After careful research and planning, Stens Corporation has joined the social networking arena. They have uncovered what they think it takes to build a social networking presence and how their dealers can utilize these social networking sites to successfully promote their businesses, increase customer satisfaction and leverage their online presence into sales numbers.
We discussed Stens’ involvement in social media with president Peter Ariens and found out what works for this equipment parts supplier, as well as how their strategies can benefit dealers.
From a business perspective, is social networking a viable tool or have some companies simply jumped on the bandwagon without a plan?
Social networking is a vital part of any marketing strategy if it is done right. It is a very real communication method for equipment dealerships and can bring measurable, concrete results such as increased customer suggestions, gains in new customer prospects and even sales revenue generation. There may be dealers who are joining the social networking scene without the necessary planning, which will not bring the results they are looking for. To make social networking a viable tool that will work for you, you must adequately plan for success.
Has Stens benefited from its social networking activities?
When we decided to create the Stens blog and join social networking sites Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, we first discussed how we would measure our goals. By predetermining our measurement methods, we set the groundwork for our ability to determine the success of our social campaign.
We decided to focus on not only how many followers or fans we have, but also how many of those fans are “buying dealers” and how many are “potential customers”. We are also tracking the increase in sales for those buying dealers.
Our social networking sites have proven to be a great way to keep our finger on the pulse of the industry, as well as a means to build stronger connections with our customers. We are also using social media as a way to keep our customers informed of Stens news and updates. During the recent winter storms that made their way across the U.S., we used our sites to inform customers of each distribution center’s status. It is a great way to get the word out about tradeshows you will be attending to increase booth traffic, as well as a medium for current content and videos as the show is being held.
When each piece of the puzzle is put together correctly, social media can bring increased customer satisfaction followed by word-of-mouth marketing, new customer prospects, better brand awareness, product and service feedback, as well as increased sales revenue.
How can dealers make social networking work for them?
Social networking can work for any equipment dealership with adequate planning and content development. This involves creating a step-by-step action plan for every aspect of your social media activities.
You can begin by selecting which sites you will actively participate in, how communication with customers will be encouraged, how comments will be mediated, how early adopters will be rewarded, and so on. You will also need to develop strong content that is important to your customers. Keep content educational, not promotional.
Without a strategy in place or content that triggers a response in your audience, social networking will not have a centralized focus and will not produce the desired results. For an easy start, use it to compliment and enhance what you’re already doing.
By aligning your goals with the proper communication method, you will better communicate with your customers and understand how your products and services can better suit their needs.
Social networking has remained an elusive topic for many outdoor power equipment dealerships. Overcoming the mystery can be a simple process when implemented with the right strategy for your dealership. Joining the social networking world can be a journey that brings a closer connection between dealers and their customers, competitors and other important members of the Green Industry.