Your five-minute guide to marketing
REGULAR readers of this column will know that every other month I write about a different aspect of marketing. I haven’t covered the subject as a broader issue for some time, so here is an overview explaining what marketing is all about and why flooring contractors should embrace it to sustain and grow a more profitable business.
If you look at marketing as a process you’ll find that, without breaking the bank, you can use some of the following examples to help build your business through:
- selling more to existing customers
- identifying and finding new customers
- selling to all of your audiences
In a recent column I mentioned Google is penalising websites that are not mobile first, ie, designed for viewing primarily on a mobile phone and then presenting perfectly on a tablet, laptop or desktop. If your website is not in a format that works well on mobiles, then it is something that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
Second, what search words or phrases do you want to be found for?
It’s essential you ask yourself – and your team – what key words or phrases a potential customer might type into Google to find flooring products or services of the type you offer.
Your website developer can then add these words and phrases to the back-office of your website which then helps you to be found for those key words. Maybe 10-20 words or phrases will be enough to start with.
A successful website is now more about content than design, therefore, if your web developer is not asking you for this information then they are not doing their job properly and you should consider making a change.
‘Google my Business’ is something I have covered at length, so if you haven’t yet taken control of your Google my Business panel (it appears top right of a laptop view) then you need to do so. It is free, it helps improve your visibility in searches and enables customers to contact you easily.
Following the development of bulk email platforms like MailChimp, Campaign Monitor and EmailOut, creating and managing your own email campaigns is far easier and cheaper than it used to be.
As well as giving you a reliable and very cost-effective way to promote your products and services to new or existing customers, subscribing to a recognised email system means you can maximise the presentation tools within the system and give your email marketing a thoroughly professional look.
You can design your emails to reflect your company’s corporate look and feel, feature text and images, schedule your email to go out at a specific date and time, and then importantly, measure results.
For example, standard reporting will show you how many of those receiving your email opened it, the links they clicked on and any web pages they visited. It will also highlight the most frequent openers, as well as anyone who unsubscribes from future mailings.
People like to receive email as long as it’s relevant to them, so do not shy away from using email marketing as it’s an important brand building and direct response tool.
Social media marketing
Social media is an excellent form of marketing and brand building that is free to use. However, the downside is that you do need to dedicate time to it and, once you embark on a social media campaign, you must keep it going.
Managed well, it allows you to connect and engage with individuals and businesses you want to sell to, promote latest developments or offers, distribute sales literature, build marketing lists, drive traffic to your website, capture data and keep in touch.
If you want to make social media effective, then it’s important you have a properly branded business page on each platform you plan to use.
A recent study reinforces the fact that social media is as strong as ever, with Facebook and LinkedIn leading the way. The study found that, of business marketers:
- 91% use Facebook
- 81% use LinkedIn
- 71% use Instagram
- 59% use Twitter
Interestingly, Instagram, which is primarily photo-based, is the fastest growing social media platform amongst a business audience. If you have good quality photographs of work carried out, then Instagram is certainly the place to share them.
Many specialist contractors I have spoken to hold their customer data within their accounting system. This can make it difficult and time consuming to transfer that data into an Excel spreadsheet that you can use for your marketing.
However, if you do export your contact data into a spreadsheet it will be time well spent. You can then easily update it when new customers come along.
In addition to your own marketing lists, you can also rent or lease new prospecting data for marketing. Reputable list owners offer GDPR compliant prospect data for business-to-business marketing on a per thousand rental or lease basis. One list owner we work with also offers their top quality marketing data in smaller numbers.
This means that if your market size is 100 or 1,000 companies, then you can easily source new contact data filtered by location, business activity, company size by turnover or number of employees, complete with telephone numbers and email addresses for marketing purposes.
Your marketing funnel
However you choose to advertise, the contacts or leads you receive all go into what’s commonly known as your ‘marketing funnel’. It’s then your job to move these into your sales process.
Think about this as a constantly moving ‘conveyor belt’, with new prospects arriving at one end, and through ongoing marketing communications, you are able to turn them into customers at the other end.
This is done over time through building your relationship by telephoning, email marketing, connecting and posting on social media, face-to-face contact, and then keeping in touch regularly.
Marketing is not a quick fix. It certainly involves some effort and is not something that can be switched on and off like a light. This is why repetition of messages is particularly important.
A philosophy known as ‘The Rule of Seven’ is based on the fact that each prospective new customer will need to see your marketing or sales messages at least seven times before they even take notice.
As ever, if you would like more information about marketing your flooring business, or to find out how StreetwiseSubbie can help you to create a cost-efficient marketing strategy, please send me an email.