Strategy Coach: Marketing: The Next Frontier in Custom Retailing
With business softening, fueled by weak home sales, it’s time to create buzz about your business so that you can capture a bigger piece of the shrinking pie.
Very few custom dealers have a consistent, powerful marketing plan. I’m not sure if it’s the basic nature of the beast—perhaps having been home-grown from garage to showroom—or the heat of the marketplace that has enabled them to grow organically. Until now, most custom businesses have relied on word-of-mouth and referrals to bring them new jobs.
As the landscape changes, though, you’ll need to work harder to get your name out and customers in. New home construction may not grow for several years. Business is tough and customers will carefully choose how and where to spend their money.
Chances are that in the near term, you’ll be doing more retro-fits than new-home installations. The way you take your message directly to consumers is different than how you’ve been approaching architects, designers and contractors. Both the message and the media need to be distinctive.
Just like prospecting the trade at design centers or home-builder association meetings, you need to meet consumers where they are—in malls, on TV, on the Internet, in their mailboxes, in your showroom and in their homes.
Marketing creates top-of-mind awareness so that customers in the market for the products and services you offer think of you first. If you don’t have one yet, the first step in marketing is to create a budget. How much are you going to invest in bringing new business into your company? You need to be sure that you have an ongoing promotional effort so that you always have jobs in the pipeline. Since you never know just when customers may decide to buy or upgrade electronics, you need to keep your name in front of them at all times.