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Marketing mastery: Are you a hunter or a rancher?

May 14/21, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 24

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

“How many of you communicate with your past customers on a monthly basis?” I asked a group of dealers at the Digital Domination Boot Camp I was conducting during the Chicago Floor Covering Association’s annual Product Showcase. No one raised a hand, but this is not unusual. I poll most of my audiences with this question, and at most I’ll see three people out of 100 raise their hands.

“Most dealers are hunters,” I told the group. “They hunt down a customer, bag it, skin it and then they’re off hunting for the next one. But what if there was a better, easier way?”

There is, and that better way is to shift from being a hunter to a rancher. Hunters are transaction focused, while ranchers concentrate on the lifetime value of a customer (LVC). The LVC is all the business a customer will do with you over her lifetime, plus all the referrals she sends you over that period. Being a rancher means all your sales and marketing efforts—before, during and after someone buys from you—are focused on the LVC. Your job as a rancher is to round up a herd of customers, nurture your herd and protect your herd from rustlers, wolves and coyotes (box stores and other competitors). Your job is to fence in your herd, so it doesn’t wander off or get poached. By doing this, your herd will grow, and you’ll prosper.

If asked, most dealers will tell you they focus on LVC, but usually their marketing efforts don’t reflect this. The majority of dealers have some kind of advertising or marketing in place to attract new customers. But after all the time, energy and money spent getting a customer through their doors, they totally ignore them after the installation is complete and the customer never hears from them again. This makes about as much sense as a rancher spending time, energy and money acquiring a herd of cattle but having no fences, feed or watering troughs. His cattle are going to wander off, get poached or die.

The average consumer replaces her flooring about every five to seven years. What do you think happens to those customers during that time? They are bombarded with advertisements from Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards, Lumber Liquidators, Empire and every other big company promising to sell them flooring at the lowest price. There’s also an excellent chance they’ll forget your store’s name, especially if they got quotes from multiple stores at the time.

But what if you had made the shift from hunter to rancher? What if, after acquiring that customer, you put her inside your fence with all your other customers so they wouldn’t wander off or get rustled?

In my sessions, I teach dealers how to make the shift from hunter to rancher by using a strategic, three-part process. Some of the benefits they enjoy include:

  • It delivers an ongoing stream of new customers to add to their existing herd.
  • Their repeat and referral business increases.
  • It recession-proofs their business.
  • It evens out the ups and downs in revenue.
  • It keeps their herd fenced in, so they stop losing customers to competitors.
  • They are able to increase their revenue while working a lot less.

Over the next several installments, I will lay out this three-step process to help you begin transforming from a hunter to a rancher.

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.

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Marketing mastery: How to convert more door swings into sales

April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

(Second of two parts)

In part one of this series, I discussed how you can increase your closed sales ratio simply by maximizing your repeat and referred customers. In this installment, I’m going to discuss why having a selling system will also help you increase your closed sales.

“We now have a 70% close rate,” Rob, a dealer from Utah, told me. “And our margins are over 40%.”

Rob had recently implemented a selling system, and he was excited not only because of the increased close rates, but because his margins were so much higher. It also gave him a quicker way to train new salespeople.

Here’s what Rob’s salesperson told me: “I started only six months ago in the flooring business, so I’m pretty green. For months, my residential margins were 30% to 35%. I’d end the day totally exhausted and realize I hadn’t closed any sales. It was discouraging. We’re right down the street from two home stores. People would come in and say, ‘Lowe’s quoted me this price,’ or ‘Home Depot quoted me such and such.’ I was always having to compete on price. A few months ago, Rob implemented a sales system and training program. “Since then, my overall close ratio has been over 70%.”

Admittedly, not every dealer will get results this quickly and dramatically, but that’s not the point. The point is, going from no selling system to actually having one will oftentimes dramatically improve your results.

Here are some tips for developing a selling system.

If it’s not written down, it’s not a system. Every step of Rob’s selling system is in writing. For example, he has scripts for greeting walk-ins, for taking control of the sales process and for getting prospects to sit down for a consultation. His sales team is trained on using a printed questionnaire during consultations.  Having a written system makes it much easier for Rob to train his team and troubleshoot problems that come up with individual team members.

Scripts are important at the beginning and end of the sales process. This is because greeting prospects and closing are the two most critical times of the sale. It’s also where most salespeople mess things up.

Rob’s script for greeting walk-ins does several things: it makes the prospect feel welcome; differentiates him from competitors; takes control of the sales process; and sells prospects on the benefits of having a consultation.

Your closing script should include a reminder of your unique selling propositions, a discussion of your guarantee/warranty information and how prospects could benefit. Instead of giving one quote, give prospects quotes for three different flooring packages: low, medium and high. This way, instead of choosing between you and a competitor, they can choose between you, you and you.

Your selling system should feel like a visit to a trusted physician. When a physician meets with a patient, he doesn’t burst into the exam room and say, “What kind of pills did you have in mind?” Instead, he sits down, asks questions, writes down the answers, diagnoses the problem, then prescribes. Your selling system should do the same thing. Sit down with your prospects, ask questions and write down the answers using a printed questionnaire. Then, and only then, prescribe the flooring options which best fit their taste and lifestyle.

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.

 

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Marketing mastery: How to convert more door swings into sales

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(First of two parts)

“We’ve been advertising with Angie’s List and Home Advisor, and running Google AdWords,” a dealer from Colorado said during a meeting about additional ways to market his business.

I asked him what his monthly ad spend was and he said about $6,000. I followed up by asking how many walk-ins out of 10 wind up purchasing, and he said three.

“Before you spend additional money trying to attract more traffic, you need to do a better job converting the traffic you already have,” I said. “If you simply increased your close rate from three out of 10 to four, that’s a 30% increase in revenue with zero additional marketing.”

I’ve had similar conversations with other flooring retailers. Many dealers who want to increase their revenue jump immediately to increasing their advertising spend and too often this is premature.

In reality, many dealers can increase their revenue significantly by simply closing more of the people who are already walking through their front door. I work with dealers who have increased their closed sales to seven out of 10 walk-ins, and who get a 90% close rate on jobs they quote. These kinds of close ratios require the implementation of strategies specifically designed to increase closed sales.

Here are some key strategies for making this happen.

Repeat and referred customers

“Can you tell the difference between a referred customer and a stranger who visited your store because they saw an ad?” I asked a dealer at one of my training seminars.

“Definitely,” she replied. “A referral already trusts us. We really don’t have to ‘sell’ them like we would a stranger.” Other dealers in the audience agreed.

When someone has purchased from you before or they were referred, they come in your store with pre-built trust. In general, they are less price-sensitive, the buying cycle is shorter and the closed sale ratio tends to be higher than with strangers.

Dealers I work with who get 70% to 80% close ratios do so in part by increasing their number of repeat and referred customers. By increasing the amount of repeat and referred customers visiting your store, you’ll automatically increase your closed sales—even if you don’t do any additional sales training.

The most powerful way to increase the number of repeat and referred customers walking through your door is by marketing to your database with a monthly newsletter and a weekly e-newsletter. I’ve seen dealers come back from the brink of bankruptcy, triple their revenue in a couple of years and even open additional stores. They did other things as well, but marketing to their database was the key driver.

You should also train your RSAs on how to generate referrals from your already-scheduled installations. When you’ve done a great job for a customer and they are thrilled with your service, it’s very easy to get referrals. However, most dealers don’t train their team on how to do this, and as a result they’re leaving a fortune on the table.

In part two, I’ll reveal additional key strategies for converting more door swings into sales.

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.

 

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Marketing mastery: How changes to Facebook affect your marketing

March 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 20

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

Facebook recently made major changes to its newsfeed and the types of posts that will be favored moving forward.

“As we roll this out you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, announced recently. “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard—it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.” He goes on to say that Facebook has “a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being.”

These changes will have a major impact on your Facebook marketing. Let’s dig into the specifics of what this means for your flooring business, and how you can use these changes to your benefit.

Meaningful interactions. Facebook wants to foster real interaction between human beings in its newsfeed. This means we’re going to see a reduction in product pitches in favor of content that has real value and encourages meaningful “back-and-forth” discussions.

Facebook’s algorithms now put less emphasis on likes and shares in favor of posts that spark conversations. This doesn’t mean likes and shares are no longer important—they still are. What it does mean is Facebook is giving the biggest reach to posts with dialogue.

Effective posts. So what kinds of organic posts generate the kind of engagement Facebook is looking for? The same things that have been working all along.

  • Photos of real customers. I see dealers posting professionally shot product photos and getting very little engagement. No matter how great these posts look, a smartphone picture of a happy client—either in their home or the showroom—outperforms them in overall engagement. This is why you should train your salespeople on how to ask for and get photos of clients.
  • Home improvement tips. This is something any dealer can do, and it ties in directly with what you are selling. It is the kind of “valuable content” Facebook is looking for. These can either be links to articles you have written, your blog or—best of all—a video of you demonstrating how to spot-clean a carpet, do a home repair or other tip.
  • Community events. This can include food drives, holiday events, farmers markets, high school sporting events, etc. Think of your business as a community hub and create posts that will make people want to pay attention to your page and content.

The death of engagement bait. We’ve all seen posts that ask people to “like, share and comment.” This can be in the form of a contest or a request to become a follower of a business page. This is called engagement bait. Facebook now wants your posts to be interesting enough for people to interact without engagement bait. Any post that directly asks people to like, share or comment will be penalized.

Boosted content. Now that Facebook is deemphasizing organic posts from business pages, you should consider boosting your posts. This will give you more reach, and it can be done cost-effectively. We began using this strategy for all the dealers whose Facebook accounts we manage, and we have seen a measurable increase in results compared to non-boosted posts.

If you’d like me to evaluate your Facebook marketing, email support@flooringsuccesssystems.com.

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.

 

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Marketing mastery: How to manage your online reputation

November 27-December 11, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 13

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

I was doing an online marketing assessment for Susan, a dealer from California, when she said, “Jim, I can’t believe this dealer has a higher star rating than us. He operates out of a storage container, and he once pulled a gun on a customer.”

I said to Susan, “Let’s walk a mile in Cathy Consumer’s shoes so you can see what your prospects are seeing.”

I then Googled flooring and the name of her town. Susan’s store came up No. 1 on the organic search, but Mr. Storage Container came in No. 2, right below her listing. I pointed out that Mr. Storage Container had five positive reviews on Google, but she had none.

“In other words, while you have worked hard for more than two decades to build a phenomenal offline reputation, this joker who operates out of a metal box and once pulled a gun on a customer has a better online reputation,” I explained.

To which Susan replied: “But this guy is absolutely the worst. I’ll bet those reviews were posted by his friends.”

I replied, “Probably so, but the only thing that matters is what Cathy Consumer sees when she’s looking online for a floor dealer. You have to assume she doesn’t know any flooring dealers or anything about flooring. That’s a big part of why she is researching online. She’s going to choose which store to visit based on who has the best online reputation.”

This kind of situation is very common. I was recently meeting via video conference with a dealer from Nevada to assess her online marketing position. She, too, has been in business for more than 20 years. When I Googled flooring and the name of her town, she and a competitor came up near the top of the search. However, she had only one review and her competitor had more than a dozen.

“I can’t believe this,” she said. “This guy has only been in business for a year and he doesn’t do great work. How does he have all these reviews and we only have one?”

I said: “He’s probably doing a better job of asking for, and getting, reviews than you. Based on the strength of your online reputation alone, which dealer is Cathy Consumer more likely to visit?”

I explained to the retailer that very few people will review a dealership on their own. You have to have a system in place to request reviews and make it easier for your customers to leave one. The dealer with this system will win the online reputation game.

Some dealers think, “Well, I’ve been in business for three decades and get a lot of repeat and referred customers, our reputation is great. Why do we need to worry about online reviews?” If this is your thinking you need to consider these statistics:

  • According to Business 2 Community, 92% of consumers now read online reviews.
  • Business 2 Community also found 94% of consumers would use a business with a four-star rating.
  • According to BrightLocal, 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • According to Synchrony Financial, 85% of consumers begin their path-to-purchase online for big-ticket products.

In other words, the rules have changed. Just because you have a great offline reputation doesn’t mean it will be automatically reflected online. With 85% of consumers beginning their flooring path-to-purchase online, it’s critical to have a plan to generate more positive reviews.

 

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.

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Marketing mastery: Creating profitable Facebook posts

November 20/27, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 12

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.45.16 AM“We paid a company to do Facebook posts for us and the results have been terrible,” the owner of four flooring stores recently told me. “We’ve pretty much given up on Facebook marketing.”

I’ve heard similar comments from a number of dealers frustrated with their results from Facebook marketing. This isn’t because Facebook can’t be very profitable for your business. It’s because many dealers are making common mistakes that hurt their results. One of the biggest is doing the wrong kinds of posts. Most dealers simply post photos of products, display racks or special offers with no thought-out plan for systematically generating business from this platform. Your posts must fit into an overall plan for generating customers, and each post should do one of three very specific tasks to make that happen. Let’s take a closer look.

Attract followers. Followers are the “herd” of people who have liked your page. If you don’t have many followers then your first task is to attract them. However, you must grow the right herd. If you attract followers who aren’t interested in your product, then you are wasting your time and money.

One effective way to attract new followers is with a contest. Facebook users love contests, quizzes and other forms of entertainment on the social media site. Pick the right prize and format and your contest can get good engagement. Make sure your prize is related to what you sell, like an area rug or floor cleaning kit. If you give away iPads or televisions you’ll attract followers, but they might not be interested in flooring. Running contests on a regular basis as part of your overall Facebook marketing system ensures you have an ever-growing, engaged base of followers.

Create engagement. Interaction on Facebook means likes, shares or comments. If your posts aren’t getting much engagement Facebook’s algorithms will penalize your posts, making them visible to fewer people. Text-heavy posts tend to get the least engagement. Product photos or display racks don’t get great engagement either. Photos of happy customers standing on their new floors with the caption, “Let’s congratulate Suzy Smith on her new floors by liking this post” can get great engagement, especially if you tag your customer so the post shows up on her timeline. Now her friends will see it and want to congratulate her, thus creating engagement and even attracting new followers to your page.

Get people off Facebook and into your store and/or database. You’ll hear a lot about attracting followers and creating engagement in social media seminars, but often you won’t hear much on getting Facebook users to come into your store and buy. This is unfortunate because unless Facebook generates customers you’re wasting your time, energy and money.

People don’t generally buy big-ticket items on Facebook, so you must get them off Facebook and into your store or database so you can market directly to them via email.

If you have any questions or if you’d like me to evaluate your Facebook page and give you tips on how to improve your results, email me at support@flooringsuccesssystems.com.

 

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.

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Marketing mastery: How to leverage your online reviews

November 6/13, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 11

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.45.16 AMStatistics show nearly 90% of consumers consider ratings and reviews before making purchase decisions. This should come as no surprise in this era of Amazon, Google, Yelp, Facebook, Yahoo, Angie’s List and Home Advisor, to name a few. Let’s face it: These days, everybody is online—especially consumers in the market for floor coverings. This presents a valuable opportunity to be proactive and get out in front of the customer by not only boosting your web presence, but also interacting with potential—and existing—customers in a meaningful and timely manner.

First, it’s important to understand the customer’s mentality when it comes to researching and buying products online. Not too long ago I was on Amazon to purchase individually wrapped computer screen cleaners; I was trying to decide between a dozen options. I read several reviews to help me make a decision on what turned out to be a $19 purchase. How many times have you done the same thing for minor purchases? For that matter, how many times have you checked reviews for larger purchases such as choosing a restaurant, booking a hotel or hiring a service business? Most of us do it on a regular basis. More importantly, your prospects are increasingly checking reviews prior to purchasing flooring.

Here are some statistics to consider:

  • 92% of consumers today read online reviews vs. 88% in 2014.
  • 94% of consumers would rather use a business with a four-star rating.
  • 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations vs. 83% in 2014.

These stats highlight the importance of getting positive reviews for your business. However, it’s also important that you have lots of reviews, and that new reviews are being posted regularly.

So, how can a dealer generate a steady stream of positive reviews and get the most marketing leverage out of them? There are three things to consider when it comes to reviews. The first is review acquisition, which means actively seeking reviews from your happy customers. Most review sites allow you to solicit reviews, so it’s generally OK to ask. However, be careful about offering incentives for positive reviews, as this is against the guidelines for many review sites.

Conventional wisdom states the best time to ask for a review is after a successful installation—providing the customer is pleased with the products and services you have provided. Get into the habit of sending each of your customers an email asking for a review, and include links to several popular review sites.

Here’s a word of caution: Don’t have your customer use your store’s computer or tablet to write reviews. It’s easy for review companies to detect these kinds of “kiosk” tactics using incoming IP addresses and browser cookies. It’s best to email the request and let the customer give the review from her home.

Next, make sure you are monitoring them properly. If you get a bad review, reach out to the customer and try to correct the issue quickly.  Depending on the site, you may be able to comment on the review and explain what steps you have taken to make things right. Don’t panic if you get the occasional bad review. Studies show consumers are skeptical when they only see 5-star reviews, so a couple of less-than-perfect reviews can actually make you seem more real.

In future columns I will provide more tips on how to get mileage from your positive reviews.

 

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.

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Marketing mastery: How to win the path-to-purchase game

October 23/30, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 10

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(Second of three parts)

When buying big ticket items ($500 or more), the average consumer spends 79 days on the path-to-purchase, research shows. Furthermore, 85% of consumers begin their path-to-purchase journey online, but 82% of the time do they make the actual purchase in a brick-and-mortar store.

To that end, it’s important that retailers stay in front of their prospect throughout the 79 days in order to make sure that the path ends at their store instead of a competitor’s.

In this follow-up to Part I of my series (FCNews, Sept. 11/18), I provide a three-step system for making this happen.

Step 1: Provide prospects with an “irresistible free offer” on your website. By “irresistible,” I mean an offer so compelling that a total stranger is willing to give you her contact information in exchange for the information you’re giving away. In creating this kind of offer, it’s important to understand the mindset of someone shopping for flooring. She is excited about the prospect of getting new floors to make her home more beautiful. She is about to invest thousands of dollars and she doesn’t want to make a mistake, buy the wrong flooring and have to live with a decision she’ll regret. So naturally, her excitement is combined with some nervousness—which is part of the reason the path to purchase averages 79 days.

The consumer begins her research online, so put yourself in the best position to offer her this guidance. For instance, she visits your website and sees a video or ad offering for a free report where she will learn how to avoid predatory dealers and questions to ask a dealer before purchasing. This is a compelling offer that she is likely to opt in for if she’s in the market for flooring.

Step 2: Obtain prospect’s critical information. Basically you need to collect three pieces of information from the consumer: name, email address and phone number. If a prospect is willing to give you all of this, she has raised her hand and identified herself as a hot prospect who is very interested in buying flooring. You can now focus more intense marketing efforts on this prospect.

Step 3: Establish an automated 79-day ‘drip’ campaign. For the first month, your prospect should get an email from you every two to three days. Every email should follow the 90/10 formula: 90% great content and only 10% consisting of an invitation to purchase. This means 90% of the content is valuable, informative, welcome and entertaining; it should be so compelling that she looks forward to your next email.

Up to 10% of the message can consist of a special offer or invitation to purchase. You should include a deadline for the offer along with a very clear, simple call to action: phone you or visit your showroom.

Within a day or two of opting in for your free offer, your prospect should get a phone call from a member of your sales team. The aim here is to schedule an appointment, either in your showroom or the prospect’s home.

Over the course of the next phase—31-79 days—send a weekly email. Follow the same 90/10 formula you used during the first 30 days.

By following this strategy you give yourself a huge advantage in the path-to-purchase game because most of your competitors will never implement a system as I’ve described.

 

New book!  For a free copy of Jim’s latest book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes Online,” visit BeatTheBoxesOnline.com.

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Marketing mastery: The best social media platforms for business

October 9/16, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 9

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.45.16 AMI sometimes hear busy flooring dealers make comments such as, “I keep hearing about the different social media platforms I should be using to market my business, but there are so many. I just can’t keep up.” It’s understandable for dealers to feel this way because there are a ton of options available.

If you’re struggling to choose a platform, why not put your focus where the majority of your customers are interacting? According to a report released by the Pew Research Center, 68% of Americans are on Facebook. This dwarfs the percentages on Instagram (28%), Pinterest (26%), LinkedIn (25%) and Twitter (21%).

In my opinion, Facebook is still the most effective at delivering customers. When done correctly it can produce a steady stream of quality customers for your business. You can make money using some of the other platforms if you have the time and resources to design and run effective marketing campaigns for each additional social media account. But most dealers barely have the time to effectively implement one platform, let alone several.

Some of you may have already attempted Facebook marketing and received mediocre results. I have found that dealers often make some common mistakes that hurt their efforts on this potentially lucrative platform. Following are four common errors.

Trying to sell directly on Facebook. The only products that tend to sell well on Facebook are low-end, impulse items like t-shirts, inexpensive electronic gadgets, costume jewelry, etc. In terms of selling, think of Facebook as a large mall. You don’t usually see big-ticket items like flooring being sold in malls where people tend to browse for impulse buys. Therefore if you want to generate sales, your marketing should be designed to get prospects off social media and into your store.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 10.15.38 AMPoor page design. Not properly setting up your page can hurt your visibility online and cause you to miss opportunities to get people into your store. Some common mistakes include: using incomplete information, having no call to action or link to the dealer’s main website, weak or non-existent unique selling proposition, having information and branding that is inconsistent with other online listings and setting up your business as a personal profile. (This is currently against Facebook’s guidelines and can get your profile shut down.)

Buying likes. Having thousands of likes on your Facebook page makes you look more relevant, and if the likes are from real followers—and you market to them properly—they can translate into big revenues for your business. However, it can be tempting to buy likes, and there are companies all over the Internet offering to sell them to you. Don’t do it. If you have 10,000 likes from fake followers not interested in your product, then they are going to have low engagement. This hurts the visibility of your posts, and your real followers won’t see them. Fake followers are also not going to buy your product.

Having no Facebook marketing plan. Many dealers simply post photos of products or special offers periodically with no thought-out plan for systematically generating business from this platform. Your posts must fit into an overall plan for generating quality customers.

 

Jim Augustus Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring dealers. For a complimentary copy of Jim’s book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes and Escape the Cheap-Price Rat-Race of Doom Forever,” visit beattheboxestoday.com.

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Marketing mastery: Winning the so-called path-to-purchase game

September 11/18, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 7

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

(First of two parts)

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.45.16 AMIn 2016 Synchrony Financial did a major-purchase study that focused on the path to purchase consumers take when they buy big-ticket items. The company found 85% of consumers begin their path to purchase online, 70% then visit a brick-and-mortar store and 82% make their purchase in the store. According to GE Financial, this entire process takes 79 days on average.

Therefore, if you want to win the path-to-purchase game, your website should do the following:

  1. Create differentiation to make your dealership overwhelmingly obvious.
  2. Have a strong call to action that moves prospects along the path-to-purchase in your direction.
  3. Capture prospects’ contact information.
  4. Do follow-up marketing and stay in front of prospects throughout the path to purchase.

Let’s take a look at why most flooring websites do not accomplish these four things.

Failure to create differentiation. How many flooring dealer websites have you seen with the business name at the top, photos and/or lists of products (sometimes with teaser prices) and company and contact information?

I call these “Name, Rank and Serial Number” websites. Superficially these sites vary, but most of them say the same thing, which creates no differentiation from competitors.

You see, all prospective customers searching online have one question: Why should I buy from you instead of your competitors? Most websites do a poor job of answering this fundamental question.

A weak or non-existent call to action. Most flooring websites are basically electronic brochures. They give product and business information, but do not have a strong call to action. Your website should compel visitors to take specific action that propels them down the path to purchase in your direction and away from competitors.

Failure to capture contact information. You’ve invested money into your website. Chances are you have paid an SEO company to improve your rankings so people can find you. You have also probably invested large sums into pay-per-click ads. However, most consumers simply poke around for a minute and then leave, never to be heard from again. You’re only giving yourself one shot at these prospects’ business, so most of the money you invested driving them to your site is wasted. If you capture their contact information you will have the opportunity to stay in front of them throughout their path to purchase.

Failure to do follow-up marketing. The goal with follow-up marketing is to transform a single website visit into unlimited opportunities to stay in front of prospects and drive them toward your business. Because most flooring websites do a poor job of capturing visitors’ contact info, there is rarely an opportunity for follow-up marketing.

What if there was a single solution to all four of these website problems? Well, you’re in luck, and I’ll reveal it in the next installment.

 

 

Jim Augustus Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring dealers. For a complimentary copy of Jim’s book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes and Escape the Cheap-Price Rat-Race of Doom Forever,” visit beattheboxestoday.com.