|Lisa Richter, Owner of Life by Lisa|
Lisa’s goal when opening LBL was to give people fashionable, affordable, goods, keeping the cost under $50. She wanted to bring the big fashion world that she worked in for so many years to the Cedar Valley. Small towns like Cedar Falls should be able to keep up with the big cities, and not have to spend a fortune. She gave the example of a jacket they had in the store, which looked very similar to a Coach jacket. The Coach brand cost $1,500; the jacket in LBL cost $35. Lisa also kept the tradition that her mother started in 1967 of selling wigs. LBL is now the largest wig retailer in Iowa.
In a mere five years, LBL has gained 4,482 likes on Facebook and 65 followers on Twitter. When I asked Lisa about her social media tactics, she stated that it was very strenuous for her. “I’m in a generational gap,” said Lisa. “I’m 38 and didn’t get my first cell phone until I was 21.” Even though Lisa finds posting to the LBL Facebook page stressful, it has definitely been working. She mentioned that Facebook is their best platform. Lisa will post a photo of a new item, along with the price, and it blows peoples mind how reasonable the prices are. Girls from all over the country will call the store asking about an item and how to get a hold of it. LBL does not have a webpage, but will hopefully have one up and running this fall. Lisa stated that there is a lot of time and money that goes into having an e-commerce presence, which is why she will be having someone manage it.
LBL sells to women of all ages. The ages range from the young teenage girls to the little old ladies looking to buy a wig. Since their audience ranges in all ages, Lisa still does print advertising and radio commercials. “People read in the winter and drive their cars in the summer, so we do print in the winter and radio in the summer,” stated Lisa. They also do a lot of advertising during the holiday season. “I would also love to do commercials, but the cost is too high and there are so many channels,” said Lisa.
The cost of traditional advertising is one of the reasons why Lisa uses social media so much. She finds that whenever she takes pictures of girls in clothes, it drives the most engagement. “People love seeing real people in the clothes, rather than a model,” said Lisa. “Girls also love having their picture taken.” People get a sense of what to expect in the store just by looking at the LBL Facebook page. Lisa always makes sure to ask a girl if she is okay with any picture being taken to be put on social media, and she hasn't had anyone say no yet. “We had an instance where a girl came in and tried on two dresses,” said Lisa. “We took pictures of her in both and posted them to our Facebook page. She bought one of the dresses, but the one that she didn't buy got 40 likes on Facebook. She came back in the next day and bought the dress.” That type of story shows the power of social media, especially on the consumer and their buying power.
Nasty Gal. She will also carry around a notebook to write down a one liner that she sees and may someday want to use in a post. Lisa is a strong believer in internships and hands on work, and believes that is the best way to learn versus a classroom setting. Lisa’s husband, Nathan, is eight years younger and helps her quite a bit with social media as well, especially Twitter. “Twitter is just hard for me to grasp, I mean I remember when faxes came out!” laughed Lisa.
Promotional items on Facebook are hit and miss for LBL. For every 1,000 likes she will send a $25 gift certificate to that person. They had a promotion over the holidays to where if you bought $100 in gift certificates you received a free $20 gift certificate, but you had to mention it. Only three people claimed that offer. She has found that the “buy one, get one” offers work a lot better. No matter what Lisa posts on Facebook, someone is bound to come in with their phone, bring up a picture and ask where that item is. “It happens on a daily basis, girls take a lot of screenshots,” commented Lisa. She also prefers direct mail pieces over email. “I personally don’t like to read emails, and I don’t want my customers to feel that way, which is why I send out coupons,” said Lisa. “Girls will remember a coupon; it’s no different than the free panty coupon that Victoria Secret’s send out.”
A big thanks to Lisa for letting me interview her. Make sure to stop by LBL located at 321 Main Street, Cedar Falls. They're open Monday-Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.