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In the Social Age, Blended Marketing Is the Secret to Brick-and-Mortar Success
Posted on June 20th 2014
Many retail and business experts believe we are witnessing a sea change. According to Forrester Research, online retail sales are predicted to reach $370 billion by 2017. As businesses gain the ability to target their key demographics through social media, many research firms such as McKinsey & Company believe that physical brick-and-mortar marketing is going the way of the dinosaur.
With the rapid growth of online shopping, the general consensus is that consumers are less likely to go to physical retail stores and would rather scroll through a website, order products with the click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger, and have their purchases delivered to their doorstep in five business days or less.
Though this trend is exploding in popularity, it would be a mistake to believe that print and interactive marketing methods are no longer beneficial for brick-and-mortar stores. In reality, it’s just becoming harder for businesses to harmonize their social media efforts with classic brick-and-mortar marketing techniques.
Start by Evaluating Social Strategies
Striking the right balance between these two channels is not impossible. Several companies currently stand out as leaders in this “blended” marketing approach. For instance, Red Bull Media House specializes in creating social media content that can be tied directly to physical venues.
So, how do you achieve the right balance between your social and brick-and-mortar marketing techniques? First, reverse engineer the situation, and ensure that you have airtight social media practices that fulfill these criteria:
- Engagement: Always hit your target audience with something they will find fun, useful, and shareable.
- Relevance: Make sure your social media messages are timely. It pays to understand your audience’s wants and needs. You never know when your business will have an opportunity to weigh in and offer solutions to trending problems.
- Geography: Be conscious of your audience’s location. If you operate in a small town, talk about that town in your posts. If you operate on a global scale, address a variety of topics in your posts to appeal to a wider audience.
- Platform: Understand which social media platforms are best for reaching your audience. If your target demographic is 13- to 17-year-olds, for instance, Facebook might not be your best bet as the social giant has been steadily losing this demographic in recent years.
How to Blend Social and Brick-and Mortar Marketing
If you already have sound social media strategies in place, it will be easier to bridge the gap between social and brick-and-mortar marketing. Let’s look at “blending” options for a fictitious restaurant that has a strong preexisting social media presence.
- Engagement: A successful blended approach uses social media messages to prompt customers to engage offline. For instance, if the restaurant regularly tweets great recipes, it could host an event where the chefs teach patrons how to cook the recipes at home.
- Integration: Integrated marketing incorporates social content at the brick-and-mortar location in a natural way. The restaurant could introduce screens and mobile apps that encourage interaction between customers and the staff. Digital signage, wait time metrics, or even real-time customer feedback on entrées are bold ways to “blend” marketing channels and build patron engagement.
- Entertainment: Social content should entertain customers both online and offline. If the restaurant specializes in lobster or seafood, it could set up a display by the lobster tank that shows how the restaurant supports sustainable fishing practices worldwide. These small entertainment and information centers help educate customers and drive sales.
Brick-and-mortar establishments such as McDonald’s and Arby’s encouraged this type of customer engagement long before social networks even existed. McDonald’s “billions served” campaign is similar to a company that boasts how many Facebook “likes” it has. Arby’s prompted patrons to ring the bell if they were satisfied customers. These marketing tactics were quick and efficient customer testimonials.
Social media has actively built on successful engagement ideas of the past, and it’s time for brick-and-mortar businesses to build on their social media efforts to create harmonized marketing strategies that bolster engagement, offer entertainment, and encourage repeat visits. By combining these efforts, brick-and-mortar businesses truly can have the best of both worlds.
Photo Credit: Blended Marketing/shutterstock