Volume 48, Issue 4- April 2013

CompanyNews

Social Media Moves Glass Retail Marketing Out of the Yellow Pages

Every glass business needs promotion to build a customer base, and today’s digital age has thrown out lots of alternatives to traditional advertising. For some, social media might be one of the most promising—if often overwhelming—new means for promoting a business.

To prevent that overload of options, start simple and determine what you hope to achieve for your business.

“The goal often dictates which channel to use,” says Kris Vockler, CEO of ICD High Performance Coatings in Vancouver, Wash. Knowing what you want to accomplish will help your business determine whether to focus energy on, for example, building a large following through the immediacy of blasting 140-character tweets on Twitter versus networking with professionals on LinkedIn or potential customers on Facebook, or sharing a portfolio with the world on Pinterest.

For Dan Pompeo, owner of manufacturer’s representative firm Architectural Glazing Solutions in Temecula, Calif., “Visibility is our number one goal.” Known as @DanPompeoAGS on Twitter, through that medium Pompeo is as easily able to send out a tweet about a new product line as converse with a customer across the country. Product promotion, complete with eye-catching photos, is more the norm on the company’s Facebook page.

Pompeo continues, “In this day and age of rush, rush and multi-tasking and last second notifications and shorter lead-times, coupled with a younger group of project managers and estimators who frequently scan their social media apps at an almost addictive rate, we find this is a great way to make sure our customers remember us and the products we have in our portfolio. When you are an independent rep who covers multiple product lines, it is vital that your customers remember what you can cover scope-wise.”

Vockler encourages her colleagues in the glass industry to explore much of what the various social media channels have to offer as they shape their goals. “Every business is different and should experiment with the various tools,” she says. “What has worked for us is using Twitter at events,” explains Vockler, whose Twitter handle is @krisvockler.

Vockler continues,“Twitter is for events and blog spreading. Pinterest is for project photo spreading. I've been on Google+ for some time with my personal photography and am now starting to see the potential it has to becoming a platform for a business page.”

Pinterest is essentially an online bulletin board. A browser can “pin” any photo they find from anywhere online to one of their individual “boards,” saving an eye-catching idea for inspiration later. Market research told Jessica Bricking, controller for Carmel Glass and Mirror in Indianapolis, that Pinterest might be the strongest tool for expanding the company’s brand locally. “We heard that in the Midwest females 35 to 55 use it the most, so we got on there as another avenue to keep our name out there and give ideas, as people are designing and thinking about starting to remodel,” Bricking explains.

The company also maintains a Facebook page, but has found that networking on that page has been a boost within the company, rather than its community of customers.

“We use Facebook primarily to create a personal connection to our company,” Bricking says. By way of example, she explains, “We recently hired a new employee and he said he had followed us on our Facebook page and wanted to be part of a company that valued its employees and seemed to have a good fit for them.”

For Pompeo, LinkedIn provides that sense of industry community that Carmel Glass has found on Facebook. “Networking through LinkedIn is proving to be a very vital part of my daily routine,” he says. Of course, the biggest differentiator between that old fashioned yellow pages ad and today’s digital media is the emphasis on being social. Having a Facebook or Google+ page isn’t enough; you must continually look to provide new content that keeps your brand in front of the consumer.

“The bottom line is to stay connected to others who are also in the social media loop,” Vockler says. “Don't just throw info out there: connect with people to get the best results.” —Megan Headley


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