They have taken our website to another level!

They have taken our website to another level ! It is a pleasure to have worked with people who truly understand your needs and can show you there is no limit to your combined abilities. They are showing the furniture industry what eCommerce is all about. This company is on point –  period. We are lucky to have worked with such talent. Thank you for what you have done for our company!

It truly is a pleasure working with them.

It truly is a pleasure working with them.  They put our company first and actually listen to what we want to do as well as offer suggestions and input to get us thinking outside of the box, which is sometimes hard for “retailers.”  I think the thing I like the most is that they have “been there, done that.”  Their input is far more than just words or their thoughts….it is truth.  We are working with truly genuine people that want us to succeed and not just a company trying to make another sale.  Thanks!

Do You Get Personal?

Human TouchBruce Springsteen sang about the Human Touch:

“You might need something to hold on to,

When all the answers, they don’t amount to much, Somebody that you could just to talk to,

And a little of that human touch baby.”

Today’s modern technology has made us even more desirous of a human touch. Most fast, efficient online transactions are completely lacking human contact. The customer is shocked when you provide a truly personal online experience.

Here’s how you can get personal with your online customers:

  • Call first time customers within a day of their order. Ask them for feedback and thank them for their support.
  • Ditch the boring executive bios. Post profiles from the rank and file, the people who actually interact with your customers on a daily basis. Profiles remind your customers they are buying from people, not some corporation.
  • Answer the phones yourself. Tell customers who you are and get their feedback first hand. You will hang up with loads of new ideas.
  • Give to a worthy cause. Make sure you communicate specifically the people who benefit from your donations, so customers feel the connection.
  • Include a picture of each customer service representative in their email signatures. Make it easy for our customer to remember they are dealing with real, caring people.
  • Listen and respond to your customers via Facebook and Twitter. Don’t create social media outlets if you’re looking for another way to push your offers down the throats of your online friends.
  • Start blogging.

Have you ever been shocked by a company “getting personal” with you? Share your experience.

Old Advertising Formulas Aren’t Working

Old FormulasThe last time paid newspaper circulation in the United States was at its current level, a new house cost $4,600, a gallon of gas was 15 cents and the average annual wage was $2,400.  Clearly a lot has changed in the past sixty-four years.

Unfortunately, furniture marketing is stuck in this mid-20th century fantasy land. Print media is still the dominant media choice for family-owned and family-run furniture companies.

According to the 2009 ABTV industry watch report, the Top 25 sources experienced an average drop in sales of 10.4% last year. According to this same report, “Marketing holds the hope for revival.” This is a scary proposition, because as the report points out, “In furniture companies, of course, marketing has traditionally been weak.” It goes on to say, “Even dire circumstances have not induced furniture companies to try to learn from other consumer goods sectors” (page 15).

Marketing in today’s environment is confusing and difficult. Retailers and suppliers alike are trying to find enough consumer money to keep the lights on. Marketing professionals are paddling beyond control to learn and implement emerging media in a way that benefits their clients.

At the same time, even the studies are confusing and conflicting. While newspaper websites report that 43.6 of all U.S. internet users visit their sites, newspaper page views are less than one percent of total U.S. page views. In minutes, newspaper sites get the attention of the U.S. online audience just 1.2 percent of the time.

The conclusion of the ABTV report and my point are exactly the same: “The furniture industry needs to reject the old formulas that no longer get results, to replace the old dogmas that have lost their meaning, to refuse to settle for mediocrity, and to insist on world-class performance. It’s the only way to survive.”

Using Your Head

Using Your HeadAs I talk with a business owners of all sizes, and they explain how their hands are tied in moving forward with an internet strategy. They believe they are doing the best they can under the circumstances, of course, but really there are departments in their organization that need to be protected, prices that need to be kept, sacred cows that can’t be touched. “After all,” they argue, “why should I wipe out my current business just to succeed online?”

This dogged thinking is great, unless your competition decides differently.

When you have someone who is willing to accomplish THIS without worrying about THUS and SO, they will likely defeat you. Online, this happens fast, since there are organizations that are willing to grow at the expense of revenue, ethics or reputation. In your short term, being focused may be a real advantage.  Sometimes, focusing on accomplishing just one thing (whatever it is) pushes a business through this recession or that far-ahead pothole. But at what expense? The competition makes a ton of money and you’ve lost forever.

Retailers, vendors, suppliers, factory branded stores, chains, regional players, local independents, Top 100’s, Mom-n-Pop’s and every other nook and cranny of retail need to think hard about this before it’s too late.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

“Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.”

Your customer – let’s call her Ms. Jones – might pull out this Joe Friday line when she’s shopping. Even if she falls head over heels in love with a sexy sofa or a sweet-smelling new car, she’s going to have to justify her financial investment with some cold, hard facts.

Look at the following areas where Ms. Jones might find information about your product. Rate them for accuracy, and then rate them for influence:

1.       A recommendation from a friend

2.       The internet

3.       A store visit

Now rate your store in these same areas, accuracy and influence. How does your word of mouth rate? Have you irritated your customer base to the point that your name is dragged through the mud more often than it’s recommended? Do you have a website? Is it fresh and relevant? Do you have product information in your store she can take home with her? Does your entire staff know your policies? Are your people well trained? Be honest!

Once Ms. Jones is in the information gathering stage, she has already decided that she’s going to buy. The only question is, from whom?