Marketing Matters: Retailers Respond To The Call For A New Independent

By William Matthies On Mar 23 2010 - 9:58am




Back in January, this column talked about what it will take for independent home and car A/V retailers to not only survive but to also experience a business renaissance.

This included an invitation for those interested to contact me for a free “change” template of what I believe is needed to make this transition. (Email me at the address below and I’ll send it to you.) The response far exceeded my expectations, and I thoroughly enjoyed my conversations with so many of you.

While I had my own ideas, I also learned from many of you, enough so to think it would be a good idea to take up this topic again, this time describing some of your success tactics. While it is easy to get depressed given all the bad news, there are success stories.

At the top of the list are social networks to promote your businesses. These include MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and even to a degree professional social-media sites such as Plaxo and LinkedIn, depending on who your target customer is. But let’s be clear — if you think simply opening a Facebook or Twitter account is sufficient, don’t bother. Like a hammer or a saw, social-media sites are good tools if you use them; if you don’t they’re worthless.

One of the best examples of what to do comes from Mitchell Schaffer, president/ founder of Mobile Edge in Lehighton Pa. Mitch founded his company more than 15 years ago and in his own words, “I’ve seen great times and not so great.” But had he not changed the way he did business — as many of you likely still do — he wouldn’t be around today, he said.

Mitch works hard using Twitter and Facebook, each in support of the other, and often coupled to more traditional promotions. Recently he and Enormis Mobile Specialties, a dealer located clear across the state in Erie, Pa., engaged in head-tohead competition to see who could get the greatest number of Facebook “fans” following their stores. Mitch said the effort “created a lot of excitement and goodwill at both shops. The winner would offer their fans a special one-day, 50 percent off sale. Enormis ended up winning the contest, but we both added way more than 500 fans. Success! ”

Added Enormis owner/founder Lou Norman, “I used to fight the Internet but no more. Join it and use it to your advantage.”

The more time I spent on their Web sites the more apparent it became that their approach to the Internet is way more than what they sell — from their blogs and discussion boards to the liberal use of embedded video and their joint promotion. Not your father’s car stereo display board, is it?

Maybe you think social media is not for you because your business is too traditional, too low tech? Don’t tell that to Kogi BBQ, whose food trucks are located in Southern Cal. These days Kogi is close to being as famous for its use of Twitter to generate standing-in-line demand for its mobile food as it is for the chow itself. Think about it: Standing-in-line demand for truck food with more than 56,000 Twitter followers! If Kogi can use social media to sell barbeque, don’t you think it will help sell sophisticated home and car electronics?

William Matthies is the CEO of Coyote Insight (www.coyoteinsight.com) and can be reached at wmatthies@coyoteinsight.com or at (714) 726-2901. Visit the Coyote Insight blog at http://coyoteinsight.blogspot.com and Business Wisdom at http://businesswisdom101.blogspot.com.

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