April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22
This special FCNews Retail Education series, sponsored by 3M, is designed to help specialty retailers identify different advertising channels and strategies to build their business.
By Lindsay Baillie
Flooring retailers are using a variety of advertising channels to catch the consumer’s attention. In fact, many retailers are taking a multifaceted approach, utilizing social, digital and traditional forms of advertising to get in front of the customer. While the ratio of digital to traditional varies from dealer to dealer, one thing is certain—ads are essential in building a business’ brand and image.
According to industry members, some of the most successful advertisements possess two key components: branding and a call to action.
“On the branding side, the ad needs to look professional,” said Mike Toste, president and CEO, Tri County Flooring America, Atwater, Calif. “When doing digital or print, the right font, color and pictures are equally as important as the offer itself. Same holds true for TV or radio ads—they need to be professional, inviting and represent your business.”
The call to action, according to Toste, should entice the customer with something of value—deep discounts, added benefits, etc. It should also urge the customer to perform an action such as click, call, visit, etc.
“Digital ads should always link to a landing page on your website,” Toste added. “Not only will [the customer] get more information on the promotion and your company, but she’ll get a chance to read all your rocking five-star reviews.”
In addition to having attention-grabbing content, successful ads are also assigned to the most appropriate mediums to reach the most customers. For Greg Miller, president, Henry’s Floor Covering, Greencastle, Pa., online target advertising has become the most consistent medium for connecting with potential customers.
“Our customers are connecting with us on our website and researching products before they consider coming into the store. TV has also been very good, especially when I advertise on devices only. Customers cannot skip past the commercials when watching shows on their computer, tablets, iPhone, etc.”
Even though each medium has a different value for each retailer, most industry members agree that advertising on a combination of platforms is the best way to catch a range of customers. “By incorporating multiple mediums, you enable your brand to speak to the consumer where they like to gather information,” said Frank Chiera, senior vice president, marketing and advertising, Flooring America/Flooring Canada. “We encourage our members to implement elements from each medium, giving them a 360-degree approach in their marketing efforts.”
Another major point to ad effectiveness is consistency. As industry members explain, it is crucial for retailers to get their message in front of current and future customers on a regular basis, regardless of the type of ad or promotion. “Top-of-mind awareness and a good reputation are key to any marketing strategy,” Toste said.
Successful dealers believe consistency runs hand-in-hand with another important factor: ad spend. Case in point is Ted Gregerson, president and owner, Ted’s Abbey Carpet & Floor, Anniston, Ala. He spends approximately 5% to 6% of net sales on advertising. “We do not advertise with the expectation that customers will come running through the doors as soon as they see or hear the ad. If we consistently advertise every month, we will see the benefits long term. When people end up needing flooring in the future, they will think of us at that point, because of seeing and hearing our name so often through the years.”
Tried and true
Thanks to the various platforms available, flooring dealers have the opportunity to design ads in all shapes and sizes. As part of Flooring America/Flooring Canada’s multifaceted approach, some of its members have had success launching ads that allow consumers to choose between both soft and hard flooring options. “We also find that partnerships with non-competitive brands have been successful in our ad campaigns because they provide another level of interest to the consumer,” Chiera explained.
Ted’s Abbey Carpet & Floor utilizes monthly sale themes alongside its advertising. “If you can give your sale a theme, it is easier for the customer to remember what the sale is,” Gregerson noted. “So, we came up with 12 different sale themes to run throughout the year.”
The business has also developed a “Free Installation on all Flooring” ad, which has created immediate customer response. “I realize many retailers scoff at the idea, thinking customers are too smart for the ad and will realize the installers are not working for free—I used to feel the same way,” Gregerson noted. “However, we tried it for one month about four years ago and the response was incredible. When customers come in asking for it, we give them the price and they do not even try to negotiate.”
In addition to this ad, he has also seen immediate response from long-term financing advertising—specifically 24 or 36 months options as well as “no interest for 12 months” ads.
Down in Venice, Fla., Montgomery’s CarpetsPlus Color Tile is seeing success with TV ads. Missy Montgomery, showroom manager, explained TV ads such as PetProtect catch the customer’s eye. What’s more, the stories associated with manufacturers’ products have garnered attention. “For us, locally, we use magnetic car signs and everyone from our installers to office personnel has them on their car,” she said. “Even some of the spouses drive around with them. We give them one free tank of gas a month and they don’t mind at all.”
As a result, the store receives comments from customers about how they see Montgomery’s CarpetsPlus Color Tile all over town. The retailer has also placed ads in its local newspaper, which has been a constant source of new clients, Montgomery explained.
Alpharetta, Ga.-based Bridgeport Carpets takes a unique approach to billboard advertising. “When the refund season has dwindled, and our owner wants to change things up, he has [the billboards] flipped upside down,” said Mary Ann Gore, office manager. “The calls definitely increase. Some callers are just certain that someone has pulled a prank on us. However, we have had people tell us that they were reminded about our company because the upside-down billboard caught their attention. We also get new customers who want to check us out due to their curiosity. It definitely prompts some humorous phone calls.”