Rocky Mountain Region Tests the Live-Stream Waters

Attendees “go to the mattresses” at the Rocky Mountain Region’s annual meeting.

By Alan Wolf, YSN

In an ironic twist, BrandSource’s Rocky Mountain Region recently used Facebook Live to livestream a marketing session that included … Facebook Live.

The session, led by keynote speaker Mary Putman, Vice President of Marketing and Branding at GE Appliances (GEA), was held during the chapter’s Nov. 12-13 meeting at the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel. The presentation was shared in real time and saved on BrandSource’s Facebook page for dealer staff who couldn’t attend and for the benefit of all BrandSource members, explained Rocky Mountain Region President Jackie King.

Putman, who appeared on a digital marketing panel at last summer’s Convention, began by sharing some basic business tenets, gleaned from her 14 years at Proctor & Gamble and the last two at GEA. Among them:

  • Be yourself
  • Be kind
  • Play to win
  • Be accountable (“Promises made, promises kept.”)
  • Be selective (“Do a few things really well.”)
  • Try new things (“Otherwise you will never learn.”
  • Bring out the best in your team
  • Celebrate success
  • Have fun

She also cited the four elements – an acronym for TEAM – that help make the GE team dynamic and effective: Trust, Empowerment, Accountability and Momentum.

Next, Putman walked members through the GEA “house of brands,” describing the target consumer for each. She also brought the dealers up to speed on her company’s latest product innovations and marketing initiatives (did someone say “Star Wars”?).

Turning to social media, Putman advised attendees to determine what makes them unique, and to communicate their brand identity through a blend of digital platforms. “It’s all about that draw into your store,” she said. But regardless of format, marketers only have about eight seconds on average to grab shoppers’ attention, she cautioned.

Members were then invited up to share their experiences and best practices. Janys Hutchings, co-owner of Hutch’s Home Furnishings in Lehi, Utah, and this year’s Women In Business Cornerstone Award winner, cited the mattress fire safety demos her company conducts as a community service, and which Putman described as an example of “Show me, don’t tell me” communication.

Tyler Wittwer of Boulevard Home Furnishings in St. George, Utah, said he’s been using Facebook Live for several years, livestreaming promotions, holiday events, tent sales, cooking demos and design presentations once or twice a week. While it’s “not the key to success” and requires some degree of effort, “It works very well,” he said, and is more likely than static posts to appear in other feeds. “It’s a lot less expensive than other media, and it’s easy to get the local market to see it,” he noted.

The greatest challenge, Wittwer said, is finding staff members who are willing to appear live online. So far, that duty has defaulted to him. “The key is to try it. Don’t be afraid of making a fool of yourself,” he advised.

That said, Wittwer sees Instagram as his next platform of choice, as it already provides most of his Facebook feeds and is trending with the under-40 set, especially among women. “Consumers are tired of Facebook,” he said, describing it, as did Putman, as a promotional vehicle. “They’re tired of ads.”

Wittwer advises dealers to focus on one or two social media platforms, and to find people within their organization who have an affinity for each.

Like Wittwer, Todd Hall of Duerden’s Appliance & Mattress in Bountiful, Utah, is a big proponent of Instagram. “We’ve tried multiple platforms, but they didn’t work,” he noted. Instead, he hosts two Instagram accounts, one for “foodies” and the other for the design community, and pays a professional photographer “a couple of hundred bucks, not a lot of money,” to help populate them. Together the accounts have amassed thousands of followers, he said, although members shouldn’t get “hung up” on numbers. Just focus on one platform and “Stick with it,” he advised.

Region President King, principal of Nampa Appliance TV & Mattress in Nampa, Idaho, was “very happy” with the webcast, describing Putman as “an amazing woman.”

“I’m not easily impressed, but I was very impressed,” she said.

King had seen the marketing exec participate in the Convention panel, and later approached Putman at the GEA booth to see if she would address her regional meeting. “The answer is always ‘no’ if you don’t ask,” King said. For her, the biggest takeaway from Putman’s presentation was to “Be the disruptor in your market – be the mayor in your market and own it.”

King chose to record and livestream the session to share the wealth of information with fellow BrandSource members, the dealer teams back home, and attendees who may wish to review the discussion.

“The beauty is that we can share that experience with everyone,” she said. “I’m excited that my delivery team gets to see it too.”

King added that Putman’s appearance contributed to what turned out to be one of the Rocky Mountain Region’s best annual meetings.

YSN is published by BrandSource parent company AVB Inc.