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Marketing mastery: Thirteen deadly marketing mistakes

October 27/November 3, 2014; Volume 28/Number 10

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 2.26.07 PM(First of four parts)

In 2007, FCNews published my four-part series called “Thirteen deadly marketing mistakes.” Now that the market is heating up, this topic takes on new relevance. Dealers are increasing their spending on marketing in order to grab ever-increasing market share, so we’ve decided to rerun this series to help readers maximize their marketing dollars.

Mistake No. 1: Failing to promote your unique selling proposition (USP).

Most dealers try to be all things to all people and consequently wind up using generic descriptions of their businesses. Look at any floor covering ad and you will likely see one of the following terms: trusted, friendly, professional, free quotes, best value, 100% satisfaction. These mean absolutely nothing to the consumer because they convey no clear, compelling benefit. They also have zero impact because everybody says it.

Another problem is using “cheap price” as your USP. First, legions of dealers do it, so it’s not unique. Second, selling on price is a suicide mission that virtually guarantees you will either 1) struggle indefinitely, or 2) go out of business.

Ask yourself this question: Why should my prospect choose my business versus any other flooring dealer? Once you come up with a clear, compelling answer to that question, you’ll have your USP.

You can have multiple USPs. For example, use a “prompt return call guarantee” on your outgoing voice mail. It basically says the customer’s call will be returned within two hours or she will get a Starbucks gift card. I also teach dealers to be aggressive in marketing their 30- to 60-day replacement guarantee.

Mistake No. 2: Having no target market.

There’s a well-known marketing saying: “If everyone is your customer, no one is your customer.” A gigantic mistake made by the majority of dealers is trying to be all things to all people. This leads to two problems.

First, in an attempt to reach “everyone” with their advertising, they cast a net so wide and so broad that it’s impossible to get any market penetration. It’s very expensive and time consuming to attempt market penetration for every single person in a geographical market area. Most dealers simply don’t have the deep pockets necessary to duplicate the brand-name building done by Home Depot and Lowes.

Second, in an attempt to speak to “everyone” they are forced to water down their advertising messages. Instead of crafting a benefit-laden message aimed at a carefully chosen audience, they wind up using mass media (newspaper, television and radio) to spread meaningless clichés like those previously mentioned.

By contrast, if you identify your exact market—your ideal customer who desires your services and will pay your prices regardless of what the competitors charge—you can build a message that speaks directly to her.

For example, if you decide to target doctors, craft a message speaking directly to them as doctors by including copy like, “As a doctor your time is valuable, which is why we offer 60-minute consultations where you will get the undivided attention of one of our expert flooring consultants. Plus, we make after-hours sessions available for busy physicians.” You can then use direct mail to deliver your message to every physician in your area.