Why are some local retailers afraid of social media? How can national brands help them discover the benefits and get them involved? Frank Chiera explored those questions and more in his presentation, called “The New Customer Journey: How Local Marketing Drives Sales,” at this year’s Aligned Conference. Frank, who is VP of Marketing and Advertising at Flooring America of CCA Global, shared lessons he has learned during his years in retail and brand management. Here are some important takeaways from Frank on encouraging retailers to discover the benefits of digital marketing and social media.
Today, we are going to talk about how social media marketing helps independent retailers. One of the things that I say every day is, “I have 500 bosses and I have to figure out a way to keep them all happy.” Those bosses are my retailers. Keeping them happy is a very difficult thing to do, but at CCA Global, we know that the independent retailer is the core and the DNA of what we do.
I want to talk about how we have gotten independent retailers to stay above the fray and have helped them make more noise in the marketplace than the big box brands. I also want to talk about what we have done to help independent retailers understand that they can make a big difference in their bottom line by getting involved with digital marketing.
If you don’t keep it simple for your retailers, digital marketing and social media are not going to work. If you make them push a lot of buttons to make it all happen, it’s not going to get done. So our strategy has been to try to automate where possible, and to let them interject their own local content.
It has been a real challenge to get stores to appreciate the value of social media, but they have come very far in a short period of time. When I talked about hashtags back in 2012, many of them said, “I don’t know what a hashtag is.” Some of them didn’t know what Twitter was or what a blog was, yet they did see customers coming into their showrooms who were armed with lots of information – in many cases, more information than their salespeople had.
Those retailers wanted to understand why that was happening. We started to tell them that digital marketing was behind it. But we started small, getting them to dip their toes in the water. We wanted to help them understand that if they learned about social media, their customer base would grow and they would sell more.
At that time, many stores mostly knew only about Facebook and Twitter. So we started with Twitter and said, “Tweets are 140 characters long . . . and this is what a retweet is . . . and here’s what a hashtag is.” And that’s how we started, with super simple.
Then we rolled out generation two, and delved into what YouTube and LinkedIn are all about. We then rolled out everything – Pinterest and Google+. And we secured all those pages and handles for our retailers, because half of them didn’t know how to set up their social media presence. That was a huge value-added for them because we took the heavy lifting off them and handled it ourselves.
And something happened that was amazing. We started with small level of dealer participation in social media, something along the lines of 20% to 30%. But after starting small, we quickly went from 60% participation to 75% to 80%. And we now have a 95% participation rate among our retailers.
And the key is, we give this program to our retailers. We don’t make any money on it, because we think that by simply getting them in the game, it will take them out of the fray and let them succeed much more than the average independent retailer does.
I also like this analogy. Everyone asks, “What is the ROI on social media?” When they ask, I reply, “What is the ROI of putting your pants on in the morning? You don’t have to do it…but you probably should.” We have to look at it as a return on a future opportunity.
Frank Chiera is VP of Marketing and Advertising, Flooring America of CCA Global. With almost 20 years of retail marketing experience, Frank has experience with client and agency side retail, public relations and social media. Ever focused on the evolution of marketing and new technologies in his current role, he leads a team dedicated to helping entrepreneurs reach new customers, cultivate relationships and drive sales.