The Return on Involvement

In this post I talk a little bit about how you can invest in being involved with social medial and your customers. The return on involvement can be a tremendous one with word of mouth being the catalyst of that return. 

These are just 5 tips that I thought to list, based on things that I have read and based on past successes. There are potentially tons of ways that you can become involved with your customer base. Attack every one of those opportunities. 

If you have additional tips on how, as a brand, you can be more involved then please list it in the comments. I will be sure to use it in a future update post!

1. Bloggers Are Your Friend. As a brand in 2008 you need to know how to maximize your presence throughout InternetLAND. One of the best ways to do this is to build relationships with bloggers within your niche. Build a list of all the blogs that you can find, within your niche, and get to know the blog, the writer(s) at that blog and that blog community. As a blogger I love it when people within my niche contact me regarding feedback/suggestions, product announcements, or requests. More times than not, I will oblige to the request and if that request means mentioning a new product that that means free advertising for the person that took the time to contact me. Now imagine if that person contacted 10, 20 or even 50 other bloggers – and at least half of those bloggers made a blog post with the request. Bloggers = free advertising.

Real World Example: This one happens all the time with me, brands send me promotional items and I am more than happy to make a quick post about the product or their sale. I sometimes even do a quick Twitter post. In fact, it usually goes a step further and I end up doing a much larger feature on that brand. 

2. People Like Free Swag. If you’ve got extra stock lying around, why not give some away. The return on that investment will be well worth it. Instead of having that old tee sit around, unpurhased and unadored, ship it off to a t-shirt blogger, hand it off to a friend or even a random person. You may even want to try and send it to a famous person that you know wears styles similar to your brand. It’s about creating buzz and involvement so when you give your free stuff away remember to mention a little about your brand, where they can get more (i.e. your online store or website), and any “new” products that you have available. People like free stuff and so when they get free stuff they tend to talk about said free stuff with family, friends, and co-workers. Word of mouth is a powerful tool and giving away free stuff will get that word of mouth ball rolling.

Real World Example: Please Dress Me is doing this now by giving away free tees daily as way to promote their new T-shirt search engine.   

3. Build Mystique. Flyers are great but they often get tossed – I’m guilty of doing that. One thing that people, especially in the 18-25 year old demographic, would be less likely to toss would be stickers. Many indie tee companies have stickers printed with their logo, brand name and address of their website. Instead of plastering your site address on the sticker, i.e. www.lintyfresh.com, why not just have your logo and brand name on the sticker. The psychology behind this tip is that people can be complacent at certain times, when you give them too much information they take it for granted and will tend to forget it. Give them a piece of the puzzle and build mystique. Provide just the brand name or even just the logo and, if interested, they will definitely (I know I would) be more inclined to do a Google search on the brand or ask around about the logo. Same can be said for other promotion materials like buttons. Make them work a little. Mystique builds interest and that interest will pay off.  

Real World Example: Never In Wonderland (NIWL), recently featured in the Indie Tee Spotlight, plaster stickers wherever they go. The stickers just say NIWL on them. All it takes is one kid to see that NIWL sticker and then Google them and then a potential sale is born.

4. Be Accessible. If you’re an indie tee brand then try your best to be as accessible to your customers as possible. You’re not a multi-million dollar company (yet) so you can’t afford to have a dozen assistants answering emails and phone calls. You need to do this on your own. You need to be committed to doing this. Creating and building a good rapport with your customers is very important for 1. word of mouth and 2. trust. Consumers, myself included, trust independent sellers that much more when they know they can get their questions answered. Imagine a potential buyer, unsure about sizing, who emails you and asks whether or not he would fit a medium or larger based on his measurements. If you don’t answer this potential buyers email that might lead to a lost sale. Answer that email and 1. the chances of that potential sale increases and 2. word of mouth (yes, again) – he goes off and tells friends that “the owner is accessible”,”I’ve talked to him”, “you don’t need to worry.” One email can impact multiple sales, remember that the next time you think about skipping or auto-deleting an email. 

Real World Example: Gary Vaynerchuk, host of the very popular Wine Library TV, is noted as answering every email he receives. If he can answer emails in the hundreds and thousands, there’s no reason that you can’t. 

5. Non-Issue Replacements. InternetLAND is a very loud and vocal arena. Make ONE customer angry and that might lead to negative publicity and the loss of multiple sales. Imagine a customer that contacts you regarding a “missing” t-shirt in his order. You can deal with this customer in two ways: 1. call bullshit and assume he is lying, or 2. take the risk on the bullshit and assume he is telling the truth. Option 1, assuming you did not offer a refund or replacement, might lead to an angry customer that expresses his anger on multiple blogs and forums with a negative review of your brand/company. You save $20 on a replacement tee but potentially lose hundreds or thousand of dollars of lost sales based on one customers angry review. Option 2, assuming you sent a full refund or replacement item, might lead to that now happy customer (whether or not he lied is a moot point) to post on multiple blogs and forums about how great the customer service at your site was. You lose $20 but potentially gain hundreds or even thousands of dollars in sales because of one happy customer (remember word of mouth?). Upset one customer and they might lead to an enormous amount of lost sales. Make one customer happy and you’ll see a return on your investment.

Real World Example: “Best Buy didn’t want to honor the sale price of the 2GB flash drive Matt ordered through their website, so when Matt arrived to pick-up his purchase, the store’s assistant manager called customer service and, pretending to be Matt, asked to cancel the order.” Needless to say, the story ended up on the Consumerist and on Digg and was seen by millions of potential buyers. 

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  1. […] The Return on Involvement – Tips on Being Involved In this post I talk a little but about how you can invest in being involved with social medial and your customers. The return on involvement can be a tremendous one with word of mouth being the catalyst of that return. These are just 5 tips that I thought to list, based on things that I have read and based on past successes. There are potentially tons of ways that you can become involved with your customer base. Attack every one of those opportunities. If you have additional tips on how, as a brand, you can be more involved then please list it in the comments. I will be sure to use it in a future update post! The Return on Involvement […]