The Concrete Countertop Shop: Business Strategy 101 Part 1

by Lane Mangum, VP Business Services, The Concrete Countertop Institute

  Insider knowledge that will help you SELL your concrete countertops.

Concrete countertops are countertops. They just happen to be made out of concrete.

This fact should dictate your marketing and selling techniques: if you understand how countertops are most commonly and most effectively marketed and sold, you will be much more successful at marketing and selling concrete countertops.

This is not to say that concrete countertops being made from concrete is an unimportant or irrelevant fact. Concrete is, after all, the irreplaceable aspect that makes concrete countertops so beautiful, versatile and unique! It also pushes them into the high-end market, since they are custom-made from-scratch for each client. It doesn’t get any more homegrown and original than that! But keep in mind: these properties are merely great features of these particular countertops. Universal countertop marketing principles still apply.

Let’s get practical.

High-end countertops are most commonly used in kitchen and bath remodeling projects, or in truly custom new homes. Large developments with cookie-cutter or semicustom homes are unlikely to use high-end countertops, since they want to use something cheap, fast and with broad appeal. Typically they are not interested in quality, character or craftsmanship.

Knowing this, think about how homeowners buy high-end countertops. They don’t buy them from a large builder like Centex. They don’t buy them at Home Depot. They seek out the countertop fabricator themselves, or they use an interior/kitchen designer to help them.

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Let’s talk about the tools you need in your sales toolkit.

When seeking out a countertop maker, high-end countertop buyers (including the people you really want to work with: designers!) use the Internet to search. They do not use the phone book, except perhaps to find a plumber in an emergency. A website is one of the most important marketing tools in your arsenal. It can serve as an electronic brochure, portfolio and information source. It lends credibility and professionalism to your company. And it can generate leads for you.

A good website for high-end countertops needs only a few pages:

  • a home page
  • a contact page
  • an About Us page
  • a portfolio page
  • a product information page

The product information page is particularly important with concrete countertops, since novices tend to think of concrete as either looking like a public parking garage or being supernaturally immune to scratches, stains and general wear & tear. This is your chance to answer common questions such as “Does concrete stain?” and “Will it crack?” which will help prequalify your leads AND let potential clients see that you know what you’re talking aboutif people can find it.

If you create a website without listing it, nobody will ever see it! It’s the equivalent of sticking a sign in your back yard–no one is going to see it unless you invite them over and point it out. That is why you need to use a contractor listing service; it’s like having an ad at the Superbowl. What you need is steady traffic stopping by your website, and the best, most reliable way to get that is through a listing service.

Now. A website is essential, but it’s a passive, impersonal form of marketing. So are print ads. I do not ever recommend print ads for startup concrete countertop businesses because they are so expensive in comparison to their rate of return. You will have many ad sales representatives trying to sell you print ads by saying, “One job per month could pay for the monthly cost of the ad.” Your response to that should be, “Why spend 100% of the proceeds from a single solitary job when I could be getting MORE jobs for a fraction of the ad costs by NOT using print ads?”

Carefully consider where you want your advertising budget to be–don’t make the rookie mistakes of spending all your money on useless ads that no one is going to see. It’s all about shooting at targets; if you don’t know what your targets are, you are shooting blind and you’re not going to hit the mark.

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Unless you have Ninja superpowers, this is not the way to go. Knowing who you are selling to (your target market) is absolutely essential to every successful marketing strategy.

No, in order to be truly effective at marketing concrete countertops, you need… (drum roll please)…. relationship marketing.

To be continued….

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