I helped out on the tail end, talking about some of the ways retailers and vendors can use technology to help them continue to build those relationships after the face-to-face meetings are over. I talked about the benefits of eNewsletters, functional (translation constantly updated!) websites, blogs and use of social media sites to foster positive relationships.
A good example of a cool eNewsletter that really brings the owners personality through is Spencer Porteous of Everything Outdoors in Vero Beach, Fla. He talks one-on-one to his customers and gives them information they need to be successful, which brands him as the expert and keeps them coming back in the store. On the website front, The Great Outdoors is an excellent example of a consistently updated website that engages customers.
I also talked about the use of new social media sites like Facebook for business purposes, as well as the role of a site like Twitter. For more on these and to see some links to great industry blogs, click this link to read my February column on the need for technology.