Feature, V2I5

Marketing your Business Better

Use marketing to educate consumers about more shed-storage uses so you might upsell them to larger sheds.
Use marketing to educate consumers about more shed-storage uses so you might upsell them to larger sheds.

You run a successful manufacturing operation. Your retail lot teems with beautiful sheds. You may have remote display lots, giving you a stronger physical presence with a greater geographic reach. In short your business is good, but how can you make it better?

On the pages of Shed Builder Magazine, I’ve written about the market growth of sheds, consumer trends affecting shed sales, and customer insights. But if you don’t have an effective marketing plan in place and are not devoting budget for implementing it properly, you may be letting shed sales slip through your fingers.

It’s a given that you have consumer-friendly brochures and nice signage. But do you have an effective lead-generation program? Is your website compelling and an e-commerce driver? Do you have key social-media properties (e.g., Facebook) that you update regularly? Do you post content on consumer social sites and link back to your website?

Doing all of these things takes work, but taken together they can help you connect with more potential customers, spreading your net wider to draw in more sales.

Start with a marketing plan and SWOT

A marketing plan has many components, but you’ll need a situation analysis as a starting point. The situation analysis is derived from your SWOT analysis—your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Perhaps you’ve done a SWOT before. But when did you last update it? Threats and opportunities change over time. For example, the rise of the do-it-yourselfer is a growing threat, but new means of digital marketing create new sales opportunities. Let’s look at some marketing tools you should be using, if you aren’t already.

Online reviews—seeds to grow sales

Online reviews about your business are one of the first places consumers check before making a purchase. So, encourage your customers to post online about their positive experience with you.

For example, did they like the experience of purchasing a shed from you? Do they like your workmanship? Did they find your staff knowledgeable and helpful? Positive online reviews build a sound digital foundation to support your online presence.

 

Helping consumers think about different types of shed uses may help you sell more sheds.
Helping consumers think about different types of shed uses may help you sell more sheds.

lp_obs_shed_61275_v2_sbm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lead generation—connect with prospects

Do you have an email database of customers and prospects? Perhaps you exhibit at home shows or other places. Do you capture email addresses at these events? Do you capture email addresses when consumers call you, or when they visit your website?

You can incentivize consumers to give you their email address. Offer to email them at regular intervals with helpful information, which can include new shed designs and promotional offers.

A way to build consumer loyalty and top-of-mind awareness is a customer e-newsletter.

This can supplement promotional emails you send to consumers. Your e-newsletter doesn’t have to be long; it just needs to be compelling to your target audience. Always put yourself in the consumer’s shoes when it comes to content. All your content should answer the consumer’s question, “What’s in it for me?”

Your website—keep it current

Consumers need fresh content on your website to keep them interested in your sheds. Do you regularly add new shed photos? Do you give consumers tips on the many ways they can use a shed? Do you give consumers an easy way to order a shed from you? Do you provide a company email address and promise prompt responses (within one business day, or less)?

Building business with social media

Social media is free, but it takes a committed time investment. It’s not something you can start in spurts then let sit idly for days. If that happens, you run the risk of consumers tuning out your messaging, or worse, ending their social-media relationship with your business.

Social media can help you amass an audience with which you can communicate regularly. And because it’s informal, you can create content updates that are short and engaging, and include photos and videos to help attract attention to your sheds.

It can be difficult to gain followers on your social media sites, but Facebook would be a good place to start. Your website should have a Facebook icon on it that invites your website visitors to “like” your Facebook page. You can also include a Facebook icon in your consumer emails and e-newsletter and encourage people to like your Facebook page. Offer special deals or promotions on your Facebook site to keep consumers engaged and help them see continued value of being your Facebook “friend.”

To engage your Facebook followers better, ask them for feedback. Show them shed designs side by side and ask them which design they like best. Ask them to provide feedback on what they’d like in a perfect shed. Then post new shed designs that incorporate their feedback.

Create a content calendar

A content calendar is something you should develop before a new year starts, for the following year. This calendar, month by month, will consist of content ideas you’ll want to include on your website, in your customer emails and e-newsletter and on your social-media properties, such as Facebook.

In February, promote ideas for why consumers need to consider sheds for a spring purchase. Help consumers understand how a shed for storage will really benefit their spring clean-up. If you’re exhibiting at home shows, tell your audience where and when. Give them a code number to bring to your booth so they can be entered into a drawing for a great prize, such as $500 off a premium shed.

In March, differentiate your sheds from less-expensive sheds made from lower-quality products. Show beautiful new exterior colors of your sheds. Provide garden-preparation tips, as you show consumers how storing their garden tools in their shed will make life much easier for them. Email tips to beautify their backyards.

In August, to tee up the autumn selling season, share pictures of new sheds, post customer video testimonials, and offer shed style tips. These things help convey you’re an expert. As you know, word of mouth goes a long way for building sales. That’s why it’s so important to promote your sheds on Facebook and other social-media sites. Once you gain some traction, your fans will think of you first when recommending a shed dealer to their friends.

Public relations—free and effective

Free positive publicity is good for your business. Likely there are local daily and weekly newspapers in your geographic footprint. If you do print or digital ad buys with them (or with other media outlets), make sure you ask your sales representative if the editor can do a story on your business.

Chances are you’ve done this before and probably been successful. But make sure to this ask every year. In fact, you might ask to speak to the editor yourself. And when you ask, be sure to have story ideas in mind. Editors want to know what’s new. For example, do you have new shed plans, designs or styles to announce? Have you added a new remote display lot? These are all story ideas that may be newsworthy to editors.

Editors are in the news business, and news means new information for their readers, not just a sales promotion that you’re running. Make it easy for an editor to say “yes” about writing a story about your business, because he or she likely won’t want to publish the same general story about your business year after year.

Free marketing materials—use them all

Use free marketing materials that shed product manufacturers offer shed dealers to help sell more sheds. These run the gamut from point-of-sale pieces—in other words, marketing materials to use on or near the sheds you sell—to a video you can put on your own website and social media pages.

These materials can help boost your sales by educating your customers and staff on the advantages of the products you use.

Marketing works—do more of it

You know that marketing your business is critical to your success. But taking marketing to the next level, when it’s done right, should help you reap more sales.
And as we’ve discussed in this article, there are many things you can do that are not budget breakers but require only an investment of time.

[starbox]

Comments are closed.

Current Issue

June/July 2024