#Marketing Tips from an Unsuspecting Italian Leather Shop Owner

The leather aroma emanating from Dante’s Leather Shop Sas in Florence– or Firenze, as the Italians call it, was hard to resist. There were many pop up tents on the cobblestone street with vendors displaying leather jackets, but this store seemed real—something requiring rent and a permit.  I wasn’t looking for a fake coat, but a reputable product as a birthday present for my husband.

Greet the Customer.Italian store

After two minutes eyeballing a multitude of coats, I spotted one I liked and a stocky, older gentleman approached me.  He asked in Italian if he could help me. When I asked in Spanish if he spoke English, he quickly obliged and began his pitch.

But, I wasn’t ready to buy. I just wanted to know if

  1. the leather was real,
  2. would the coat fit my husband,
  3. and how much the coat cost.

Demonstrate the Product.

He showed off this particular long jacket like it was a prop in a Penn and Teller act.

To answer my first question, he pulled out a lighter and held the flame against the outside of the coat. It did not ignite. “If it was a fake it would burn,” he said.

I don’t know if the lighter thing is true or not, but having grown up around saddles, I could smell the leather and trusted my nose. I was intrigued by his magic trick and felt comfortable moving from question one to question three.

Overcome Objections.

How much? (That would give me another indicator as to the validity of his answer to question one.)  He gave me a price and I put the coat back on a hanger. Holy cow. These are expensive.

He paused, stopped me, and walked to his counter, returning with an envelope.

“Let me show you how I’m going to save you 14%,” he said, as he detailed the duty free procedures he’d and I‘d follow, so that I’d receive a refund of Italy’s retail tax.  He pulled out past receipts and explained how it worked for other customers. (So, jump on the bandwagon.)

Since this was my first store and leather shopping experience in 2015, I wasn’t sure if his base price was legit.  I wasn’t ready to buy, but kept listening.

“This is a gentleman’s coat,” he said, brushing the length of the jacket with the back of his hand and straightening the collar. “A beautiful coat!  Notice the two tones. This is a popular style for men today.  What size is your husband?”

I had no idea. “He’s taller than you, but not as stocky in the shoulders,” I said.

Without missing a beat, the man put the coat on and said, “And he probably doesn’t have as big of a belly. I apologize. I enjoy our Italian pasta too much.” The ice was broken and I smiled.

The coat looked tight. Then, I remembered pictures I had on my phone and found them. Before holding my phone to look at the pictures, the salesman politely asked, “May I?” Just a small detail, but he knew enough to ask permission before he continued moving me through the sales funnel.

In the photo, I was standing next to my husband on the beach. The craftsman immediately put the coat back on the hanger and pulled out another size.  “This is the one,” he announced.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

He wasn’t insulted, but assured me after fitting so many men, that he knew his sizes.  He also gave me his card and said that if he was wrong, I could return the coat and he’d send the correct size.  This didn’t 100% comfort me, as I imagined shipping charges between countries and the uncertainty of dealing with issues from afar, but he was trying and answered with patience.

My final concern was the train travel ahead and the coat getting stolen during the journey. I once again put it back on the hanger and the man’s face fell. I’m sure he thought he’d never see me again because time and distance kills many sales. “I am coming back through the area in a couple days,” I said.  “I’ll swing by then.”

He nodded and I left.  Truthfully, I wasn’t sure if I’d be back.  I breathed easier after leaving. I was free of the pressure to buy, but over the next couple days, I looked online at leather coats and found most to be more expensive. I also browsed other leather shops in the area and found that Dante’s price was indeed reasonable.  The coat would be a good buy and a classy gift for my husband.  So, I went back and bought it.

Apply Interpersonal Salesmanship to Digital Marketing

We can learn from this Italian businessman.  He did not intend to teach anything, but we can connect these parallel digital applications.

Invest in a legitimate website.

Don’t skimp on a pop up tent that’s a few pages with thin offerings of products and content. Invest in a mobile-friendly site and plan your navigational flow to include each category offering you sell.  By now, you’ve heard that Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm goes live April 21, 2015. Pay the money to sell from a proper site and hire writers to produce relevant and convincing content. Shoppers want to shop where carts are secure, pages quickly render, and flawless images and words are helpful.

Offer your assistance before the customer leaves.

Give customers a few moments to look through your store, but do greet them.  Many online businesses provide chat services to help shoppers find products or ask questions.  These can annoy, so configure your settings appropriately to avoid chasing away potential customers with pushiness.

Anticipate shopper questions.

Shoppers ask the same questions and have the same concerns that other shoppers express. Overtime, you learn what customers will ask. Answering these repetitive questions can get tiring.  However, customers want to feel important. Thoroughly and patiently answer each question. Whether in person or through the Internet, you’ll improve sales with a one-on-one approach.

The Italian shop keeper answered questions in the order I asked them.  He didn’t jump ahead to other predictable topics. He answered what I wanted to know when I wanted to know it. Another customer might have asked the same questions, but in a different order.  He didn’t assume I was someone else.  He personalized his answers to my agenda.

Your website should thoroughly answer the questions that are asked every day in your store. Create videos or FAQ pages to explain common or complex information. Give customer traffic the flexibility to choose what they want to know when they want to know it. Offer product reviews on your site for the insight and comfort other customers provide.

Speak your customer’s language.

Later in my trip, I walked into a café where the cashier was not going to try to speak English or even meet me in the middle with Spanish. Ridiculous, right?

Not really.

It’s easy to forget that your website might be giving the same cold shoulder to potential leads from abroad. If you want more tourists to buy, communicate in the language and with the expressions they understand. The leather shop owner quickly adapted his initial greeting from Italian to English, overcoming my first sales hurdle—language inadequacy. You might consider offering an online chat service in multiple languages for customers who visit your site.  Thank goodness for Google Translate, but even so, can you make your site friendlier to foreign shoppers? Is your site’s reading level accurate for various ages and fluencies of your customers?

Know and love your product like a craftsman.

The Italian store owner knew his product and business. Your website should also demonstrate your breadth of expertise. Provide details and demonstrate passion for what you’re selling. Think of concrete word pictures, phrases, and examples to help customers visualize using your products. Offer images with close ups and 360 degree views. What might the product look like on a small, medium, or large person?

Know your competition and how well your products are priced, as compared to competitor’s products.  Some companies have in-house experts write their content and then hire content companies to edit for SEO-friendliness, grammar, and usage.

Be polite.

Your brand’s tone does make a difference.  Respect your customer’s intelligence and interest with the words you choose.

Offer a no hassle return policy.

If you offer a great product, then your return policy ought to be friendly to offset customer indecisiveness or concerns about your legitimacy. A no hassle return policy communicates that your business is for real.

Let your customer leave.

If you’ve accurately priced your product and you know that your product is of quality, then don’t sweat when a customer leaves.  Sometimes people need space to see that you offered a good deal.

But honestly, the Italian shop owner knew my leaving wasn’t ideal. You will lose a percentage of sales when potential customers leave, so address their concerns while in your store without being pushy. Some retailers provide competitor comparison charts on sub-category or product pages to demonstrate competitive price or product details. The Italian shop owner offered to directly ship the coat overseas so I wouldn’t have to carry it with me—an alternative that I determined was too expensive, but at least he was accomodating.

After the sale, invite customers to return.

It was a simple phrase the man said after the coat was in the bag and I was leaving the store…

“Thank you for shopping with us.  I hope next time you visit Florence, you will treat yourself to something, as well.”

Oh gosh. That was good.

He’s right. What about me?

Unknowingly, I wrestled with my pragmatic inner-voice. It scolded, “You got the trip. Your husband gets the birthday coat.” But, another inner-voice snapped back, “The salesman is right. You deserve this. You could be getting a good deal, too!”

What a smart phrase to zing customers with at the end.

Be an expert salesman online.

Whether you’re a shop keeper with one store and no online presence or a major retailer with thousands of SKUs and hundreds of global stores, finely tuned inter-personal skills applied to each and every transaction add up over time.  Bring those traditional business practices to today’s platforms and you’ll increase sales like a pro.

 

~Jean

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Algorithms, Audience, Branding, Capturing Audience, Customer Profile, E-Tail Category Content, Marketing, Merchandising, Personas, Product Descriptions, Reviews, Sales, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Words Which Sell

Google to Launch Ranking Adjustment for Doorway Pages

If you produce a variety of doorway pages to increase search traffic to your website, well, your goose is about to be cooked.  Today, Google announced that they’ll be cracking down on doorway pages that don’t offer enhanced user experiences.

Regarding the new doorway algorithm change, Google’s Brian White explains that:

Over time, we’ve seen sites try to maximize their ‘search footprint’ without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.

What is a doorway page, you ask?  If you’re asking, you probably don’t need to worry about it unless your site is in the hands of an SEO other than you. Google offers the following examples of doorway pages:

Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page.

Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s).

Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy.

These pages may frustrate users who’ve clicked on one, two, or three page variations only to return to the same site again.  It’s conceivable that some users migrate to alternative search engines at that point. The doorway page that dazzles the user with a cool initial hook, but then offers no unique or catered content once he or she arrives on the site, has been put on notice.

Google suggests that you ask these questions about your site’s doorway pages:

  • Is the purpose to optimize for search engines and funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site, or are they an integral part of your site’s user experience?
  • Are the pages intended to rank on generic terms yet the content presented on the page is very specific?
  • Do the pages duplicate useful aggregations of items (locations, products, etc.) that already exist on the site for the purpose of capturing more search traffic?
  • Are these pages made solely for drawing affiliate traffic and sending users along without creating unique value in content or functionality?
  • Do these pages exist as an “island?” Are they difficult or impossible to navigate to from other parts of your site? Are links to such pages from other pages within the site or network of sites created just for search engines?

This algorithm is sure to cause big headaches for some- especially companies that operate with extensive networks of doorway pages.  Check with your SEO to see if your website might be a causality of this latest algorithm update.  You’ll need to eliminate doorway pages or provide unique content and functionality for each.

Leave a comment

Filed under Algorithms, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Tips to Makeover Your Profile Picture

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what are you saying with your profile pictures?

Photo courtesy of Hair Dresser’s Guide to Photo Shoots

With each photo you post, you choose to represent yourself and your company. A vital part of crafting an online presence, the profile picture can get lost in the shuffle of quality information and targeted content.

Consider your profile picture as the human connection piece to your organization. Whether you are choosing your personal profile picture on a social networking site or a picture that will rest on a “Meet the Staff” page, this is where your users will make their first judgments about you and the quality of your organization.

Even away from the company’s website, you are still a face that represents your business. Use these tips to make sure you draw people in with your confident, professional appearance.

Focus on You:

Since your face is the focus of a profile picture, make sure you are the focus of yours. There should be no one else in your photo, nor animals or distracting objects. Create an uncomplicated background. This does not mean that you have to stand in front of a blank wall, but make sure there isn’t anything to distract people behind you. Have your photographer frame the photo with you in the center. Insure that your head doesn’t look lopped off by leaving the top half or fourth of your torso in the shot.

Snap a great pic:

This may seem obvious, but make sure your profile photo is actually a quality image. That means it needs to be well-lit with your face in-focus and sharp. It also means that it needs to be a high-resolution image. Posting a second-rate photo is an easy tip off to a potential client that you are unprofessional and not detail oriented.

Be consistent:

Make sure that you have the same profile picture representing you on all of your social networking sites. If a client is trying to determine whether or not to follow you on Twitter and your profile picture appears different, they may not be able to tell if it’s actually you. Think about your personal profile as your brand. A consistent profile picture will become your logo. This does not mean, however, to keep the photo of you from twenty years ago. Use a recent photo. Update if you get a drastic new hairstyle or every three to five years so your photo represent the real you.

Be professional:

Dress in your picture the way you would go to a meeting with a client. Dress in your finely-tailored business professional look or embrace the business casual look. Make sure that you appear clean and are wearing professional makeup or jewelry. Try also to select your outfit’s colors based off what will complement your website’s coloring. Neither you nor your company will be represented well if your yellow outfit clashes with the brown of the website. Always, make sure your clothes are clean and not ill-fitting nor wrinkled.

Get the perfect angle:

Once you are dressed and ready for the perfect shot, look into the camera and try to be pleasant. Make sure to smile but do not attack the camera with your confidence. Sit up straight and upright, making sure you don’t tilt your head to the side.

If you find yourself questioning your choice of a profile picture, do not be afraid to ask for the opinions of others. Remember to be professional!

~Katelyn

1 Comment

Filed under Branding, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Reputation Management

Embrace Your Mobile Site

With the increase in smartphone and tablet use, it is even more important to have a website optimized for mobile devices. Developing your site will give you an edge over the competition, boosting your engagement and sales.

According to Mobify Developers, 57 percent of mobile users will abandon your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Creating a page that is both visually pleasing and quick to load may seem difficult, but it is important to implement in your business strategy. Most websites will load on a mobile device, but the experience of a non-mobile friendly site can be awkward and unprofessional. Creating a mobile site will help your content view faster and easier. Maximizing your website’s effectiveness online will allow you to better connect to the 1.2 billion people who now access the web from their mobile devices.

The mobile user:

Your mobile users are on-the-go. They are waiting in line at the pharmacy or walking to meet friends. Think about what is drawing them to your website. Are they more likely to be in a rush checking your website for business location or hours? Or, are they merely passing time, amusing themselves? Craft your content and navigation around what information they need and how quickly they need to know it. Easing their journey will leave your users satisfied instead of searching for your competitors.

A crafted mobile experience means that websites will look different than the desktop view, because users require different data away from the office and home. Through creating mobile sites, you show users that your company will anticipate their needs. 61 percent of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience, according to a study by Latitude.

The mobile experience:

While visuals and design elements are important, consider how your website will fit in a smaller screen. Text needs to stay around 14 px. Pictures need to be compressed and automatically rearrange to fit the screen. Make your users do as little pinching and zooming as possible. Put just as much information as necessary, and make it easy for them to access other parts of your site.

According to web designer Brad Frost, “mobile users will do anything and everything desktop users will do, provided it’s presented in a usable way.”

Remember that a user is tapping and using a finger to “click” on your screen. Keep links long enough that they can actually be touched. Get rid of any add-ons like Flash and JavaScript that could leave your user confused. Create an intuitive user experience that will engage your users instead of confuse and exasperate.

Mobile content:

As always, remember your reader. Create a site they can read easily and quickly. Provide the maximum amount of information with as few words possible. Use attention grabbing titles and draw attention down the page.

Throughout this process, examine your website from a smartphone or tablet yourself. Can you read the type? Does it give errors? Does it load in less than three seconds? Do your company a favor and create a site for the 1.2 billion mobile users out there.

~Katelyn

Leave a comment

Filed under Mobile

Will SciNet Become the Search Engine Alternative to Google or Bing?

Many people cannot imagine a day without Google as their primary search engine. After all, what would we do without our daily Google Doodle? However, developers are attempting to envision this new world. Many researchers are developing new ways to connect users to the ever-expanding immensity that is the Internet.

Researchers at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology in Finland have developed a new interface that creates a next-level search called SciNet, which utilizes Interactive Intent Modeling. This type of search allows users to add keywords to focus in on what they really want to find. The parent company, Etsimo, is now looking for investors so they can make this new search interface available to the rest of the world.

New Way to Explore Results

SciNet attempts more human involvement in the search process. Instead of allowing Google or Bing algorithms to choose results, SciNet invites the user to choose collections of keywords that guide his or her results.

SciNet calls this interface IntentRadar. Instead of having a search bar and results, SciNet displays results as a radar-like cloud of keywords ranked by relativity. Users drag keywords closer to the center or farther away to create their personalized searches.  This “new” method reminds us a bit of Google’s Wonder Wheel, which was turned into the Contextual Targeting tool.

SciNet will more effectively utilize touchscreen technology while lessening the importance of a keyboard. Users with ill-defined searches will have an easier time crafting their own decision about their results.

“We want to rely on users to make the decision and steer the search rather than only trying to build a search engine that would try to come up with a perfect answer on the first shot,” said Finnish researcher Tuukka Ruotsalo.

New Way to Optimize

Depending on how quickly search interfaces like SciNet catch on, this could mean a complete redesign of the way SEO works. Currently, websites need to provide SEO information that will boost them in rankings on search engines like Google. This is because Google uses this information to guess how well your site will fit the needs of their users.

With SciNet, websites would need to provide more tailored information for the user and less for the search interface itself. This will mean your site will be judged more on the content than on its rankings. While it will still be very important to tailor your information, the playing field will become flatter, allowing smaller sites and more specific results to be displayed to the user.

“Etsimo is data-centric, transparent, un-biased and non-evil. . . . We have no secret ranking algorithms, money doesn’t influence the order of the results and we don’t track your behavior,” reads the company’s website.

This no-tricks way of searching seems to be the next step in researching online. Will your organization be ready for the switch?

~Katelyn

Other Sci-Net Resources:

This Search Engine Wants More Human Input

Interactive Modelling Gives SciNet the Edge over other Search Engines

SciNet Tweets

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Queries & Articles, Search Engine Marketing, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

CBS Films’ #theDuff Targets Teens in Genius Marketing Campaign

Invite Student Reporters to a Free Pre-Screening

It’s a clever way of marketing, but especially, it’s an effective way to reach teens.  CBS Films began promoting their latest movie, The Duff, by contacting teachers in charge of their schools’ publications. Feeling like royalty, the teachers’ students received free tickets to private pre-screenings of the film. The final cut releases to theaters February 20, 2015.  Think of it, SEOs.  Those students will write free articles about the movie for CBS and much of that content will end up on educational sites- just the kind you want for digital back-linking power.  Wow.

Create Your Digital Keyword and its Definition to Dominate Searches

What is The Duff, you may ask? As the mother of a teen that received a free ticket to one of those private, pre-release screenings, I joined her for “girls’ night” on a school night and found out that it stands for “Designated Ugly Fat Friend.” Lovely. But, smart. The movie can now add its name to duff’s Wikipedia entry to dominate Google searches for the term’s origins and meanings.

The start of the movie did not make me happy.  “Great, that’s all these kids need,” I thought, “another label that makes everyone in the room self-conscious about their social standing and value.”  The movie did come around to join hands and say, “We’re all duffs to someone, so be yourself and embrace it,” but eh, what I’m most interested in is how the movie is being marketed.  I reached out to CBS Films for comment, but they did not respond.

Include Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook Handles to Promote Interaction

We are truly in the age of social media.  The hashtag, #theDuff, is on the big screen and on the movie’s website, while the ending credits give the Instagram or Twitter handles for each of the actors.  The call to action is clear. Teens, whip out your phones, start following, and tell your friends. The Duff is on a mission to build an audience and earn revenues.

Provide Attractive Content

As a side note, the actors get “As” for chemistry. Light-hearted joking between the characters make this film a movie night pick. Girls, I just want to point out that Robbie Amell, who plays Wes and looks like a young Tom Cruise (one way to pull in your Moms), was born in 1988, which would make him a very old, high school senior at age 27! The same is true for Mae Whitman, who portrays the funny and down-to-earth, Bianca.  However, Bella Thorne- mean girl, Madison, was born in October 1997, and is a real high school junior this year.

Ask Your Audience to Promote After They Consume

The story line includes moments when the main character endures cyber-bullying after a video that was created about her goes viral.  The marketing off-screen is all about harnessing the power of viral because after the teen reporters watched the movie, they were invited to submit questions the next day to interview the actors in real time.

My daughter thought the interview was going to involve just the students in her publications class and the actors themselves, which was not exactly accurate. Her class stayed after school to wait for the late start of a webinar experience that included about 300 schools throughout North America.  All of these students submitted their questions, but only a few of those questions were selected.  Students took notes and then wrote articles for their schools’ newspapers, magazines, and classes.  These stories should be hitting the presses between now and the movie’s release in February 2015.

Smart idea, isn’t it? Why pay for your content when you can give out some free tickets to kids who have the power to reach other kids with their words? The Duff will reach its teen and tween niche in no time.

Jack pot, CBS Films, you even captured a mother who writes content for a living.  You get a little publicity as a thank you for the great experience she had covering your story and I get mother-daughter time to point out how companies influence the choices we make about the goods and services we consume.

Leave a comment

Filed under Audience, Branding, Business Strategy, Capturing Audience, Content, Content Marketing, Marketing, Persuasive Essay, School Websites, Writing for Children

What Should You Do When Your Content is Copied?

Life in the Security Experiment Room

My twelve year-old loves smoke alarms.  Some guys are crazy about football.  He knows the stats of almost every smoke detector- whether it’s a BG-12, Simplex, Wheelock, or Gentex.

After he started writing letters to companies, conversing with CMOs, creating reviews, editing videos, and playing around with You Tube, it became clear that his interest would be a gateway to acquiring valuable skills and practical lessons.

He Copied Me!

But then it happened.  A couple kids plagiarized his ideas and material.  One YouTube youngster “borrowed” most of his intro.  Grant invests hours editing these videos, so he was pretty ticked after he discovered the infringement.

“Mom, what should I do?”

I understood how he felt.  This happens to writers all the time.  It’s frustrating- especially when you’re the one who spent time or dollars on the original idea or work.

Plagiarism vs. Fair Use

Just to be clear, if you borrow an idea, quote, picture, or video you should credit your sources. If you want to be official with formatting that credit, read how to cite sources from MLA or APA. However, don’t cry “copyright infringement” if your idea was one that anyone could pick off just by living.  All people are allowed fair use of ideas for educating, discussing, and conjecture. If the idea is already swimming in public, it can be taken and altered.

What If Someone Steals Your Content or Ideas?

#1. Inform the accused what was done.  Define plagiarism for him or her because some people- especially kids, just don’t know.  Plagiarism.com says, “

ALL OF THE FOLLOWING ARE CONSIDERED PLAGIARISM:

  • turning in someone else’s work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on “fair use” rules)”

#2.  Add a © (copyright symbol) with the current year and the owner’s name to the bottoms of your websites, pictures, articles, or videos.  This symbol notifies would-be borrowers that you own the material. Most will ask for permission or provide credit to your page with links.

#3. Ask for credit if you feel that your idea or content was borrowed and be prepared to back up your claim.  But then, simmer down.  If you’re the original and most people know you’re the original, this is your moment to shine.

Look at the MKC commercials from 2014.  Lincoln’s sales soared up by 25%.  Ellen’s and SNL’s spoofs helped to catapult the original. Going viral is good for business.

“Borrowing” is flattery.  Properly documented spoofs or borrows can turn into more views for your channel.  Create brand ambassadors that will grow your channel. When someone copies your content, look at the action as flattery and opportunity. Embrace the marketing boost!

#4. If a serious offender ignores your request to receive a link and hat tip to your page, hire an attorney.  Sometimes, “borrowing” is not so innocent.  If it’s costly and the stakes are high, let your attorney do the talking.

In general, most people want to get copyright right. If you keep a positive attitude and work through the situation, you’ll probably end up with decent backlinks and some new partnerships.  Sharing and take-offs can help your SEO to soar.

Leave a comment

Filed under Capturing Audience, Citing Sources, Editors, Favorite Websites, Research Tips, Revising & Proofreading, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Website Linking, YouTube