show­case your prod­ucts and already have strong images from your cat­a­log, you might want to con­sid­er using soft­ware from a com­pa­ny like Ani­mo­to.

Ani­mo­to lever­ages your pho­tos to cre­ate great look­ing videos with pre-cre­at­ed tem­plates as well as audio tracks. And it only costs a cou­ple hun­dred dol­lars per year.

Here is a video we quick­ly pro­duced at SnapRe­tail about the new Spring 2012 prod­ucts.

SnapRe­tail Look Book video









Putting this video togeth­er was fast (few hours) and cost lit­tle. And it went a long way to telling the sto­ry of the new prod­ucts.

Once you have the video, how should you distribute them?

Dig­i­tal media like videos are easy and fast to cir­cu­late. You should post the video on your web­site as well as dis­trib­ute though your social media sites (Face­book, Twit­ter, Pin­ter­est, etc). I rec­om­mend you for­ward the video in an email to your email list as well.

And don’t for­get to fea­ture them on a screen in your show­room.

Qual­i­ty videos have come a long way from the large cam­eras and edit­ing suites.  Be sure to use fun videos to tell your sto­ry.

Want to read more about video mar­ket­ing?  Check out this arti­cle. Or pose a ques­tion in the com­ments sec­tion below.

Look­ing for Focus Areas #1 and #2? Click here. 


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