Marketing mastery: Small businesses have big advantages

Home Column Marketing mastery: Small businesses have big advantages

Dec. 9/16, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 12

By Jim Augustus Armstrong


(Second of three parts)

As I outlined in part one of this series (FCNews, Nov. 25/Dec. 2), Home Depot spent $1.08 billion in advertising in 2018. There is no way you’re going to beat them in the advertising game because they are outspending you thousands of times over. However, there are business growth methods you can implement that the big corporations can’t (or won’t) duplicate.

One of these methods is ranching, which means rounding up a herd of quality customers, fencing them in away from poachers and nurturing, protecting and profiting from them. Let’s look at this method.

Fence in your herd. Any rancher worth his salt knows it doesn’t do any good to round up a herd of cattle if you fail to keep them fenced in. The way you keep your flooring customers fenced in is by communicating with them regularly. Some ways to do this include direct mail (i.e., newsletter), email and social media.

Only about 14% of your past customers need flooring in any given year, so don’t bore them with 100% flooring content. Make the majority of your con- tent fun, informative, entertaining and engaging. Only about 10% of the content should be information about flooring.

Nurture your herd. Regular communication with your customers is essential to nurturing that personal relationship, but you can go beyond that with customer appreciation events.

Lisbeth Calandrino, a good friend and fellow FCNews columnist, has written a book called “50 Events to Drive Traffic to Your Store.” It’s short, sweet and to the point, and will give you a ton of ideas for these kinds of events. You can pick up a copy at

Generate referrals from your herd. By fencing in and nurturing your herd, you will develop the top-of-mind awareness that helps generate more referrals. One of the many advantages of referrals is their higher-than-average ticket size. Think back to your last 10 sales that were over $10,000. There’s an excellent chance at least seven of them came from referrals or were repeat customers.

Grow your herd. There are literally hundreds of ways to get new customers, both online and offline. While these methods can be very expensive, there are several things you can do to help ensure you get a strong ROI.

First, before spending money on cold advertising, make sure you have your fencing, nurturing and referral strategies in place. There’s no sense in spending money on new customers, only to have them wander off or be poached by competitors.

Second, instead of “putting your name out there,” use direct response marketing techniques. This means giving prospects a compelling reason to take action right now. This can include offering free information in exchange for their email address, also known as lead capture. It can also mean having a special offer with a deadline. This doesn’t mean you have to do a loss-leader. Get creative with your offers. How about a package deal that includes their new flooring, furniture moving, an area rug, haul-off of their old flooring and dinner for two at a local restaurant? You don’t even need to discount it. Consumers are conditioned to buy things in packages, so tap into that conditioning. Packaged services aren’t promoted much in flooring, so you’ll also differentiate yourself.


Jim Augustus Armstrong is the founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with both digital and offline marketing services, as well as coaching to help them make more money, work fewer hours and get their lives back. For information visit

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