In yesterday’s post, I raised the question about whether or not we should be training the sales force to focus on developing their local market through social media. After all, if we use it to find new contacts right within our own backyard, we then have the advantage of booking in-person parties or scheduling face-to-face appointments, which is the current lifeblood of a direct selling business. Whether we figure out how to successfully conduct group sales events or not, it’s still important for direct sellers to know how to develop a local market through social media tools.
I’d like to offer you a case study today, of how a local ice cream shop is using social media to generate business.
In my town, there is a wonderful little ice cream store called What’s the Scoop. While its coveted location on Main Street certainly helps with business, as do their many creative and delicious flavors, it’s still important to keep the shop fresh in everyone’s minds. So What’s the Scoop continues to develop its local business using social media (and they don’t even have a website!) Here are some of the things this store has done:
- A Facebook Group: What’s the Scoop has a presence on Facebook. They have invited people to join their group in a few ways. (The group is here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=116903148120&ref=ts)
- They asked local influential people such as councilmen and church elders to help them invite people to join the group.
- They’ve found local websites dedicated to town news and discussion, and invited people there to join the group.
- Local Events for Good: The store hosts blood drives periodically, and messages all group members about these events. You get a free ice cream cone and pizza slice when you donate blood, and the store gets contact the 100 or so people in its group without blasting them with advertising.
- Fun Events: The store also hosts events such as open-mike night for local musicians, and those musicians also publicize the venue through social media, inviting their fans to come.
- Local Directories: They are listed in local directories online that allow customers to post reviews. Because they are a great store with a great product, they’ve got some glowing reviews. See: http://www.yelp.com/biz/whats-the-scoop-metuchen
- Coupons: They make online coupons available through local directories that can encourage people to do business with them. See: http://www.inourtown.com/listing_town.php?city_select=Metuchen
So what does What’s the Scoop have to do with your direct sales business? Lots, because you can do a lot with local social media too. It goes back to your initial strategic plan. If your goal is to develop a thriving local business, then it makes sense to select online tools that will enable you to connect and build relationships with people in your local community.
Here are some tips to get started with a local business online marketing plan:
- Identify the places that influential people in your area spend a lot of time online. This may be Facebook, but there may also be local sites. In my town, that’s the Metuchen Matters website: http://www.metuchenmatters.com See if your area has something similar.
- Participate in online local communities, so people get to know you, and appreciate the input that you provide. Remember, as a business person, your goal is to provide value always.
- Join your local Chamber of Commerce, and get listed on their website, so people online who are looking to do business in your area are aware of your business.
- Find out if there is a local social media group in your area, and join it. These are people in your area who are interested in using social media to build a business. They may have plenty of advice about local resources that are available to you.
- Provide coupons on business review sites. People like to save money, and if they’re looking for local coupons, what a great way to introduce your business! And if others have given you great reviews on those sites, that’s a great way to generate more interest in your business, and all you have to offer. Why not provide the link to your customers, and ask for a review? If they know they’ll get a coupon, they may check it out.
- Host local events, perhaps in concert with another local business. What’s the Scoop offers blood drives that it publicizes through its social networking presence. If you teamed up with a local business in your location that could provide the venue, you could offer a product sample or other incentive to those that choose to participate. Offer more incentives that choose to host a party or set up an appointment with you that day. It’s a way to generate new business for both you, as well as the local business you team with.
- A Facebook Page or Group. Invite local influencers to join your Group or Page, and then make it interactive and compelling. Offer discounts or specials just for your Facebook connections, and host special events just for them.
- Offer an educational workshop at your local library. Libraries are always looking for educational programs for the local community. If you’ve already been employing a content marketing strategy through your social networking and blogging, why not create that same strategy live and in person? Maybe you’ll highlight the importance of reading, share skin care ideas, describe essential steps to live your healthiest life, etc. By creating a compelling educational program, you can bring value to your community, and establish yourself as an expert that people will come to for product advice.
These are just a few ideas. I’m sure that you’ve already started doing some of these things, and may have even more ideas. I hope you’ll share your thoughts on building a local business through social media in the comments below!