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Double Your Store Traffic - Part 3

Furniture World Magazine


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Part 4: The technique that separates you from the competition and searsyour name into the minds of your target customers like a red-hot branding iron.

Here is a technique that can help you to demand higher prices, become an expert in your marketplace, create a relationship with your customers and make them feel guilty for shopping at the competition.

If I were stranded on a Deserted Marketing Island, and I were given the choice to take only a single marketing strategy with me… this would be it!

This technique can easily separate you from your competition, make you the clear choice to do business with, and sear your name into the minds of your target market like a red-hot branding iron. This may be hard medicine to swallow for some people. Many of our members get sick to their stomachs just thinking about it. But I promise you this, if you really want to increase traffic and sales there isn’t anything more powerful.

Become A Celebrity Expert By Creating a Public Personality

In this article I’m going to take you through the process of explaining what it means to be a public personality, why it’s important, and how to do it… cheaply, easily and effectively.

So, why would you want to become a celebrity expert? First, America is obsessed with celebrity. Subscriptions to mainstream newspapers and magazines like Time, National Geographic and Reader’s Digest are declining dramatically. Yet “Hollywood” publications like US weekly, People and Cosmopolitan are all increasing by large percentages. Is it because these Hollywood magazines have great articles? Give me a break. It’s because people are obsessed with, and want to read about celebrities.

So what does this have to do with you? Everything! If you’re smart, you’ll look at this trend in two ways. First you ought to be using celebrities in your marketing.

But the second reason to look at this obsession with celebrity is so you can become a celebrity in your market.

Let’s look at a few really smart business people who have strategically used their own personalities and names to create celebrity status. They have strategically leveraged their status to create HUGE value in their businesses and substantial personal incomes.

A few examples are: Donald Trump, Dave Thomas, Oprah, Warren Buffet, Dr. Phil, Richard Branson, and George Zimmer.

 These people instantly add value to everything they do just by putting their names on things. Why is that?

Donald Trump puts his name on a building, and instantly the value of that building jumps by 20-40%. Warren Buffet invests in a company and the value instantly skyrockets. Oprah endorses a book or product on her show or in her magazine and sales go through the roof.

I have a true story I like to tell that illustrates this principle fabulously.

My wife and I were shopping several months ago. We were in a strip mall and a Men’s Warehouse was nearby. So we decided to stop in. As we were walking into the store, my wife turned to me and said, “I feel like when I come here I’m going to see that guy on all the commercials.” I laughed and said “George Zimmer?” “Yes,” she said “I feel like I’m buying from him, when I shop here.”

This is a perfect illustration of the importance of building celebrity and personality into your marketing. My wife actually felt like she was doing business with a person. An individual who has feelings, personality, family.. Not a cold terrible corporation with 4 walls and some clothes, who just cares about the bottom line.

Remember the ultimate sales axiom. All things being equal, people will do business with people they like. All things not being equal (like price!) people will still do business with people they like.

My wife likes him. She sees George’s pictures on TV, and hears him say how he cares about how you look. He has developed a relationship with her… without ever even meeting her. And here’s the key. She likes him!

People want to buy from these business celebrities at any cost. Do you think someone is going to complain about price when buying a condo in Trump’s building? They know going into it that he is the most expensive. So that isn’t even an issue. They’re just happy to be able to give him their money.

Another important element here that shouldn’t be missed in all of this, is the total differentiation that you create by being a person… not just another company.

You could open a burger joint right next to B&B Burger, and call it B&D Burger. Their customers would be over at your place, confusing B&B with B&D. But when you build yourself as the brand, no one can compete with that.

Think about the lovable Dave Thomas from Wendy’s. People close to him related how he absolutely hated doing those commercials. At one point he stopped doing the commercials and almost overnight Wendy’s saw a dramatic decrease in business. So he got back in front of the camera. Sales came back up immediately. I’ve heard, that he really wasn’t that lovable a guy to work for, but it seems that his customers loved him.

Now when you walk into a Wendy’s, who’s picture is still on the wall? Of course… our friendly Dave Thomas. No one else can be Dave Thomas, or Donald Trump, or Oprah. 

You’ve probably all seen local business owners in your markets who do crazy personality driven advertising. We had a guy here who started a computer chain called “Totally Awesome Computers.” He called himself “Super Dale.” This guy was nuts. Getting on his commercials screaming, doing crazy things, and really beating up the competition. His company grew like WILDFIRE to over $100,000,000 in sales.

People LOVED that he was a real guy, exposing the big computer companies, and offering a good value.

I don’t encourage this behavior. You don’t have to jump off buildings or run over your furniture with a garbage truck to create celebrity and develop personality.

Trump, Oprah, Dr. Phil and Zimmer don’t act like crazy fools to get attention, they do it the way I’m about to share with you.

So here’s your first tip. The easiest way to start incorporating this into your company is by using your own pictures, names, signatures, and personal captions.

On all your marketing pieces, on your commercials, websites, business cards. Anything you do that goes out to the public, you should be putting your picture, your name, and a caption of you talking to your customers and prospects.

It’s best if you have a picture of yourself doing something interesting. Don’t just use a mug shot. Sit with your dog at your feet. Have your family surround you. Be shown pulling your hair out if you are offering an incredible sale that no one can believe.

Be REAL - Be A Person

 People want to be entertained. They just won’t stand for being bored. The biggest sin in marketing is to be boring. That’s what is so great about personal promotion!

You can accomplish 3 critical things at the same time.

  • Create celebrity status in your market place.
  • Build relationships because people feel like they know you.
  • Entertain customers because they are interested in you!

Building this into your marketing is really pretty easy. What do you like? What do you hate? Are you a sports guy, do you like fishing, are you a family man?

Whatever you like or hate, talk about it in your newsletters, talk about it in your marketing pieces and on your website. Get people involved in your life.

Why does this work so well? It works because people are fascinated by the lives of others.

We all know customer loyalty is down dramatically from what it once was. Why is that? Is it the consumer’s fault? Are they more “disloyal” than they used to be? Have humans changed that much in the past 30-40 years? No.

The problem is that consumers have been trained to be disloyal. Think about your own experience with corporate America.

Let’s take the airline industry. When you buy a ticket do you feel like you are doing business with a friend? That’s laughable. You buy a ticket online, then go to the self check in and get your boarding pass without talking to a human being, walk onto the plane and get growled at by the flight attendant. If you need to change your flight you have to wait on hold for endless hours, then talk to someone in India who is difficult to understand. No, there are no good feelings to be had with that experience. Yet it’s the same story with just about every company out there.

You may say, “well that’s the way the consumer wants it. They want convenience.” However, I’m not talking about convenience here. I’m talking relationship. They are not mutually exclusive. Imagine how you would feel if an airline company assigned a customer service representative to you, so that every time you bought a ticket online from Delta or United, they were notified. They would call you or send you a personal email to make sure you had what you needed. Even Expedia or Travelocity could do the same. That way, when you thought of plane tickets, you would think of them first. You would have someone to contact instead of going through the ridiculous maze of endless voice mail, phone transfers and “bull” when you have a question.

Everyone wants to be treated well and taken care of. Everyone craves attention. If you can get your customers to like you and feel like they have a relationship with you they will come back and buy from you.

Let’s look at a quick example. Imagine your closest friend and neighbor knows you are in the furniture business. If he were to go out and buy exactly what you sell from your biggest competitor, and you found out about it, how do you imagine he would feel? I can promise you that he’d feel guilty.

This is a perfect example of what the power of this relationship can do for you. If your customers feel like you are a friend, and if you caught them shopping at your competitors stores, they would be embarrassed… then you are doing it right.

I’m not saying that you have to be out on the floor everyday saying hello to everyone and taking customer service calls. No Way! I am saying that you can do all of this simply by using your name, face and voice in your marketing.

Let’s review quickly the benefits to using personality in your marketing:

  • You are assumed to be an expert because people see you in the media. Plus you can build on this perception through your marketing and offers.
  • Your store is much more easily recognized and differentiated.
  • People like to do business with people, not nameless faceless cold hearted organizations.
  • No competition (no one can be Oprah, or Donald).

Here are the steps to start this process:

  • Use your pictures in all marketing pieces.
  • Use your name everywhere.
  • Use a personal signature.
  • Use your voice on radio commercials.
  • Use yourself as the ‘talent’ in your TV commercials.
  • Create a “Public Persona.” Give yourself a name people will know you by i.e. “Sleep Doctors,” “Furniture King” or “Mattress Man”.
  • Use your personal name with your marketing, more than your company name.
  • Speak to your audience in your marketing, one-on-one, as if they are friends. Do not write marketing copy as though you are addressing a large audience. Make it FEEL personal.

So there it is. The single biggest way to boost business, beat the Big Box stores and make your customers loyal for life. That’s my Desert Island Marketing strategy. If you use nothing but this one concept you’ll still build an incredible business from it.

Next Issue

In the December/January issue of FURNITURE WORLD we discussed Direct Response marketing basics and in March/April we looked at how to build a USP. The May/June issue explained how to capture customer contact information. All of these articles are posted to the www.furninfo.com website. Now you know how to create a personality that your customers can have a relationship with. That’s a lot to implement. Hopefully you’ve taken action on it. But if not, then you don’t want to miss the next issue. I’ll be sharing how to put yourself and your store into the zone of total momentum.

You will be able to get more done to bring paying customers into the store than you ever thought possible. After all, What good does it do you to have the combination to the lock that solves your sales and traffic problems, if you don’t use it?


Brett Kitchen and Ethan Kap are Co-founders of Furniture Marketing Systems, and are commonly known as the “Traffic Guys.” Brett and Ethan run a retailer Marketing Mastermind Group to help retailers increase store traffic and sales, while cutting the fat and waste from current advertising. They don’t sell advertising services. Questions on any aspect of direct response marketing can be sent to Brett and Ethan care of FURNITURE WORLD at bretk@furninfo.com.

Furniture World is the oldest, continuously published trade publication in the United States. It is published for the benefit of furniture retail executives. Print circulation of 20,000 is directed primarily to furniture retailers in the US and Canada.  In 1970, the magazine established and endowed the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library (www.furniturelibrary.com) in High Point, NC, now a public foundation containing more than 5,000 books on furniture and design dating from 1620. For more information contact editor@furninfo.com.