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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Small Businesses Marketing With Social Media: WiseGrass, Naked Pizza, Berry Chill

Barber Shop originally uploaded by Taborius Minimus.
Barber Shop by Taborius MinimusAs much as I love hearing how IBM integrates social media into its marketing, I'm also intrigued to learn how small businesses creatively blend social with traditional marketing to promote themselves and engage with customers.

Three examples come to mind.

The most fascinating is WiseGrass, located in Lancaster, PA.

I came across WiseGrass thanks to an article titled Century Communication by Suz Trusty. Subtitle reads "WiseGrass uses radio, networking sites and the Internet to get the word out."

What caught my attention was the seamless integration of traditional and social tools.

More specifically, owner Paul Stoltzfus discusses lawn care "365 days of the year on WROZ 101.3, a soft rock station. “We chose it for the amount of reach and the number of repetitions that would give us the best bang for the buck,” he says. “I want to hit each listener a minimum of four times a week so our message makes an impact..."

The radio spots drive listeners to the website where they not only get more information, but can read testimonials [I love the Twitter-like testimonial entry form], get directions on where to view show lawns [and information about how long the lawn has been under WiseGrass care], see Flickr photos of the lawns, and opt for more information via a monthly mailing summarizing blog posts, or Paul's blog itself.

WiseGrass is also active on Facebook and Twitter [Paul is @WiseGrass and his wife Marlena is @Mar2Mom].

According to the article - and you can check this out for yourself - Paul uses the blog to educate via mini-seminars. He uses lots of photos and videos to tell stories and the end result is fun, fresh and informative.

The blog and the website not only communicate believability and trustworthiness, but also support the message of 'No hassle.'

As I researched WiseGrass, I discovered other delicious details. For example, my very favorite Michele Miller from WonderBranding: news & views on the female customer has worked with Paul Stoltzfus and refers to him in 5 Things You Can Do To Improve Her Experience At The Cash Register [the 5 things include: clean off your counter and give her room to maneuver, tell her what a great choice she's made, let your packaging be a walking billboard, give her a little lagniappe, and invite her to join the club. Read the full post!]

And, then, I came across Kelly Watson's post about Womenwise Marketing Seal Of Approval: WiseGrass in which she mentions that Paul and Marlena have tweetups at their house [Tweetups are meetups organized via Twitter]. How cool is that?

The other two examples come from an AdAge article titled Twitter Proves Its Worth as a Killer App for Local Businesses [registration required]: Naked Pizza and Berry Chill.

Naked Pizza is New Orleans based and offers "healthful pizza." You can tell from the website - which offers educational information - that the action happens elsewhere: on BlogNAKED and Twitter @NakedPizza. There's naturally a Facebook Page, too. Notice the difference in tone, content and interaction from one medium to the other.

Naked Pizza markets itself Twitter focusing, interestingly, on people within a three-mile radius of the store location. A billboard outside the store even refers to the Twitter handle.

Berry Chill sells yogourt creations out of three Chicago locations. It, too, uses Twitter @YogiJones [to send out "Sweet Tweets" promos], Facebook and the Berry Chill blog.

Both Berry Chill and Naked Pizza track how their promotions generate business. But, they're also using the platforms to develop relationships with their followers.

The AdAge article offers Five tips for local businesses looking to use Twitter:

1. Track every sale.
2. Twitter is not Facebook [i.e., Twitter is for real-time communication].
3. Create a conversation.
4. Sell last-minute inventory.
5. Alert followers when your' on the go.

How do you blend new and traditional tools? What have you found works best for getting the word out about what you do?

Added 9/21/09: from the NYT Pizza With a Point about Naked Pizza.

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