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An A-Z of marketing for flooring contractors

Barry Ashmore drills down into exactly how contractors can use marketing to benefit
themselves and their businesses.

AS a regular contributor, I’ve written many thousands of words about sales and marketing. From how you can take the best ideas from the big brands and translate their thinking into your own business, to real life examples of good and poor marketing practice I’ve encountered in more than 25 years as a consultant to specialist contractors.

In this issue, I’ve compiled an A to Z of marketing terms and briefly explain how you can use some of them to the benefit of your business:

Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action: Collectively known as AIDA, this is a highly reliable and long-standing model that marketers have used to structure campaigns.

AIDA ensures your marketing plan follows a sequential process designed to introduce your services to your target audiences, build interest, create a need, then encourage them to sample, specify or purchase.

Bounces: This is a term used by Google and others to record the number of website visitors who find your website from search engines and then leave without visiting other pages. This may be because the information they landed on met their needs, or that your offering was not for them.

In relation to email marketing, bounces occur when an email address no longer exists or a mailbox is temporarily full, resulting in non-delivery. You can turn a bounce into a positive by phoning the bounced contact to check the details you hold are correct, re-establish the connection and updating your list.

Click through rates (CTR): When you broadcast an e-shot this calculation tells you how many of the people not only opened it but clicked a specific link, ie, a brochure download, a web landing page, or other link you directed the reader to. CTR is now one of the most important metrics of email reporting.

Data: Every business should hold data about their customers and use it to the benefit of the sales effort, ie, sending regular marketing information, sales messages, and business updates. Also, to keep track on where each prospect/customer is within your sales process.

It’s important you keep your data fresh through regular telephone calls, emails, or face-to-face contact. Managed properly, data is a valuable sales asset, but don’t forget to check the data you hold meets the terms of GDPR.

Email marketing: This is one of the most cost-effective methods of marketing that you can employ.
There are many bulk email systems around, all at different price points. You must look for the one that best suits your needs; list size; expected send/broadcast volumes; and your creative skills, bearing in mind many have simple ‘drag-and-drop’ design tools. You can then select the best for you.

Follow up: Following up prospects and customers by phone is one of the most important things you can do. Where marketers have sent direct marketing or email marketing communications and then spoken to recipients, they have seen response rates grow fast. Remember the importance of keeping in touch without being pushy, but don’t let leads slip through the net either.

Getting social: LinkedIn is the first-choice social media channel for many businesses. Building connections, sourcing leads, and perhaps creating groups could help bring in work, with regular posts giving you the opportunity to engage with your target market and build awareness.

Tik-Tok now hosts ‘How to’ films, similar to YouTube, and the launch of ‘Threads’ by Meta (Facebook) will be stiff competition for Twitter, or ‘X’ as it is now called.

Hot leads: In email marketing terms, a ‘hot lead’ tends be someone who has opened your email numerous times or has interacted with it in other ways. Some bulk email systems identify hot leads, with these being well worth a follow up phone call.

In-box: If you use a large email list for marketing, a reputable bulk email system will allow you to use their ‘virtual testing’ system to check any e-shot you build will be accepted by the ISPs it passes through on its journey from sender to in-box. Testing in this way will help reduce your bounce prospects. (See ‘Bounces’ above).

Junk: The general term for mailing materials – postal or by email – that aren’t wanted. The easiest way to avoid your communications being labelled junk is to ensure your online marketing is relevant, targeted, and of the correct text/image combination to avoid it being identified as spam.

Keep it simple, stupid: Keep ‘KISS’ in mind when you create or design anything related to marketing. If it is too complicated then it won’t be read or responded to.

Don’t use three words when one will do and make benefits clear. Also, ensure if you’re asking someone to do something, ie, phone, click, download, or like, then make sure it’s easy for them to do so.

Leased data: This is an option provided by many data list owners. However, I cannot stress how important it’s to ensure any third-party list you source is 100% reliable and meets the terms of GDPR. Tread carefully.

Measurement: Measurement is one of the most important aspects of marketing. If you don’t measure your website traffic, Google Ads, social media marketing, email marketing, advertising, and direct marketing regularly, then you’ll never understand how your marketing is performing.

Knowledge is power, so if you take time to measure your marketing activities, you can then make changes to improve it and hopefully, increase engagement, enquiries and sales.

Newsletters: A firm favourite of marketers. They can be sent as print items, but more commonly, they are sent by email or shared on social media. Many carry introductions to three or four stories in a single e-shot, with each having a supporting image and a link to the full article, usually on a website. Think about case studies and testimonials too.

Open rates: These are commonly used to measure the interest and success of an e-shot.
PS: This is a vital component of email and postal direct marketing. It’s used to reinforce the key benefits or other vital sales points contained within the marketing piece. Research tells us the reader will quite often skip straight to the end of a sales letter to find out who has sent it.

Quizzes or surveys: When you are looking for something to publish on social media or broadcast in an e-shot, do not overlook the power of a survey. ‘If you don’t ask you don’t get’, they say, so if you want to get information from your customers, then why not email a quiz or survey to them?
The ‘Rule of 7’: This states that a person must be exposed to your marketing at least seven times before they even notice you. Marketing is a process, not an event, which is why you should keep going and not switch off after three or four emails because you think someone isn’t interested. Lack of response can simply mean your prospect isn’t interested now.

Sales funnel: This is the imaginary ‘funnel’ or hopper into which each of your inbound prospects fall.
Imagine that hopper discharges onto a conveyor moving from left to right. On the left is the point where a completely new prospect that knows little or nothing about you drops onto the conveyor. As it moves along, it’s your job, keeping the ‘Rule of 7’ in mind, to use a series of planned interactions to help build awareness of your flooring services.

By the time the lead reaches the right-hand side of your system, you’ll have hopefully nurtured a raw lead into a potential customer who is ready to buy.

Threat: This is one of direct marketing’s most powerful calls to actions. People have a herd mentality and hate to think they might be missing out on something that others are getting. Along the lines of ‘don’t miss out’, or ‘three hours left to buy at this price’, most offers have a closing date. ‘If you don’t buy by Wednesday, then the price will go back to £xx’ and you’ll lose your 50% discount.

Or, you’ll miss out on free support, or the chance to win, etc. You get the picture.

Unsubscribe: This is a mandatory component of marketing emails, giving recipients the option to remove themselves from your list. It appears as a link at the foot of the email, which the reader can click to opt out of receiving future emails. They receive acknowledgement that the request has been met and you must flag that contact as ‘unsubscribed’ on any database it appears on.

Visual brand recognition: A marketing consultant I know says ‘all marketing should smell the same’. What he means by this is that whether you’re advertising in print, online, in emails or elsewhere, brand consistency is essential.

When you’re creating any brand-led marketing communications, the design must be totally consistent with your brand. The next time you watch TV, don’t fast forward through the ads, but take note how advertisers make it easy to identify their brands through graphics, visuals, music, and personality. This works for them so make it work for you too.

When to send emails: Lots of articles have been written about this and some offer excellent insights. However, everyone’s customer data is unique and each customer responds differently. Tuesday and Thursday can be good days, particularly around mid-morning, but there’s no substitute for your own research. Why not try different days and times and monitor the results. This way you can ‘test, learn about, and grow’ your marketing effectively.

X: Elon Musk’s new name for Twitter. At the time of writing, the jury’s out on the wisdom of this major brand change.

Your customers: When you’re writing marketing copy, put your customer first. Don’t keep saying ‘we’ in your text – use ‘you’ or ‘your’ instead. It creates empathy and makes the content and benefits about the reader, not you.

A memorable trick to keep you on track is ‘WIIFM’ – ‘what’s in it for me?’ This is all the customer wants to know. Demonstrate how they can specify the best; save money; do something quicker or better; and how their life can be made easier through using your flooring services. Remember, successful sales is all about selling the benefits.

Zip code: In the UK it’s a postcode. When sending volume mailings, a fully post-coded mailshot enables you to obtain discount on your bulk postage costs.

As ever, if you need help with your marketing, please contact us.
01773 712116
Barry Ashmore is managing director and co-founder of StreetwiseSubbie.com

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