I participate in a lot of online forums, mainly because it keeps me sharp, and I can challenge myself helping other people solve problems. Perhaps you’ve seen me post in the Facebook group sponsored by this publication called the Cleaner & Launderer Community (and if you are not a member of this free group, look us up, and join us!). Previously, I was a rather active member of the now defunct Fabricare online Forum, an email group of a couple thousand members. There are other online groups I belong to as well, or administer.
Recently, I commented on a post made to a shop local group I belong to. A business owner was looking for assistance marketing their business, and well, I responded along with a bunch of other folks. If you know me, or have read any of my other online comments, you likely know, I don’t pull punches, and I say what’s on my mind. Yeah, I run pretty much ‘no filter’, and this was no exception. The question posted was from a janitorial supply seeking advice as to how they could use social media to build their business, and, well, my advice to them has formed the basis for my article this month because many dry cleaners could use the same advice.
First off, social media for business is not for everybody.
That’s right. Just because it’s there, its free, and its readily accessible, it DOES NOT MEAN you should be using it. Using a tool you don’t know how to use is dangerous and can do a lot of harm. Setting up an account and starting to post whatever comes to mind, can cause irreparable harm. I’ve seen some drycleaners set up on a social media channel and start posting jokes, bad jokes, jokes that cross lines and offend. Others have logged in and started posting political statements, which alienated half their market. Heck, I’ve done it myself, simply stating an opinion.
Yes, almost right away after I made my statement that social media is not right for some businesses, a fellow member of the community sat at her keyboard typing out a long passionate response informing me that I was wrong, and because she had a university degree in marketing, she was going to set me straight. I thought to myself, BRING IT ON! And, she did.
In my post, I said the business should be focused on their customer, meeting their needs. The business should be focused on looking after the customers they currently have, maximizing the revenues and sales the business is earning from their customers. This marketing school graduate informed me that my suggestion is filled with outdated, tired old information, and in no way relevant to today’s world.
Really? Looking after your customers is an outdated practice?
This young lady went on to inform me that the solution to this business’ problems obviously could be fixed by creating more content and posting it on their Facebook page. And not just any content, oh no. She specialized in creating interesting and engaging content about septic tank friendly toilet paper to bring folks in the door.
I’m sorry, but I think septic tank friendly toilet paper shares the same challenge the dry cleaning industry does…how can one make such an intimate personal chore interesting and engaging? I mean, when was the last time you found yourself riveted in an interesting and engaging conversation about dirty clothes with ANYONE?
But, much to her credit, she soldiered on.
Her solution was to take full advantage of Facebook’s ability to spread word everywhere by sharing content created to feature the entire catalog of products the company sold. I honestly didn’t have the heart to tell here that Facebook’s organic reach is, at absolute most, 2 percent of your fanbase and followers. For those of you who don’t know, if you have one hundred fans or followers of your Facebook page, only two will see the content you post. You can count on EVEN LESS people seeing your posted content because Facebook has some very specific unwritten rules to REDUCE reach should you inadvertently break a content rule. So, even an absolute perfect post, is hardly ever seen.
Social media is supposed to be social. It’s not the place to be making post after post screaming BUY MY STUFF, BUY MY STUFF! Who really wants to read post after post that does nothing but SELL, SELL, SELL? Frankly, it’s as interesting and engaging as a Multi-Level Marketer trying to build his downline by recruiting at a cocktail party. Yep, I would bet such folks rarely get a repeat invitation.
Why would one NOT be contacting past and current customers to invite them to trade and purchase again? I would assume, if a business wanted to increase sales and profits, one would simply turn to the customers one already has, and simply invite them back to do business again? Or, is that an outdated archaic marketing technique too? I guess I can see why businesses are always looking for new customers if they cannot look after or keep the customers they already have.
Let’s not forget the time one invests in creating content to try and find or entice new customers into the shop. Current and past customers already know you; new customers are a lot of work to find, educate and then convince to even try you once. An existing customer, you simply need to work on finding their current needs, then fill the order, a LOT LESS work and effort.
Oh, but it’s so much easier and it’s FREE or almost free? Is it? Is it really? What about all the time you spend away from your business thinking about what you want to say, how you are going to say it, maybe even taking time out to involve a few staff to help you create a video. Well, maybe it’s not like your staff had any customers to be serving, or other work to do like following up on orders, filling orders, processing payments, running to the bank making deposits, inviting customers back to buy from you again.
Oh, it’s so much different now. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but, do landlords, staff, utility companies and suppliers now accept likes, post shares, exposure bucks and potential as forms of payment? I guess I’m just old fashioned because I’m still old school trading in cash, cheque, Visa, MasterCard (oh wait, I will accept Bitcoin and Etherium).
It’s different than it was back in the day when we only had Radio, Newspaper, TV and Postal Service direct mail to reach out to customers. Now we have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, texting, Telegram, WeChat, Messenger, WhatsApp, email, Snapchat, TikTok and…and…and…and…who knows what else is just around the corner to fragment our customers attention further. Really, communication and the principles of the ability to conduct salesmanship has not changed, only the medium conducting and carrying the message has. The fundamental principles of selling and doing business are still and always will be the same. As much as this Miss Marketing Degree likes to delude herself that ‘It’s different this time,’ it really isn’t. This old dog is well aware of the new tricks, but I’m still convinced that the tried and true methods of yesterday and yesteryear are still going to be valid for a long, long time yet.