Using Social Media for a Small Business

In the category of, “Best Use of a Blog for Marketing a Small Business,” the winner is… [sound of envelope being ripped open]… the Lincoln Sign Company. The blog is a fantastic example of using social media concepts like transparency in support of a small business. (Hat tip: John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing.)

JD Iles operates the sign-making company with a handful of employees out of a shop attached to a house in Lincoln, New Hampshire (pop. 1271).

JD makes a habit of blogging about every major project the company takes on. He blogs throughout the duration of the project, so the customer can track the progress and understand the reason for any delay.

Customers end up not just with a sign, but also with a behind-the-scenes description of how it was built and the artistic considerations in creating it. My favorite example is the story behind the sign they created for Sandpiper Cottage, a vacation rental home.

Why does the online story make the signs they create more valuable? Well, let JD tell it:

I think the value is mainly in the “possible opportunities for conversation” that it presents to the customer. Many times, our customers (after we have installed a sign) have commented to us that they have gotten great feedback on their new sign. For people who genuinely are interested, the proud owner of a new sign could e-mail them a link to the “Sign Story” of the sign being built.

True, this is great advertising for us, but it is also terrific for the business with the new sign. Any time you can get a potential customer to take time out of their busy day and spend some time looking at your logo or “brand”, you increase the likelihood that they will then go out and tell your story to others.

It has been said that the best marketing one can have is for a customer to want to tell your story to someone else. We want to provide a tool to help people tell a story about your business…

The line from that passage that jumps out at me more than any other is “possible opportunities for conversation.” I try to learn something – or relearn something – every day. Today a rural signmaker from New Hampshire has reminded me that markets are conversations.

(Cross-posted from Social Media Today.)