Sales Prospecting Tips & Methods | Jeff Molander
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How to Sell Home Furnishings and Textiles with Social Media

social media textiles speaker

Time to read 3 minutes. Selling home furnishings, kitchens, appliances, sofas, beds, mattresses and textiles using social media can be a snap. But only if you don’t follow the leading examples of best practices. That’s because most social marketing best practices fail to create sales. Case in point, Ikea’s Facebook campaign earned lots of industry buzz and customer engagement but few if any sales. Here’s how you can avoid making the same mistakes and create sales with social media marketing.

The Idea

Ikea had a promotional idea to open its new Malmo, Sweden store. Management would use Facebook to spread product images far and wide across the social network.  Ikea’s Malmo store set up a fan page and uploaded product images as photos within. When seeing a product image, any Facebook user could “tag” the image (associate themselves with it) and win it. First come, first served.

The Goal

Through product images, the new store would become more known to Facebook users. This was the store’s first mistake: setting the bar too low. Ikea’s idea was to give away a handful of store items. In return, those products would be seen virally as widely and as often as possible across Facebook.

Ikea’s “big idea” was to spread images of its store’s products far and wide. Ikea’s stated goal was limited to “lots of views.” Plus, the retailer failed to build a useful marketing asset for itself—something the store could use over time to foster sales.

The Results

The end result was heralded as a huge success by Web marketing trade media, bloggers, and gurus, but it it provided little value to Ikea beyond a massive display of product images across Facebook pages. This retail store failed to discover and nurture demand. It failed to prompt useful customer behavior that shepherded customers along — on a journey that could have led to purchase activity.

What Ikea Should Have Done to Create Sales

But what if Ikea took its photo-tagging concept and focused on a market segment important to that particular store, and what if they added an element that discovered more about that segment’s needs? For instance, the store could have traded the chance to win free stuff for a bit of insightful information about  a specific customer group as a requirement to participate. That way Ikea would develop a prospecting database for future follow-up.

As an example, incoming or first-year college students are prime targets for Ikea’s contemporary, cost-effective, and lightweight furniture—home furnishings, appliances, sofas, beds, mattresses, textiles. By identifying contest participants who were students, the company could have developed a targeted follow up e-mail campaign or a Facebook communications routine—something geared to prompt store visits through any number of student-focused promotions.

Or Ikea could have offered the chance to win something in exchange for the chance to solve problems or make life easier for students. “How to Design Your Dorm” video programs, articles, or an interactive application could have been provided—preloaded with stylish tips geared for young men or women. Content can be delivered in whatever format the audience chooses—articles, e-newsletters, podcasts, or short video programs. Each piece of content marketing would be designed to foster demand for Ikea’s products. Calls to action, promotions, and so on may be sprinkled in to induce an exchange of information between Ikea and prospects.

Getting this done is as simple as asking contest participants to identify themselves and choose a problem to have Ikea solve. By segmenting male and female students, the tips, tricks, and valuable content can be tailored by typical, gender-driven needs, goals, and interests.

What Your Store Can Do to Create Sales

In addition to giving a customer segment (like students) a chance to win products, your store can improve the lives of future buyers today and nurture relationships toward sales transactions tomorrow. This kind of “quality time thinking” would have given Ikea’s team something to work with long term when courting customers. Instead, the store settled for a flash-in-the-pan Facebook campaign.

What about your business? Could you be letting enthusiasm for social media distract from the real goal? Shouldn’t you be qualifying specific opportunities social media provides before taking action? And when acting, shouldn’t you be creating purposeful quality time with customers?

I discuss how to do this… in more detail in Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell. And wait until you meet Rok Hrastnik of textile purveyor, Dormeo.com and hear of his email and YouTube successes using the same idea.

Please be clear: I’m not calling Ikea stupid or short-sighted. Their team is working hard to make social media serve a purpose just like you are. But in this particular case they could have designed social media to sell. I’m sure they learned from it. And now you can too!

Photo credit: iquene

About the Author Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on starting sales conversations online. He teaches a proven, effective and repeatable communications process to spark buyers curiosity about what you're selling. He's a sought-after sales prospecting trainer to individual reps, teams of sellers and small businesses owners across the globe. He's an accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded the Google Affiliate Network and what is today the Performics division of Publicis Groupe.

Jeff also serves as adjunct digital marketing faculty at Loyola University’s school of business. His book, Off The Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You, is first to offer businesses a clear, practical way to create leads and sales with platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs.

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