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Marketing Mastery: Have fun making Home Depot eat your dust

Feb. 17/24 2014, Volume 27/number 21

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 9.58.23 AMBy Jim Augustus Armstrong

(Second of three parts)

At Surfaces I attended James Dion’s class on the psychology of price. He said, “Price is just a number, yet consumers are obsessed with it. If you want to know who to blame, look in the mirror.”

I agree. For years the box stores and national chains have been pounding the pulpit, preaching price prostration. Unfortunately, most small dealers followed suit. Instead of countering this price-is-all-that-matters message with education-based marketing, many dealers caved in with me-too, cheap-price advertising gimmicks.

So how do you deal with a price-obsessed consumer? A key strategy is education, and this begins before your prospect ever sets foot in your store.

First, testimonials are a powerful method for educating prospects that can be trusted, and your products and services are worth the higher price you are charging. Use testimonials in all your marketing. Along with educating your prospects, it will also create differentiation because very few dealers use them.

Another education method is offering free reports, white papers or consumer guides. Here are ideas for topics to cover in your free report:

• 5 (pick a number) costly misperceptions about buying flooring. For example, one misperception is you should always pay the lowest price possible. You can counter this by explaining exactly why low price and high quality never go together.

• 3 questions to ask a dealer before purchasing. Craft all your questions so you can answer them in the affirmative, and other dealers can’t.

• 4 steps to getting the best flooring. Outline what steps consumers should take as they shop for flooring, ultimately leading them to buy from you.

• Why a warranty is only as good as the company behind it.

In other words, in the report you’re telling consumers all the things they should know about buying flooring and countering the “cheap price is all that matters” myth. You’re also indirectly telling them why your company is better than your competitors, and why they should buy from you at your price. Don’t come right out and say, “Hey, buy from us ‘cause we’re the best!” That doesn’t work. The report should be constructed so prospects independently arrive at the conclusion you are the obvious choice, worth the higher price, and that they would be foolish to buy from anyone else, especially the box stores or your “low-ball” competitor.

One objection to this strategy I’ve heard from some dealers: “No one will read a report this long.” Here’s how you can know this isn’t the case:

Think back to the last time you purchased a high-ticket item. How many pages of information did you read online before making your decision? Probably dozens.  Your prospects are the same. Someone who is not interested in flooring won’t read 10 words, but someone who is will read 10 pages. Dealers I’ve worked with have great success offering a consumer’s guide that’s over 20 pages long.

In the next installment I’ll cover a system of in-store and out-of-store strategies that will leave the boxes choking on your dust!