Educating your consumer

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Today’s customer is teachable, especially when you, as a retailer, take advantage of the myriad of tools available at your disposal to help you be the teacher.

by Nikki Fotheringham

For many brands, what I call the “Las Vegas Effect” is enough to garner the attention they need to generate income. Here, bright, eye-catching packaging or celebrity endorsements are utilized to drive sales. But when it comes to big-ticket items, consumers are less enamored by flair and want to make informed decisions. If you’re trying to sell a house, placing bikini-clad girls out front is probably not going to be an effective marketing strategy.

Jewellery falls into this category because buyers are selecting not only something that will be an investment, but also a treasure they will have for the rest of their lives. It’s not enough to have the prettiest storefront or the most beautiful models; you need to educate your audience if you are going to successfully close a sale.

Keshia Holland, PR and online marketing manager for Pandora, explains, “Our marketing strategy is tied to our affordable luxury positioning and that involves fully educating our consumers on the quality of our jewellery. When our consumers understand the level of craftsmanship that goes into creating each individual piece, it gives them a true appreciation for the jewellery they’re purchasing.”

Create a brand narrative

Start by creating a strong brand identity. Decide on the look, tone and feel of your brand and then stick to that throughout all of your content. This helps people to immediately identify you and your brand. When you have inconsistent branding, your clients can’t form a clear image of who you are and what you offer.

With each new piece of content you create, you are sharing the next chapter in your brand narrative. When you have a strong brand identity, you are able to control that narrative and the way that you are portrayed by all of your marketing and employees.

By providing information through your website, blog and social media, you are establishing a relationship with potential clients. You are starting a conversation where you offer them resources and education for free. You are setting yourself up as an expert in the field and helping them to make informed decisions that build trust. Through your brand narrative, you are doing 75 per cent of the work before the client has even walked through your door.

Perfect your website design

Millennial shoppers tend to research online before they head out to kick the tires. This means that you have to rely on your website and social media to educate your potential clients. If your website hasn’t been changed since its inauguration in 1993, it’s time for a revamp.

Your online base should be a reflection of who you are as a brand. Allow your website to tell the story of your brand and provide the information clients need to make an educated choice. Balance information with design so your site is elegant and easy to use.

Ensure that your site is search engine optimized (SEO). This means that when clients enter keywords associated with your brand and products into a search engine, your website appears on the first page. The first page of a Google search receives 95 per cent of the traffic, which means that if you’re stuck over on the second page, you’re practically invisible.

Brevity is the bride of success

Of course you’re passionate about your trade, but waffling on about your wares like your crazy Aunt Mildred about her upcoming cat wedding is not a winning strategy. Ensure that your website, newsletters and pamphlets are concise; read your audience’s interest and tailor your information accordingly.

Start a blog

One way to improve your SEO and provide your clients with a wealth of educational material is through your blog. Sharing articles here will help drive traffic to your site and establish you as an expert. If a blog is too much of a commitment, consider a monthly newsletter where you share resources and articles as well as special offers and new products.

Create your own buzz

A conversation about your brand is already going online. Customers may be rating you or your products on business sites like Yelp and Angie’s List and posting on their social media sites. Make sure that you are part of this conversation; your social media sites should share information from your followers. Follow a 75/25 rule where 75 per cent of your content is shared and 25 per cent is your original content.

Catherine Roman Fournier, online and PR manager for Bizou, says, “Social media is a great place to keep our customers informed. We are very active on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. We also have a blog. Each social media platform has its own perks. Since our employees are the first point of contact with our customers, it is crucial that they are up to speed with trends. We provide our store employees with regular documents explaining trends and how to wear them. There’s nothing better than our customers being served by employees who know how to apply the trends to their own wardrobe!”
Get recommendations

There’s no marketing device as effective as an endorsement from a trusted friend. Ask your loyal customers to rate your business and products on sites like Yelp. Add customer reviews to your website, offer rewards for recommendations or social media shares, post videos or pictures of happy customers talking about how much they love their new acquisitions and share their stories on your social media. CJ