“It’s great to be with folks who are facing similar challenges and want to make our community better.”
SCCA Member: Jim Welna, Welna II Hardware

Wood from the Hood: A Case Study in Online Marketing

Our May Member meeting, besides delicious catering by Himalayan, included an interactive presentation on social media and online marketing, driven by the questions of members who attended. We had a great turnout, and it was a treat to meet in the inspiring environment of ArtiCulture for the first time. Many businesses had more specific questions about their own outreach following the meeting, and Redesign provided $100 scholarships to meet one-on-one with Jennifer Larson of Jennifer Larson Communication Design or Peter Fleck of PF Hyper for feedback about their efforts. Wood from the Hood was one company that took us up on their offer. Find out more about what they learned:

SCCA: First of all, Cindy, can you explain to those who haven’t heard of you yet what Wood from the Hood is all about?
Cindy: Wood from the Hood was born of a simple idea to reclaim trees downed by disease, construction, or storm damage, and reuse them. The south Minneapolis shop produces flooring, furniture, and accessories from the hardwoods of the Twin Cities’ fallen urban forests. Each item is tagged with a zip code so you’ll know where the wood grew up.
SCCA: What does your marketing strategy look like overall? Do you use print or radio ads? Sponsorships?
Cindy: We mostly do print, social media and expos. Most of our print is with client publications to help draw consumers into our clients’ retail stores. It’s a win/win for both of us!
SCCA Which social media tools have you been using? Did you start with a strategy from the very beginning, or has your current practice been something you’ve grown into over time?
Cindy: We are on Facebook and Twitter. We try to show our followers the things we are capable of producing. We hope to develop in educating our follows on trees and woodworking as time always.
SCCA: Is social media naturally a part of your marketing efforts, or is it a process you have to consciously work to keep up alongside other, more traditional methods?
Cindy: Social media is a fun way to see what people respond to that we are doing. In return we focus effects on those things in other avenues.
SCCA: What specific question motivated you to set up a session with Peter?
Cindy: We wanted to get some help linking Facebook and Twitter and talk about how to better reach our audience.
SCCA: What do you think is the most helpful thing you learned from his expert advice?
Cindy: Peter had all the links available when he arrived and we worked through some problem solving. Peter had also reviewed our website prior to arriving and gave us some ideas and goals to work on. We immediately changed a few things on our website after our consultation.
SCCA: Peter, what about Wood from the Hood’s online marketing was already working really well?
Peter: WFTH has a good web site and Facebook and Twitter accounts. The web site is very fun to explore and learn their story and to see what the different products are.
SCCA: What opportunities did you see where they could increase or tailor their outreach more effectively?
Peter: As with many small businesses, it helps to spend more time freshening the web site and their social media efforts with new content. But it’s a challenge to find the time. As for tailoring outreach, I would look at Google Adwords to drive traffic to the site. A great addition for them (and most sites) would be a newsletter sign-up. MailChimp is a great tool for this and it doesn’t have to be fancy. But a key piece is people are signing up for it so they want it and they want to know more about your company and product. You can also couple this with special coupons or advance sales of new products so you create sort of an in-crowd that will grow as folks tell their friends. You can tie specials in the newsletter with your tweets and Facebook posts. I also do a web site evaluation for the consult. I suggested a few improvements for the WFTH site mostly in terms of lessening large areas of white space that were visible when scrolling to the bottom of pages. I checked today and Cindy took my advice. The site I think is a bit improved with the changes.
SCCA: What do you think is the best tool out there for a business like Wood from the Hood to build brand loyalty and attract new customers?
Peter: The best tool for any business is the company web site. You do not want to rely only on Facebook and Twitter and other social media tools: You need your own piece of land on the Internet that you control. I want to come there and feel at home. You cannot create that feeling on Facebook or Twitter. (Also consider that the “lease” you have with sites like Facebook can be changed at any time with no notice to you!).
But along with the web site, you need to have a commitment to update content on a regular basis so it looks like someone lives there. That is also the key to getting better search engine rankings: FRESH and ENGAGING content. This isn’t hard to do today if you use some kind of content management system (CMS). I like building sites with WordPress which is very easy to use for publishing fresh content. If you know how to use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress. Then you configure your CMS to auto-publish new content to all your social media properties (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc.).
SCCA: What do you think is the most important tip you shared with Cindy in your follow up session?
Peter: Not really a tip but Cindy was having issues posting from her smart phone to Facebook. We were able to troubleshoot that and fix the issue. She also wanted to know about posting from Facebook to Twitter and I gave her some links to check out on how to do that. It’s  typical for most businesses to have some tech questions that they need help with. With one Seward business, I helped in fixing their location on Google mapls. Clients were sometimes going to the wrong address!
As for that most important tip, WFTH has a great video on their site and I suggested creating more videos of what goes on behind the scenes. I think it could be done at a reasonable cost even with a hand-held low-cost video camera and minimal editing. Then push these out on a YouTube account and also embed them on your web site. Sharing photos via Flickr or Instagram would also add a new level of engagement.
SCCA: Can other businesses get similar help with their marketing practices from you? How much does that cost? Is there a deadline?
Peter: Redesign has scholarships available to businesses for these sessions, reducing the out of pocket costs to just $30 to you. Sessions need to be scheduled by June 30 to receive the discount. The format is very open and you bring your questions to the table. I see these consults as a way to help your business with market engagement via the Internet. Email me at pfhyper@gmail.com to get a time set up!

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