Over their 30 years in business, FC News has presided over massive changes in what constitutes effective advertising for flooring retailers. 30 years ago dealers could run a newspaper ad with a special offer and generate enough immediate business to make a profit. The same with direct mail to a purchased list, display ads in local magazines, and other traditional strategies. Times have changed during the lifetime of FC News. While these methods can still work, over the past 15-20 years they’ve become more expensive and difficult to make profitable.
I’ve polled attendees of my webinars and live trainings, asking if advertising is more effective, less effective, or unchanged compared to 15-20 years ago. 70% – 90% say it’s less effective. So what changed? I think several things.
Problem #1 – Consumer Distraction
The internet has created a lot more ‘noise‘ that a dealer must cut through in order to be heard. When you consider the explosion of mobile devices, dozens of social media outlets, video on demand, email, text, and on and on, it’s no wonder that dealers have a tough time being heard in any media, online or off.
Problem #2 – Competition
A lot more players with deep advertising pockets got into the flooring game, such as box stores, national flooring chains, and online companies. These companies are able to outspend local retailers in every advertising media, both online and off. In the advertising game whoever can spend the most usually wins.
Problem #3 – Consumer Distrust
Consumers have been lied to and ripped off by businesses, including flooring companies, or they know someone who has. They’ve also been lied to and ripped off by politicians. By Wall Street. By internet scams. An endless parade of scandals in the highest echelons of government have eroded people’s trust. The financial meltdown and collapse of the housing market in 2008 left a mindset of caution and fear. Therefore, if a consumer has never done business with you, why should a consumer believe your claims to be ‘the best,’ or your guarantees, or that you provide ‘great service,’ even if those claims are proclaimed from a phenomenal looking website?
These modern marketing problems could seem insurmountable, but there is a timeless concept that provides a solution to all three.
I define relationship marketing as direct communication to your past clients, referral marketing, and developing referral relationships with other businesses. In today’s digital age, relationship marketing might seem “old school,” but the results speak for themselves. My Flooring Warranty polled over 65,000 recent buyers of flooring, asking them what prompted you to buy this time. Here are the top 5 answers:
- 50.6% – A referral from one of your past customers
- 8.9% – I drove by your store
- 3.1% – Radio or TV Ad
- 2.2% – Social Media
- 2.1% – Internet search
According to this poll the top source of business by a huge margin is from referrals (i.e. a relationship). When other methods seem hit-and-miss at best, relationship marketing produces revenue predictably and reliably because it overcomes the three problems mentioned above.
First, when you work with a past client or a referral you overcome the trust issue.
Second, it’s much easier to cut through distractions when dealing with past clients, especially when using the right methods of communication. I’ve found that a printed newsletter that contains 90% fun, informative, entertaining communication (with only 10% flooring-related content) effectively cuts through the noise. Supplementing your printed newsletter with emails using the same formula is also effective. Social media strategies that focus on nurturing past client relationships are another effective supplement to your newsletter.
Finally, by directly communicating with past clients and their referrals, you overcome the deep-pocket advertising advantage of the big corporations. Yes, they can outdo you in ad spend, but no amount of money can buy a relationship. You already have that. You’ve just got to nurture it.
To Tons Of Customers!
Jim Augustus Armstrong is The “Coach”
Jim Augustus Armstrong is the President of Flooring Success Systems, a program that equips dealers to double their profits, cut their work hours in half and beat the boxes! Many dealers have totally transformed their businesses and their lives for the better after joining Flooring Success Systems.
See what real, live dealers are saying!