Is Your Biz a Lust or Must? Use Social Media to Convince Customers They Need What They Want or Want What They Need

Windshields.  Cupcakes. 

In the gravel-spattered roadway of life, windshield fix-it shops exist
to meet the needs of drivers.  A cracked windshield could pose a
danger; it’s imperative it be repaired.  Thus, this service is pretty
much a “must.” 

On the contrary, cupcake bakeries offer optional fare.  There’s really
no “must” about a$3, 3-bite confection; this delectable is truly a
“lust.” 

“Must” businesses often focus on advertising’s frequency more so than
its creativity, knowing their messages must align with the steady
stream of potential customers’ needs.  When that cracked windshield
happens, customers will zone in on the most prominent, present
advertiser and call the shop that’s top of mind. 

Promoting a “lust” business—goods or services that are truly optional
in the course of life—is a different endeavor.  Generally, these
businesses have to be creative in order to get attention and very
convincing to motivate consumers to make the next move.  The art is to
turn a “lust” into a “must,” and this can be challenging, especially in
a beleaguered economy in which consumers are trying to stifle their
desires for trifles. 

How can a “must” business such as windshield repair earn and hold
position as the first-dial when customers have a need?  How can a
cupcake purveyor elicit the budget-conscious to part with three
hard-earned dollars for such a fleeting pleasure? 

Here are some ideas.

- Meet your potential customers where they are.

In person or online, find ways to be meet and greet the people who may
love your product or service.  For example, consider my present
fascination with cupcakes. 

I recently attended a networking event at which gourmet cupcakes were
served.  Though I’d normally ration my cupcake intake, these delights
had me revisiting the dessert table two...okay...three
times.  Let’s just say I had my cupcake and ate yours, too!  And frugal
as I try to be these days, I gotta admit I’d plunk down $3 for such
yumminess.  This is a new “lust” I’ve personally decreed a “must.”   

However, I’ve since searched for the cupcakery online, to little
avail.  They don’t use Twitter or Facebook, and their website is a
one-page digital business card.  They’re highly praised on Yelp! and
other review sites.  But if I could follow these bake masters on
Twitter, I’d easily be lured by daily updates about fresh flavors.  If
they had a Facebook fan page, I’d sign up without hesitation and rally
pals to join as well.  This business “met me” at the event, but how can
I ever really get to know them now?

Offer incentives to motivate response.

Even if you succeed in being where your customers are, you’ll likely
need to do something to be heard over a cacophony of competitive
marketing messages.  You have to stand out from the pack,
differentiating your company by motivating consumers to take action. 
Value savings, buyer advantages, special status, premium service—no
matter what you offer, you need to show customers there’s something in
it for them.

Have you ever gotten something that looked like a coupon, yet it had no
discount or saving offer?  I get those duds every now and then in the
stack of auto-generated coupons that are printed at the the end of my
grocery store check-out or even in those Valupaks that are mailed to
the house.  Why would a business invest to be included in the Valupak
or in the store coupon program and not give potential customers a
nudge? No matter how great your biz may be, customers will ere on the
side of “discount” or “incentive” if given the choice.

The aforementioned cupcakery contributed a buy-one-get-one-free coupon
in the swag bag for the event I attended.  That was a smart move, as
that offer provided the extra nudge I’d need to go from ‘event groupie’
to ‘paying customer.’

Be consistent to stay ‘top of mind’ and ‘front of the line.’
Frequency and positioning matter in this message-a-minute world. 
That’s why advertisers run repetitive campaigns with brain-burning
jingles, celebrities show up for flashing cameras at every premiere and
charity event and media moguls chime in on all the issues or tweet
their most fleeting opinions 20 times a day.  Businesses or
personalities that want to have last word often ceaselessly strive to
stay top of mind and hold position at the front of the line.

For small business owners, being consistent doesn’t have to also mean
being outlandish, brash or intrusive.  It’s simply a matter of being
present on a regular basis.  Customers who are busy with work, family
and life in general are constantly rattled and riddled with marketing
messages.  Any business or service provider that becomes a voice of
consistency can earn and hold top position in customers’ minds and
benefit from being first in line when those customers need what the
business has to offer.

That’s the beauty of social media.  Customers elect to participate in
social media, and they exercise their right to select connections
within those networks, sites and forums.  A business has an open door
to create ongoing relationships, illicit interaction and become part of
their customers’ daily lives.  The key is to be the steadfast voice in
a sea of hit-or-miss messages.  That’ll help make a “lust” product a
“must” purchase.

Again, if that newly beloved cupcakery were to join in the
conversations on Twitter or Facebook, I’d definitely welcome them into
my circles.  However, if I don’t hear from them soon, there will be
another flavor to steal my attention.  I’ll get busy and diverted, and
I’ll inevitably file the fact that I loved those cupcakes deep in my
overloaded brain.  It’s in their court to remind me how wonderful they
are.

 

Whether
promoting something people want or need, social media, mixed with a
strategic blend of traditional advertising and marketing methods, can
be the icing on the (cup)cake for small businesses. 

More bite-size ideas coming soon...
Thanks!

http://www.smallbizbigtime.com

Follow BlogHer on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/BlogHer-28615

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.