In the previous two blog posts in this series, we talked about creating a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), and developing consistency in your brand. In this article, we’ll be exploring the deployment of your brand to stay top-of-mind with your customers.
As part of the Tru Vue® Retail Makeover at Fourth Corner Frames, top industry consultants Meg Glasgow and Ken Baur provided a marketing plan for winner Sheri Wright that leveraged marketing best practices. Here’s what we learned about marketing to the most important market segment in any business — current customers.
Keep your website fresh and updated
“Your website is your audition for your audience — people who want to have something custom framed,” says Meg. “It’s one of the most important components of your marketing program, so it needs to reflect your brand in its visuals, copy and content — but also serve as a source of information and inspiration.”
Your website is a virtual extension of your store, and you want to offer visitors a fresh, new experience when they visit, and a reason to keep coming back on a frequent basis. A dynamic, ever-changing and contemporary website says a lot about your business. Unfortunately, so does a stale and stagnant one.
It’s important to point out that any changes you make need to take place within the framework of your established branding — MOMA may regularly host new and varied art exhibitions, but its branding as a repository for the finest in contemporary art remains steadfast.
Best practices suggest a written schedule for updating your website on a regular basis. These updates ensure your web content stays fresh along with the additional benefit of helping with SEO (search engine optimization), as search engines tend to reward sites that include new information.
Tru Vue Framing Competition winner Kosal Eang of Framed by Kosal in Monroe, CT, has a website that exemplifies website content management. Already known for his innovative design work, Kosal’s home page reinforces his brand — original, classic, award-winning and progressive — while updating the site with images of new projects that support those attributes.
Another best practice employed by the makeover team at Fourth Corner Frames was selecting a website platform that can be administered quickly, easily and intuitively. As a result, Sheri can add new content to the site — and update an online gallery that showcases not only Sheri’s work but also her customers and their framing stories.
Stay active on social media
Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, are a great fit for small business marketing, in general, because they’re economical, relatively easy to implement and help turn satisfied customers into salespeople for your business. And because social media sites are highly visual, they are a great fit for custom frame shops in particular.
The key to social media is customer involvement, so be sure to ask — or incent — your client to share, retweet or pin your posts.
“No matter the platform, social media posts with a picture tend to outperform those without,” says David Lantrip, custom framing industry expert and social media pro. “Make it a habit to photograph every completed project before it’s picked up — and with the customer when it’s being picked up. With permission, take before and after photos to demonstrate how you can transform pieces into art.”
Like your website, best practices include scheduling what you’re going to post, in advance, to keep your conversation with customers going. Remember that posts shouldn’t be just about products and promotions in your shop, but also about topics relevant to your local community, the arts community or of interest to the general public.
For example, Mira Bishop of Oliver Brothers Custom Framing in Beverly, MA, a past Tru Vue Framing Competition winner, took the opportunity to share her experiences touring the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From this visit, she generated content for an article that she posted on her website, an e-newsletter and social media accounts, getting quite a bit of marketing mileage in a way that connected with customers.
Enable customers to tell their stories
There is no better marketing tactic than word-of-mouth, and Fourth Corner Frames had a significant number of clients who had become very loyal over the years.
“Based on our analysis of her business, I had the impression that if I were a Fourth Corner Frames customer, I would know that Sheri would want me to be happy,” says Ken. “We needed to tap into this customer satisfaction and give them a way to talk about their experiences with Fourth Corner Frames.”
Many businesses accomplish this by setting up pages on popular review sites like Yelp and posting customer testimonials on their websites. Testimonials are even more compelling when you can capture a customer’s enthusiasm about their specific pieces, not just their satisfaction.
For example, on the Fourth Corner Frames website the makeover team created a section with photos of customers holding their pieces along with a brief explanation of what makes it special to them. Among the projects featured are an heirloom photograph, mementos from travels, and a spatula that reminded one customer of his uncle. Not only does this demonstrate Sheri’s commitment to her customers but it also gives ideas to website visitors for things they could bring in to have framed.
Such stories are ideal to share through social media and digital marketing. With permission, posting the stories behind customers’ projects has a natural “sharing” effect when those customers repost to their network of family members and friends, or forward an e-newsletter that features them.
Always include a call to action
“The call to action is something a lot of businesses miss,” says Meg. “Yet it is a simple way to enhance your marketing by telling people you want their business.”
You can add a call to action to just about any of your marketing materials — website, e-newsletters, social media posts, signage, even business cards. Here are three examples:
1. On Your Website: Include a Visit our online gallery link on your homepage directing viewers to examples of your best work.
2. Outside Your Shop: Rotate different messages on your sandwich board sign reflecting the seasons (Find The Perfect Graduation Gift Inside), today’s trends (See What’s New To Beautify Your Walls) or what’s happening in your shop (Check Out Our June Featured Project — Shadowboxes).
3. On Social Media: Create quick and simple social media posts — Making memories this summer? Preserve them with us. Or, Stop in for wine and refreshments at this weekend’s Gallery Walk.
Perhaps the greatest challenge in branding is finding a way to take advantage of the many opportunities to put your brand to work. If you have the resources, you could hire outside help to implement a marketing plan. Or you can do it yourself by:
- Paying attention to how other successful local and national businesses are doing, looking at what your competition is doing and research marketing textbooks and magazines.
- Prioritizing what initiatives you want to undertake.
- Determining which strategies and tactics you can borrow or adapt.
- Creating a formal plan and calendar for implementing your marketing plan.
- And following through — because the most important determinant of success in any marketing plan is carrying it out.
Stay tuned for our fourth blog post in this series; we will focus on extending your brand beyond your shop to build awareness of your business in the community, generate additional demand for your services — and even capture your competitors’ customers.
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This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.