16 Marketing Ideas

      A cabinetmaker asks for marketing ideas, and gets a baker's dozen and then some. December 26, 2006

After moving to South Florida from Montreal Canada two years ago, I am having a real slow down in orders. I have tried local ads in various community papers with no response. Most of my work has been word of mouth, but customer base has been mostly snowbirds in high end condos, so the new exposure is minimal. I just sent out a letter and flyer to 100 interior designers and decorators in Broward/Miami/Palm Beach area and will follow up with phone calls this week. Any other suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Business Forum)
From contributor A:
1. Tap into markets that are not local - the gulf region for example.
2. Contact real estate offices and offer bonuses for leads that turn into sales. When most people buy a house, they want to make it their own. Also, tie-in to the Welcome Wagon (focus on kitchens, baths and entertainment centers).
3. Tie-in locally with electronic stores for leads on entertainment units; plasma TV's are hot right now; maybe come up with a design that you can exclusively market through them.
4. Check into local municipal street shows. Cheap to get into ($25-$100), but they draw almost the same demographic as the larger home shows. We have always drawn orders from these shows. If you're a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, play this up.
5. The larger home shows. They are more expensive, but people pay to get into these, and are usually interested in doing something ASAP to 6 months out.
6. Take advantage of your kosher line concept. Get in touch with local organizations that feed off that market.
7. Offer your shop as an "employee" for other shops for parts, full cabinets, or overflow correction ("Behind? Here's how we can help..."; then list your equipment, pricing, benefits of using your company vs. hiring more employees - maybe even include a time study, etc.).
8. Contact architects and/or remodeling companies and approach them on being able to provide them with a branded cabinet line with their name on it.
9. Direct mail - ValPaks, etc.
10. Newspaper - check into pricing on inserts that you provide vs. actual advertising in the paper. Develop a strong "hook".
11. Farm your warm market for referrals - develop a piece for your existing customer base for referrals which offer some sort of an incentive (i.e. - a weekend away, cash, whatever) for referrals turning into jobs. A lot of times, if they've been serviced right, the "snowbirds" usually will do this for free so they can be the "go-to" person in their community. Just don't make them look bad.
12. Contact Mom and Pop cabinet distributors.. It's been my experience that many don't have a custom line.
13. Contact countertop companies and set up a reciprocal relationship. Many times when people are just replacing their countertop, they want to modify their layout or need an island or a pantry. Be the place they can go to, and sell it as an added service and profit-center for the countertop company. All they do is refer the customer, you take care of everything else, and they get a check for pure profit. They can do the same for you. By the way, it doesn't matter if you currently offer tops at your shop; it is business that you would have never seen.
14. Contact Lowes and Home Depot. Offer a custom line with quick turn-around, and see if you can get into the door. This one will probably take time.
15. Contact existing customers and see of they have any other needs or are planning any other projects (i.e. - baths, entertainment center, closets, etc.). "I know you used us for kitchen cabinets, but I wasn't sure if you new we also did..."
16. Do a mass mailer targeted at A) new home buyers, focusing on making their house their own (not brand new houses) and, B) existing homeowners, focusing on the fact that a lot of homeowners are staying where they're at because of the housing market and rising interest rates, but "we can make your home feel like you've moved" or something to that effect.

Be sure on any print item that you include a tracking number, and be sure to use it when prospects call in. I hope this gets your creative juices flowing. I don't know how depressed your sales are and I know calling your existing clients base can be discouraging, because you will get many no's in the process, but if you have 50 or more customers, I can almost guarantee you will get a hit or two, if you call all the way through the list.

From contributor B:
I would like to add to contributor As fine effort. Along the lines of suggestion 7, you might try contacting general contractors in your area. If you keep an eye on the help wanted ads you will learn which firms want to hire trim carpenters, etc. These companies have identified themselves as being short-handed. You could probably find something that needs to be made or installed on one of these job sites. Another niche market might be plumbing outfits. Homeowners will often contact these companies direct without a general contractor in the middle. If you could offer some kind of quick turnaround program (proactive policies) you could probably count on at least some business every month. Some of this business will in turn develop other business.

From contributor C:
Welcome to South Florida. I am going to take an inverse approach to your post. I run a table/countertop business in WPB. I am always looking for a good company to outsource work locally.

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