Thursday, January 28, 2010

Valentine Pie: Consumers Cut Back on Valentines

With Etsy all the rage for Valentine's Day, I thougt I would start my first blog post on Valentine's Day from the consumer's standpoint. According to today's The New York Times article, this year will mark the third Valentine's Day to be affected by the recession. Over 80% of consumers are planning to cut back on their Valentine's purchases. As a result, marketers are finding unique ways to target consumers and make a sale.

Both Macy's and White Castle are using Twitter to reach consumers and involve them in valentine promotions. (Yes, you read that right. Both high-end and low-end retailers are reaching out through the same free service). For smaller retailers, this means it will be increasingly more difficult to keep a customer's attention. Consumers have tighter budgets, and are being pulled in more directions. We now have to reach customers through a variety of media - on our tighter advertising budgets.

Open's small business blogger Chris Brogram wrote an excellent article on how small business should slice their social media pie. He breaks social media into three parts:
  • Listening
  • Creating
  • Communitcating
Listening is about learning what people say about you online. What are they tweeting? Writing on blog posts? What are they saying about your brand and your competitors?

Creating is about content. It is about putting relevant content out there in front of your customer. Are you simply promoting? Or are you buidling connections to your products/services? If you are simply promoting, expect to be ignored.

Communicating is the key to building the connections. It is about being yourself: a creative, small business owner. When you join Etsy and post on the forums about a topic that interests you, you are communicating. But you also need to figure out how to communicate to those outside of Etsy. If you are an artist or photographer, are you commenting in forums for paints, cameras, and in artist communities? If you are a quilter, are you in the quilting forums? Reach out to those beyond the Etsy community to build relationships that will eventually help drive your sales.

For this Valentine's Day, show your customers and potential customers you love them. Give them a bit of Social Meida Pie.


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