Hardware Retailing

MAY 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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May 2018 | HARDWARE RETAILING 185 W hen you say your business's name, what comes to mind? More importantly, what comes to mind for your current shoppers and potential customers? "A brand is no longer what an ad agency says about you in a clever TV jingle," Dennis Yu, chief technological officer of BlitzMetrics, says. "A brand is the sum of the positive and negative experiences everyone in your community has regarding your business—customers, partners and employees." In his role with BlitzMetrics, Yu trains students on digital best practices to manage campaigns for several high-profile clients, including the Golden State Warriors, Rosetta Stone and Nike. Yu says that today, a company's overall brand is far more than a single ad or shopping experience. Yu's insights have been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and on NPR, and he regularly contributes to AdWeek's SocialTimes column. Yu says retailers can use Facebook—what he calls the most efficient social media platform—to build their brand, brick by brick and click by click. Understanding Brand Basics Yu stresses that under his definition, it's the customer who helps define and amplify your brand. "If you don't provide a good experience to your customers, whether that's at the point of sale or post-purchase, no amount of marketing is going to overcome that," he says. "I think that's where a lot of traditional brands are struggling. They try to crank up the ad machine when the issue is that they're not taking care of customers. If you have a broken bone, a massage isn't going to fix it." Yu recommends that retailers view every online interaction, every photo click, every like, as a way of building their brand. "A review isn't just going on Yelp or Google; it's whenever they engage with you online or offline," he says. "Whether that's liking your latest post or telling their friends about you, those are all micro reviews that are brand-building opportunities." Although building your brand includes telling your story through a variety of media outlets, such as TV and in print, it also encompasses your business's online reputation. Above all, Yu emphasizes the importance of creating unique, original video content for Facebook. "The brands that win on Facebook are those that recognize that they have to systematically produce video. Video is no longer a side project that you hire an agency for—it's core to marketing these days." Cultivating Your Brand Yu has great news for independent retailers: They have an advantage over big boxes when it comes to building a brand on an authentic, organic level. "Independents can be more intimate in their relationships with customers," Yu says. "They don't have to worry about a brand in the same way a big box does. Independents need to tell a story." Yu recommends that retailers stay on the lookout for teachable moments in their stores. What are your customers asking for when they visit? Yu says the answers to these questions can help retailers create a series of nine short videos that build their brand and boost their sales all while engaging customers. "When you amplify stories of people in your town—it could be the mayor, or the local soccer team or anyone else—that's something a national big-box retailer can't compete against. They can't get down to the local level and tell those stories in the same way you can," Yu says. Going on the Grid Yu says that Facebook has reconfigured the algorithm it uses to display content. Now, posts from family and friends are often displayed near the top of your newsfeed as opposed to posts from business pages. Dennis Yu, chief technology officer for BlitzMetrics, says independents should share their expertise and create community connections online. " A brand is the sum of the positive and negative experiences everyone in your community has regarding your business—customers, partners and employees. " —Dennis Yu, BlitzMetrics Continued on Page 188

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