How does one go about marketing for the cabinet shop? Everyone that is in the business already has the business card, phonebook, showroom, and salesman. I need another source of getting sales leads that are already qualified to put money down for your cabinets. Not because you are the low priced leader, either. I want a marketing system that is proven to work in any area, notwithstanding a little tweaking from region to region. Now that I have my own shop, marketing is so important to me that I'm almost ready to quit to work at another shop so I can see how they do it. Does anyone out there have a system that works? I'm tired of reading books that say you need to sell to the consumer and then give vague steps on how to actually do it. I'm kicking myself for not taking some sort of marketing classes when I was in college!
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor P:
I don't think there is a "golden egg" or perfect answer to your question. Everyone has a different scenario depending on each unique situation. What one person says worked for them may not work for you. I was told in the beginning that certain ways of advertising just didn't work (which proved to be false). But it seems to have a been a combination of things for me - website, print ads, mass mailings, word of mouth. All have produced at different times. Forget the college marketing BS. I never took it. Hang in there.
Step one - Create some kind of showroom or display area. It is very difficult to sell stuff if people have nothing to look at.
Step two - Advertise it, and in the advert, show your opening hours. Make sure your hours are sufficient to give people a good chance of being able to get there outside of their own working hours. Don't say they have to call for an appointment.
Step three - Get a website. Ideally do your own. There are simple programs out there that are easy to use. Put the web address in your advert.
Step four - If and when the leads come in, learn how to close the sale.
Step 5 - Make sure you charge enough to cover your costs and your personal requirements.
Step 6 - Do a good job and ask for referrals.
Step 7 - Repeat.
Marketing takes a lot of work. You really should have a good understanding of who you want to be your customer, or what you want to sell, then construct your message around that. You need to let that target customer know that the entrance to your pipe is there, then draw them in.
There are a lot of options for tools that help you do that. A website, combined with some kind of offline advertising that lets folks know that it's there is almost a must these days. It's the internet age, and if folks are going to research large purchases like TV's and cars on the internet, why wouldn't they research cabinets? So your web site needs to do a very good job of telling your story and showcasing what you do. Testimonials, portfolios, etc.
You should also plaster your web address on everything you can. Any print media you have (cards, flyers, brochures), and advertising you do needs to point people to where they can see what you can do or get more information - that's what people are looking for.
Try to get your newspaper advertising and your web site to play nice together. Which of the following would get you to take action if you were looking to buy a TV and you were reading print ads? "We make really nice expensive TV's - call us!" - or - "come up to www.blahblahblah.com and see the best innovation yet in high definition, game-ready TV's - you'll wonder how you ever watched TV before!" Get the picture? The point is your website should be a living, breathing representation of who you are - not a billboard.
You have to get folks to start to notice your pipeline - get curious about it, and want to explore it. If you can get them to go through that pipeline, you can start to fill up your sales pipeline, and the drips will turn into trickles, then into a steady flow.
Oh yeah, and this process does take time, so don't expect instant results. Those that have placed an ad on Friday and got calls on Monday have been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time. Like bouncing your bait off the nose of a 6 lb largemouth on the first cast.
To contributor M's plan, I would add the analogy of a funnel atop the pipe. The funnel is direct mail, hand-outs, pay per click, referrals, calling on builders/designers, etc. The funnel directs you to the pipe, which is your web site or catalog/brochure. The end of the pipe directs you to a contact method like phone, e-mail, etc. And then the show and tell starts, or selling starts. The biggest problem with marketing is not having a good plumber to keep tabs on your pipe. If your pipe has leaks and you don't know it, you can lose customers, waste money, or worse yet, scrap advertising that's working!
By the way, has anybody tried "Welcome Wagon?" They seem to have a good track record, but I was wondering if anyone had results in the cabinet biz from them?
We have all asked the questions you are asking, and have been looking for that one book called "How to Effectively Market Cabinets for The Least Cost and Effort." It's not out there yet. Just like my saws won't cut cabinet parts unless I work them, my ads won't have their optimal impact unless I try, measure, adjust, and try again. I wish it could be simpler, but it isn't.
One thing you can do is look to other cabinetmakers, as you did here, or look to the CMA, a great organization for small cabinet shops, and get input from them. It won't be as specific as "what page in the Yankee Flyer should I put my ad on to optimize it," but there will be other, unique takes on marketing tools and ideas.
In my case, I'll let an ad cook for 3-4 weeks, then measure my website hits and adjust. I'll also make ads that are specific to a particular page on my site, like TV cabinets for example, and measure how effective that is. I measure the amount of traffic against the number of inquiries, then adjust. If the site hits are high, but inquiries are low, then the message on the site needs to change, and vice versa. But that works for me, in my market - your mileage may vary.
It's going to come down to planning your work and working your plan. And people wonder why I outsource doors with all this marketing work to do?