Selecta Systems Marketing Manager, Mark Walker, talks about how on-line sales and social media engagement have soared in recent months and it’s become more apparent that having a marketing plan for on-line presence should form a vital part of every businesses marketing strategy – especially social media.
Recent events have seen the way we live change considerably with almost every person having to adjust and adapt to the new living conditions. The same can also be said of how we have all had to do business. Those that have and do adapt will be the ones who will have the best chance of retaining and picking up new business. Movement restrictions have seen a boom in on-line sales and social media engagement and so, can any business afford not to have these form part of their current marketing strategy and plans?
Let’s start with one simple fact: your business needs a social media presence! A bold statement I agree, but social media is a very cost-effective form of advertisement that allows you to directly engage with customers, promote your brand and demonstrate your excellence and expertise within your field. It doesn’t matter if you run a small local fabricator / installation business or a big national company, social media should be an essential piece of your business marketing strategy.
Social media platforms help you connect with your customers, increase awareness about your brand and boost your sales leads and sales. With more than three billion people around the world now using social media, it’s no passing trend with Facebook, YouTube and Instagram leading the way for users.
What you might not know is that you’re ready to get your company’s social media off the ground right now. You don’t need to know every intimidating buzzword or have the magic number of followers. In fact, you can get started immediately and even enjoy yourself in the process! If people don’t know about your business, they can’t become your customers. Social media boosts your visibility among potential customers, letting you reach a wide audience and it’s free to create a business profile on all major social media platforms.
With customers becoming increasingly savvier and more discerning about businesses they support, customers are now more likely to do a quick search to browse your website and social media platforms before making a decision. It’s at this point where your have that opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, skills, services and brand to the shrewd customer.
There are a host of social media platforms out there and each one has its own unique way of engagement. Showing your latest projects and transformations, quirky videos of products or simple hints and tips, demonstrate knowledge, skills and services and encourage engagement through your posts. You can get a lot of value for your money with social media as most are free. You can pay for demographic and geographic advertising to target a particular audience, but there are plenty of opportunities for you to grow your social media presence organically by posting engaging content and offering incentives to share, like or follow.
I recently had a conversation with one of our local customers and they were saying that their engagement on their Facebook page had increased by over 1000% over the last couple of months and that a host of leads and eventual sales were coming in on the back of just a few simple posts demonstrating ‘before and after’ shots of recently completed installations. This was a customer who had previously not really engaged with or used social media as a form of advertising prior to the lockdown, but with the restrictions in place they utilised the platform as a way of increasing awareness of their products, services and skills and more importantly that they were operating in some capacity.
Since I had that initial conversation it has been a similar story with many customers and so, on the back of this, I started on creating and introducing a brand new 16 page Marketing Support brochure, which incidentally has 4 pages dedicated to having a social media presence. Enclosed is a guide on promoting your business on social media and a series of do’s and don’ts for social media management and how Selecta can assist those who are unsure where to start.
The new Marketing Support brochure also provides you with a comprehensive insight into our range of marketing support materials and services, from brochures and point of sale materials to our free to use graphic design service. We pride ourselves on providing a personal and unrivalled service and support package and the brochure endorses this.
As for social media, it’s a great source of marketing and customer engagement if done right. It’s a chance to show your personality too, so don’t be afraid to add humour, but make sure it’s in good taste. Social media can be your company voice, just as your website is your shop window. Let people hear and see what you can do. Show off your products, services and skills. Develop your reputation as a responsive, caring brand by offering support through social channels. Reach out to your customers. There are plenty of customers out there waiting to hear from you.
There have been many positive and negative, happy and sad articles and reports over the last 6 months or so as the whole world got to grips with the devastating effects of a global pandemic. Selecta Systems Sales Director, Andy Green, speaks about how Selecta have coped during this time as they become one of the industries success stories of this extraordinary year as they see exceptional demand for products soar to record levels.
What a strange year 2020 has been! We started the year with optimism and confidence on the back of an excellent 2019, where 46 new fabricators were converted to or started fabricating our Advance 70 System. In January we saw a 25% increase on 2019 figures, with February and March producing similar increases in sales on the previous year. We were then to shut down for a total of 6 weeks, as the majority of our industry did too, at the end of March before a phased return to work began on the 11th May.
I duly believe that there’s not a single person in our industry who could have predicted, planned for or been able to forecast events prior to or post lockdown. Demand from an increased number of at home on-line shoppers certainly caught everyone within our industry by surprise as the home improvement market boomed. With orders stacking up, Selecta returned to work with demand for our products at a level never seen before. Within a couple of weeks everyone was safely inducted back to work from furlough and working at full speed.
Whilst handling that initial demand was logistically tough, as it pushed production, supply and transport to its limits, it did however allow ourselves to bring forward and fast-track our planned programme for growth. Plans were already in place for expansion and investment with another 27 small, medium and large fabricators already converting to our Advance 70 System so far during 2020.
The sales surge from existing customers and the recent influx of new customers joining Selecta, saw sales increase by almost 50% in June, 42% in July and 36% in August, compared with the same periods for 2019. At the time of writing, September is showing no sign of slowing down either! We are currently forecasting a sales increase of between 40 and 45% for September compared with 2019 figures. To keep up with this demand and increase our capacity further, we have added extra shifts to our warehouse, distribution and profile foiling departments. Coloured profiles are now contributing to approximately 50% of all profile sales and continue to grow. We have also increased the delivery capabilities and capacity of our fleet of HGV delivery vehicles to ensure that transportation of our goods remains efficient and effective. A recruitment drive has also seen our staffing levels increase by 9.5%, with further plans to increase resources within other areas of the business over the coming few months.
Lead times across the industry supply chain have primarily been affected by the home improvement boom, where there has been a lot of talk regarding this circulating within the industry press. Selecta have experienced similar issues to many others across the window and door supply chain. In fact, we’ve just been informed that raw material supplies and coloured profile foil may be affected by the recent high demand, with no ‘extra’ deliveries outside of any arranged purchases and possible outages of Anthracite Grey foil stock widely predicted. These are issues that are going to affect the whole supply chain as the suppliers of these materials are commonly used by the majority of the industry supply chain. Being up front and honest in explaining these potential issues is of major importance at the moment, to help each other plan and move forward together.
We have continued to be transparent and up-front with our customer base with longer lead times for certain products than previous, hence the growth plan investments being brought forward backed up by the tremendous hard work and dedication of the Selecta team. However, there are times where the best laid out plans cannot alleviate conditions outside of our own control.
Personally, I would like to thank all our customers for their patience, understanding and co-operation during these times of exponential growth. Their response to the current situation has been endearing and they have shown a tremendous amount of compassion and support. Similar thanks go to our team here at Selecta, with many going above and beyond to ensure that we continue to build and maintain excellent relationships with new and existing customers. We are in a very fortunate position to be experiencing the higher volumes than expected, but that also has a lot to do with the quality of our products and the conscientious, meticulous and hardworking nature of the team here at Selecta. We were experiencing excellent growth prior to the lockdown and the home improvement boom and so to hit the levels we are currently at is exceptionally pleasing, at a time, where we hear so much negativity from the mainstream media.
Moving forward we have further exciting expansion and growth plans afoot to build upon and extend our production and storage capacity and capabilities. I’m sure we are not the only one who’s, as the saying goes, ‘making hay whilst the sun shines’, but we all still need to be cautious as we move in to 2021. I’m confident that whatever 2021 throws at our industry, that Selecta have a business model and structure that provides long-term stability and continuity, mostly owing to independent ownership and a business model that ensures that. We are looking beyond what is looking like being an exceptional and unpredicted 2020, whilst prudently having one eye on how the industry will develop.