Dealer Spotlight: Von Tobel Grows Email List & Social Media through Giveaway

August 27, 2013

This blog entry was originally posted on the and re-posted here.

Growing Leads – and Sales Through Email & Social Media

Von Tobel Lumber & Hardware in Valparaiso, Indiana had a goal in mind for 2013; garner a bigger email address list and increase “Likes” on Facebook. Von Tobel’s Marketing Manager, Bill Kaye, turned to LMC’s Program with New Media Retailer (NMR). Janet Thomas, NMR Specialist, jumped at the opportunity taking on the challenge with confidence that NMR could generate the results Von Tobel was looking to get.

At the beginning of the year, Von Tobel and New Media Retailer developed a plan that combined social media posts, email marketing, and print advertising to drive customers to their website. Customers were encouraged to sign up to receive e‐mail updates from Von Tobel or to go and ‘Like’ their Facebook page and possibly win a fantastic Weber Grill. New Media Retailer managed the campaign through the Facebook app known as Easy Promos, which is an app designed to help run contests on Facebook.

In developing the promotion, Steve Conley, VP of Merchandising at Von Tobel, contacted Weber grills. The Von Tobel marketing team is keenly aware that when you let suppliers know what the goal is; they are willing to help you out. They had a solid plan and Weber was happy to participate in the promotion. And that’s how Facebook “Likes” and email subscribers became eligible to win a Weber Genesis EP 330 with a retail value of $999.00! It proved to be a significant draw.

The promotion began on April 22nd and by June 30th Von Tobel had over 440 new email addresses and 147 new likes on Facebook. Bill Kaye doesn’t hesitate to give NMR credit for the success. He said: “The key is in what NMR does for us‐ Keeping things fresh so it draws activity.” The success of the campaign is evidence that the right promotion, coupled with a solid campaign strategy, can provide incredible new customer connections.

How is working with NMR? Bill confesses: “We’re pretty much old school. We didn’t want to give someone else control over our website, emails and social media. There was also a fear of hooking up with a company especially when they’re across the country.” But he had to admit NMR made it easy for them. Bill said: “Janet is wonderful, full of fresh ideas. It is well worth it. They took away our fears working with someone so far away. They’re good people.”

He also mentioned: “We like the fact that NMR is in tune with this industry. We’re not their first lumberyard. You have to really look to find someone who has that blend of tech knowledge and knows our industry. That’s what we found through the LMC program with NMR.”

Build Excitement about your Email Campaigns

July 31, 2013

Looking for a new idea to entice customers to sign up for your email list?

Build excitement about your email campaigns by creating hype for an upcoming e-blast! Try using email only coupons as a way to let customers know that they are going to miss out on something special by not signing up.

A great way to do this is to use other social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to create excitement! Start by creating posts on Facebook and Twitter a few days prior to your e-blast going out. Something as simple as “An exclusive offer will be sent to our email club this Tuesday! If you’re not a member yet, sign up today so you don’t miss this great deal!” This is a clear message, you are telling customers exactly when they need to sign up by, but this message is still enticing because customers don’t know exactly what the offer will be. Continue posting enticing messages once per day until the e-blast is sent out!

Encourage fans to like and share your posts so that their friends can receive this exclusive offer as well! Just make sure you include a place where people can sign up for your list, either on your Facebook page or by including a link to your sign up form.

This is a great way to reward your current email subscribers, but also to build your list at the same time!

Does your Yelp Page Need Some Help?

July 31, 2013

Last month we talked about what iPhone maps and Yelp are telling your customers about your business… this month we are going to focus on how to encourage better reviews on Yelp from your customers!

Have you had a chance to check out your Yelp page? If so, you may have seen some reviews that you loved about your business, some that made you cringe, or you may not have seen any reviews at all. Yelp does have an influence on consumers, so let’s focus on encouraging positive reviews from your loyal customers.

Here’s 3 simple steps to get you started:

1. Create Awareness

Do your customers know that you’re using Yelp? If the answer to this question is awkward silence let’s change that right away! Post a sign at your store(s) to encourage customers to visit your Yelp page and leave a review while they are there! Yelp has a really great mobile app, so customers could check out your page and leave you a review right at your store! Also include the Yelp logo everywhere that you put your website, Facebook icon, and Twitter symbol.

2. Highlight your positive reviews

Now that you are starting to get some good things going on your Yelp page, let’s shine some light and make your customers feel like super stars! Post positive reviews on your Facebook page, website, and email marketing campaigns! Maybe you even want to print them out and hang them in the store! Be sure to thank your customers for their kind words and then encourage other customers to do the same! This is a great way to create exposure about your Yelp page and reward your customers at the same time!

Another approach to try is to reward your reviewers! Instead of encouraging a bunch of people to post at once, reward those who have already left you a positive review! Maybe it’s with a coupon or a freebie! This will help to create positive exposure about your page and will naturally encourage others to post so they too can be rewarded in the future!

3. Use your current marketing channels

This idea sort of piggy-backs on “highlighting your positive reviews” but it’s important to make sure this point is made on its own. Yelp might not be something that is working for you exactly the way you’d like it to right now, but that’s okay, we can get there! What is working for you right now? Is it Facebook, email marketing, Twitter…? Use your established channels to bring awareness to your Yelp page and encourage positive reviews through them! Whether it’s a post on Facebook a few times a month or including a call-to-action in the footer of your e-mail for customers to check out your Yelp page… use what’s already working for you to your advantage! Try to stay away from the “PLEASE REVIEW US… PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE” concept that everyone is doing. Try to get creative with your calls-to-action, something like “Want to see what your friends are saying about us? Click here!” It’s a little bit more intriguing and might help to get you more honest reviews!

Turning your Yelp page into a piece of art is going to take some time! But it will be worth the work that you put into it! Like most things in life, this is going to take some work on your part. But if you consistently work at it Yelp will help to drive traffic to your business! And hey, who doesn’t want that?

The Importance of Regular Website Updates

June 28, 2013

This month we are going to dive into a topic that was mentioned as part of the importance of having a website article from last month. As important as having a website is, it is just as important to consistently be updating your website. As technology progresses, we all must adapt to the changes. The “build it and forget it” method of designing a website is ancient relative to internet history. In order to successfully generate leads your website must be as dynamic as the internet is. The way to ensure this is to maintain regular updates and relevant content on your website.

Here are 4 reasons why you should consistently update your website:

Search Engine Ranking:

Search Engines use algorithms which contain several variables that are consistently changing to determine rank amongst searches. One variable that you can “control” is frequency.  Frequency is determined by how often you update your website. The more you update your website the higher you will rank on searches for this variable.

Customer Reach:

When you update your website, you are adding more information to it. This increased content will improve the chances that people will find you when they are looking for information. The more relevant information you can provide on your website, the more people will find it when they are searching.

Customer Retention:

When you are always adding coupons, events or even changing the blogs posted on your site, it gives the customers another reason to come back. If the users are not getting any new information or your catalog isn’t complete, there is a loss of value for the customer which deters them from returning to your site. By always updating the website, it creates value for customers to return to your site.

Traffic Analysis:

One facet of having a website that is often forgotten is analytics. Yes, looking at analytics in a sense of: Are my visitors increasing? or Is the average time on site improving? is a great way to monitor the success of your website but are you maximizing your websites potential? A great way to check your performance is to analyze your traffic, then make changes to the website or add something new. After, you track the affect these changes had on your performance. By continuously doing this you can always be improving the performance of your website. Consistent updates allows the opportunity to accurately monitor your websites traffic as well as make sure it is operating at its peak performance.


Having a website is essential in business today, but the driving force behind the success of the site is based on relevant content and regular updates. Nobody wants to visit the same website over and over, so you need to make sure that you are not only providing your customers reasons to come back but also improving the site to be better found in search engine queries.

What iPhone Maps and Yelp are Telling Your Customers About Your Business…

June 28, 2013

As a business owner, I know you’re constantly looking for ways to help your business be found on search engines. But in today’s society, we can’t just rest on search engine results. Smart phones, particularly iPhones, now have apps that help drive consumers to your business.

When a customer searches in Apple’s “maps” app for a business or a service the results that are generated are all linked through Yelp. What is Yelp? “Yelp is an online urban city guide that helps people find cool places to eat, shop, drink, relax and play, based on the informed opinions of a vibrant and active community of locals in the know. Yelp is the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what’s great — and not so great — in your world.”[1]

Consumers use Apple maps to do a search for coffee, pizza, entertainment, etc. to find a business in the nearby area that has what they are looking for. Each business that pops up is tied to its corresponding Yelp page, showing their Yelp star rating right along with the business name.

A simple click of the arrow by a consumer and they will be able to see a variety of information about the particular business. From photos to business information to consumer reviews.

So what does all of this mean? Without getting into the Android vs. iPhone debate, we need to first realize that consumers with an iPhone now have it easier than ever to form an opinion about your business. Have you checked out your Yelp business page yet? If you haven’t, you may want to take some time looking at your Yelp page and find out what consumers are learning about your business before they have had a chance to judge for themselves.

Over the next few weeks, your Marketing Specialist will be calling you to get your website address added to your Yelp listing so that consumers will be able to easily access to your website from your Yelp page.

Check back next month for tips on how to encourage better reviews on Yelp from your customers!

[1] Yelp faq. (2013). Retrieved from

Build and Engage Your Facebook Fan Page

May 30, 2013

Facebook promotions are a great way to get people excited about your brand! Whether you are looking to increase the likes on your page or improve engagement, Facebook promotions are an excellent way to add value to your page. Many companies have started including Facebook promotions into their social media marketing plans in order to see results in a specified time frame.

For starters, it’s important to understand exactly what a Facebook promotion is and why it could be useful for your business Facebook page. Facebook promotions come in many forms including sweepstakes, contests, quizzes, etc., where a winner is selected for some sort of an entry. Facebook promotions are beneficial for businesses both big and small because you are creating an opportunity to build, engage, and reward your fan base!

In order for a Facebook promotion to be successful you must do it the right way, with a reason for your fans to want to interact, a good prize, and a clean design. Keep it simple. Your NMR Marketing Specialist can work with you to help you identify what types of promotion would work best for your business, but here are some tips to keep in mind when getting started:

1. Identify goals

What do you hope you achieve by doing a Facebook promotion?

Many businesses do promotions to increase the likes of their fan page, and that’s great! Or many you want to increase engagement on your page through a photo contest? Whatever you are hoping to achieve has to be appropriate for your business, your NMR Marketing Specialist can help you identify those goals.

2. Select a prize

What type of prize would reward your customers the best?

You have a lot of options available when it comes to determining what types of prize you should offer to a winner of your promotion. Maybe it’s a wanted item such as an iPad or a Kindle, but anyone can give an iPad away. Why not do a giveaway that’s particular to your store, this is a great opportunity to reinforce value of your store and to keep the promotion local! This can include giving away a product or a service that you offer for free or giving away a gift card to your store. Just keep in mind that whatever you do choose to give away should be relevant to your fans and customer base.

Side note: One of the greatest things about Facebook promotions is that you can reward your current AND new fans. One of the most common types of promotions is all fans have to do to enter is like your page. It doesn’t matter if they have liked your page in the past or are just liking it today, they can still enter! No one in your Facebook community will feel left out and everyone has a fair chance to win!

3. Choose the app you’d like to use

Facebook rules and regulations require that you use a 3rd party app to run a promotion on Facebook. There are several different apps available to choose from that all have different features. It’s important to look and price and the customizations available to you through the app. Some apps are free while others can cost thousands of dollars to use. Furthermore, some apps do not allow you to add any customization to a promotion which sort of defeats the purpose. You want to be able to enhance your brand by making the promotion particular to your store. Here are some popular apps to get your search started:


  • The first promotion you run is free
  • Variety of campaigns
  • $15.00 per promotion after the first one is done using the Basic Version
  • You have the ability to manage and customize your promotions


  • Pay per campaign (2 week time frame per campaign, based on number of fans)
  • Variety of campaigns
  • Option to fan-gate is built in for free
  • Customizations available


  • Basic promotion is $5 and then $.99 per day
  • Variety of campaigns
  • Unlimited participants
  • Customizations available

Please speak with your NMR Marketing Specialist today if you are interested in setting up a promotion and find out what you need to do to get started (customization fees apply).

Importance of a Website

May 30, 2013

Last month we looked at the importance of having a mobile site, this month we are going to take a step back and look at why you need an interactive/ updated website and can’t just rely on a Facebook page or static website. The key is to actually have both as they work great as complements to each other but we’re going to focus on the importance of a website. The main factors that make having a website so important are:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Accessibility
  • Information/Customer Service
  • Facebook Limitations

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

With the popularity of the internet continually growing, one of consumer’s main sources to find information on products or services is the internet. Without a website there will only be a limited amount of information about your company. Without a website, who will they find…your competitor. Along with having detailed information on a website that will allow you to be found online, it is essential that you continuously update this information. Having outdated information can have a substantially negative impact on your brand and the way people look at your company. This new data also allows for search engines to better find and index your page which increases your likelihood that you come up earlier in search results. Updating content also gives customers a reason to come back whether its adding new products or giving a helpful tip, the more you provide to consumers the better your brand is in their eyes.


The flexibility that always being able to look up information on your website is a great feature to offer. This allows customer to “do business” with you at their convenience. Even though they may not be making purchases right now, providing them with the information they need will increase their likelihood to purchase at your store.

Information & Customer Service

Providing information about your company’s history, employees, products & services offered, community involvement, and any other useful information increases customer confidence. Customer confidence is a key factor when consumers are deciding on who to do business with and will give you the upper hand over companies who do not do this. Consumers are also not as gullible as they used to be. People are making decisions based more on researching information on products than believing the first thing they hear. With that shift, marketing needs to be directed toward information, not persuasion. Providing this information, customers will be able to get most of their questions answered online improving your customer service.

Facebook Limitations

Surprisingly as popular and advanced as Facebook is, it does have several limitations when using it as your business page. Not everyone that uses Facebook uses it for interacting and transacting with brands, only a small percentage of your Facebook followers actually see your posts, Facebook search is not good for local business, and design-wise, you don’t have lots of room to play. Facebook limits the width of your Page content to just 520 pixels wide. That’s not very much. So not only is the space in which you have to promote your content severely limited, Facebook controls it and can change it at any time. With your website, sure you need to optimize above-the-fold, but you can create a great user experience throughout that you completely control. All your competition is in the same place fighting for face time.

A website may be an expensive investment, but there are huge benefits to it. Using Facebook is essential to engage and reach customers but is usually best used as a secondary “website” after your actual website. SEO alone is enough to invest in a quality website, but all of the other features that also help your business makes having a website essential for your success.

App in Review: Facebook Pages Manager App

April 29, 2013

Welcome to App in Review! Each month we are going to review one app for your smartphone. This month, it’s not a new app that we will be reviewing, but it is a great app that you may not be using yet!

Facebook Pages Manager app is the answer to Facebook Admins prayers! How many times have you been on your businesses Facebook page from your smartphone thinking that you are posting as the business, but instead you’re posting from your personal page? Or maybe the posts just don’t appear at all?

The Facebook Pages Manager app makes it easier for admins to effectively manage pages. The app works similar to the regular Facebook app, but it’s built just for admins. If you are an admin of more than one page, you can simply select which page you’d like to post and post as the business. The app allows you to view your business page, post photos, send messages, and view insights. The best part is you can customize notifications. If you really want to be engaged in your Facebook page, you can set up the app to notify you when any activity occurs on your page. That way, if it’s a customer asking a question or anything time sensitive, you can be notified immediately and respond in an appropriate time frame.

Foursquare for Business

April 24, 2013

Imagine the scenario: I am a customer looking for a place to go for lunch. I pull out my cell phone and open my Foursquare app. I scroll through a list of nearby restaurants. I notice three have a “SPECIAL” banner over them.

Instantly, I click on each to see what the deal is. My lunch options are immediately reduced to three…. And the best deal wins with free chips and salsa!

But the scenario isn’t over yet.

Of course I want all of my friends to see this deal as well. I check-in on Foursquare, tag the friends that I’m with, and write what I’m up to: “Out to lunch, loving the free chips and salsa!” Now this post will show up on my Foursquare page, the business Foursquare page, and my Facebook page. How many potential customers are going to see this post? Well… that’s exactly the idea.

What is Foursquare?

Foursquare is a location based-app that allows you to connect with nearby customers and fans. Foursquare is great for retail, service-based, and food & restaurant businesses. Best part? Totally free. Foursquare rewards both businesses and customers who have active engagement. Customers work to gain more badges and “mayor” status of businesses. The mayor status is achieved by checking in the most times at a single location.

What’s in it for me?

Well for starters, you can join a community of over 100 million users on Foursquare. It’s easy to connect with customers through this location-based app. Businesses can communicate to the users in their area through updates, specials, check-ins, and photos. As a business on Foursquare, there is the ability to make specials available on certain days of the weeks, certain times of the day, or reward by every certain number of check-ins. Foursquare allows businesses to add additional information about their business, such as their website so customers can really learn more about them.

Foursquare offers business analytics so they can track their progress. Businesses can track the success of specials, look for trends, total number of people who like the page, etc. Analytics also allow businesses to see how many check-ins were pushed to other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

How do I get started?

The scary thing for business owners is that your business may already be on Foursquare and you may not know it. Don’t you want to know what customers are saying about you?

To learn how to get started as a business owner, click here:

There are two apps available on smartphones, Foursquare and Foursquare for business. I would recommend downloading both of the available apps to get started!

Introduction of Instagram for Businesses

April 24, 2013

“Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone and then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever. We’re building Instagram to allow you to experience moments in your friends’ lives through pictures as they happen. We imagine a world more connected through photos.” -Instagram

Beneath the app’s lively nature, Instagram provides a powerful way to market your products/services and connect with customers. Small business owners are able to grow both their customer relationships as well as their sales by connecting with customers via Instagram on a more personable level. The difference in marketing on Instagram and almost any other channel of marketing is that when using Instagram you’re not going to be selling products or services. Rather you will be focusing your efforts on:

  • “Cultivating a unique visual sense”[2]
  • “Having a distinctive view of the world” [2]
  • “Capturing things that are interesting to the brand and to the core target customer” [2]
  • “Training your eye for what makes for a great, provocative, engaging image” [2]
  • “When in doubt, entrusting the work to someone in the organization that has the above” [2]

Some successful ways to utilize the full potential of Instagram as a marketing tool would be to host a photo contest or document the projects you undertake so everyone can see your expertise. You can reward your followers for looking at your photos and reading the description using contests or including discounts and promo codes.

Instagram can also help you improve what you offer customers. Small businesses can showcase both your products as well as loyal customers of your store by requesting customers to post their own photos of your products/ services in use. This also provides a ‘behind the scenes’ look at your business with visual customer recommendations.

Instagram can also be a great tool for introducing new products or services you offer or giving directions on how to set up or use specific products.

Using these tips and techniques will allow you to be successful in using Instagram as a marketing and promotion tool. You will be able to attract, grow, and engage your customers using techniques concentrated on the visually evolving population.




[1] “Instagram for Business.” Instagram, 2013. Web. Web. 2 Apr. 2013. <>.

[2] Meyer, Russ. 5 Tips On Using Instagram To Delight Your Customers. Fast Company, 11 Oct 2011. Web. Web. 2 Apr. 2013. <>.

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