August 6/13, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 4
By Jim Augustus Armstrong
(Second of three parts)
In my last column, I outlined the ultimate floor marketing system, which consists of three simple steps: “before,” “during” and “after.” “Before” is what you do to attract new customers before they have purchased from you. “During” is what you do to get out of the “proposal” business. And “after” is what you do following the sale to create a stream of repeat and referral business in a competition-free zone.
I’ve been providing dealers with coaching, training and marketing services for more than 10 years, and I’ve found that most dealers are weak in at least one of these steps. Dealers who have a strong before, during and after system have fenced in their herd of customers and protected them from being poached by the box stores. If any step is weak, you’ve got a big hole in your fence and poachers are sneaking in and stealing customers.
Let’s do a deeper dive into the “before” step. Radio, TV, print advertising and most Internet marketing falls into the before arena because these are primarily used for attracting new customers. Today we’ll look at two online “before” strategies for attracting new customers.
Online reviews. Having a steady stream of positive online reviews is critical in today’s market because: 92% of consumers now read online reviews; 94% of consumers would use a business with a four-star rating; and 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. This means having online reviews is like having another stream of referrals coming into your business.
Reviews are also the first thing the consumer sees when she Googles “flooring” and the name of your city. Also, 73% of consumers think reviews older than three months are no longer relevant, which is why it’s important to continuously get new reviews.
You should have a system in place for consistently asking for and getting reviews from happy customers. If you get two reviews a month at the end of the year, you’ll have two dozen positive reviews, and this will help you attract new customers.
Customer capture. When the consumer goes online looking for flooring, she has an unspoken question on her mind: Why should I choose you over the competition? The dealer who does the best job answering this will get the most customers and avoid having to compete on cheap price. However, most flooring websites don’t do a great job answering this question. This is because they follow the Name, Rank and Serial Number formula—business name at the top, links to what they sell and contact information. Yes, some sites have additional bells and whistles like a room-designer widget or a “schedule an appointment” form, but most are saying the exact same thing: here’s our name, here’s what we sell, here’s how to find us.
A powerful, proven way to answer the unspoken question on your website is to offer information prospects are searching for. You can do this in the form of a free report, white paper or e-book.
By offering this kind of information, you’re positioning yourself as a trusted authority and giving your prospects a solid answer as to why they should choose you instead of the competition.
In the next installment, we’ll go deep with the “during” and “after” steps, so you can close more sales, and generate more repeat and referral business.
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 BeatTheBoxesOnline.com.