Gina Lempa follows her customers closely through their Facebook pages and email marketing. As principle of Gina Lempa & Associates, Lempa is a representative for Melrose International, Vickerman Co. and Tripar International. Staying on top of what her customers are doing is an important part of her work.
“This past year, especially, I have seen many retailers step up their marketing game with Facebook Lives which really created opportunity to create community with their customers,” Lempa says.
According to an article published in Social Media Today, Toronto-based web design company Branex includes visual storytelling as one its five tips to increase brand awareness and grow business using social media. Companies can increase brand loyalty by telling intriguing stories that align with the personal and social identity of your target audience, according to the accompanying infographic. “People stay loyal to brands who share the same values as they do,” the company says. Of note, 75% of website visitors visit a company website after watching a branded video and 80% of people remember things they see or experience.
How can independent retailers and wholesalers take advantage of storytelling and using social and digital media to make these much-needed connections with followers?
Lempa admits she’s always appreciated businesses that coordinate their message and promotions using email marketing and Facebook. “I believe maintaining a regular, consistent email marketing schedule is important as is sharing engaging Facebook content,” Lempa says. “An email program allows retailers to share more thoroughly their message, promotions and upcoming events. Giving the shop owners a platform to solidify their message and brand on an ongoing basis.”
Melrose International uses Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and even has its own Melrose Radio playlist on Spotify to connect with retailers and customers. Its home page includes an embedded YouTube video of a short story that relates back to its products. The company has nearly three million subscribers to its YouTube channel.
Lempa has noticed many retailers pivoted their marketing approaches due to COVID-19 and some have truly embraced a different way to doing business.
“Some retailers have become Facebook Live hosts and entertained customers with weekly or scheduled Facebook Live events,” she says. “Customers tune in and set aside time to join in on the fun. They get comfy, sit back and enjoy their favorite beverage and interact in real-time with the Facebook Live host. This platform allows the customers to ask questions through live chats, buy featured items and interact online with the host and staff as well as other friends that join in at the same time.”
Facebook Live and using video has allowed store owners to become more available and real to their customers, according to Lempa. It allows them to introduce themselves further, bringing in additional family members, children and employees. They often share their passions about life, food and love of refreshing cocktails. “Some sold more product by sharing their love for pets or travel,” she notes.
“Opening up” online and welcoming people into your social media space has created feelings of being connected and engaged, causing customers to become more involved and invested in the business, Lempa adds.
We connect with stories. Even if we return to some normalcy post-COVID, it’s clear many of us have enjoyed learning more about the companies with which we do business via social media.
“I imagine if business owners have a chance to compare notes with other business owners that are using and building their social media presence or take the opportunity to participate in educational courses offered through various companies or publications, they will come to realize they have missed sales and lost momentum over the last year in not embracing social media more fully,” says Lempa.
For those who are unsure what to post or how, take some time to review what other similar companies are doing. No need to mimic them, but you’ll start to see a pattern of what appeals to followers. Platforms including Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, make it very easy (as in a click of a button) to add stories or go live.