As a tent and event professional, you are responsible for knowing the ins and outs of tent rental and installation, and your customers rely on your expertise and guidance in helping them make the best decisions for their event. But today’s consumers are looking to become educated before they pick up the phone to call you. At that point, they have already narrowed down their options to just the most relevant and are ready to ask questions that help them make their final purchasing decision. What resources are people utilizing to become educated consumers?
As we’ve learned in previous columns, consumers spend the majority of their time researching products and services online. They are doing this not only by visiting product websites but also by consuming content everywhere else on the Internet, including Facebook. Content sites such as Car and Driver for the automotive industry or Bloomberg Business for those interested in business and finance provide consumers with engaging educational content. Now, you may not be likely to start writing columns and pushing them out to websites that feature tent-related content on a frequent basis. Even if you are a trained writer, you most likely wouldn’t have the time. So how do you insert yourself in that process? How do you start planting the seed that you are the best provider of tent rentals in your local area before consumers know they need you?
One of the easiest and most used platforms that you are hopefully already utilizing is Facebook. According to the New York Times, the average adult spends about 50 minutes per day on Facebook. If you’ve done any research on what digital platforms you should be using, there’s no doubt that building a Facebook page for your business has been recommended. The problem comes when a company uses its page to promote only the current sales promotion or tout its latest project successes.
Although consumers who are actively searching for your products like to see proof of how great you are at providing tent rental services, they also want to see related, engaging content. This is where the opportunity to become a content provider arises. Writing an article about what your team is doing in the community, sharing tips on how to create the perfect wedding reception or posting pictures from your employee barbeque are all ways to engage with potential customers in a way that doesn’t make them feel “sold” to.
Other social media platforms that allow you to share engaging content include Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. All have strengths and limitations. Where Instagram is great for posting pictures, you aren’t allowed to share much text. While Snapchat allows you to share on-the-spot content, it’s not the best avenue for initiating the sales process. The best practice for using social media is to pick one or two platforms and become your version of an expert in those. Post unique, local content on a consistent basis and always respond to comments left by your followers.
Another way to provide content for potential customers is by creating blog postings. Blogs are regularly updated websites or web pages, written in an informal or conversational style (Oxford Living Dictionaries, 2017). The benefit of blogging is that the content is shareable across multiple platforms, so once you’ve built a strategy for creating the content, and you decide where you want to distribute it, you can funnel the content to readers at a frequency that works best for you. If the idea of creating written content frightens or turns you off, consider video. Video content does not require professional production. Some of the most popular videos gone viral have been shot using an iPhone or Android and posted to social media without any special editing or effects.
The amount of content we consume on a daily basis is steadily increasing, and contrary to recent studies that claim human beings have attention spans equal to that of a goldfish, the amount of time one is willing to devote to a single article or topic is not decreasing. Although distributing content may not bring immediate leads to your business, it slowly builds trust in your industry and, more important, in you as a tent and event professional. As that confidence grows, it will be easier to find new customers who are already familiar with your business and increase sales.