According to Jason Falls, VP of Digital Strategy at CafePress, social media has completely changed the way people sell. In fact, if you aren’t using social channels to promote rich content, all throughout the year, you aren’t putting your best foot forward – no matter what business you’re in.
“If you’re calling me the week before the event, you’re already behind,” he says. “If I walk through the door and know who you are and look for you, then I probably want to buy.”
In his presentation during the social summit at eTail East on Monday, Falls talked about the ways that we, as both retailers and solution providers, can start to emulate the brands that our customers love, and use social channels to engage. If done successfully, this will put all of us way ahead in the increasingly competitive online retail landscape.
Engagement can be a tricky term. It’s thrown around quite freely with little regard for what it really means and how it’s done. Falls wants to truly engage his customers, and he wants people who are selling to him, to do the same.
“If I was a vendor at this event and wanted you to look at my software,” Falls said, “I would do a really good job for six to nine months before, putting out fantastic content, so that when I walk in the door at eTail East, everybody wants to talk to me already.”
But that content has to be educational.
“If all the content that you’re churning out is sales material over and over again, you’re not going to be the person that customers are seeking out at eTail,” Falls said. “You have to give them something to chew on when they’re not in the buying mode.”
All of this is of course easier said than done. So Falls mapped out four things brands that we all gravitate toward are doing to get our attention and keep our loyalty:
1. They have fantastic products
2. They have great service
3. They treat us with respect
4. They make us feel a part of something bigger – like we belong (not easy to do)
One great fact Falls pointed out that many of these brands we gravitate toward (Apple, for example) share, is that they are often OK with not owning the market, or at least don’t make that their number one priority. He pointed out that ecommerce companies spend, on average, 90% of their budgets on customer acquisition, even though 60% of their business comes from repeat customers. What’s wrong with this picture? Perhaps you can tell us…
“It’s OK to only own 30% of market share and be OK with that,” Falls said. “We need to stop this mentality that we have to go up and gobble up everything. Community, like customers, has a ceiling. We need to be comfortable with that.”
To start your social and content journey, you must give customers tools to work better and communicate better, he says. The tools are the technical element in this equation, but there are also human aspects that must be attended to. Those human duties we must attend to are:
– Reopen communications
– Be accountable
– Share ownership
– Value people vs. customers
– Value opinions vs. actions
– Foster and coach better communications
In order to truly engage with a customer, you must treat them like a human – pure and simple. Falls refers to people he’s trying to attract to the business as “friends,” not as a target market, or a prospect. He does this because he knows he would not want to be referred to as such, so why would his customers?
“If you make me feel like I’m part of a pie chart,” he says, “I have no interest in you.”