Volume 26/number 28 June 10/17, 2013
by Jim Armstrong
Steve was standing in his Arizona flooring store when a man walked in holding a letter.
“My neighbor said I should come and see you,” the man said, handing the letter to Steve. Steve recognized it as one of the direct mail pieces he sent out the week before. “You sent this to my neighbor, and when he found out I was planning to have tile installed in my house, he brought this over to me and said ‘You’ve gotta go see Steve.’”
The letter was not your typical flooring ad; I know because I wrote it. It was four pages, crammed with text in 11-point font, and had neither photos nor any mention of flooring products. Yet the advertisement generated an 11-1 return on investment, Steve later told me.
To make the situation even more remarkable, the letter was not sent to the customer himself, but to his neighbor. “When was the last time you got a piece of ‘junk mail’ from a business, and were so excited about it you walked it over to your neighbor and told him he just had to contact the company in the ad?” Steve asked me.
That’s the power of compelling marketing. Conventional advertising wisdom says that you can’t sell flooring with a four-page letter without photos or description of products; that you need lots of color and graphics; that you shouldn’t be too wordy; that you need lots of white space.
Hogwash. Hundreds of savvy floor dealers have proven differently by using the direct response marketing strategies I teach. What you need is marketing that doesn’t bore prospects but instead grabs their attention, develops interest, heightens desire and compels them to take action. But as I’ve said before, too many flooring ads and websites are about as compelling as a fist full of Sleepeze. (See my last column “The Cardinal Sin Of Marketing” for why this is the case.)
So what are the elements that compose a compelling marketing piece? Here are some of the most important points:
Benefits, benefits, benefits
Everyone’s favorite radio station is W.I.I.F.M: What’s In It For Me? Your business name, your slogan, or how many years you’ve been in business are not considered benefits to your prospects. Your ads need to educate on the actual, real, demonstrable benefits of buying from you vs. your competitors. Note: “Cheap price” doesn’t count as a benefit because almost everyone says it, it requires no sales or marketing imagination, and it attracts pesky, hard-to-eradicate critters (also known as “price shoppers”) to your store.
What others say about you is 100 times more effective than what you say about yourself, even if you are 100 times more eloquent.
Unique Selling Proposition
Most floor dealers use universal selling propositions, such as “Number One In Customer Satisfaction,” “Free Estimates,” “Guaranteed Lowest Price,” and “How Boring Can We Be And Still Stay In Business?” A good USP focuses like a laser beam on a specific, concrete benefit that is unique to your business, or is at least perceived as unique by your prospects.
In your ads, write similarly to how you talk. Use conversational language that relates to your prospect, and sounds like a real, live human being. Don’t use advertise-ese: “Our goal at Boring Flooring is to provide our customers with superior floors and stellar service as we strive to make the world a better place one floor at a time….” Your prospects don’t talk that way, so you shouldn’t, either.
In my next column I’ll reveal strategies for commanding premium prices in any market. Stay tuned!