It's no secret that 2020 has been challenging for so many businesses. With physical stores shutting down and shoppers staying home, so many small shops needed to pivot to stay afloat.
It's not easy to take in-person sales to online sales and have the same outcome. What I've found to help, even before the worldwide pandemic, was a way to take my in-person customer relationships to the online space. It's a game-changer.
My biggest marketing takeaway from the last few years is connection. You might be asking yourself, what does connection have to do with marketing?!? I struggled for months to crack the code in the online space and kept coming up short. I had this amazing local following, and I just couldn't figure out how to get my reach out of the Tri-state area of my sales bubble.
Then it hit me. The reason I had such a strong local following was because of the connection I was building with my customers. They would shop frequently, I would chat with them while they were in the store, ask about their families, tell them funny mishaps from my day... and they became so much more than customers, they became friends. But how was I going to do this in the online space?
The answer that was screaming at me was, "Sarah, you have to do a Facebook Live." Everybody was saying, "You have to do Lives!" but I didn't want to! You see, I am an introvert through and through. I like working by myself, being alone, and when things get too peopley... I shut down. On top of all that... I had self-esteem issues. I wasn't young and pretty, thin and tan... why would anyone want to watch me on this dang Facebook thing?!
There I was, staring at the camera, my VA on the other side of the computer saying, "Hit the dang button already." I would sit there for almost an hour trying to hype myself up to do the Live. I hated it. I hated every single minute of it. But I knew I had to do it if I wanted to grow my business.
I committed to doing ONE Facebook Live a week. ONE. Every Friday I would show up and talk about some of my favorite items in my shop. Everyone knew I was going to be Live on Friday mornings, so I could no longer talk myself out of doing it.
The more I did it, the more people watched and actually commented. Here I was, building connections in the online space I so desperately wanted. Then I started to see more sales and more followers. Within a few months, my sales were way up, and I had doubled my following. And oh yeah, I added 350 new box subscribers in that short amount of time as well!
I hated to admit it, but I was becoming the influencer of my own business. Because I wasn't all those things I thought I needed to be, I was real. I am a Mom, a Wife, a busy person, and a hot mess just trying to get through my day.
So were my followers. That's why they related to me. They didn't want some polished person showing up, making them feel less than. They wanted to connect with someone like them. I would show up, tell a funny story, show them my favorite things around the shop, tell them my shirt size... which I was also scared to do. I didn't want them to know I wore an XL... but you know what?! 70% of my customers wear a size L-XXL. I was relatable.
The next step for me was email. I've worked SO hard building these FB Live connections; how could I do this in an email? I had to get consistent and start emailing once a week. It worked for my FB Lives, surely it could work for email too.
It was tough at first but I used these email marketing strategies to make an easy plan.
My customers knew exactly when I would pop into their inbox each week... and you know what? All I did was use the same content from that Facebook Live and repurpose it right in an email. I saw sales from email go from 0 to 30% of my total sales very quickly. Klaviyo is the email marketing platform I use because it makes it super simple to craft templates and flows. From automations to campaigns, the data you receive from your emails is fantastic.
Enter 2020. It's been a full year since I started my weekly Lives, six months of emails, and now the world is craving more connection than ever. People are staying home and looking for something to fill their time. SMS Marketing was becoming popular, but I wasn't a big fan of getting marketing blasts on my phone. This was a sacred space for me... I didn't want to be that company that annoyed people.
One of my mentors was using a new texting application called Community.com. It was a 2-way text app that allowed people to text you right back. I was nervous at first. How was I going to handle texting hundreds of people back at a time?
After jumping in, I found it was super simple, it was fun, and it opened up new doors for me. I was building connections in a whole new way. It felt like I was texting friends! It started with conversations with VIP perks to my business. They love it, and it's one extra piece that big businesses don't have.
Consistency is the key. I didn't try to do all these things at once. I mastered one of them and then kept layering in the next one, about six months apart. It's the same with any part of your business. Start with ONE thing, then layer in the next step.
Never underestimate the power of influence you have on your business. Be you, be real, and just be present!