Is Your Advertising & Marketing Delivering?

by Autumn McGarr

The kitchen and bath industry is a large community of big and small business owners. Each company has its own nuances, strengths and geographical area that define its value to the consumer. The lion’s share of these businesses utilizes marketing and advertising to increase sales.

Whether you’re large or small, many of the struggles faced are incredibly similar. In my experience across many brands and business models, I’ve seen that deficiencies can often be overcome with a fresh eye and an open mind. Whether you’re a small kitchen and bath firm or have a large agency handling your marketing, this month’s column outlines examples and potentially undiscovered areas for enhancement that will increase your sales and improve your bottom line.

Be Real and Be Prepared

Be honest with your desired results for your efforts. Properly communicate your expectation and put it on paper. If you want to grow your business by 20%, then establish a comprehensive plan using that as the goal. Most importantly, the business must be able to handle the increase that ultimately arrives.

Here are two examples that I’ve experienced first hand that garnered markedly different outcomes. The first demonstrates how the company itself limited the growth, and the second shows the growth possibility when there are no supply constraints.

1. A manufacturer experiences a 20% increase in sales after we put our marketing plan in place. However, its lead time doubles and customers are not willing to wait so they take their business elsewhere. The growth was restricted by the manufacturing capabilities, not by the marketing efforts. The inertia required to hire and train new staff was not swift enough to absorb the growth.

If your business has a long learning curve, consider launching new marketing and advertising campaigns during the summer months if possible. The summer months offer the opportunity for you to hire paid or unpaid college interns to assist in manufacturing, while providing much needed on-the-job training for college students.

2.  An interior design firm with a retail store that sells curated items experiences a 62% increase in sales the first quarter after we put proper marketing in place, and an in-store merchandiser is hired. They have one-off items on the floor of the store and a variety of promotional sales. Both are promoted through the website, social media and email campaigns. Their growth was not restricted because they are a distributor of the curated products they sell, and were staffed to handle the wave of customers.

When customers call to buy an item (that was already sold to a quicker responding consumer) after seeing it on social media etc., the designer would simply offer to dropship the item direct from the manufacturer. This business has the infrastructure to support the increase, an in-store merchandiser, staff to place additional orders and a customer service team to assist customers. It remains a genius business model with literally unrestricted growth potential with unlimited sources of supply.

Digital Presence

You also need to have the right digital presence for your market. This includes the following:

Website In today’s world you need a website. Even the most basic website with five pages may be sufficient for small firms. People need a level of comfort with your skill set, and so do the search engines. The website should be tied to Google My Business and Maps. I often ponder if you do not show up on Google, do you even really exist? Test your business by going on Google Maps on your phone. If you do not show on maps, correcting this should be a top priority.

Houzz – This is a very popular platform in our industry that can show your work and match clients to your products and design aesthetic. I’ve found that Houzz is successful in generating leads in some but not all geographic locations. Confirm if you’re placing in the first organic spot when searching in your region.

If the answer is yes, and you’re not receiving consistent leads, it may be that people in your geographic area do not utilize it. I’ve seen clients in one city generate multiple leads weekly from Houzz. Conversely, I’ve seen companies generate no leads from Houzz in another city. If you have a prominent placement on Houzz and no leads, then your marketing efforts should be put elsewhere.

AdWords, Geotargeting and Promoted Social Media Posts – Digital advertising comes in many forms. I could go on for days about the nuances of each platform but for this column, I’ll pinpoint the major factor that drives the success of all of them: the defined audience. Properly defining the audience that receives the ad is critical to getting the response and streamlining the money spent.

If you sell high-end luxury cabinetry or design work, select the top 10% of income earners, professionals or people who travel, for example. Work with your marketer to define that audience as concisely as possible, so you’re not spending money and ultimately time on consumers who will not purchase your products or services. When desiring sales growth, the smart business owner will not look only at the volume of leads, views or clicks, but rather focus on the quality of the leads generated. Pinpointing your audience saves money as well; the narrower you define it, the less it will cost per conversion simply due to the reduced volume.

Magazine and Print Ads – The first print advertisement is said to have run in England in 1472, and they’ve been popular ever since. A recurring presence is necessary to develop traction, especially if your competitors are advertising. One ad will not grow your brand or increase your sales; frequency is the key to successful print advertising. On average, it takes a minimum of three ads before your business will start to see results. That’s because shoppers generally need to be exposed to your ad three or more times before they will commit to purchasing your product.

Then comes measuring the results; every customer who contacts you should be asked, “How did you hear about us?” Add a special “mention this ad” coupon to your print ad to help analyze the results. Additionally, reach out to the publication for guidance and input; they have extensive knowledge of what works for their advertisers. Publishers want your advertising campaign to be as successful as you do.

Always look at your entire business model to confirm where bottlenecks are occurring and limiting your sales. Keeping an open mind ultimately reaps the best rewards for a successful result. ▪

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