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Facebook vs. Social Media Marketing and More Questions for January

Plus what to look for in a consultant.

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What’s better for marketing: email or social media?

Studies have shown over and over again that email is a stronger direct marketing tool than social media. Consider these numbers from OptinMonster based on research carried out between 2016 and 2018:

  • 91% of people check their email daily compared to 57% who check their Facebook account.
  • 77% of consumers say they prefer email for permission-based promotional messages compared to just 4% for Facebook.
  • 66% of email users have made a purchase as the result of a marketing message from email compared to 20% for Facebook.

The most telling statistic though has to do with control of your message: Email will typically reach more than 85% of the people you send it to, whereas Facebook’s organic reach has declined to about 1-6%, depending on your total number of followers.
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These are big differences and underscore that people are much more comfortable doing business via email than social media, but they don’t mean you should close down your Facebook account. They do mean you should recognize the different benefits of the two channels and utilize them accordingly. Social media sites, in general, are more casual and can help build brand awareness, reach very specific customer segments, and foster and create communities. Social media is also a great of way building your database of email addresses through contests and other activities that require audience participation. With social media generating leads but not necessarily more business, it’s thus important to combine both email and social media marketing efforts to get the maximum return.

I was thinking of rewarding my staff with shares in the business as a way to motivate and keep them. What should I look out for?

First thing to look out for is that you’re not literally giving away the store. There is a tendency for both owners and employees to undervalue shares in a business. “Resist the urge to give your stock to anyone unless it is for estate-planning purposes,” says Greg Crabtree, a CPA and author of Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits. “My experience is that stock starts to have real value only when money changes hands.” So, if your employees wouldn’t pay cash for the shares or you can’t justify the value of the stake as part of their wage, you are just being charitable, Crabtree says. Keep in mind too that the employee will have to pay tax on the value of the stock distribution or you will have to withhold taxes. And should the employee leave, you may well have to pay them out at the market value of your business at that time. As shareholders, in theory, they also have a say in how the store should be managed. In short, cash bonuses usually motivate people better.

What should I look for in a consultant?

The first thing is someone who is ready to offer a tailored program to your situation. Beware of “formula” peddlers that don’t seem all that interested in the specifics of your business. Similarly, some consultants will claim to be able to overhaul your entire business, from the sign a top the building to the very bottom of your bottom line. A better approach is to identify the areas where you most need help and to look for someone who specializes in those areas, be it staff management and training, store management and finances, marketing, or store design. The other thing to remember is that once they’ve delivered their advice or program, many consultants like to move on. If it’s hands-on, day-to-day help in an area like boosting your sales performance and closing rates you need, you might be better off with a seasoned sales executive, hired on an interim basis.
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Is there a rule of thumb on using vendor displays?

There are times, says display expert Larry Johnson, when it makes sense to use vendor-provided collateral, such as when customers ask for the line by name (“Can I see your Maui Jim frames?”), or when the display has some feature or information you can’t re-create in your own setup. But more often than not you won’t get the seamless fit that top-notch visual merchandising demands, says Johnson, listing mismatching colors, overbearing logos and “displays that are too big for the amount of business you expect them to generate” as some of the problems he’s seen in such situations. Good display is all about balance, focus and restraint, and an ad hoc approach will rarely work. “Sometimes free can end up being very costly,” Johnson says.

I just caught an error in the bonuses we paid out to staff for the holiday period. It comes to over $1,000. Should I ask for the money back?

It is a lost cause — even if you could collect, the impact on morale and productivity would be a killer. Instead, you could explain what happened and that you plan to treat the payments as interest-free advances against next year’s bonuses. That way, you should eventually recover most of the overpayments without demanding staff find money that’s probably already spent.

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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