There has been a tremendous amount of excitement buzzing around recently about Facebook, Twitter, and other online social platforms. Many vendors, professionals, consultants and businesses are nearly desperate to try to find a way to increase sales using these trendy communication methods. Is it worth it? Can I really justify “all the work” associated with social networking? Yes, it is. Yes you can.
As some of you already know, in my past-life I operated a few independent auto repair shops. I was tremendously successful. When our family relocated four hours south, I lost touch with a few auto-repair-buddies. Recently, a friend of mine called and we re-connected. He called to ask for help. He has found himself operating his own shop and he is struggling to attract new customers. He was hoping I could help.
In an effort to help, we agreed that I would travel to his shop each Friday for a few weeks to play a sort-of consulting role (something I’m not used to) in his shop and show him a few basics about Facebook and Twitter. He had no idea what these sites offered but couldn’t help but think he was “missing something.”
Mike’s shop is very small. He operates alone with one assistant, he had been averaging only 4-5 repairs a week (yikes, he should have called months ago) when he finally found the courage to ask for help. I’m happy to report that in only 3 weeks we have increased his sales dramatically, with no additional expense and about :30 minutes per day of effort. How did we do it?
First, we created him a simple Facebook page and a Twitter account. Next, we acclimated him to some basic ins-n-outs of social networking, recruited a few family members to friend him on Facebook and a few more to begin following him on Twitter. Next, he literally called every single customer in his customer list to ask them to “become a fan” of his newly created Facebook fan page. He also asked his customers to begin following him on Twitter. As each day passed, he slowly got more and more comfortable telling his followers and fans what he was up to at the shop. A status update here, a photo there, it began to add up to something. Some of his posts are interesting, some are boring, all are about him. He is consistent in his message: “I need work to do and I’m asking you to help me find some.”
I know it sounds cliche’, but, make no mistake about it, Mike has earned and additional $10,000 in three weeks from customers he never knew existed. It’s amazing how powerful this new way of communicating can be if you are dedicated to just “figuring it out” and “making it work.” You existing customers will help you with this if you genuinely like and trust you. It’s OK to ask for help.
If you sell, you need Facebook. If you sell, you need Twitter. If you have any doubts about the value of creating good social networking habits, think of my friend Mike - he’s all aboard, $10,000 extra in sales helps him stay motivated.
If you are not already doing it: Get social, Get Aboard!