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Marketing mastery: How to hook customers, keep them coming back

August 20/27, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 5

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

(Last of three parts)

In my last two columns, I outlined the ultimate floor marketing system, which consists of three simple steps: “before,” “during” and “after.” The first step is what you do to attract new customers before they have purchased from you. The second is what you do to get out of the “proposal” business and instead close more sales and get high margins. And the final step is what you do after the sale to create a stream of repeat and referral business.

Following is a deeper dive into the “during” and “after” steps.


Studies have shown if 10 people walk into a flooring store, the average dealer only closes three of them. This means dealers are spending a fortune, not to mention a lot of time and energy, getting people to walk in their door or call, but 70% of that money and time is wasted.

The “during” step helps change that by quickly building trust with new prospects. I teach over 21 trust builders. Space won’t permit me to discuss all 21 in this column, but here are several to get you started.

First, after welcoming a prospect to your store, hand her a printed beverage menu. None of your competitors will do this, especially the box stores. This creates instant differentiation and makes them feel welcome.

Second, have a printed list of testimonials from happy customers. Hand this out to everyone who comes in. Testimonials are powerful social proof and will help you close more sales at higher margins.

Third, when you visit the prospect’s home, slip on a pair of medical booties over your shoes. This creates huge differentiation, and without saying a word you’ve communicated that you’re a professional and you care, and you’ll be extra careful while working in her home.

These may sound like simple suggestions but try them. They’ll completely change the way your customer views you. You’ve instantly distinguished yourself from the competition.


The “after” step works by using the 90/10 formula. This means sending emails and newsletters containing content that’s 90% fun, informative, welcome, entertaining and educational communication, but only 10% about flooring. Remember, all flooring all the time is boring. You should also include emotional triggers to make people look forward to getting your content. There are lots of effective triggers, but here are two you can start using today in your messages to past customers.

Customer recognition. People love to see their names in print or in emails, and they love to be recognized. Feature a “customer of the month.” People will also be able to see who your “customer of the month” is, so they’ll open your newsletter or email to find out. This creates strong connections and a sense of community. It also demonstrates repeatedly that you appreciate their business.

Customer involvement devices. These get people regularly involved with your business and make them want to read your messages. One effective involvement device we use is a monthly trivia contest, which invites readers to email their answer. Everyone with the correct answer is entered into a drawing for a gift card for dinner or the movies. It also congratulates the previous winner.

If you would like me to provide a complimentary evaluation of your floor marketing system, contact me at

Jim Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring retailers. For a free copy of his latest book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes Online,” visit