Category Archives: Interview

Boutique Owner Grows Small Business by Using Social Media

Carla Gizzi knows her business. She’s had a vintage inspired home and jewelry boutique in Red Bank, New Jersey for fifteen years. She says that business has slowed in the past few years, but with a loyal following it hasn’t disrupted her passion for buying merchandise and finding new ways to promote her shops. By using a combination of social media and cause marketing strategies Carla is bringing in new customers and growing her business.

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Filed under Facebook and Twitter, How to, Interview

Interview: Pia Wilson, Playwright and Small Business Owner

ClearSocialMedia: You have several businesses, can you tell us about them?
Pia Wilson: I never thought of my being a playwright as a business because of the artistic element.  But I can definitely see how it could be conceived that way because of all the relationship-building and the marketing element.  My other business is a language school I started in July 2010.  It’s a business in more of a classical sense — in that it’s an LLC — and it’s called Language à GoGo.
CSM: Where are they located or are they primarily online?
PW: My playwriting business goes wherever I go, though I do have a website: www.piawilson.com!  Language à GoGo is based in Montclair, NJ; though our classes are in Manhattan.  The website is www.languageagogo.com — and it’s a Tumblr site (to my advantage and disadvantage).
CSM: What is your primary marketing strategy?
PW: For playwriting, I don’t have a specific marketing strategy.  I try to get to know people in the industry.  I have the aforementioned website, and I tweet (@pwilson720).  My twitter account is reflective of me as a person and as a playwright.  Same with my Facebook page.
Language à GoGo is a little more strategic.  The company is going to do a sale with an email marketing company.   The twitter account (@languageagogo) has been growing slowly, and there’s no Facebook page yet.  From my perspective, it’s better to hear what the community is saying and build the community little by little rather than just follow everyone on the planet, just to get a big number.  We have had conversations with our friends on Twitter and learned from them. Hopefully, we’ve been sharing some worthwhile information too.  On Facebook, we’ve been waiting to launch the page until we have a larger student body community.  Ideally, I want students to communicate with each other and their teacher, using Facebook as a meeting point for conversation about language, swapping tips for learning and more.  We’re also waiting to have more visual content.  There’s nothing I hate more than a boring Facebook page!  I also use Gowalla for Language à GoGo, since we’re all about being on the move.
CSM: How does this strategy change between marketing yourself as a playwright and marketing a business?
PW: I think I may have combined the answer for this question with the answer for the question above.  But I’d like to add that marketing myself as a playwright is more about me being Pia.  I can bring my politics into it. I can talk about my life.  I can talk about what I’m working on.  However, with Language à GoGo, it’s not really me I’m presenting.  So, I keep my personal life out of it, unlike other impresarios like Richard Branson and P.T. Barnum.  Language à GoGo is about connecting people with a new language and culture.
CSM: What forms of social media do you find most helpful?  How does this differ between businesses?
PW: I find Twitter to be the most helpful in both businesses.  As a playwright, I find that Twitter helps me reach out to people from all over the world.  Facebook is more limited to my immediate circle and is thus New York-centric.  For Language à GoGo, there’s nothing to compare Twitter to on the social media front.  Lots of information comes through Twitter.  Great conversations.  Gowalla will be more fun as we grow.
CSM: What kind of impact does social media have on both businesses?  How do you measure the impact?
PW: Twitter has brought a few people to the website for Language à GoGo as well as my personal/playwright website.  However, as a playwright, Twitter has had a different impact, in that I’ve met theater people in person that I may have never known, and some theaters in other parts of the country have requested to read my work, which is fantastic.  Facebook is more about socializing with people I already know to some degree.  It’s great for mentally casting a role too!
CSM: How do you think social media is changing the way people can brand themselves?  How new business start up?
PW: I think social media gives people a way to show their authentic personality.  It’s also a great way to position yourself as a great communicator and sharer of ideas.  For a new business start-up, it’s a great way to make inroads into an established community.  It’s also a way to gauge the market’s receptivity to a start-up’s positioning.  Of course, it’s a wonderful way to keep in contact with clients and potential clients.
CSM: What social media do you find invaluable?  What have you tried and found to be a waste of time?
PW: I really enjoy Twitter, but it can be very time-consuming.  If anything, I would recommend relaxing about Twitter and easing it into your schedule. It’s more important to get the big items off your plate Twitter should be business and pleasure.
Because I have been careful with my time using social media, I haven’t encountered any social media that is a waste of time. I think it’s important to think about what your business is and then engage in social media strategically — not just following every trend.
CSM: I notice you have an iPad.  Does it aid you in accessing social media or marketing your businesses?
PW: Yes! The iPad is a great tool for using social media. I have both the Twitter app as well as Twittelator and Hootsuite. I use Friendly for Facebook.  In person-to-person marketing, I have created a slideshow for Language à GoGo that demonstrates how we operate.
With playwriting, I can fill out grant or festival applications using PDF Expert or iAnnotate PDF.
CSM: What advice would you offer to people who are looking to brand themselves using social media?
PW: Think strategically and don’t exhaust yourself, if you don’t have the people power to pull off a hectic social media schedule.
CSM: What advice would you offer to people looking to create buzz around a new business using social media?
PW: Engage people. Ask interesting questions. Share your insights frequently.

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Interview with a Real Estate Agent

This is an interview with Real Estate Agent Barry Kramer of Westchester Choice Realty in Scarsdale, NY.  We’d love reader feedback on what questions we should be asking in future interviews so please leave a comment, either with follow up questions for this interview or questions you’d like us to ask future subjects.

CSM: What kind of business do you own?

Answer: Residential Real Estate, homes, condos, co-op sales and rentals.  We are an independent brokerage with about 10 agents.

CSM: Where is your business located?

Answer: Scarsdale, NY in Westchester County

CSM: Where do you do most of your sales?

Answer: Locally, Eastchester, Scarsdale, Tuckahoe, Bronxville, Hartsdale and White Plains.  Our most significant market is along the Harlem Train Line.  We specialize on Garth Road, Scarsdale, NY.

CSM: What is your target demographic (age, location, social-economic status)?

Answer: Since we sell a lot of co-op apartments we target first time buyers.  We also target seniors that own homes and may be considering downsizing.

CSM: What is your primary marketing strategy (is it traditional, like print/TV or does is it mainly digital)

Answer: We do a lot of Internet marketing, and less print than we used to.  We have our own website, and are also on most major Real Estate search engines like Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com.  We also still do quite a bit of direct mail.

CSM: – if both, how does the approach to each differ?  How do the results differ?

Answer: With our Internet marketing we try to get new buyers, while our direct marketing is to secure listings in the area we specialize in.

CSM: What social media do you use (Facebook, twitter, etc., etc.)

Answer: We use Facebook, and have our own Facebook page.  We also started to use Twitter, but haven’t really used it very much.

CSM: How does marketing through social media impact your business (if it does not impact your business please explain why)?

Answer: Well, it seems like in Real Estate you’ve got to be in nearly everything.  Places like Facebook have begun to eliminate separate places on individual pages to list homes for sale.  They seem like they want mainly personal stuff, and if you’re a business they want you to have a business page. Consumers, and especially young buyers like the interaction through places like Facebook.

CSM: Please discuss the primary impact as well… is it sharing information, actual sales, building a fan base, etc.

Answer: Yes, all of the above.  Consumers want information and not just selling.  If you can provide information on your social media and other web tools you’ll be ahead of others.  Everyone wants to be liked.  I’m always weary about liking other Realtors.  They’ll just take that into a listing presentation and say look, even Barry Kramer likes me.  Building a base of clients is great, but you’ve got to stay in touch!

CSM: How is social media changing the sense of community around your business?

Answer: Yes it is.  Every Realtor has a Blog and communicates on Facebook etc.  You’ve got to be careful though not to exclude older buyers that might prefer an old fashioned phone call.  It’s a mix.  Real Estate has always been a people business, and media like Facebook is just one more way to communicate with buyers and sellers.

CSM: How would your marketing strategy be different if you didn’t have social media as a tool?

Answer: We never got rid of the other stuff. We’ve cut back on print media, and have not eliminated entirely. We still do direct mail. We’ve included social media into our strategy, but it’s not the only thing we do.

CSM: Is there any instance in today’s world where you would NOT recommend social media as part of a business strategy?

Answer: When we try to reach older buyers it’s not a really good strategy.  Also, homes need to be seen, felt and explored.  Sure we can do a virtual tour, but you just can’t smell fresh baked cookies in a beautiful kitchen on Facebook, at least not yet anyway.

CSM: What advice do you have to offer other people entering your industry as they contemplate where to put their efforts online?

Answer: Be online, but there’s more to real estate than social media, having a good website, and blogging.  Eventually you’ll have to meet a buyer or seller and through ups and downs negotiate a deal.  Social media may be a start, and may even be the way you keep in touch after the deal is over.  Studies have shown that buyers and sellers work with people they like.  Even if you’re the best social media expert if they don’t like you they won’t do business with you.  Embrace social media, but don’t forget the basics.

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Social Media Strategy for the Cinnamon Snail

Last week I spoke with Adam Sobel about how he uses social media for his small business.  Initially, I found the Cinnamon Snail through an article in my local paper, but since then I started following him on Facebook. It was cold day when we spoke, but he had a long-lineup of loyal customers who wanted to have some great vegan food served up right out of a food truck. How’d they find him? Through his Facebook and twitter updates.

There was a lot of ooohing and ahhing as some people ate right there on the spot. I waited to get home and have the *Special* lemongrass 5 spice seitan, with arugula, red curried cashews, wasabi mayonnaise, and Szechuan chili sauce on a grilled baguette. My husband couldn’t believe what we were eating wasn’t meat. Kudos to Adam! Delicious. Delicious. Delicious!

Watch how this entrepreneur merges culinary inventiveness with sound marketing practices. He is the one to watch because he’s only been in business since February this year and converted another new customer—Me!

If you didn’t see my earlier post check it out now.

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Interview with a Fashion Designer

This is an interview with an LA based clothing designer who is a friend of Ellie’s.  We’d love reader feedback on what questions we should be asking in future interviews so please leave a comment, either with follow up questions for this interview or questions you’d like us to ask future subjects.

CSM: What kind of business do you own?

Answer: A women’s contemporary, eco-friendly clothing line sold in small boutiques, and a secondary line sold in a contemporary mass-market retailer.

CSM: Where is your business located?  Where do you do most of your sales?

A: Los Angeles. My showroom is based out of Los Angeles, but I sell primarily to boutiques on the East coast.

CSM: What is your target demographic?

A: 25-40. City-dweller. College and above. Either in a creative field or views themselves as creative.

CSM: What is your primary marketing strategy?

A: Digital: but primarily through blogs and press writing about us, through finding out about us or our press releases.  We are of the strategy that we don’t pay for press, we are interesting enough to warrant press on our own.

CSM: What social media do you use (facebook, twitter, etsy, etc.)?

A: Our own website.

Our blog (one per line).
Facebook pages (one per line).
Online shops.

CSM: How does marketing through social media impact your business?

A: The main goal at this point is to build awareness to support the stores that carry our line, and to eventually drive sales to our online sales. My blog gets only about 400 readers a day, and I keep writing for personal interest as well as so that when I post something about my line: at least 400 people see it that day.

But…I don’t really know how much it does. My product is specific, fitted and sized it’s a lot harder for me to convert to a web sale. A friend has a t-shirt line and she sells tons anytime she posts a sale on twitter or fb: but it’s simply sized and boys buy it too.

CSM: How is social media changing the sense of community around your business?

A: That’s a good question: it amazes me that people I’ve never heard of “like” my line on facebook, so in some ways I’m more connected to people that are a part of my company’s community. But how many of those “likes” are as important as someone who bought a dress of mine three years ago, then again last year, then found my secondary line, bought two pieces, and then gave another piece as a gift and talks up my line whenever possible, and hates facebook?

CSM:  How would your marketing strategy be different if you didn’t have social media as a tool?

A: I view social media more as a display case for what our brand is doing than an outreach tool.  So, I wouldn’t be able to tell as many people what we are up to or I would need another outlet.  I think that the internet and social media is invaluable to young and independent designers, that having been said, it’s also a bit of a time suck. 🙂

CSM: Is there any instance in todays world where you would NOT recommend social media as part of a business strategy?

A: OMG.

The other day I heard on the radio a chapstick ad where they extolled you to “learn more about us on facebook” and my aunt’s company (a science/tech/but only to the industry company) had her do a facebook page and the other day Tide told me that like 40 of my friends were fans of Tide. First of all, unless you have a full marketing plan to roll out with your FB or twitter or whatever, or if you are a big mainstream company it’s pretty pointless. Secondly, anyone who “likes” a big mainstream brand unless it’s Obama, is a nerd and not a social innovator and their FB status aren’t even coming up on my home page and I don’t really care what they think anyway. Thirdly, if your company doesn’t interact with individual consumers: I would skip the social networking unless you are in tech.

CSM: What advice do you have to offer other people entering your industry as they contemplate where to put their efforts online?

A: One has to figure out what type of social media is best in relation to their line and in relation to them as the spokesperson for their line, if they are one.

Blogging makes sense for me because it fills in the holes of the inspiration and interest in my line—if you think my line/blog is cool—maybe you think my blog/line is cool. Facebook is to connect on a more direct level for people. I don’t do twitter because I don’t want my Self to be too closely aligned to my brand, my Self is worth more than my line. We can all smell the cheese when someone tweets or FB for their job or whatever—horrible. I also don’t value the idea of twitter: I think it’s a waste of time unless there is a crime on my street or an attack in Mumbai.

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Interview with a Massage Therapist

This is an interview with an NY based Massage Therapist who’s business La Dolce Vita Massage is based in Long Island City.  We would love reader feedback on what questions we should be asking in future interviews so please leave a comment, either with follow up questions for this interview or questions you would like us to ask future subjects.

CSM: What kind of business do you own?

Answer: Massage Therapy Business

CSM: Where is your business located?  Where do you do most of your sales?

Answer: 4712 Vernon Blvd, Hunters Point (Long Island City). From street traffic or by word of mouth.

CSM: What is your target demographic (age, location, socio-economic status)?

Answer: Men & Woman between 18-80. I also focus on pregnant woman of any age.

CSM: What is your primary marketing strategy (is it traditional, like print/TV or is it mainly digital). If both, how does the approach to each differ?  How do the results differ?

Answer: Primarily my website is my main marketing strategy, but I haven’t tried the print approach yet. I’m sure print advertising will work for me, I just have not have placed an add in a publication yet. I’m looking to place an add in next month’s LIC/Astoria free magazine Boro.  I’m excited to see the results of local adverting.

CSM: What social media do you use (facebook, twitter, etsy, etc.)

Answer: Right now I’m on Facebook, Yelp, Google and LinkedIn.  I’m still a little uneducated about  social media, so I’m not as familiar with twitter and even facebook buisness pages as I would like to be.

CSM: How does marketing through social media impact your business (if it does not impact your business please explain why)? Please discuss the primary impact as well… is it sharing information, actual sales, building a fan base, etc.

Answer: I’m not sure how much of an impact social media will have on my business as I am relatively new. I believe that google ads and yelp will help tremendously.  I plan to steer more of my current customers there to post reviews, in order to acquire new clients and increase awareness in LIC.

CSM: How is social media changing the sense of community around your business?

Answer: I believe social media is imperative to the success of any business and while I work in a large city people search locally.  I think social media makes finding places easier, and reviews help either drive people or ward them away.  I’m excited in the way the community comes together in sites like Astorians.com.  It makes this big city feel much smaller.

CSM: How would your marketing strategy be different if you didn’t have social media as a tool?

Answer: I would do more print ads and handing out of flyers (which I don’t think really work)

CSM: Is there any instance in today’s world where you would NOT recommend social media as part of a business strategy?

Answer: Absolutely not, isn’t social media just an extension of word of mouth adverting? Maybe if your running a bad business.

CSM: What advice do you have to offer other people entering your industry as they contemplate where to put their efforts online?

Answer: Know your market and use online resources that are geared towards those individuals. Targeting is key, use internet searches to your advantage.  Sometime even a little homework goes a long way.  Also, understand your client, if you get a negative review reach out and contact that person and see if you can resolve the situation.

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