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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