So how are they doing that? According to the survey, 44.9% hope to raise their profile by increasing their social media efforts. While there are many benefits of using social media, its cost effectiveness is high on the list; with most sites, there is no charge to build a company profile and post photos and updates – except for the man hours required to maintain the company’s presence on these sites.
But not everyone is focusing exclusively on “freebies.” In fact, more than one-quarter (27%) of those polled say they plan to increase their advertising or marketing budget over the next 12 months. This may include increasing print advertising, updating the firm’s Web site/SEO, attending more home shows, investing in online ads or apps, participating in community or charitable functions, holding more showroom events/seminars/cooking demonstrations or spending on radio or TV ads.
Several dealers pointed out the importance of diversifying one’s marketing efforts, pointing to some potential dangers with investing exclusively in the online world. As one pointed out, “The presence of a negative online presence can create a bad reputation for companies that otherwise should have a good reputation. There are always those customers who you can never make happy, and with online reviews, they can falsely lead consumers away from [a good business].”
Since statistics show dissatisfied customers are far more likely to write a review than those who are satisfied, this can skew the company’s online image. By contrast, many dealers believe that personal referrals from clients or allied professionals can give a clearer, more honest picture of a firm’s capabilities.
As one dealer stated, “People do look at online reviews, but there is an anonymous quality to these. People are far more likely to trust the word of someone they know – a friend, a family member, a contractor. You should never forget that you’re going to be in someone’s home, and that makes this a very personal business.”
When it comes to finding prospective clients, dealers surveyed agree that it’s all about location. In fact, more than 80% said their business location is either “extremely important” (40.9%) or “somewhat important” (39.6%) in finding prospective clients.
Interestingly, location was equally important regardless of whether the dealer is located in an urban area or a rural one, with 41.2% of those located in urban areas and 40.5% of those in rural areas rating location as “extremely important.”
As one Midwestern dealer concluded, “Although a big project like a kitchen or bath isn’t generally an impulse purchase, stopping in to look at showroom displays can be an impulse decision, and that can lead to a sale. We were located somewhat off the beaten track, and recently moved our showroom to a new location that is closer to a restaurant and several upscale stores. Our traffic has improved and we are seeing more ‘impulse browsers.’ Sometimes they are just tire kickers, but other times they get intrigued by what we have to offer and they come back with their husbands and, before you know it, they are doing a bathroom or kitchen renovation!”
For more details about what dealers are saying about how they find new prospects, visit our Design Talk blog at www.For ResidentialPros.com/designtalk.