Running Away with the Running Shoe Business

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There’s a runner’s equipment store that I have driven by several times, often at around dinnertime. I am amazed to find this store mobbed with hundreds of people milling around outside the store on a fairly regular basis. There must be 200 to 300 people attentively standing around the store entrance on these days. These people are mostly dressed in runner’s garb and even have numbers pinned to their shirts. I don’t know who is running their PR but whoever it is, he or she is brilliant.

I thought I better find out more about this company. When I go to their website, it is not just a store. The website is dedicated to creating the community that gets them this kind of devotion. They invite everyone to be a member of their Running Club – walkers, runners, young and old. At the moment, they are advertising a scenic run through historic neighborhoods, a running clinic, a fun run on Saturday morning and a Thursday fun run.

It’s almost hard to find the SHOES because of the multiplicity of events, offers, news and even a weather report. You can find links to the brands they sell but these links take you to the manufacturer sites where you can get all the technical information on the shoes that you want. Yes, they sell shoes but also every other kind of running clothes, socks, nutrition and accessories. I think you could walk in that store with any running-related problem imaginable and they would know how to solve it.

It Comes from the Heart

If you pardon the pun, these guys are just a runaway hit with their customers. What makes it work is a real, heartfelt devotion to the sport. The business was established by two running enthusiasts (no surprises there), one of whom is a physical therapist who runs a clinic from this business (pretty unique!).

Of course they have a very busy Facebook page, with tons of customer interaction and fast answers from the staff. The site has a blog and a newsletter and tons of pictures. There are plenty of Tweets going out that feature club news, too.

Can you create this level of dedication among your customers? Some businesses can and perhaps it would be harder for others. But I would not underestimate your power to receive devotion back in exchange for what you provide. I’m thinking of an insurance broker I know. Especially right now, people are starved for information and understanding about insurance, with the whole health insurance issue looming for all of us. If you send out a series of articles on the basics of insurance that your friends and clients need to know, you will generate gratitude among those who really needed that information. Some of them will forward these articles to other people and your popularity will grow.

To win fans, give them something they can be a fan of. Hold events, Publish information. Report on news. Comment on other people’s news. Describe trends. Explain new features of equipment. Be useful! Become the go-to resource for your clientele and potential clientele. And maybe one day you will find hundreds of people milling around your door, too. 

Are You on Facebook? Do You “Like” People and Pages? Should You Care if Someone Wants You to “Like” Them?

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As of May 2013, there were 1.11 BILLION Facebook users. This is about one in seven humans on this planet. Now, think about the fact that this seven billion Earth population includes:

  • Senior citizens who have chosen not to adopt this technology

  • Children who are too young for Facebook pages

  • People in prisons, hospitals or other institutions around the world

  • People without the literacy skills to participate

  • People without the electricity or digital infrastructure to participate

  • And people who just don’t care.

You’ll see that among the remaining population, Facebook presence is going to be pretty pervasive. Chances are pretty good that you are among them or that you have at least roamed the site with someone else’s help. Chances are also pretty good that the majority of your customers or clients are on Facebook.

Maybe you have seen that someone posted a notice that said, “Go to my (business/musician/fan) page and LIKE ME!”

Why do they do this? What difference does it make? Is this some kind of popularity contest or ego boost for them?

They are seeking an advantage with the search engines. One Search Engine Optimization expert noted that if your social media presence grows in strength, the strength of your related websites will also grow. This means that having a fan page on Facebook is a good idea to strengthen your primary website.

The Major Social Media Sites

Of course, Facebook is not the only social medium by a very long shot. It’s number one, followed by Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, MySpace and Google+.

Twitter: text message exchange service with more than 300 million messages posted each day.

LinkedIn: social networking for professionals.

Pinterest: pinboard-style photo sharing site.

MySpace: social networking site with an emphasis on music; preceded Facebook.

Google+: social networking site that is married into Google search results.

If you really want to own your social media presence, you’d occupy space in each of these worlds.

You might have to pick and choose, depending on your business. A hairdresser could have an excellent presence on all these pages, as could a custom body shop. Imagine the images of classic cars and great paint jobs a custom body shop could post to Pinterest! A hairdresser or nail technician could post images on Pinterest of their own projects or inspiration for customers.

A restaurant might post pictures to social media of events that were held at the restaurant. A gourmet restaurant or deli might post images of great dishes, even if they didn’t come from that business and post recipes to Facebook. Potential customers will get accustomed to being inspired by this restaurant which will create a favorable relationship. Even a landscaper could post seasonal advice to Twitter and Facebook, and images of beautiful gardens to a Pinterest page.

If you commit to a social media campaign, you will accumulate the most value if you are consistent. If it’s possible, make it part of your life to stop by your social media pages and leave comments, advice or news. This will get people accustomed to seeing your posts and if they are interesting and useful, they will click on links to your site when you include these. Thus the traffic to your website can grow, to be followed by customer interest and sales.

Facebook will help you get started. Just click on the icon in the upper right corner, the one that looks like a little gear. Then scroll down and click on Advertising. This will give you step by step instructions on building a new page.

Of course, you can buy services from Facebook, but you can get started on your own page without any cost, and make it popular by posting interesting and useful information.

If you need help or just want to talk about this in more detail, send me an email or give me a call any time.

Carlos Bernot


How Emails Can Profit Almost Any Business

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I would be willing to bet you that anyone who is active on the internet gets plenty of email traffic from businesses they have frequented. Now, I’m not talking here about offensive spam. You know which ones I mean – the kind that you wish you have a “Delete and Destroy” button for, not just “Delete.” No, you really don’t need to buy counterfeit Viagra from a foreign country, thanks anyway.

I’m talking about emails from websites you have purchased from, or local businesses you visit regularly. If the businesses you frequent are on the ball, they collect email addresses, especially from the more dedicated customers, and send them useful or informative messages that generate more business.

At a health food store I frequent, there is almost always a clipboard at the checkout lane that invites me to add myself to the email list. It’s interesting to me to note that there are always names on this list. People add themselves to this list every day and since this has been going on for years, this store must have tens of thousands of people on their email distribution list by now.

Take a Tip from the Power Company

So what can you do to increase the viability of your company, once you have these email addresses? Power companies in various cities have had the habit of adding a little electric company newsletter to their bills for many years. You’ve probably seen these, maybe read them or at least glanced at them. For me, it always created the impression that there were real people somewhere in the power company, not just wires coming to my house. Don’t know if that was their intent but it was what I noticed.

There are many effects you can create on your customers and potential customers by sending them regular emails.

You can, for example:

  1. Remind them that you are still alive. This is sort of rock bottom, but it is far better than their wondering if you’re still over there on the corner of State and Main, still in business.

  2. Explain your products or services better. A car repair company can explain what happens when tires get worn. An insurance company can help people understand who should have term life insurance. A hair salon can explain how hair problems can be solved with a new line of products.

  3. Give people a reason to buy now. Send out coupons or special prices for certain products that month.

  4. Remind people of special needs they might have for your services at that time of year. A boutique could stock a supply of prom dresses before these events start and send out photos of the dresses in emails, even offering to schedule an appointment for shopping or a fitting. An auto repair shop could recommend a winter roadworthiness check. A heating and air conditioning company could send reminders of pre-summer checks for AC or pre-winter checks for heaters.

  5. Tell people about special events, open houses, experts coming to your business to give presentations, workshops.

  6. Find out what your customers want or how their needs might be changing just by asking them outright.

Emails can do a lot of work for you. By sitting down once every few months and brainstorming out a bunch of ideas, you can send a weekly or bi-weekly email without having to stress over it each month. With regular communication like this, you can markedly enhance your relationship with current or future customers.

And if you have a fairly large list, let’s say a few thousand at least, then sending from your own email account might not be such a great idea because of issues with your service provider. If that’s the case, get with us and we can help set you up with a method.