May 25/June 1, 2015; Volume 29/Number 4
By Paul Friederichsen and Brian Gracon
During our educational session at The International Surface Event (TISE) 2015, we presented typical challenges floor covering business owners face on a daily basis and asked for their input on how to best solve these issues.
The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) helped us define the most significant challenges retailers face today. In our previous columns, we reported how retailers used digital marketing and tips for getting to know their customers.
While understanding the digital arena and your customers is vital, marketing to them effectively is a make-or-break step. It’s all for naught if you can’t reach them and persuade them to consider you. That’s what we call effective marketing execution.
From this session, we offer the following advice and insights:
- Recognize the difference between sales and marketing. Both are important to the retailer, but we would argue the edge goes to marketing. Marketing (advertising, PR, social media, promotions, signage, etc.) forms favorable impressions, expectations and top-of-mind preference. Sales technique is pretty useless in an empty showroom.
- Effective marketing starts with a plan. It need not be a voluminous document with tabs and indexes like they talk about in business school. It starts with a simple calendar. It can run concurrently with your fiscal calendar or not. Use this to get a high-level picture of the next 12 months. Highlight the obvious holidays and recurring events that impact your business. Allocate your resources accordingly ahead of the key points on your marketing calendar. Hold about 10% of your dollars in contingency for opportunities you know will pop up. Planning is the best way to ensure you maintain or improve your competitive position in the marketplace on a consistent basis.
- Build a media flowchart. Just like your marketing plan, it’s calendar based. Now is the time to assess what you’ve done in the past for promoting those key events on your calendar. Did you get the results you expected? Should you double-down or try a new strategy? The chart forces you to think these issues through without the pressure of the media rep breathing down your neck trying to grab a chunk of your budget. The flow chart also lets you see graphically the extent of your coverage, the overlap of media choices, the gaps and the opportunities. Once you’ve got this done, put it up where you can see it everyday.
- Understand the differences and roles of paid media, owned media and earned media. You will need all three, so include them in your plan. Paid media is advertising. Within reason, you’ve got complete control of how it runs, where it runs, etc. Owned media is your online media (website, blog, YouTube channel and social media). Earned media is PR. You have to earn the news worthiness of your story to get it in the local paper or news broadcast.
- Our rule of thumb for most retailers is to spend 50% of marketing dollars in owned media, 25% in paid media and 25% in earned media. And remember, earned media is the jackpot in terms of value. Most professionals agree an article about your business is easily worth double than an ad in the same space.
- Effective marketing is also more than getting out your checkbook. Build into your marketing calendar your time to network, have a booth at a home show, volunteer, write a column or blog post, or be an expert to a reporter’s article. Effective marketing is the heartbeat of your business and it should never stop.