Air Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 12:30pm ET
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This week’s guest on Google+ Business Spotlight is one of the only companies we’ve had on the show that actually makes something you can hold in your hands. But don’t drop it!
Bernard and Katie Katz of Philadelphia-based Bernard Katz Glass have built themselves a solid reputation here on Google+ and other areas of digital marketing. Their industry (glass blowing) is fragmented across the entire world, yet relies on in-person events and traditional marketing channels to grow.
In our discussion, we are going to show you how Bernard and Katie have taken charge of bringing their industry closer together by interacting with them online. If you are in the brick and mortar world of business, this will be insightful and useful to you.
Show notes and recap
Bernard Katz Glass is a 25 year old company that began operating traditionally in the gallery space. As a luxury item creator, they felt the impact of the economic downturn in the late 2000’s, to the point where they pivoted their business to focus more on retail and direct to consumer channels.
To do this, they needed to get active on social media, and maintain a strong presence on all the major networks. Bernard joined Google+ in its early days and appreciated the aesthetics of the network, but more importantly, fell in love with the fact that he could meet people from all over the world. Glass blowing is a global industry so Google+ is a perfect fit.
Question from Lee Rickler: What other networks are you involved with?
Katie handles all the company activity on all the social networks, and maintains a unique presence on each that lends itself to the culture and audience for each network. She also doesn’t automate (way to go Katie!).
TIP: Don’t get active on a lot of social networks poorly, do one well. Then branch out as you get comfortable. This makes it easier to keep up as your presence grows.
Since they don’t use automation or management tools, Bernard and Katie rely on feeling out the audience of each network to determine the best times to be active, and then they will create a workflow for themselves around their goals.
TIP: When it comes to asking questions on social media (which are fantastic for creating conversation and engagement), make sure you are available to respond to everybody who responds to you. Nothing says “I don’t care” more than dropping a question and neglecting to come back to the post.
The art and strategy of being social and giving within your industry
Bernard Katz Glass is selfless when it comes to bringing other people in their industry to their audience. You might be thinking that this approach would infringe on their ability to grow their business, but in fact, it makes them more trustworthy and more top-of-mind than if they were to constantly talk about themselves.
Even though they have been in the glass blowing industry for twenty-five years, and could easily speak to any topic, it’s important to showcase others within your space. Strategically, they get some great benefits, too:
- When they do an interview with another glass blower, the interview is their content. Should someone search the other glass blower, they might find the interview and be introduced to Bernard Katz Glass.
- Being selfless in your industry shows you don’t care about being competitive, and that you want to help your industry grow. That builds an immense amount of trust.
- In some cases, sharing others’ content and artwork means showing one of their customers something they might end up buying. Isn’t this bad? Of course not, Bernard Katz Glass would never have made the type of piece they were sharing (not a direct competitor, Bill Gassett talked about that in his interview with us last week), but they helped their customer find something they wanted. Again, that builds trust that translates to referrals and repeat business.
- They are creating a stronger semantic relevance around their area of expertise, by networking with others in their space and sharing their content (again, see Bill’s interview). This could translate into bigger projects where they are the center of authority.
How does your social footprint create brand trust and ROI?
Social networking is incredibly difficult to track, and Bernard Katz Glass always asks the question when new customers call or visit. In one case, a new caller said she found them “online,” but as the discussion unfolded, they discovered that “online” referred more to the trail of breadcrumbs this person followed after being told about their company by a friend.
The breadcrumb analogy is even bigger than just conversion tracking. It speaks to the idea that, by being active and genuine in many places, you’re building trust to the point where people call in and feel like they already know you.
Takeaway: People know a lot about us before they call, and are very far along in the buying process. Make sure you are conscious of how you present yourself online. Don’t be a fake because it will come back to haunt you when you do get the call. It will take time, just like in real life, but sowing those seeds of trust that will ultimately grow and let you harvest them in the form of more business.
Selling without selling
It’s common knowledge at this point that the Google+ culture does not respond well to the hard sell. Bernard Katz Glass takes more of an inbound marketing approach to drive people to their website, which shows all the things for sale. So on social, or on blogs, or anywhere else where they create content, they are all about helping people and tailoring their content in a way where the “next step” is to click through to their website to learn more.
Takeaway: Let your website do the selling, and your social activity build awareness that leads people to your website.
Definitely get to know Bernard Katz Glass on their various social channels, you’ll learn a lot and get to look at gorgeous artwork at the same time.