This Friday June 3, 2012 at 12:30pm EST Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor® will be hosting an online tweetup using the hashtag #retail?.
The easiest way to participate will be to Continue reading Tweetup with Bob Phibbs the Retail Doctor »
An article in today’s WSJ by Geoffrey Fowler And Jeffrey Trachtenberg titled, Amazon Error Removes Gay, Health Books from Search details how Amazon mysteriously removed more than 57,000 books from its sales rankings and main search page including adult, health, and mind & body books.
The Seattle company was then hit by criticism from the authors of those affected books, mainly those focusing on gay themes. You might say, “So what, that Internet site doesn’t affect me.”
What interests me and should interest you, isn’t what dropped off the search or what Amazon’s problems on an Easter weekend were, it is how all of this was found out. Through Blogs and Twitter.
Authors and bloggers were tagging their posts with the keyword “amazonfail” as they discussed the incident. Much of the outcry started after a publisher, Mark R. Probst, blogged about a message he received from an Amazon representative after noticing that rankings disappeared from “Transgressions” and “False Colors,” two new gay romance books.
I’ve written a lot about the happy side of social media, how attracting people is harder than being where they are, how instant communication leads to productive relationships and how fans are able to follow you.
The lesson from this episode is how quickly the word can spread about something you do wrong to a customer. It’s not limited to sites like www.yelp.com or www.TripAdvisor.com. Another good blog can be found about amazonfail at Jackie Huba’s site
Thirty years ago when I was selling Nunn Bush shoes at their store at 7th and Grand in downtown Los Angeles, I had a customer open the door, take off his shoes and throw them at my head – about 30 feet. He told me the “damn soles wore out in a week and if you don’t replace them right now, I’m going to complain to the Better Business Bureau.” The older gentleman I worked with collected the shoes with the holes in the soles, threw them back at the guy almost striking his head and told him to “stay the heck away or I’ll call the cops.” We never heard a word or saw the guy again.
Nowadays that same guy could have entered his information into his Blackberry or iPhone with “#Nunn Bush shoes” to a Twitter post or “Nunn Bush shoes” as tags in a blog post or even started www.ihatenunnbushshoes.com.
My point isn’t that he could have been right or wrong. (Though as a side note I will tell you leather soles wear three times faster when they’re wet so don’t, as that guy did, wear thin Italian loafers during the rainy season walking on concrete.) It is the tools he and any disgruntled customer now have to influence customer opinions about your business and how quickly it can snowball.
Ignore the Internet at your own risk.
I realized after my last rant about what I hate about Twitter, many of you might be going, “What the heck is that?” Here goes…
A new marketing tool is getting a lot of coverage and I think all small business owners should be on it. It’s called Twitter.
Now if you’ve heard of it but have brushed it off as pointless, stay with me. Those of you who don’t know what it is, Twitter is a social networking Web site that allows users to send and receive 140 character updates to and from their friends. These updates are called “tweets.” It was designed to be read on a cell phone, though many people read it on their PCs, too.
was originally created to let friends know what you are up to (you can watch their introductory video here.) But it’s changed from that first launch. It isn’t about chatting with your friends — it’s about promoting yourself. And that’s why you need to be on it.
Twitter is growing exponentially, we aren’t sure exactly where it is headed but one thing is clear, businesses that are on it are meeting with success. Dell sold $1 million worth of computers on Twitter alone last year! Major bricks and mortar businesses like Lumber Liquidators are tweeting. Heck, I even got a speech inquiry based on my Twitter tweets last month!
How do you use it?
First thing, sign up for an account. It’s free – http://twitter.com/account/create
Your next stop should be to the twitter help guide – http://help.twitter.com/portal.
This is where you get all your basic how to questions answered. Read it, it will save you some time and anguish. After you’re done, go here and download your FREE twitterhandbook.
Once you create an account you will be given a home page and a profile page –my profile page can be found here: http://twitter.com/theretaildoctor. From these pages you can find other twitter streams to follow, post your own messages and even watch the entire public stream of comments flow by.
You can search for people you already know to follow. You can type in categories, specific words or phrases and Twitter will show you the people/tweets that include those words.
Click on the individuals profile to read their past few tweets. If they look interesting, follow them. It may feel easier to just watch and see what people are talking about before you try it yourself but don’t wait too long – maybe a few days at most.
Not sure what to post? Just post something about what you are doing, “New to Twitter, hoping to learn its secrets before lunch today.” It doesn’t matter, just do it. Don’t worry, you can’t do anything wrong.
So the big question you may ask at this point is why would I need to use this? Here are a few reasons:
· Do you want to connect and network with others in your industry either locally or across the nation? This might do you some good but it might take awhile to build your network.
· Do you have expertise you can offer to your customers in a timely way? Look at BazaarHDC in WI posts.
· Are you looking for what’s going on in the world from people who share your interests? Twitter is good at that since many people publish links, content and other resources in their tweets.
· Promoting your business to new people is not a good use of Twitter. In fact, DON’T make all of your posts “ $50 off this weekend only” or followers will drop you like a rock.
· Got a blog that needs publicity? Twitter can be a good way to do it. Just give the headline and link.
· Are you a retailer looking for new ways to connect with your customers? Get them on Twitter and they can follow you. Make sure you post both relevant things like new products and links to your online newsletter. At left is Village Toys in MA. They post new products and other things going on at their toy store that draws people to them. That is the future of advertising.
Today, the Wall Street Journal had a story about Twitter user Garyvee who landed a 10-book deal based on his tweets and having 145,000 followers. Obviously, this Twitter thing is not going away and none of us are sure what opportunities might arise from it.
If you want to know what NOT to do, visit my post from last week.
Again, it isn’t the begin-all and end-all, but you’re going to hear more and more about how to use it and the results Twitter can offer you. Don’t make the assumption it is only kids on the big cities using it, people around you are tweeting right now.
If you don’t have a business to promote using Twitter, you should definitely be on FaceBook. Read my post about Facebook here.
With all the buzz, shouldn’t you find out what Twitter is all about? ©2009 Bob Phibbs
Best-selling author and speaker Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor has helped thousands of independent businesses compete by using his sales approach and not discounting. His Book, You Can Compete: Double Sales Without Discounting is the backbone of several companies training programs and teaches his methods for making over a business.Visit his blog at www.bobphibbs.wordpress.com and download more free tips at his website.
Publicity, you can never have enough that’s why I had Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound on a teleseminar recently. One of her points was that you always have to be looking for opportunity. She told the story of a Wisconsin Five and Dime store owner who, while reading the Milwaukee Sentinel saw a quote, “The dime store is dead.” The right thinking owner took a black magic marker to a sheet of paper and sent a fax to the reporter, “We’re Not Dead.” The reporter drove up to the store with a photographer to interview the owner and got a front page article. That is great publicity.
What’s bad publicity? Thinking a sorrowful story will bring in customers. It won’t. However, the media will eat it up. A & E’s We Mean Business did a makeover with a woman who had maxed out her home equity to support the business and ultimately lost it. That makes great TV but what does it say to your customers? We aren’t going to be around long.
Another story I watched on MSNBC showed a business owner saying she didn’t have the capital to fill orders for her products. She had pages and pages of orders she was holding. She should have gotten 50% down so she could create the products but she stubbornly showed her predicament. What message was she sending to her customers – the ones who were waiting for orders? Not getting anything soon. And what message was she sending to perspective customers? We’re a risk.
The media is getting tired of telling more gloom & doom stories. They are hungry for your positive story now. They know their readers or viewers want to hear about winners, how you can succeed, what innovation you’ve done, how you’ve used something like Twitter to build your customers’ loyalty. They only cover what people make them aware of. You can change that.
Do the work for a reporter, what is the angle you can offer? What is something everyone struggles with regarding your product? Instead of thinking about an event or a publicity stunt you’re having, what is the story only you can tell to that reporter? For example, how will the Economic Stimulus plan effect you? Are you upgrading your POS system to capitalize on the accelerated depreciation? Then tell them why – what will it do for your customers. That’s the right type of publicity.
Or how about today’s WSJ story by Geoffrey Fowler, Socks Don’t Match? How About A Subscription? where an entrepreneur came up with an online solution Blacksocks.com to men’s socks being eaten in the dryer? Genius publicity!
You never know where being proactive to draw attention to your business will lead – but you do have to decide whether you want to appear wounded or victorious. It’s the difference between people watching You’ve Got Mail where Meg Ryan loses the store or rooting on Mel Gibson in Braveheart. If I were you, I’d pick the later.