Relationships Drive Business

Strengthening Customer Engagement to Propel Your Business

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.

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3 Questions for $20k July 16, 2011

Distinctive Gardens entered American Express OPEN’s Facebook Big Break by answering 3 questions. Here’s what they submitted.

How would you have answered them?

“Tell us about your business.  What makes you excited to come to work every day?”

We love gardening, no two ways around it.  We love gardeners.  They’re the coolest, most open-minded people around.  We love our industry.  These people are honest, enthusiastic, and love sharing knowledge and the joy of their efforts.  We feel lucky doing a job we love. We opened this garden center because it’s a fantastic way to meet like-minded people, and share in our passion for plants, gardening, and community. No gardener (nor garden center) worth their salt is anything if not community-minded. Like our customers, we strive to be good neighbors, seeding our community with the same love it shows us.  We hold benefit festivals, like Gardenstock; teach a slew of first graders on yearly field trips (what a trip); and partner with local businesses and artists expanding art and culture in our town.  We’re a garden lover’s delight growing plants, friendship and community, one seed at a time.

 

“How do you envision Facebook impacting your business?”

Facebook has revolutionized the way we communicate with our customers and community.  In 2009, we started the Distinctive Gardens page, followed by Gardenstock Art & Music Festival, and community project pages: Crystal Cork Art Quarterly, and Second Saturdays Art Happenings.  Seeing results, in 2010, we integrated “like” buttons and “news feeds” into our website to keep fresh and increase connectivity. In our industry, it’s all about creating one on one connection and meaningful experiences.  Facebook offers us “little guys” some “big guy” tools for reaching our audience.  It’s our primary platform for customer conversation outside the physical business.  For community projects its indispensable.  We get the word out and organize large events monthly.  Our little downtown is getting the reputation as an “art town”.  Facebook connections are driving that change.  We want knowledge to further integrate Facebook into communication and online selling activities, customize our page, and enhance community projects.

“How could a Big Break help your business and your customers?”

$20K is an enormous capital influx for our business.  It would take us to the next social media and technological level.  Currently, we are looking into selling online.  We want our website to be a hub of knowledge, selling platform, and social interaction place, a gathering spot bringing people together.  Socially enhanced, we want it to be an extension of our store and community projects.  We want our customers to walk into the greenhouse, click on a QR code, access additional horticultural information, and share it with their Facebook friends.  Last year, we hung posters with QR codes at Gardenstock so concert goers could connect to Gardenstock’s Facebook page and communicate during the festival.  This year we want to extend that by projecting the page live on a big screen.  We want the knowledge to take these ideas further.  A Facebook makeover gives us the information to make that happen.

 

AmEx OPEN Facebook Big Break voting is open until July 19. Vote here.

 

 

 

An Adventure in the Midwest July 13, 2011

Distinctive Gardens put together this slide show telling the story of their AmEx OPEN Facebook Big Break adventure. This takes you from the time they considered entering to launch of the voting on videos.
 

15 Minutes of Fame for AmEx OPEN Big Break Finalists July 7, 2011

 

Despite the fun and excitement of the American Express OPEN Facebook Big Break finalist announcements, the work of running the business HAS to go on. Take a look at the Facebook newsfeed from Distinctive Gardens.

 

These are the moments you stretch as a business owner. Yeah, that can leave a mark.

 

Lisa typically man’s the Distinctive Garden Facebook page. She is getting a baptism by fire being Social Media Community Manager for a Facebook Page that has grown by 40% in 24 hours. Look at her post, she’s nearly overwhelmed at trying to keep up with the posts.

 

And look at the post about the event invite they did. It invited people to vote for them and to share the invite with their friends.  7000 invites in 3 1/2 hours. Wild.

 

Keeping up and running the business

 

Notice also the post from Laura, her wedding reception is at Distinctive Gardens Pavilion on Saturday. The wheels can’t come off, or Laura gets the day of her life overshadowed by a contest.

 

Correction: It’s not Laura’s wedding reception. She’s a guest. The newlyweds are Trisha and Zach Arquilla.

 

What do you think happens next? What do you think they should do next? Drop you ideas/suggestions in comments.

Carla

 

 

 

Two Billion is an Intimate Affair April 29, 2011

The Service

 

Today the world attended a wedding. All of us together. It was magical.

And there were plenty of obstacles. Security was the tightest in history. The church smaller than it need be. The crowd as big as you can imagine. And the engagement was a mere 5 months. Oh, and the budget, it was small. OK, small-ish. William and Catherine had requested a restrained affair, even requesting charitable contributions in lieu of gifts. Many of the guests arrived at the Palace in mini-buses. That’s budget constraint. (for royalty.)

And yet the 2 billion guest who didn’t get invitations had their most intimate access ever.  We could watch on close to 100 TV channels, or on live streaming video over the Internet. We listened on satellite radio while we drove to work. Read it in the newspaper on our iPad while we were on the treadmill. We could hear the hymns before the ceremony by downloading the music. And there were at least three official websites.
Yes, I watched. I watched the whole thing. I had it on two TVs and on Twitter. My girlfriend was in London Thursday at 5:00 pm for a meeting. She bought gifts for the kids at The Queen’s Shop in Buckingham Palace 16 hours before the ceremony. And got us flags from the stand at Westminster Abbey.  I talked about it with my friends on Facebook. I downloaded the Official Wedding Program. And the kid at our evening viewing party recorded a video for the bride and groom. It was a spectacular day. We did everything but buy plane tickets and new outfits.
None of this was possible 4 years ago. The royal team did an amazing job using the media available to give us access to so much. They deserve one heck of an after party. And then there was the social part. That was extraordinary.

Here are 6 ways social platforms were used in completely new ways:

  1. The Royal Channel on YouTube did more than featured background videos and highlights of the ceremony. The team did something to really leverage YouTube’s social element. They let us upload our well-wishes to the bride and groom. It was a guest book with videos instead of signatures. No need to be present to leave your stamp. Tell me that won’t become a HUGE wedding trend.
  2. Flicker The Monarchy has a Flicker photo stream.
  3. Twitter – Multiple tweet streams were produced by the monarchy. @ClarenceHouse @BritishMonarchy were tweeting up a storm. Not to mention all the news channels and anchors tweeting and the fashion police and all of us watching.
  4. Apps iPhone apps, iPad apps both for history, pictures, relationships of the family members. And design your own dress apps. And games. Yes, even games like this one where the bride is racing to the church on time dodging horses and by-standers. There are so many I can’t even begin to link to them all.
  5. Facebook has a  Page, The Wedding Book, for the couple created by fans. The Page has 151,670 fans of it’s own. That’s in additon to the wedding’s official page, The British Monarchy.
  6. Music – Want the Royal Album, download it from iTunes.

I hope the social media team takes a vacation and then comes to a conference to speak. I’d love to hear how they pulled it all together, how big the staff was and what they’d do differently if they could.

 

I know there are sites I missed. What did you find?

 

Finding Needles in Haystacks April 18, 2011

Filed under: Resources — Carla Bobka @ 3:26 pm
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Have you ever wished your kids came with instructions? Check YouTube.
Whatever you’re stuck on, there’s probably a video on YouTube to help. It has become life’s instruction manual. And it’s just gotten easier to use so you can find gems.
Next time you go to YouTube’s search box notice the other suggested topics across the top of the screen (the green, above.) And the “Filter & Explore” (red, above) button opens a box that gives you more options to narrow your search.
“Filter” lets you select what types of videos you look for.
  • HD
  • Playlists
  • Music
  • Stuff uploaded today or this week.
“Explore” offers suggestions on other key words you might want to explore or search for in conjunction with your original search word. They are all based on Google’s vast array of information on topics.
So, in the example above for “Bruce Springsteen” you can easily get only the music videos or only the newest stuff.

Do you have any helpful tips for seaching through YouTube?

 

 

 

A Birthday Gift from Anthopologie February 24, 2011

Filed under: Case Study — Carla Bobka @ 6:32 pm
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What do you think of my special birthday treat from Anthropologie?