How to Market to Consumers At Home

You aren’t the only business owner trying to figure it out, but here are some ways to get started.
July 20, 2020 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Even when the country starts opening up in earnest, people may continue staying at home more often out of an abundance of caution. The nationwide shutdown has necessitated some creativity for business owners, who must pivot their marketing efforts. How does your product or service serve your consumer when they’re at home? How can you alter your marketing message to meet them where they are now?

It will look different for every company, but a good first step is to consider your target-customer alias and what they’re currently doing at home. What are they looking for that will fill their time or meet one of their new needs? Then, go from there creatively. Don’t be afraid to try out numerous different creative marketing ideas, because this is unprecedented territory. You aren’t the only business owner trying to figure it out, but here are some ways to get started on your new marketing tactics.

1. Demonstrate how your product or service can be used at home

Depending on what your product or service is, you may need to think outside the box in how your consumer can use it at home. For example, if you sell shoes or something that has to do with being outside, some creativity is necessary. Can you use your social media channels and repost pictures of your customers wearing your shoes while walking the dog? Can you turn it into a quirky marketing message, like, “Shoes so comfortable you can wear them inside”?

Remember that humor will make you stand out and stay top of mind. According to research by Chegg, 80 percent of college students remember ads that make them laugh. Most of us do. It’s what we send to our friends and family members or share on our Twitter feeds. Even if your marketing idea is a stretch, see what you can do. One note here: Also make sure that your humor isn’t tone deaf, since these are serious times of hardship. But a dose of good, creative humor goes a long way.

Related: 3 Signs Your Brand Isn’t Telling a Winning Story (and How to Fix Things)

2. Use celebrities and influencers for marketing

One perk of the stay-at-home decree: Celebrities and influencers are at home and have more time than ever for sponsored posts. Now is the moment to reach out to that ideal influencer or celebrity and ask them to represent you online. Josh Elizitxe, the CEO of SNOW at-home whitening kits, scored influencer deals with UFC fighter Chuck Liddell and Super Bowl champion Rob Gronkowski. Specifically, the photos show Liddell and Gronkowski using the product at home.

“It sparks an idea in a potential customer’s mind: that they too should use the product during their time at home,” notes Elizitxe, who adds that his company has seen a 240 percent spike in sales since Liddell and Gronkowski posted. “These celebrities already have established trust with their followers, which makes the followers more likely to buy.”

When approaching influencers for your ad campaigns, make sure to give plenty of creative direction. And luckily, since everyone’s at home, that’s where the celebrity or influencer will have to take their picture or video anyway.

3. Host live streams on social media

After social distancing guidelines were put into place, the whole world went virtual. The resulting hybrid between the virtual realm and in-person is best typified by the live video function on social media platforms. Live streams have been used for everything from live yoga classes from CorePower to live concerts from musicians like Chris Martin and John Legend. How can you get involved? Aim to go live at least once a week, and use this opportunity to come up with an idea for a daily or weekly series related to your product.

Now is a great time to start to build a better relationship with your customers. They’re at home, bored and on their phones. They might as well be learning from or hearing from you on live video. Host giveaways, bring on guests, and as always, keep the content related to your product.

For example, if your product is a protein powder, bring on athletes to talk about their pre-workout routines. Offer health-centered content or fun protein shake recipes. Or, if your product is a coaching program, bring on past students or experts in your industry for live Q&As. Let your followers get involved by asking questions so they feel like they’re there, too.

4. Post entertaining content

Instead of constantly selling to your followers on social media with posts that say things like, “Buy now,” post content that entertains your audience and has them searching for your updates in their feeds, at which point they will begin to purchase your product and even become advocates for your brand.

One brand that’s mastered this concept is Death Wish Coffee. I recently noticed how their edgy posts and dark humor have built a highly engaged community of buyers online without hardly ever doing any direct selling on social media. I reached out to their marketing manager, Shannon Sweeney, to find out the secret sauce behind their posts.

“Ever since we started in 2012, we’ve appealed to the sarcastic, cynical, coffee-drinking community,” Sweeney says. “Our content reflects our brand values and gives our community a voice. It reveals what you’re secretly thinking before you even know it.”

Related: 10 Influencer Marketing Trends to Keep Your Eye On

As you go along, notice what’s working well and what could be performing better. Thankfully, due to social media reports, it will be straightforward to track which marketing efforts are yielding the best results. Everyone needs to be flexible, adaptive, and innovative right now. Prove to your customers that you are always there for them, and market to them where they live.

How to Boost Sales When Consumers are Spending Less

It takes an acute level of adaptation, but it can be done.
July 2, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Know me before selling me; that’s what Americans expect from sales reps.

In a recession, it’s critical to align with customer preferences to avoid losing sales to rivals. Competition is stiff, as people have less disposable incomes. A 2018 study by the Federal Reserve found that 40 percent of Americans can’t come up with $400 to pay for an emergency. And that’s before 40 million people were out of work virtually overnight.

Here are tips to increase sales, even when the economy is in flux.

A business must do whatever it takes to serve customers well

Buyers are weary. They’ve been locked down, and many have to fight for jobs before unemployment benefits run out. Not to mention 27 million have recently lost employer-based health insurance, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. Post-pandemic consumers, therefore, are thrifty and budget-conscious.

Salesy employees seem indifferent to customer needs. Businesses must encourage reps to truly listen to what customers want, even if they don’t articulate their needs and desires clearly. A helpful salesman should read between the lines and notice what isn’t being said. Moreover, he should act more like a product consultant than a commission-chasing machine.

“Our startup scaled significantly in our third year when we excelled at customizing apparel and giving customers a very personalized service,” says Michael Nemeroff, CEO of Rush Order Tees. The Philadelphia-based ecommerce brand grew from $30,000 a month in sales to $200,000 a month during that transition period.

Nemeroff credits his company’s extreme growth to streamlining of processes, expanding Rush Order Tees’ customer base and catering to orders of all sizes. “The real key was doing whatever it took to deliver any size order with any design for clients on extremely short deadlines,” he adds. “We earned a great reputation, and we have now reached a point where more than 40 percent of revenue is reorder business.”

Related:How Your Attitude Can Win You Sales

Think long-term value

Any entrepreneur would pick recurring revenue over one-off transactions. So why should sales mentality be any different? A 2019 survey by Gartner found that millennials are generally skeptical of sales reps.

One sales expert believes that current events can be leveraged to create favorable impressions with prospective buyers. “Design your pitch to take advantage of everything that’s currently going on,” advises Temple Naylor, an influencer in high-ticket sales, in a recent call. “The recession can be utilized to help design the pitch. Do research and create data points that inform your pitch because prospects will be inclined to trust you as an authority.”

Trustworthiness and accurate product information are extremely important in the purchase decision. In other words, prospects are more likely to purchase from a rep with a solid reputation. “Everyone is scrambled in fear because of the downturn,” says Naylor. “So get your facts and data from very credible sources such as new studies from global consulting firms or large universities. It’s hard for prospects to argue with great information.”

Skepticism of a salesperson’s claims reduces a customer’s chance of buying by half, according to a 2020 survey by Gartner. There’s real risk of losing a customer by being inauthentic. They won’t feel special and appreciated, and lack of customer loyalty means they can easily switch over to a competitor.

Therefore agents, shopkeepers and anyone else who rings the cash register must earn trust by helping customers find what they need. Aside from getting word-of-mouth business, influencers may promote your brand on social media after you establish a solid reputation for helping customers. The sales commission should be a byproduct of great service rendered, not the goal in itself.

Related: How to Find New Customers for an Old Product

Be persistent with contacts

Finally, there’s nothing like good old follow-up. Prospects don’t buy at the present time for many reasons, even though they’re interested in a good or service. They may currently be busy, lack time, need a boss’s approval, lack money or have other priorities. However, a good salesperson will reconnect with a prospect when the timing is right and secure the transaction.

Only 2 percent of sales occur at a first meeting, according to Marketing Donut, a sales-resource website. And prospects say “no” four times before buying a product or service. Persistence matters. Many rejections are soft rebuffs — they don’t really mean it. And many are presently unsure of what they want until they see more information. A “no” often brings you one step closer to “yes,” especially for would-be customers who are teetering on the edge of purchasing.

“Have an emotionally intelligent dialogue and not a sales script,” suggests Naylor. “Talk like a normal human. You don’t have to be perfectly polished. Instead, lead people through self-doubt and resistance at the end of an offer.”

To underscore his point, according to HubSpot research, buyers want reps to listen to needs (69 percent); to not be pushy (61 percent); and to provide relevant information (61 percent). Is your staff properly trained and inspired to sell in the new economy?

Social Video in 2020: The Viewpoints of Marketers and Consumers [2 Infographics]

What are consumers’ viewpoints regarding video on social media, and do marketers’ social video approaches and priorities mesh with those viewpoints? These two infographics highlight trends and insights from both camps. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

What are consumers’ viewpoints regarding video on social media, and do marketers’ social video approaches and priorities mesh with those viewpoints?

Two infographics by Animoto, a provider of drag-and-drop videomaking software, highlight recent research into consumers’ and marketers’ views about social media video.

Marketers and consumers alike rank video as an excellent way to engage each other: Consumers expect to receive information from brands via social, while marketers say it’s an effective way to reach social media audiences.

Moreover, both camps agree that Facebook is the leading social video platform, though consumers view YouTube as increasing in popularity.

For the actual stats behind those findings, check out the two infographics:

How Much Data Is Too Much for Consumers?

Strike a balance by following these simple tips.
September 19, 2019 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the age of infinite customization, too much choice can be a bad thing. Consumers appreciate multiple options, but they don’t want to design their own products and services from scratch. Companies lose sales when customers experience choice overload. To convince people to buy from your brand, you must walk a fine line between too little and too much data.

Accenture’s Pulse Check 2018 discovered that 91 percent of of consumers are more likely to buy from businesses that provide relevant offers and personalized recommendations. When it comes to sales, relevance makes the difference between a satisfied buyer and an overwhelmed prospect. People will flee from the pressure when forced to choose from a wall of irrelevant options, but when they can fine-tune recommendations that already make sense, they feel much more comfortable.

Strike a balance and provide your customers with exactly the right amount of data by following these simple tips:

1. Provide concierge services to do the grunt work.

Customers know what you do and what they want, but they don’t always know how to connect the dots. Make the process easier by providing expert guidance to potential buyers. Reservations.com, for example, pairs hungry travelers with savvy advisors through its R-Club program. Customers can chat with real humans 24/7 on everything including where to go, where to stay, what to do and where to eat on their upcoming trips.

Related:4 Ways That Live Chat, as in ‘Human’ Chat, Still Beats Out the Bots

Concierge services provide the ultimate level of customization for choice-flooded customers. If a Reservations.com customer wanted to go to Italy in the spring to try authentic Sicilian cooking, an R-Club advisor could help make that happen. A different customer who wanted a tropical vacation sometime in the next few weeks would get a similar treatment for a vaguer goal. Different customers want different levels of customization, and human-led services can make a major difference in quality and relevance.

2. Design a path, not a challenge.

For products with virtually limitless customization options, don’t hit customers in the face with the full spread at the beginning. Instead, gradually lead them down a purchase path to make them feel like partners in the creative process.

Say you wanted to purchase some customized gear for your team. You’d go through an entire decision-making process step by step, starting with picking the actual product serving as team swag. Then, you’d choose the colors and artwork, which might be related to your traditional logo and branding or associated with a specific campaign or event. If the process became overwhelming, you could contact customer service to have a human walk you through the process. But imagine if you had to pick everything at once: product, color, design. Not only would the gear company’s webpages take forever to load, but customers would bolt at the enormity of the catalog. By laying out an easy-to-follow path, customers experience the benefits of options without suffering from the paradox of choice.

3. Consider the context closely.

Use data to guide customers in the right direction from the outset. If you sell clothing, for instance, keep the winter gear at the back of the site during the summer. You may lose a few sales to offseason buyers, but you will more than make up the difference by appealing to a wider audience interested in seasonally relevant clothing.

Amazon is well-known for its personalized recommendations. By reviewing what customers have purchased previously, as well as what they’ve searched and browsed, its algorithm is able to find items in the same vein. Amazon Web Services took this one step further by rolling out Amazon Personalize, a machine-learning service that shares with developers the same technology Amazon itself uses.

That includes personalized notifications. Amazon Personalize’s goal is to make sure the right people get the right messages at the right time. “For example,” Amazon explains on its site, “a retailer can use Amazon Personalize to select the most appropriate mobile-app notification to send based on a user’s location, buying habits and discount amounts that have previously driven them to act rather than simply sending a generic promotion and hoping for the best.”

Related:The Insane Amounts of Data We’re Using Every Minute (Infographic)

4. Don’t define yourself through customization.

Your brand promises a specific kind of value. Don’t make customers work hard to extract it. Give people what they want, even if that means sacrificing potential profits in one area to deliver higher-quality options that better reflect your primary purpose.

Chik-fil-A is a good example of understanding your niche. While competitors like McDonald’s and Burger King started with hamburgers and shifted to include chicken options, the chicken-based chain hasn’t strayed from its main offering. Rather than simply differentiate itself on food, however, Chik-fil-A has centered on its customer service and strategic growth without spreading itself too thin.

Your customers want to choose, but they want you to do most of the heavy lifting. Give them a break by handling the bulk of the personalization work behind the scenes so you can provide a satisfying and seamless experience.

How Brands Connect Emotionally With Consumers

Rich Krause, CEO of Capital Brands, shares his thoughts on how to deliver the best products to consumers.
August 29, 2019 1 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Rich Krause, CEO of Capital Brands LLC Parent Company of NutriBullet, discusses how consumer brands are able to adjust to the dynamic nature of modern marketing. He also breaks down strategies for creating sustainable growth and the importance of understanding your customer in order to serve them.

Krause and The Playbook host David Meltzer talk about establishing emotional connections with the people who use your products, why you should always seek the advice of mentors with experience and how today’s digital landscape has changed how products are marketed to the masses. The pair talk about the optimal approach to leading a company with a focus on growth and innovation, as well as how they determine when to pivot.

Related: The Best Entrepreneurs See Problems and Solve Them