Time to flex your digital muscle

Home Columns Time to flex your digital muscle

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

With so many brick-and-mortar retail stores temporarily closed due to COVID-19, retailers are exploring different ways to stay top of mind with consumers when this pandemic subsides and shoppers feel more comfortable about venturing out again and spending money. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to employ proven digital marketing practices.

Following are a few tried-and-true tips:

Tip #1. Identify the objectives   

Whether your prospects and customers are engaging with you online or offline, they are driven by the same emotional triggers: fear, happiness, curiosity, the pursuit of pleasure, the avoidance of pain, etc. Therefore, all of the principles I teach in my columns apply to the digital world, including:

  • Create benefit-driven copy
  • Develop systems to generate referrals
  • Provide differentiation
  • Position yourself as a trusted advisor
  • Practice lead-capture strategies
  • Educate consumers
  • Create a zero-resistance selling environment
  • Build trust
  • Ask for online reviews, testimonials, before and after photos
  • Create a personal connection with prospects
  • Nuture your herd of past customers

The primary goal of all this is to answer the unspoken question on every prospect’s mind: Why should I do business with you instead of your competitors? This should be your guiding principle in all your sales and marketing efforts. Websites, SEO, Google Ads, social medi, and mobile technology are simply a set of tools mechanism for delivering proven, effective messages. The delivery technique is different than, say, running a display ad or direct-mail campaign; however, the principles remain the same. This is good news because once you’ve learned the principles of effective sales and marketing, you know the most important part about online marketing.

Tip #2. Rely on others’ expertise

There are plenty of website builders and other tech experts who can handle the tech side for you. You knowing how to build a website, or set up SEO, or run a Facebook ad is far less important than you knowing effective sales and marketing principles.

Be warned: tech experts aren’t necessarily marketing experts. Just because someone knows how to build a website, or run a Google Ad, or do SEO, doesn’t mean they know how to create differentiation, position your team as trusted advisors, or answer the unspoken question. It’s your job to know those things—or you can hire a coach or consultant who knows how to do these things.  You can then direct the tech expert on the proper messaging.

It’s the same as if you hired a graphic designer to create a display ad. You may not know how to use graphic design software, but that doesn’t matter. By using effective direct response marketing principles—or hiring someone who knows them—you can provide the messaging for an effective ad. It’s up to the graphic designer to deliver the final product and bring your vision for your ad to life.

Tip #3. Execute a marketing plan

There are hundreds of ways to promote your business both offline and online—some highly effective, some a complete waste of time and money and everywhere in between.  There is simply no way most dealers can (or should) do all of it, so you must prioritize.

A bad way to prioritize is to buy whatever the latest advertising rep to visit or phone your business is selling. Another bad way to prioritize is to copy what everyone else in the industry is doing. Having worked with hundreds of dealers, I can tell you that most are getting either mediocre or poor results with a lot of their advertising, digital or otherwise. The biggest reason for this, in my opinion, is because they don’t understand good sales and marketing principles, or aren’t working with someone who does.

As I’ve stated in numerous columns, if you aren’t marketing to your past customers, you should make that a priority.  You should also track where all your closed sales are coming from. (Also track walk-ins if you’re able.) Ask every customer what prompted them to buy, and then track their answers.  Over time you’ll get a clear picture of what’s working and what’s not, then you can invest accordingly.

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