[Note: this post also falls into the "Flooring It Differently" category.]
I first 'met' Karin through the Z list - dreamed up by Mack Collier - as we both had a connection to flooring and a strong interest in this amazingly social platform. I have since been 'floored' to realize what Karin has created via her dynamic websites and how, through her social explorations, she has ventured into webmarketing and blog workshops.Karin is the author of The Kiss Business, a business novel about "the trials and tribulation of two 'foreigners' (Dutch) starting a retail business in Kent UK" and of the Kiss2 blog. 'Kiss' BTW refers to "Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business," a principle at the heart of everything Karin gets involved in.
Karin: Would you believe necessity? In June 03 both my partner and I were made redundant. We’d moved from The Netherlands to the UK especially for this job/adventure and when this went pear-shaped we had to decide: going back ‘home’ or going it alone? We choose for the latter and started on a shoe-string. A friendly web wizard taught me the basics of web design and SEO. During my keyword research I got involved with two DIY-forums (early form of Social Media Marketing?) and started answering questions about wooden flooring there.
C.B.: What do you like most about social media?
Karin: The accessibility of so many Social Media Marketing tools for small businesses, it surely levels the playing field with the ‘big’ companies out there. Still think small businesses have an advantage over big corporations here. Especially retailers – like us – in a niche market.
What I also love about Social Media is from a learning point of view for business owners. Once you get involved in SMM – dipping your toes in, never jump right in! – you can encounter so many other business owners/managers who are all so willing to share what they’ve learned, how they use SMM, etc. Without blog-encounters, Facebook and LinkedIn friends all over the world I would not have learnt so much in so short a time as I have over the last 2 – 3 years. And it reflects in the success of our business I like to think – and my good friend /accountant /consultant is always eager and the first to confirm this.
C.B.: What do you like least about social media?
Karin: Hypes! I like to look from the side-line for a while to ponder if, how and when a new tool or SMM platform can work for our business. Although we are still IMHO one of the first brick & mortar retailers who have utilised many SMM tools we are carefully to test the waters first on a small scale. It took a lot of hard work and time to grow from a ‘retailer’ working from home in the first two years into our, still very small, showroom retailer with a rather large in comparison web presence.
A true pet-hate of mine is bloggers who don’t seem to care about their readers and can’t be bothered to reply or even acknowledge those who take the time and trouble to comment on their posts.
C.B.: How have you used social media to promote your business?
C.B.: What 5 suggestions do you have for companies to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users?
1. Don’t be afraid to give. When we first started answering questions on the DIY-forums and allowing web visitors to ask questions on our own blog competitors thought we were crazy: you don’t give away free advice up front, only when the product is bought. Otherwise they use your information and buy somewhere else cheaper. It really doesn’t work this way. Of course there are those who do just that, but the amount of credibility you build up by giving first is tremendous. It’s the old reciprocation effect – as my friend Richard C always likes to point out to me.
C.B.: Any other thoughts to share about effectiveness of social media in forging stronger relationships with customers?
Karin: Treat them with respect; deliver what you promise and more. There is no difference between face to face meetings with clients and interactive online “meetings”: deliver what you promise.
Don’t give up within one month of trying Social Media Marketing. The Internet seems to be working on ‘the fast lane’ but nothing could be further from the truth in regards of establishing a long term relationship with your customers. To build a strong and long lasting relationship you have to give your customer the time to recognise/experience you do take away all his/her doubts about doing business with you. That doesn’t happen in one single message, ad or banner. It didn’t in the old days; it doesn’t in these new days. Marketing might have changed its tools; the effect on relationships is still the same.
Thank you, Karin!
Comments? Reactions? Feedback?
What about Karin's approach of "read and learn, test and measure and then decide yes or no instead of following every new hype?" Any reactions or advice relating to Karin's experience with autoresponder email marketing tools?
I particularly like Karin's advice about being committed to social media marketing for the long haul so as to establish a credible long-term relationship with customers. And I love the notion of 'shrink-wrapping your brain.'
For additional insights from participants in the Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old please visit The Entire Bridging New & Old Social Media Series.