A strategic approach to digital marketing

digitalBy Jim Augustus Armstrong—The ability to publish digital ads and get them seen by thousands of people is amazing. With the click of a button you can push your advertising message out through multiple platforms, quickly and easily.

But so can everyone else. You can’t go online without being bombarded with an endless stream of ads. For this and other reasons, being visible online—by itself—is not an advantage because almost everyone is visible online; it’s the bare minimum. To dominate, you must do one of two things: 1) Outspend them and be more visible, or 2) Use a more strategic approach. This series is about being more strategic.

Things to consider before investing in digital marketing: For many reasons, all your marketing efforts should begin with your list of past customers, their referrals and referral partnerships with aligned business. These are proven buyers and referrers of your service—don’t ignore them. I recommend sending a monthly printed newsletter, but also using digital communication: email, social media and—used carefully—texting.

Invest in other digital strategies only after you’ve set up regular communications with your list of past customers. The reason is that almost all other strategies are for targeting strangers. So, take care of your friends first, strangers second. The over-whelming majority of dealers don’t do this and, as a result, leave millions on the table.

A critical consideration, which is apparently never actually considered by most dealers before spending thousands of dollars on digital advertising, is this: the ad’s message. I know this seems too obvious to even discuss, but most flooring dealer ads have lousy messages, so discuss it we shall.

Let’s do an exercise together to illustrate my point. Pull up your business website. Now, pull up the websites of your three biggest competitors and look carefully at the message on the home page of each site. I’ll bet you the biggest steak in Texas that the message on each site consists of: The business name at the top; lists of products and services; and contact information.

In other words, the messages are identical. I call these “name, rank and serial number” websites. How does this give you a competitive advantage? Based on the strength of your website alone, why should your prospective customer choose you over your competition? Answer: there is no reason. Going beyond websites, almost all digital flooring ads use the same formula.

Since the messaging of each ad and website is the same, and therefore gives no competitive advantage, the dealer who can throw the most money at it is the one who dominates. This includes appearing at the top of search results (if you don’t appear in the top three or four, you generally lose), ads, ad retargeting, SEO, social media and so forth.

This is called brand building or image advertising. The idea is that you put your business name out there over and over again, in multiple places, through multiple channels and if enough people see you enough times, they’ll buy from you. This works, but the dealer who dominates is usually the one with the deepest pockets.

But what if you can’t afford it? Or what if you can, but you’d like your ads to be more effective? In both cases you need a more strategic approach. Stay tuned because that’s what I’ll be covering in this series.

Jim is the founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins and work the hours they choose. For information visit FlooringSuccessSystems.com.

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