02 Aug 2013
Friends, Followers and Favourites
Builders’ merchants are used to being seen as a bit behind the times. Many think that suits their builder customers who are also slow to change.
But builders’ merchants are falling behind their competitors in online digital marketing. More importantly, their builder customers are changing faster than they are.
Richard Robinson, Director Business Markets Google UK illustrated the scale and pace of this transformation at the BMF Conference. The proportion of consumers with smartphones will reach 75% by the end of 2013. Typically, they look at their mobiles 150 times a day. ‘High web’ companies that take the web seriously grow eight times faster than ‘low web’ companies with low or no web presence. There has been a 22% year on year growth in people searching for building materials and supplies online. He quoted more statistics, but you get the message.
Most of us have taken to smartphones and tablets to make our lives easier and better. And builders and tradespeople have taken to them with gusto. We use them at work and home to communicate with family, friends, colleagues, suppliers and customers. We search for information to complete crosswords, check sport results, the weather, travel routes, train and flight times, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
We compare prices, transfer money, track orders and buy online. With two or three clicks we find what we want. In one click we buy, delivered wherever we say. We watch news, live concerts and films. We take photos and videos and share them online, video chat with friends and colleagues, ask where to shop, network and socialise.
In the last five years the boundary between work and home has blurred. We do almost everything online because we can. I do it, most of you do it, and most of your customers do it. But, they can’t do it with you if you’re not in the game.
Done well, as both Lords of Notting Hill and EH Smith recently reported, social media is the ideal marketing and PR medium for building local business and forging closer relationships with customers. Much of what you see in Twitter falls short of that. Telling the world you’re standing outside Tesco, sharing what you had for breakfast or your views on Piers Morgan’s terse tweets on the match are not going to change your business. Nor will repeating dull product messages on Facebook do much to boost your sales.
Social media can be confusing. There are many social media tools you could use: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Pinterest, YouTube, blogs and many others, and it’s not always obvious which you should use for the trade or how they can work for you. How do you measure their effect and your return on the time and effort you invest in them?
Social media is just another marketing communications tool. Or rather it’s a group of interrelated tools that together can help grow your business. It’s different from other marketing media you’re used to. So it takes more learning. But the underlying marketing principles are the same. What are your objectives? What is your strategy? How will it work – and work with your offline marketing and PR – and how will you measure its effects so you know what it achieves?
The clock started the day before yesterday for the industry. It’s time to get into social media and make it work for your business.
Agree? Disagree? Want help with your marketing? Tweet @MRAMarketing or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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