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3 Things Distinctive Gardens Learned from Big Break Metrics August 10, 2011

 

Publicity does not equal immediate gratification.

 

There’s no doubt AmEx Open’s Facebook Big Break for Small Business gave finalist (and winner 🙂 Distinctive Gardens gobs of publicity. And it was a ball (and a ton of work.) The nuts & bolts and bean-counter question is —  did it grow the business. Let’s take a look.

 

Lisa’s main goal was to use Big Break to drive brand awareness and measure results with some key metrics (read more about that here.)

 

More of the nitty-gritty is below, but first the big picture observations.

 

3 things the metrics taught us:

  1. Watch for changes in untargeted categories
  2. Metrics don’t measure psychological highs
  3. Small business is a marathon

 

OK, numbers chicks

Here are the results. She compared year-to-date numbers during the pre-Big Break period to the 2 weeks of Big Break voting (July 5-19, 2011) in these categories:

  • Foot traffic  – up 4.2%, and 20 people specifically mentioned Facebook
  • Retail Sales (all numbers are year-to-date)
    • Nursery +3%
    • Annuals +.4%
    • Perennials +2.5%
  • Facebook Fan count – + 2027
  • Website traffic – hits were way up
  • Design Inquiry count – 3
  • Newsletter email count – not much change, only a couple new names

 

A couple notes:

  • Foot traffic up 4% doesn’t sound like much. Until you mash-up foot traffic with weather. Dixon was in the midst of that brutal heat wave that crushed most of the country. In fact, July was the 6th warmest month on record for Illinois. Not many people wanted to be outside, let alone plant anything.
  • Overall for 2011, Distinctive Gardens has had a challenging year. On average they’ve been down double digits year-to-date. So the upticks while small, were welcome.
  • Website traffic was not just up, it went global. Typically their site gets hits from IL and the 4 surrounding states. With Big Break hits came from everywhere, including New Zealand. The map up top tells the tale (it’s from July 10.)

The Surprise

In crunching the numbers Lisa found another interesting up-tick — pavilion rentals.  At the beginning of July their pavilion rentals had equaled all bookings for 2010. In the hot, hot month of July they have never booked a pavilion rental.

 

That changed this year. During Big Break they booked 6 pavilion dates. (Revenue gets hit w/ deposit money) So not only are they ahead of last year, they’ve already knocked last year out of the park. It’s not their core business, but it’s a solid revenue stream that’s growing.

 

What’s all this mean long-term? No one knows. But common sense tells me this – when guests come to an event at Distinctive Gardens pavilion, it’s like advertising for the rest of the business.  It’s more eyeballs exposed to what they love – artful plantings.

 

What, dear reader, do you take away from these numbers?

 

 

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Eat Chicken, Don’t be One August 5, 2011

Filed under: Learnings,School — Carla Bobka @ 1:41 pm
Tags: , , ,

 

After 2 years of talking to people about their business and social media, the number 1 reason people don’t get started is fear. What are they scared of? Bad stuff. Bad stuff being said about them.

 

I get it, no one enjoys hearing criticism or harsh comments. I sure don’t like it. And that doesn’t mean it’s healthy or helpful to avoid it.

 

So, Laurie Bick and I have joined forces to do a seminar on dealing with negative posts. It’s called “Walking the Minefield.”  Laurie is a marketing communications consultant. She’s worked with companies like DuPont and Corning Glass. We’ve been working on a couple projects the last few months, and have developed a series of workshops based on things clients have been struggling with.

 

The goal of “Walking the Minefield” is to help people develop a plan for responding. When you’re armed with a plan, it’s a bit easier to stay calm and control knee-jerk reactions.

 

The session is next week, Friday August 12, 9:00 – 10:30 am. It is an in-person session at Brandywine Executive Center in Wilmington, DE. All the details are here on the registration page.

 

There are 6 sessions in the series. You can find the session descriptions here. If you or someone you know is struggling to get your head around social media take a look. We hope you’ll join us.

 

 

 

What I did Last Summer July 26, 2011

Filed under: Ideas — Carla Bobka @ 2:27 pm
Tags:

Happy Vacation

 

Thanks for stopping by. This week I’m vacationing. Sun, sand, family and relaxing is the only thing on my mind. We have a whole crew imported from the Midwest, and we are going get ourselves tan and cousin-ed up.

 

Stop back next week for more stuff to keep your social biz efforts humming along.

 

If you need inspiration right now, wander through the archives here.

 

Here’s to sleeping late and bug-bites. Cheers!

 

 

 

Phone Call of a Lifetime July 25, 2011

They won!!!

 

The waiting and secrecy is over. Distinctive Gardens is a Big Break winner!

At midnight on July 19 voting for AmEx OPEN’s Facebook Big Break for small business closed. Then the waiting began.

And when that ended the secrecy started. And the work for the next phase.  Finalists learned their fate within 24 hours of the last vote. They were sworn to secrecy, actually signed to secrecy.

Here’s some notes from the big phone call, as recalled by Bud:

“We at AmEx and FB were very impressed with all you did to get the votes”….  “We know how hard you have worked”…..   “We’re so very happy you won.   We really really like what you are doing”…..     “Bud you’re a star”  (Bud’s response through the tears). “That’s what the kids say, but I’m just Bud.”

The hard work part is no joke. Here’s a taste of what they did to get out the vote:

  1. Developed 4 sets of web and Facebook Page graphics to keep people interested (the graphic above, for the win is #5)
  2. Created press release, posters and invites  for the Big Surprise Bash, and for the Finalist announcement
  3. Walked the town in Dixon and Sterling before voting started, inviting people to the Big Surprise Bash
  4. Made a Prezi trailer for the Big Surprise Bash
  5. Learned to use Twitter
  6. Created an Our Story Prezi to show at the bash
  7. Passed our “Vote for Us” cards at every bar in town and a local music fest
  8. Thanked every person who fanned their web page, usually a 12 hour/day job
  9. Fed blog content on the experience to SocialPie
  10. Bud’s son and a buddy hit the street to pass out “Vote for Us” cards
  11. The kids also share to all their Facebook friends continually
  12. 13 TV and Radio appearances (either before or after landscape jobs)
  13. Walked town (Dixon, Sterling, Subula) in late afternoon passing out vote cards
  14. Posted every compliment, photo, blog and news mention possible to Distinctive Gardens Facebook Page.
  15. Announced TV and radio appearances to Twitter and Facebook, by now nicknamed DiGgers at the suggestion of a fan.
  16. Created an event on Facebook inviting people to vote and invite their friends to vote. It spawned upwards of 15,000 invitations.
  17. The community was incredibly supportive. There were at least 5 personal friends who posted to their Facebook Pages everyday, the local florist used their sign, “Vote Distinctive Gardens on Facebook;” other businesses supported DG in their ad space and with in-store signage.

Overall it was an incredible experience. Just watching it from 800 miles away I was exhausted and impressed.

They are celebrating today for sure. And I couldn’t be more pleased to have played a tiny role in the whole thing.

BTW – Party at their place Friday night, Ravinia style 🙂

 

For Facebook Admins Only – Invite Friends Button Returns July 22, 2011

Filed under: Learnings,Resources — Carla Bobka @ 8:18 am
Tags: ,

Invite Friends to your Page

 

The Invite Friends button has reappeared on Facebook Pages. (only admins can see it)

 

  • What it does -helps you spread the word about your Page to people you know.

 

  • How it works – it sends an invite to the friends you select.

 

  • Who’s it for – especially handy for new Pages, or those who started a personal profile for their business and now want to convert over to a Page.

 

  • What it doesn’t do – your buddies still have to hit the Like button when they get to your Page.
  • What I don’t know – if each Admin on a page can invite their own friends or if it defaults to the friend list of the page creator. (The old button worked this way.)

 

Is it showing on your view? And if you have multiple admins, can they each invite their own friends? Drop me a note in Comments if you experiment.

 

 

 

Did AmEx Big Break Drive Revenue July 20, 2011

 

 

Well, the voting (for 2011 AmeEx OPEN’s Facebook Big Break for Small Biz) is over. What a ride for all the finalists. Winners are announced on July 25, so we have to wait to see who won. Bummer. BUT…impact long term to the businesses that made the Top 10 is happening anyway. All that effort and all the website hits video view should help the businesses, even if they don’t win the contest.

 

What will the exposure created by the Facebook Big Break do for Distinctive Gardens business? Even if they don’t win, the publicity and exposure from being a finalist is nothing to sneeze at. Lisa and I tried to figure out how to measure the impact.

 

Overall we decided that beyond than winning the contest ($20k is a BIG deal) the goal is to drive brand awareness of Distinctive Gardens which could be leveraged to drive revenue growth long term.

 

The real challenge was deciding what we could track that would measure that.

 

We decided to on revenue, and a group of stats that indicate an increase in interest in the garden center that could be precursors to revenue.

Here’s what we decided to track:
  • Foot traffic
  • Retail Sales * – excluding landscaping and maintenance revenues.
  • Facebook Fan count
  • Website traffic
  • Design Inquiry count
  • Newsletter email count
To get a baseline, Lisa measured the indicators for 2 weeks before the release of the Top 10 Finalist videos. Finalists had all agreed to keep their selection secret until the moment the videos were made public on YouTube, midnight July 5. So she used the 2 weeks before that as the “before” baseline.
*Retail sales numbers – Garden center sales revenues is heavily cyclical. July is typically the 2nd slowest month of the year, planting is done, people are vacationing and it’s blisteringly hot in Illinois. So Lisa is measuring total sales from a 4 week period mid-June through mid-July last year vs. this year. That will measure any short term spike in sales. She’ll take another measurement Mid-June through end Sept to track longer term increases during traditionally busier time periods.

 

“How do we isolate and attribute shifts in foot traffic, sales, design inquiries etc.to the BB (Big Break) exposure?”

This is tough. And it’s tough for any form of advertising or promotion. Does Coors Light really know how many more cases of beer they sell specifically because someone saw a Superbowl commercial? No. The ad team takes credit for any increase in sales, sure. But it could be because they also started distributing in a bunch of new stores, or in a county that had been dry.  Or because it was unusually warm in January so people were in  “warm weather, let’s have a beer” mood. Or maybe they got their tax return arrived and they celebrated. There are always plenty of uncontrollable and uncorroborate-able factors.

 

Can you think of any other factors she could measure? Leave us a note in comments.

 

Grabbing Your Community by the Heart July 19, 2011

There's nothing better than community.

 

Today is the final day of voting for American Express Open’s Facebook Big Break for Small Business. The clock stops ticking at midnight eastern time.

 

The tiny community of Dixon, Il and their neighbors are pulling out all the stops to help Bud and Jim at Distinctive Gardens win. You can vote here, if you haven’t already.

 

Here’s the comment stream on the pic. Would your neighbors do this for you? Just fantastic.