ESB003 Building a Community of Buyers

This podcast shares the secret of how to get buyers to show up at sale after sale, but not because of high-price advertising, or signs spread everywhere.

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Transcript of Podcast — ESB00 Building a Community of Buyers – Low Cost Secrets of Attracting High Value Buyers to Your Estate Sales :


ESB003 Building a Community of Buyers

Low Cost Secrets of Attracting High Value Buyers to Your Estate Sales

An estate sale will only succeed if people show up and buy.  Your estate sale business will only succeed if you can find a way to make that happen sale after sale.

Stay with us and I’ll share the secret of how you can do that… and you won’t need to spend a dime on advertising.

Welcome to the Estate Sale Business podcast, brought to you by estatesalebiz.com.  This is episode ESB003 titled Low Cost Secrets of Attracting High Value Buyers to Your Estate Sales.  I’m your host, Ronald Andrew Murphy.

Many Estate Sellers figure that there are only two effective ways to attract buyers to their sales: advertising and signs.  But there are drawbacks to these methods.  Advertising is expensive.  Signs only work if the sale is near high traffic roads.

There’s a better way.

It’s called a “community of buyers.” You build your own community of buyers. Once you do, you can count on them to show up at your sales.

In this episode, let’s first talk about exactly what a community of buyers is and explore why and how it can be so beneficial to your business.

After that  I’ll share specific ideas and methods you can use to to build your own community of buyers.

And finally, I’ll pass along some tips that can help transform that community from buyers into raving fans.

So, what IS a community of buyers and HOW can it help you?

I define a  community of buyers like this:

it’s a group of people who

  1. Believe you have things they want and need,
  2. Like and trust your business, and
  3. Are connected to each other.

Liking your business and believing you have things they want would probably describe any loyal customer.  What distinguishes a community is that the members are connected. And that’s the part that can benefit your business the most – the connected part.

Connected? How?

Through the Internet.  They’re connected to each other.  And they’re connected with you.  You’re all INTER-connected through a network on the internet.  Information that flows through the group is available to all the members of the group, including you. When one member comments, all members can see it.  When you send a message, all members can see it.  When a member sends you a message, ALL members can see it.

Wait!  Sounds risky.  What if someone says something negative?  Good question.

Understand.  A community is different from a marketing channel.  A channel is a pipe.  You’re on one end, pushing things through.  The buyers are on the other end, receiving your messages.  If you permit it, buyers can send you a message back.  But usually, only you will see it.

But that’s good isn’t it, when it’s a complaint or a problem, it’s good nobody else sees it.  It keeps you in control.  Right?

But does it really keep you in control?  A closed system may look secure.  But what really happens is the customer who is unhappy still shares their feelings with others.  You just don’t know about it.

Ever heard the old saw about good news gets shared between one or two people, bad news between dozens?

When customer complaints get shared with dozens of people but you don’t know about it, you may not find out until it’s too late.

But that won’t happen in a community of buyers.  You’ll know right from the beginning.  And, more importantly, you’ll have the opportunity to act.  Immediately – before trouble spreads.  And when you act, you’re out in the open. All the other members of your buyer community will see.

You can make sure a complaint is handled.  You can smooth out any concerns.  You can show that your community has good reason to like and trust you.

Without that connection, you have no idea what’s happening with your customers.  You actually have no control at all.

So a Community of Buyers is an interconnected group of people that you’re a part of. You’re connected with people who  like you and want what you sell.  Through your connection you’re able maintain a positive image of your business in a personal way.  Your buyers see you as one of them. You’re like a friend in the business.

Sounds good – you may be thinking – but community building also sounds like it might be a lot of work.  Are there other benefits?

Yes. Without question.

Another major benefit is improved communication. In such a community, communication is quicker and more effective. For example, when you announce a sale to your community, everyone can .

know right away.  Members will share this information and talk about it.  The interest level will rise the more that’s said.

When you put something out to the group, you’ll get instant feedback. You’ll know your message is getting through, or- discover you need to clarify.  You’re able ask questions and get quick responses.

And here’s what I think is one of the most significant benefits of community building.  Your community becomes a referral pipeline for new estate sale business.  You’ll get new clients.

Your community of buyers will also become a community of referrers. You get dozens or hundreds of people out in the field who will gladly tell others about your estate sale business.  If someone mentions to them at church or the club that they know someone who lost a parent and now there’s all this stuff to be liquidated… your community member will let them know about you. Anytime someone asks: “do you know anyone who handles estate sales,” your name will immediately pop up.

So a community of buyers not only helps you do better with existing sales, it brings in new business too.

Getting a network of people who want to buy from you, communicating more effectively, and having a steady source of referrals all flow from building a community of buyers.  Those oare strong reasons for making the commitment to building your own community of buyers.

But just how do you do that?  Let’s take a look.

How do you create a community of buyers? By using the internet to make the connections.  You network on social media.

For this purpose, the most useful Social Media includes Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  There are many others, but these are the major players.

You also connect through your own blog and an email newsletter that you make available at your website.

You become a “content provider.”  Content is information that’s interesting to,  and helpful to,  your best prospects.

You gain the attention of these prospects with your content.

Content is information.  Not sales messages, not advertisements, but information.  Information that is helpful and useful and even entertaining for your prospective buyers.

As you gain their trust, you invite these prospects into private groups you establish and manage.  There you can interact with them even more personally. You can  explore their wants and needs with their full cooperation.  You solve their problems. You nurture and reward them.  You become a trusted ally.

When you invite them to your sales when they respond positively. You even offer small rewards for their loyalty.

In time, they become your community of buyers.

Let’s take a look now at some examples of using social media tools for building a buyer community to better see how it works.

FACEBOOK

And let’s start with the elephant on the internet, Facebook.  You, or someone in your family, likely use Facebook.  Often, whole families are on facebook.

Statista.com, a statistics compilation site online, says that in 2017, more than 214 million people used Facebook in the United States alone.  Almost two billion used it worldwide.

On facebook, people share what’s happening in their lives.  They talk about the things that are important to them.  They tell jokes and link out to things they’ve seen online that made them laugh, or feel good, or even made them mad.

In short, they share.

And that’s the key word for a community: sharing.

Each person’s entry is referred to as a post.  Each person sees an ever changing stream of posts in their newsfeed.  Advertisers also pay to have posts inserted in newsfeed streams based on demographic characteristics.

But you don’t need to pay.

Accounts on Facebook are always supposed to be personal accounts.  They’re for individuals.  However, facebook supports business using what it calls a “Page.”  As a business, you can set up a business page attached to your personal account.

Anything you post afterward, can either be identified as being from your personal account or from your business page.

If you don’t already have one, you’ll want to create a business page on Facebook.  The page is an opportunity to describe and promote your business. You brand your page with your logo, name and a variety of related images.

Your facebook business page will be your primary community building tool.  You should post regular notices of your sales here. You should post interesting references that people in your community can use or find interesting.  Occasionally you may want to post non-offensive cartoons and jokes.  In short your page posts should become welcome sights to the people who follow you.

You should ask everyone to “Like” your page and follow you.  Also ask them to share your posts with their friends.  The more “Liked” you are, the more you are “followed” by others, the more important you look to Facebook.  So their algorithms will share more of your posts more often.

After you’ve generated a good bit of content on Facebook, and have lots of likes and many people following you, you should step up your game.  Create a special, invitation-only group with extra rewards.  Make it so people have to attend a sale or two to get an invite and approved to join.  For people in the special group you can offer discounts and special sales.

Listen to the members of this group.  Ask for their suggestions and opinions. Give them advance notice of your plans and get their feedback. Enfold them in your business.

Here are the heart and soul of your community of buyers.  They will support you.  They will show up at your sales.  And they will promote your business to others.  They will become your advocates because you’ve made them feel a part of what you’re doing.  One of our strongest human drives is a need to belong.  You’re providing that to this group.

TWITTER

Twitter is a social media network where you can post short messages and news items to your followers.  Your goal should be to build followers here, as on Facebook, by generating informative content.  You don’t have the same level of interconnection with Twitter.  It’s more like a news or press release site.  But it does raise awareness with those who might not find you on Facebook.

Plan to post regularly on Twitter.  In most cases you can simply post links to content you’ve created for other sites.  For example, you could “tweet” that is, post, the same information you put in a Facebook post.  Or you might tweet something from your website blog.

YOUTUBE

YouTube is also a major force on the internet.  It’s huge though, so it’s easy to get lost.  It also requires more commitment to produce content for video consumption.  Your best bet will be to provide how-to content on shopping at estate sales, identifying finds, and the like.  You want to attract potential community buyers here and send them to your facebook page and follow you there.

When you do post a video here, be sure to also post a link on your facebook page as well as tweet about it.  That will generate more content there.

Video production isn’t quite as challenging or expensive as it used to be, but it does take additional time, money and work.  You can choose not to include it in your arsenal, at least at first, but you should consider it.

BLOGGING

Far less costly but potentially more time consuming is blogging.  A blog is informational content posted to your own website. Most often it takes the form of an article.  It can be read by visitors to your site.

Blogs can be articles, journals, how-to tutorials, opinion pieces,  or just about any other type of writing.  It typically covers whatever business or person the website is associated with.  Blog posts run from a couple hundred words to thousands.

Most times the website publisher writes the blog but there are professionals you can hire to write your blog for you.

You should post a link to each blog with a brief comment on your facebook page and to your twitter stream.  You can even create multiple tweets using brief excerpts from different sections of any day’s blog post.

Overall, the blog format gives you more freedom to cover a topic because of its greater length and flexibility.  It can help to establish your authority and expertise on your business.

A blog also serves a more technical purpose.  Search engines regularly visit and analyze every page of your website. They generate search references based on the  subject matter of the page plus the actual words used.  The more pages of content you have about a particular subject, for example the various aspects of estate sales, the more likely your website will show up ranked highly in search results for those terms.

You might consider inviting guest blogs from members of your buyer community.  You could also profile some of them if they’re open to the publicity.  Writing about your customers will provide recognition of similarities in readers and lead them to follow you also.  At a minimum, you should ask your buyers to read and comment on the blogs your produce.

EMAIL

An email list is one of the most useful forms of marketing communication for internet companies.  Most active online businesses encourage visitors to sign up for their email list as soon as you visit their site.  Often they’ll promise an ebook or other free information in return for you subscribing.

The virtue of an email list is that it offers you the ability to contact your subscribers any time you want.  But with that ability comes a need for responsibility.

Email has generated a lot of ill will over the years. Today, spamming, phishing, and malware downloads have made users cautious.  Rightfully so.

Email can still be effective with your buyer community but you must use it carefully.  And only with the recipients full agreement. Fortunately, free services exist, like mailchimp.com, to handle getting opt-in permission and provide  automatic unsubscribe options.  Be sure to use such a service to manage your list and emails.

A Florida firm I’m familiar with provides a good example of how email can be effective for your estate sale business.

Subscriptions are solicited from those attending sales, on the firm’s website, and from their facebook page.  Their list building is a continuous process.  It’s central to building their community of buyers.

For every sale they hold, the firm sends a notice of the upcoming sale to each subscriber on their email list.  The announcement does more than announce.  It provides helpful descriptions of sale contents complete with pictures, offers buying tips, plus gives external links to more detailed information.  The email also explains sale rules and terms and conditions. This helps sale goers show up prepared. For example, the email explains that while credit cards are accepted it depends on the cell signal – bring cash just in case; and personal bags are not allowed, and so on.

On the last day before the sale, a follow up email is sent with the location and directions. This email also includes the basics from the initial announcement in case the earlier one was missed.

Having the ability to initiate contact with the potential sale-goer is the key benefit of email. This ability allows them to manage the interaction.

Many estate sale firms advertise in venues like estatesales.net.  That’s fine but it’s passive. It depends on the potential sale goer taking the initative.  It can prove inconvenient and frustrating for the customer. They have to go through a lengthy process.  First they have to remind themselves they wanted to attend a sale. Then they have to find the website and look up potential sales. There may be dozens or even hundreds on the website to go through. Finally, and they must review each sale individually to decide which one to go to.  All of this must be accomplished using what is likely an unfamiliar website.

BUT, getting an email notice makes all that unnecessary.  Everything is right in front of them in their own, familiar email.  Easy-peasy.

The Florida estate sale firm’s analytics show that opens and reads of this firm’s emails far exceed the rates experienced even by familiar retailers like Amazon.  The personal touch results in buyers who show up consistently at sales.

This firm has built a community of buyers that incorporates their email list.  They’re putting all the pieces together to keep their business growing stronger and stronger.

You build a community of buyers by connecting.  You use social media to network.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogging, and email can all work together to interconnect you and your buyers.

When you build a strong structure like this, your business can continue to grow and thrive.  It’s not just you and a few employees.  You’ve got a whole community supporting you.

That covers a basic introduction to the how-to of building a community of buyers.  For more detailed information and instruction on using social media for this purpose, check the website at estatesalebiz.com.  We’ll be adding tutorials and information pages to provide this support information.

We’ve looked now at what a community of buyers is and why it can be so beneficial to your business.  We’ve seen how you can go about building your community of buyers.

Now let’s briefly look at what can turn those buyers into raving fans.

The term “raving fan” came from Ken Blanchard.  Blanchard is an American author and business management expert.  One of the most famous of his 60 plus books, was “The One Minute Manager.”  He was the source of one of my favorite quotes which is:  “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Blanchard used the term “raving fan” to describe a customer who was so excited and gratified by the customer service they’d received that they couldn’t stop telling everyone about it.

Undoubtedly, building a Community of Buyers will help your business thrive.  But if you can go one more step… if you can deliver outstanding customer service to those buyers, why, you can turn them into raving fans who just won’t stop talking about you and your business.

You cannot buy that kind of promotion…

Good customer service starts with understanding what the customer expects and thinks they need.  Note: It’s NOT what you think they need, but what they think.  There are a variety of ways to find out. With your community of buyers, you’ll be in a perfect position.  You can observe, or ask, or interact, or even offer different options and see what types of service they respond to.

When you understand what the customer expects, you can make sure you provide that.  But for outstanding customer service, you need to take it even further. Go beyond good. Exceed expectations.

For example, many estate sales leave it to the buyer to provide their own bags or wrapping material.  You could provide that for them.  And if you really wanted to step it up, you could provide a wrapping table with supplies.  You could even have someone available to assist them.  If you can organize such a process well, you can even speed up the checkout process by getting buyers away from the cashier more quickly.

Go the extra mile for your customers.  That’s how you can turn him or her into that raving fan.

Of course, there’s a reverse to that.  There’s a danger that, if you don’t provide at least good customer service, you may turn a buyer into the wrong kind of raving fan.

Putting yourself in their place can help.  Walk through a sale and see it through a customer’s eyes.  Is waiting in a long line to check out just because it’s busy something you’d enjoy?  Is having to pay an extra fee to use a credit card, something you’d be happy to do?  How would you feel about showing up first at a sale to buy an advertised item only to find out it had been sold presale the day before?

Customer service is the little things too.  It’s arranging and staging items so they can be more easily viewed.  It’s providing pathways that allow for two way traffic.

It’s even as simple as saying thank you.

Start with the basics and move up from there.  Incredible customer service means going out of your way to insure the customer is happy.  That can be a pain sometimes.   But isn’t it worth it if it’s the difference between building a long term relationship with a repeat buyer, rather than making them mad enough to stomp off and warn everyone they know to stay away from your sales.

It’s certainly something to consider…

UP Music.  Voice over

That’s it.  We’ve covered what a community of buyers is and how it can help your business.  We’ve looked at the social media tools you can use to connect and build your buyer community.  And we touched on the kind of customer service that can turn your buyers into raving fans.

Please do visit our website where we encourage you to post comments, questions and suggestions. Also subscribe to this podcast.  We’re on iTunes, Google Play and other podcast networks.

This has been the Estate Sale Business podcast,  brought to you by estatesalebiz.com.  This was episode ESB003 titled Low Cost Secrets of Attracting High Value Buyers to Your Estate Sales.  I’m your host, Ronald Andrew Murphy.

Thank you for listening.

 

Music is from Bensound at Bensound.com.  Check em out.

Posted in Podcast.

Ronald Andrew Murphy is a Consultant, Podcaster, Voice-Over Narrator, and Online Training Developer. He specializes in Business and Marketing Technology. Murphy produces podcasts, audiobooks, and e-courses from his studio in Mount Dora, a picturesque small town in Central Florida.

Murphy has several years of experience working with estate sale and antiques businesses. He's developed websites, email marketing campaigns, and social media marketing programs for estate sale businesses and antiques dealers.

Murphy produces the semi-monthly "Estate Sale Business Podcast." The show covers management, marketing, and technical topics targeted toward estate sale business owners and managers. The podcast is available on the website, "EstateSaleBiz.com" and through Apple iTunes, Google Play and other popular podcast subscription sites.

Thoroughly at home with technology and business, Murphy has worked as a technical trainer, instructional designer, and college professor. His years of corporate experience include management, sales, software development, training, and support.

Murphy can be contacted through this site, or through his voiceover services site, ronaldandrewmurphy.com. He's also available on Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social media sites. Audiobooks narrated by Murphy are available on Audible and Amazon books.

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