Columnists Chuck Koehler The Retailer’s Perspective: Woo Hoo... I made a sale!

The Retailer’s Perspective: Woo Hoo... I made a sale!

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About darn time!  And, before I could properly celebrate, my online store made another one, then another one.  It’s true what they say; you always remember your first one.  It went something like this…

About two years ago I started to develop a new product to bring to the marketplace.  I’ve written about it here before, but mostly about the trials and tribulations of building the website, not the Facebook side of it.  For me though, the Facebook side is what’s gotten me the most attention out in the cyber world.  When we first set up the Facebook page, we got a few likes from those close to the project.  Then, you beg your family and friends to ‘like’ your page, and that’s good for about 80-100 likes.  But, in all reality, they only ‘liked’ it because they had to - and hoping I’d cut ‘em a good deal for liking it.

Then the hard part started.  Trying to find ‘real’ customers out there in the cyber world to not only like your page, but to tell their friends about you… just like you did the very first time you flipped your ‘Open’ sign on your retail store.  Then, you want them to like what you’re doing and share it with their friends over and over.  In my brick and mortar store, people come in all the time and tell me they were referred by so and so.  It’s the same on the internet.  You want people to genuinely like you and refer their family and friends to you.  Once you finally start to get some real fans on the internet, it gives you the boost to keep going.  But, as usual, it never happens fast enough.  So, to speed it up we started throwing money at it.

Facebook is really nothing but a big advertising machine.  Yes I know that it’s a great way to keep up with family and friends and creep on people you don’t know, but it’s also one of the most active online marketing venues out there.  As a personal user of Facebook, I’d see the ‘create ad’ links, and the ‘promote this post’ or ‘boost this post’ links, but I never really paid much attention.  Then one day I decided, what the heck, let’s punch that button and see where it takes us.

As you all know, advertising over the last 10 to 15 years or so has gotten so frustrating.  If I advertise on the radio, my customers are listening to commercial free radio.  If I advertise on TV, my customers are flipping through different channels.  If I advertise in the paper, my customers are reading online.  Facebook advertising is just like any other advertising venue; you throw money into a big hole and hope some customers pop up.  And guess what?  They did!  WHAT?  Something actually worked?  Yep.

Through the years of owning my store (I just hit the 20 year mark about 3 weeks ago, BTW), I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of advertising sales reps approach me about advertising in their particular media.  They all quote statistics, marketing data, demographics, and such.  I just look at them and tell them all the same thing; STOP TELLING ME THAT!  The only thing I’m interested in is how many people you will bring into my retail store.  I don’t care how many listeners or readers your research tells you that you have.  I only care about how many of them you can actually make walk into my store.  Once they cross the threshold, your job is finished, and mine has just begun.  If I can’t sell them once you bring them to me, then that’s on me.  But, I can’t sell them if you can’t bring ‘em.

In the old days, we collected names and addresses so we could send our customers our marketing materials.  Then we’d get their fax number and fax them our marketing materials.  Then came e-mail.  Then came text.  Now it’s Facebook, Twitter, and several others I haven’t mastered yet, but I’m realizing that the same thing holds true on the internet.  If I can capture a true, potential customer on the internet to ‘like’ my Facebook page (or follow me on Twitter), then I have a constant, low cost, opportunity to offer them my goods and services on a steady basis. 

If I draw someone to my regular website, and they don’t see anything that strikes their fancy at that very moment, they’re gone… maybe forever.  But, if they ‘like’ your Facebook business page, then you’ll show up in their newsfeed on a continual basis.  But getting new likes on your Facebook page is as difficult as getting new customers into your actual store.  It’s not a one time event; it’s a continual process that I’m committed to figuring out. 

One of the first things I learned about Facebook advertising is it’s kinda complicated at first because you’re on your own.  There is no sales rep to help you navigate it.  And, their billing is even more complicated.  A few times I’ve had to suspend all of my advertising to get Facebook to quit ghost billing me for ‘add-ons’ that I didn’t know I’d ordered and have to decline when placing an ad.  You place one ad and suddenly you’ve got three.  But, their targeting is really good once you get the hang of it, and learn how to turn off the add-ons.  Of course, don’t believe their statistics either about the number of likes you’ll get.  You won’t.  But, you can change your targeting at will. 

The first time you place an ad, they’ll tell you that your ad is ‘pending, awaiting review’ which took a day or so.  After that, anytime you change your ad it goes live in about 15 minutes.  If I only want to advertise to Facebook users in my zip code, there are currently 15,200 users that will see my ad an average of 6 times a day for $25 per week.  Not bad.  About the only thing I haven’t really grasped yet is whether it’s better to advertise to 500,000 people, or 3,800,000 or 15,765,000.  That’s still a crapshoot, but I’m constantly tweaking my targeting and it’s getting better.

I truly consider my new likes on my Facebook page to new retail customers that I spent hard earned money on to get them into my store.  It’s no fun doing your dog and pony show if no one is there to see it.  Getting them in the door was the hard part.  Getting new customers online is equally hard.  And, now that I’ve got a full blown online retail store (many thanks to all the help from my readers and all of their advice), getting someone to even know you exist out in cyber land is a daunting challenge.  Every new ‘like’ I get is a small victory.  I pay the minimum of $5 per day which is $25 per week (I told you their billing was confusing since there are 7 days in a week) per ad.  But, at any given time I’ll have two or three ads running targeting different groups to my page. 

I remember when I got to 200 likes.  The first 100 were people I actually know so they didn’t really count.  The next hundred I fought hard for because they didn’t know me and I didn’t know them.  Then we hit 300.  Then we hit 400.  By this time now, all of our new likes are truly brand new potential customers that really dig what we’re doing and are telling their friends to check us out.  And, for some odd reason, we’re really big in Canada right now.  Go figure. 

For the last week or so, we’ve been stuck at 497 hard fought ‘likes’, and just couldn’t get over the hump.  So I ran a free giveaway to the first one of our friends in cyber land that could get three of their friends to like our page.  A few seconds later, the contest was over.  So we extended it by saying whoever could get the most number of people to like our page would get a free giveaway.  Some woman I don’t know, out of Walterboro, South Carolina, won the contest by getting something like 25 or 30 of her friends to like us.  And, now those people are telling us they think we’re just the coolest thing ever.  Sweet.  It’s about time.

So, the big question you’re all thinking; is it making lots of money?  No.  Not yet, but it’s not losing money anymore.  It’s nice to finally throw money at something and have it throw money back at you for a change.  It’s not standing on its own yet, but it has started crawling on its own causing us to develop new inventory control systems to keep up with orders.

If you want to see what I’ve done and how I got to this point (545 ‘likes’ as of this writing), go to Facebook and search for Touched Impressions.  But, DO NOT ‘like’ my page.  Seriously, for two reasons;

1) I don’t want to use this forum just to get likes, this is not MySpace, and

2) I don’t need a bunch of jewelers that aren’t going to buy my product at full retail online to like my page.  I’m fishing for retail customers out there.

I just want you to take a look and see what I’ve done and maybe it can help you in establishing and enhancing your online presence as well.  I’ve had a lot of help from my readers over the last couple of years to get to this point, and I hope what I’ve done with their help will help some of you as well.

And remember, just because you can’t like it, your family and friends can…. ha ha.  Now get out there and sell something online.

Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide. If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
 
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