Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Using Social Media to Attract High-Value Customers

By Stephen Abbott, Owner, Abbott Public Relations

“I have a lot of walk-ins, but very few sales.”

I hear this constantly from small, privately owned “mom & pop” stores, the backbone of America’s traditional economy.

They are attracting “customers,” but not the right ones. Business owners simply don’t realize that bringing in “a lot of customers” isn’t their goal – it’s bringing in customers WHO WILL BUY THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. I call these special people “high-value customers,” and they are the only ones who can keep a small business IN business.

In the past, options to attract and keep these folks were limited. Business owners would put an ad in the local paper and Yellow Pages, and hope for the best. But in the internet age, that’s not all one should do.

I encourage business owners to fully utilize social media such as twitter and Facebook, for starters, and move on to email newsletters and contests as ways to keep and grow a customer base composed of high-value customers.

For example, an antique shop can post newly received items on Facebook and in the twitter stream, a laundry can offer alteration and dry cleaning discounts for Facebook friends and twitter followers, a mom & pop bakery can offer a “Baker’s dozen +1” (14 donuts for the price of a dozen) for twitter followers who give the monthly “code.” One business gave a discount to ALL customers when they reached 250 Facebook friends by the end of the month. These loyalty programs generate a sense of community among online supporters of a business.

In-store sign-ups for email newsletters not only generate dedicated, high-value customers (as opposed to “looky-loo” browsers who don’t ever buy) it creates an automatic demand for information about products and services, and a ready-made audience for special deals or even “daily deals” a la Groupon. Owners can use e-newsletters – and newsletters posted on Facebook - to discuss trends in their profession, or to highlight items that are of particular interest to their customers. (Though keep these newsletters SHORT, especially if they’re sent out weekly. Daily emails are NOT recommended. Post daily specials in a weekly newsletter.)

Contests are another way to generate excitement and reward frequent customers. Again using in-store sign ups (or limiting the contest to Facebook friends or twitter followers) a contest – with an appropriate prize, such as a deep discount on product or service – generates goodwill and allows you to highlight and showcase the products and services.

Another great way of building up the number of high-value customers is to pick the slowest day of the week and offer loyal customers either big discounts or giveaways with purchases. A coin and stamp shop could offer a free (low-value) coin with each purchase over $50 on their two slowest days to generate more walk-ins.

These ways to generate the high-value customer are just the tip of the iceberg. These effective techniques, combined with Public Relations tools that broadcast your efforts through both traditional and New Media, can supercharge your small business’s sales.

The best news of all is that it’s cost-effective.

Abbott Public Relations can manage the social media campaign for a small business starting at just $49. PR components can be added for under $400/month – among the lowest rates in the industry.

Don’t risk another six months of pathetic sales that could endanger your small company’s very existence.

Abbott PR is located online at

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Five Ways to Destroy your Online Reputation

By Stephen Abbott, Abbott Public Relations

Engage in Flame Wars – Allow people to get under your skin. Swear at them, yell in ALL CAPS. Say things about people you’ll later regret, but cannot erase, because they’re on a chat board now. Forever. Be sure to use your own name when doing this (and just a note, even a pseudonym may not hide you if you sounds like, well, you. Say far worse things online than you ever would in person, face-to-face with others, including to people you know and would otherwise treat with respect.

Post Pictures Injudiciously – Post pictures of yourself drunk, or drinking heavily. Touching members of the opposite sex inappropriately is a plus. Or if you’re passed out. Or post pictures of co-workers or clients in these conditions. (Forget that pictures online last forever, even if they’re posted for moment. Pretend others can’t “tag” you on Facebook or that people can save the photos and repost them or save them for future ‘reference’ – even if they’re up online for a few moments.)

Spam Everyone, All The Time – Send people emails to join your Multi-Level marketing business. Do it every day. Do it five times a day. Ask them to join your religion. Constantly. Post messages about how they’re going to hell if they don’t join. Post prayers and scripture passages. Tell them they are wrong, about everything. Post 1,000-word Facebook messages about your cat, or dog, or fish, or about your vacation. Pester people generally. Try to sell them something. Exclusively use for business your PERSONAL Facebook page (don’t create your own business page, whatever you do!) Explain in great detail why their football team is going to lose. Do it every day, leading up to the game. Insult the players’ personal lives, physical appearances and religions. Insult others’ intelligence for supporting that team. Double your efforts if it’s their high school team. Extra points if your target is the child of a friend who plays on a youth team.

Tick Off Angry, Social Media-Savvy Customers – Pretend the Internet doesn’t exist. Treat customers with contempt, thinking “they can’t do anything about it.” Pretend that we live in the pre-internet days when a nasty experience only got blasted to 10-20 people, rather than 10,000 to 20,000 in an instant, via Facebook, twitter, yelp, Yahoo Local listings, or any number of outlets. Pretend your customer with a camera in her phone WILL NOT post your profanity-laced treatment of your employees on YouTube, and that it won’t go viral and make you a laughingstock.

Generate Negativity – Do all of the above, with reckless abandon – and more. Post hateful statements on others’ Facebook posts. Trash talk everyone. Overly use profanity. Everyone loves profanity. Call people names. Try to goad people into acting the same way. Continue the thread. Threaten people. Insult people’s parents, spouses and children. The Internet will shield you from any repercussions.


If you’ve messed up, or have been the target of any of this behavior, please contact Abbott PR and we can begin repairing your reputation or that of your business.