Many stationers I meet complain that their clients have deserted them for the convenience of the Internet. When I ask how they are marketing their bricks-and-mortar store on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, they stare at me as if I were some sort of Poltergeist up to no good. Indeed, many stationery store owners are reluctant to dive into the online social media scene which appears to be destroying their business.
Presumably, these stationers are more comfortable spending several hundred dollars a year in Yellow Pages advertising because “this is what we have always done” even though no one reads the Yellow Pages anymore.
It may seem surprising, but I have little interest in trolling for friends in social media channels. In fact, I hate it. Nevertheless, establishing a credible online social media presence is CRITICAL TO THE SURVIVAL OF A SMALL BUSINESS!
Mind you, I no longer care to harp about this much more, but EVERY STATIONERY STORE OWNER should have the following online marketing channels:
- a website (you can build one for FREE with WordPress)
- a Twitter account (also FREE)
- a Facebook Page (also FREE)
- a Pinterest account (also FREE)
- a LinkedIn account if you intend to connect with other industry experts (also FREE) and, most importantly,
- a Google+ account (requires a Google email account but is FREE)!
Now you can hire someone to set these accounts up for you on Fiverr.com for pocket change, but I would probably invest a long weekend with your daughter and/or son and try and do it yourself.
Now many stationery store owners have already established these accounts, but are simply unable or unwilling to put in the necessary effort (about 30 minutes a day) to help promote their business. I feel your pain, since it isn’t much fun. In fact, at times it can be quite frustrating and boring, particularly making silly comments on your social media accounts. If cyber engagement is beneath your level of tolerance for the inane, you can hire someone in the Philippines to do it for a song at ODesk.com.
Now, I have discovered one tool called EMPIRE AVENUE which is more like a game to help market your business and give you insights into what serious online marketing people are doing to promote their activities. It is also FREE (with some paid upgrades) but rather painless to use and easily allows you to track your “social marketing” skills and acquire a lot of knowledge of what others are doing. I just started tinkering around with EMPIRE AVENUE in December and have learned “buckets” in a very compelling and engaging way.
Give it a go!
Richard W. May
Founding Member Stationers Guild