Why Digital Marketing is Important For Outdoor Flooring Businesses
The Outdoors is Now Online!
Any composite decking flooring business that has been around in the industry is going to attest to how marketing has changed over the years. Previously, it was a case of having to physically have a company’s wares on display for potential customers to see and touch. Garden centers or DIY stores nearly always had some sort of outside flooring area where it was possible to get a feel for how outside decking would look.
However, with the advent of the internet, like any industry, this has changed dramatically. It’s now just as important, if not more so, to have an easily reachable online presence and effective marketing. There are several reasons why.
A larger marketplace
The internet has made pretty much every industry a borderless one; this means, for the most part, that customers now have several choices. They can go to their local independent or chain store and see the goods beforehand, or they can go to those stores’ online outlets and look for a slightly cheaper price. They can also perform a quick comparison search and put dozens of stores side-by-side to get the best price on the same items.
However, more recently, they can look to purchase from overseas, which has blown buyers’ options out of the water and meant that traditional decking companies now have to compete with merchants all across the globe. Whilst they cannot provide physical examples of their work, they can offer huge discounts. Also, they can offer fast shipping and all manner of complimentary services such as design and after-sales support.
This means that customers can sacrifice the whole ‘browsing’ process for other benefits. Put simply, a physical presence is not enough and has to be complemented by a well-marketed online presence.
One composite decking flooring business always has another company that they consider to be their main competitor. In the physical world, looks are important; whichever store has the best display, the most examples on show and the most convenient location (not to mention the best prices) is going to take home the prize. In the online world, looks are even more important, especially when we consider the earlier point we made about customers normally not being able to see the goods before they make a purchase.
Customers are instantly going to be attracted or put off by the landing page they see of any companies that they are considering. Remember that they cannot see smartly dressed and well-groomed staff members or seasonal displays, so an online presence is all they can rely on. Add this to the fact that nearly every company that wants to be taken seriously must have some kind of website or storefront online, and the bar is continuously getting higher.
Efficient, customer-friendly and reputable forms of online marketing are essential to grab the customer’s attention in a now suddenly much larger market.
Online marketing means different things.
Companies also need to consider just what online marketing approach they want to adopt. Are they going to go down the route of attracting existing customers, lock themselves into a geographic location, or go for a national or even international approach? Depending on the answer, what unique edge can they offer? Many companies will now partner up with wholesalers and manufacturers, allowing potential customers to visit locations and see examples of the composite decking boards and similar kit, or may even send out small samples (refunded when the buyer makes a purchase.)
International companies may start offering multilingual PDF files of their catalogs so as to enter foreign markets, or may even allow customers to speak with staff, either via email or phone. The ‘online marketing’ tag covers such a wide range of strategies that are merely building a website or storefront online is no longer enough; there has to be something that sets a composite decking flooring business apart from its competition.
Look at what is and is not being offered, and tailor online marketing strategies to the gaps and saturations that present themselves.
Customers want to see identity.
Anyone looking to purchase composite decking board can find generic, ‘off the shelf’ products from pretty much any company, both domestically and from abroad. Storefront and website hosting options are now so widely available that it can often be impossible to remember which store we looked at two minutes ago, let alone last week.
For this reason, many customers still prefer to use a physical location, for the simple fact that it has more of a unique identity than a simple online storefront.
For new customers, we have already shown that jumping out and grabbing their attention is critical. But for existing customers and those who know of the company’s name or reputation, tying that already existing impression to a new online presence is both essential and, unfortunately, often challenging.
If the company is known for its founder, for instance, he or she needs to have their face present on the site. And even better still, providing some sort of personal service to browsing customers; a video introduction, personal offer of a callback or similar means that customers immediately know that they are looking at the official online arm of a business they trust. They do not want to see rows and columns of flooring options; they can find anywhere.
In summary, the biggest mistake any company can make is to think that the website will sell itself, or that no website is required altogether. Any store that has embraced the need to make an online counterpart is already at an advantage, as many traditional companies opt to promote their products in the real world. The only results they see are higher overheads, dwindling customer numbers, and reduced profits.
Online marketing for a specific industry such as this is a gentle balancing act of combining local and market knowledge with the ability to sell products you don’t physically have in your hand. Looking at where competitors are doing well, and just as importantly, where they are going wrong, is a good first step. And it’s perfectly okay to hold our hands up and say we are not very good online marketers; very few of us have been blessed with that gift, and that is where it is often worth outsourcing that function to someone who does it day in, day out.
That way, not only can you concentrate on the day to day running of the business, but they will be able to look from afar, know what needs doing and put their skills to use. While it may seem like a daunting task, effective online marketing is pretty much the biggest thing that can now make or break a business.