From Jeanne Nichols
It's probably not a surprise to any one that women matter in the tile purchasing decision. They matter alot is an under statement. In her column in the most resent issue of TILE Magazine, (here) Jeanne Nichols, Owner of Star Grass Partners and Mod Mood, she defines women as "The Prominent Influencer". It appears that some of us guys are not getting the message as she indicates a recent panel on industry insights and innovations held 15 men and not one single woman.
Yep its 2011 and we men are still clueless; however, I am most at home when I have a tangible goal to meet, like laying the next 100 feet of tile. But after reading her article I am reminded that I need not be so clueless so long as professionals like Jeanne are around to inform me about the latest ways to market and sell to women.
In this article, which is geared toward the tile designer/dealer as an audience - Mod Mood being her tile and furniture store she co-owns with her husband provides a petri dish for her to continuously test and improve her theories toward sales and marketing (Not to mention her 17 year stint as VP of Sales and Marketing with The Trans Ceramica) - Ms. Nichols tells how to go about sales and marketing to this the Prominent Influencer.
She explains how, "women approach purchases: emotionally/reactive, or through research/discussion." She offers tips that can improve sales effectiveness no matter which way a prominent prospect presents herself.
The article keeps it real simple - which is probably why Jeanne is so good at marketing - there is the Before, During and After the visit to the store.
The Before makes a strong case for web presence and social media. For those of you fellas that don't get this, I suggest you read some Seth Goden, else you risk becoming a buggy whip dealer who happens to inventory tile. When I think about how my gal shops (even though she is an n of one) she spends a lot of time online researching and comparing prices features and benefits. By the time we go shopping, she is very goal oriented. I know my sisters and my mom spend a lot of time online researching purchases as well, so now we have an n of four. If the women in your life are anything like the women in my life...I think you get the picture. Its a statistical ceratinty for you: No website no deal.
The During emphasizes five things; that your store possess the same characteristics as your website; that personal contact gives you a read on how she prefers to approach the purchase (also to better demonstrate to her your good listening skills [GUYS! YOU CAN DO THIS!]); how you might and might not respond; provide interesting trivia (there's always something new in tile); and most important from my perspective, that you be genuine with your conversation.
The After emphasizes follow-up. She makes it fun for us guys by suggesting it's like dating [does this mean if I call her back just as she's leaving the store she'll think I'm a creepy stalker?] Silence of course sends the wrong message, that you are just not that into her. So its important to acknowledge, "that she was in the store, purchased the product, or to have been given the opportunity to share some ideas with her is a genuine way to continue the connection"
While we humble installers and fellow LOTC's (Low Overhead Trade Contractors) do not typically own stores, it is none the less important to take note: all of this applies to us too (except for the store part), but you do not get let off with not needing a website/social media presence. Instead of a store orgainzed for presentation at time of sale much in the same way as the web presence, we must organize ourselves for presentation at the time of service much in the same we present ourselves online. I'm here to tell you, my customers are choosing me because I blog, tweet, facebook, email, linkin and youtube. They are choosing me because I make a genuine presentation of me and what I value, so it is easy for me to back that up at the time of service. So in the long run I predict LOTC's who do not venture into the online arena with an emphasis towards dynamic (social media) as opposed to a static presence (brochureware), risk irrelevance through loss of market share or pricing power or both.