Some things never change. Like the need to attract customers, grow our sales and build our brands. That straight-forward business challenge has grown much more complex in a world marked by information overload and ever-expanding options to deliver our advertising message. Print. Social media. Websites. Billboards. Radio. TV. The list goes on. That’s why the focus of this month’s Real Issue is: Advertising: what works best?
This month’s question was posed by a reader in Florida who wrote, “Our biggest challenge is: What is the biggest bang for the buck these days for our advertising dollar?” As we do each month, we used this question as a starting point for a brief survey distributed to readers who’ve opted in to receive our emails. A big thank you to the more than 170 readers who took time to share their thoughts. If you don’t receive our surveys and would like to, please drop me a note at Rick@LBMJournal.com, and I’ll make sure you’re added to our list.
First, we wanted to learn how many readers advertise, so we asked, “Do you use advertising as part of your marketing plan?” As GRAPH 1 shows, 77.1%, or more than three in four respondents’ companies, do use advertising as part of their marketing.
Next, we wanted to learn what advertising vehicles those respondents use, so we asked, “Which of the following types of advertising do you use? Check all that apply.” As GRAPH 2 shows, social media dominates, being used by 68.6% of respondents. Email was next at 53.5%, then radio at 52.3%. Circulars/ sale flyers and newspaper were tied at 41.9%. One notable takeaway is that of the 12 optional answers, only one (door hangers) is used by fewer than 10% of respondents. What’s clear from this is that the majority of the LBM dealers and specialty dealers who responded to this survey rely on multiple advertising vehicles to get their message out.
“We’re a full-line lumberyard serving pros and consumers. We’ve always had a scattershot approach to advertising and are now putting a strategic plan in place. It’d be great to learn which advertising vehicles have proven especially effective for other LBM dealers. Any other tips on making our advertising move the needle would be appreciated.”
“Paid advertising with social media has been the best new media for us to get involved in. We’ve seen significant traffic increase to both our new website and our Facebook page.”
“Pair up with vendors and get advertising out in the local paper, building magazines, tv spots local channels, and on radio. Develop an email list of your customers so you email specials, events, or new products.”
“Use Google and digital-related advertising.”
“Cable streaming ads have begun to work well for our project sales, because we can target the user. Google ads and social media have been effective tools as well.”
“It can be hard to pinpoint where the new customers are coming from. Providing constancy is what works for us, providing not just 3-4 weeks, but campaigns lasting several months.”
“Outside sales is our advertising.”
“Social Media seems to work well for us. But we have to have four full-time marketers on staff.”
“We have found out that you cannot just use one type. We use different types to get the information out.”
“We like radio, specifically talk and sports. For retail we use news talk. For ads directed at contractors, we use sports radio in the afternoons after their day has started.”
“We are primarily a contractor yard. Every contractor and framer that comes in our place wears a hat. We’ve focused on getting all those hats converted to ours this season. We also use social media for more brand-type awareness and some limited print advertising in contractor-focused publications. We also seem to sponsor every youth sports team in our communities. Our name on all those uniform shirts reminds the parents where they should be going to purchase their home improvement projects or for contractor referrals.”
“Which ‘advertising vehicle’ selected is far less important than dropping a scattershot approach in favor of a plan that produces a clear, consistent message.”
“Hire a professional. Don’t try to do this in-house.”
“We struggle with the same scenario. The radio and newspaper seem to have little effect anymore. We are working on being more active with our website and social media.”
“The key to advertising is knowing your audience. Social media has really given us the most bang for our buck lately, but that is all about the personal connection. We focus on bringing our customer into the family, through posts and advertising. Any advertising needs to use that connection now, or people dismiss it.”
“For our customers with accounts, we send a monthly flyer offering services, products etc. in our statements stapled as the first page. It has taken some time, but we are starting to see success with this approach. We took the time to find which customers have accounting firms pay their invoices and requested they forward on the flyer to the owner/purchaser with mixed results. The addition of one (two-sided at times) piece of paper to your monthly statement is not much more work, and if it generates one additional sale each month, we feel it is worth the added work.”
“Get in touch with an advertising/ marketing specialist. Work together to create an advertising campaign tailored to your needs and expectations.”
“Develop separate plans for pros and consumers”
“Good outside sales staff is the best marketing. Billboards also work well if it is consistently adjusted and moved to different locations. We also like social media, but a substantial investment to strategy must be used. Lastly, local print can help brand presence if done well with nice looking ads.”
“Radio is our go-to. For it to be effective, your ad program must be regular and not stop and start. Make a commitment for at least six-months, then go from there.”
“We’ve found that sending emails to our customers is effective.”
“I’m not the best person to ask about advertising. We haven’t had the need to advertise in more than 25 years. Instead, we have, literally, thousands of written testimonials in a book that we display for our prospects. I highly recommend this approach. The cost of this type of advertising is absolutely zero. Most potential clients are so overwhelmed by what they see, that instantly we’re the company that provides the products and service that they want.”
“As a 100% contractor-oriented company, we don’t do any general advertising, just targeted advertising to our customers and prospects. We use mainly email blasts and social media.”
“Our most effective form of advertising is a 100% price-match guarantee. You may lose a little, but you will gain a lot more in customer reassurance that you will take care of them.”
“Instagram and email blasts.”
“I would like to know the answer to this also!”
“Stop serving consumers and save your ad money.”
“I suggest the dealer look into participating in local events. Holiday parades, sponsor a local event, etc. Most of these are free or little cost, and they get your name out there.”
“We target our efforts to the trade groups in our areas that have builders… local home builders association, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), and such who would be looking for specific products that we would have access to. We sponsor our local chamber of commerce events that also have things that are home improvement related topics to get our name out there in the more public sector. Boy Scouts will have Eagle Projects that we will donate $50 towards which will get parents into the store.”