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How specialist flooring contractors can make marketing work

Marketing is a crucial tool for any flooring business. Barry Ashmore explains how you can make it work for you.

NOT too long ago, it cost time and money for a main contractor to distribute tender documents to specialist contractors.

Today, as technology expands in leaps and bounds, it doesn’t. Therefore, where a main contractor would once have needed to carefully evaluate who he was sending tender requests to and why, this no longer applies. They can simply email documents, drawings and information to as many as they wish, regardless of how a subbie’s specialism might meet their needs.

Consequently, the onus has shifted from the contractor being very specific about a project, to the specialist contractor having to search through a plethora of detail to establish what they are being asked to tender for, and if they are able to deliver it.

Some time ago, I met the owner of a medium-sized specialist contractor who told me how busy he was. Unfortunately, he wasn’t busy with active projects, but found all his time taken up with responding to tender requests.

He was tendering for almost everything and told us that he didn’t even want to work for some contractors sending him information.

The problem was that he hadn’t identified the type of customers he wanted to work for, the nature of work that he could do for them, or if they were viable businesses that would pay him.

StreetwiseSubbie helped him to turn this crazy situation around. With our help, he was able to confidently identify:

  • The type of work his company wants to provide to suit their specialism
  • The nature and size of company who needs that expertise and that he wants to work with
  • The identities and roles of the specifiers he needs to influence (the decision-making unit)
  • Which tenders to respond to and which to ignore.

To somebody who is inundated with ‘leads’, good or bad, changing this situation is daunting. When looked at with fresh eyes, as we did, it became a marketing issue that we were able to work together on and change over time.

How was this achieved?
StreetwiseSubbie helped this specialist contractor to create a new database of architects who were located within an agreed radius of his location. A telephone calling campaign turned a list of basic company name and location data into a verified database that could be used for email marketing. The specialist contractor also selected which customers he wished to work with from his own customer list, the result being a qualified list of ‘quality’ prospects and customers to market to.

A series of ‘case study’ emails were created and broadcast monthly. Click data was captured and supporting phone calls were made by the customer. In time, this eliminated time wasted creating and chasing fruitless tenders, freeing quality time for him to speak to ‘real’ customers.

This targeted marketing continued over the next 12-18 months, with great success when measured in time saved and increased sales.

As I’ve mentioned in this column before, we have also helped other specialist subcontractors to turn around their marketing through a combination of Glenigan research, telephone calls to specifiers and end-users, and email marketing.

Building a business on research
I have spoken to many businesses who have subscribed to Glenigan or a similar service and expected it to be the answer to their marketing prayers. They also found that they were, to quote, ‘inundated by out-of-date project leads’.

This is where two things must be understood:
Firstly, to gain the benefit of investment in any project lead system, the searches must be created to identify only the type of leads you need. This can be done by project type, size, location and value. Then, the number of relevant leads returned will reduce from the hundreds that might come up in an unfiltered search, to a perfectly manageable number that can be efficiently followed up and marketed to.

This brings me to the second point. Once a lead has been deemed suitable for your business, contact must be made to introduce your business as a potential supplier. Using regular follow up by phone and email, over time a cold prospect can be influenced sufficiently to provide tender requests, and ultimately, become a customer.

This is a process that must be carried out regularly and efficiently, otherwise it is not worth investing in a professional marketing service.

The other common criticism is that project leads are ‘out of date’. Sometimes that is unavoidable depending on when your research started relative to the progress of the project. However, the specifier may well be working on similar projects and as such you could well be considered as a potential supplier for other forthcoming work.

Until you contact the decisionmakers you will never know what they might be able to specify you for.

Where we have managed the Glenigan research process for businesses, we’ve found that subtle and regular contact with carefully identified specifiers has paid dividends.

Are you an email marketer?
Email is a very important tool in lead generation. Yet most specialist contractors don’t do it or do it very badly. You should be using a dedicated bulk broadcast system because if you aren’t you are definitely missing a trick. Because handled properly, it is economical and very efficient.

And like many things in business there is a right way and a wrong way, and there are things that are best learned from the teams who have developed the expertise. Think about how much more your team know about flooring than the average person, such as myself, and you get the picture.

Our team has used and developed email marketing to great effect by tapping into various different resources and suppliers.

With email marketing, you can give your customers and potential customers what they need to keep your name at the front of mind. That way when they need flooring you are the people they instinctively come to.

In this way you can also build customer loyalty by letting your customers know you’re thinking about them. And sending them targeted emails on a regular basis is one of the best ways to keep them in the loop.

And finally…
… putting your email footer to work.

Something I spotted a few days ago that reminds us that the footer of a sales email can be very much more than just a place to drop the legals and T&Cs.

Thinking about why a reader might want to scroll down to the bottom of an email might enable you to gain some advantage from this.

Do they want to find your contact details and engage with you? If so, then the email footer is a good place to remind them of any awards you may have, about industry memberships and accreditations. Or to simply to spell out what a professional outfit you are. A link to a more detailed contact page on your website would be useful.

Perhaps the reader may wish to unsubscribe. Email protocol demands that you must include an unsubscribe link in your marketing emails, so it is well worth considering why someone might wish to unsubscribe. Perhaps they are taking a new job, retiring, or something else.

If it’s that they no longer wish to receive your newsletters or sales emails, why not turn this into a positive? You can do so by adding an extra link into your footer that directs them to a web page which asks if there are other things that they would like to receive from you. As they say, if you don’t ask…

If you need help with any aspect of your marketing, including how the combined customer-building benefits of Glenigan project research, telephone sales calls, and email marketing can help you, then contact us.
01773 712116
Barry Ashmore is managing director and co-founder of

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