Eric Benton is from Jefferson, SC where he runs Southeast Tractor Parts. Eric attended the social media seminar I did last week in Orlando sponsored by the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association (NTPDA).
He's also a true believer.
His world consists of fielding lots of phone calls from people looking for tractor parts or farmers who have been on the website and want more information or have questions about which part to buy. Eric has two local customer demographic bases:
- 25 to 45 year old men/women who own a single tractor to care for five to fifty acres of hunting plots, gardens or lawn care.
- 45 to 65 year old men/women working 200 - 800 acres of soybeans, corn, wheat, turkey, chicken, watermelon, tobacco, cotton and cattle.
Eric realizes he's behind the curve when it comes to online sales. Add to that the fact that, in his area, forty percent of rural families are stuck on "dial up" connections through their phone company. (This is just another reason why it's so critical that we move quickly to bring broadband to Rural America - but that's another story.)
He realizes that to expand he's got to look outside of his immediate market area...but how. How is he going to engage consumers that live 500 to 800 miles away without spending tons of cash on traditional or even Internet advertising?
"I love building relationships with my customers.", says Eric. "When they call I get to ask them about their business, the crops, how things are going and even their family. Folks like that and I need to reach out more."
Enter the world of Social Media- A light went off in Eric's head last week when he realized that he could begin searching for, communicating with and being a part of agriculture in many different parts of the nation...and world. It wouldn't cost him loads of cash...and he would be working on one of his favorite things...building relationships.
Rushing back to South Carolina Eric, and his bride Linda, began adding more robust items to their website, careful not to get too creative or flashy (40% on dial-up), they started an eBay store and will soon have the real capability to sell online with the help of another provider. He's started looking at Flip cameras to record the lifestyle of his consumers and share with the world. And, we're looking forward to seeing him on Twitter/Facebook and a Business Blog...soon.
Eric is one of the 5% who came, got the message and is acting on it...he is building new markets where he can engage and sell and profit.
How about you?