I started working in this industry at the age of 22 and have learned many hard lessons to get to where I am today. Now I want to share some of the important truths that changed my business.
In 2000, I opened a flooring store near San Diego. Neither my business partner nor I had any real experience, but we thought, hey, we’ll figure it out. Our store was near one of California’s top cities for new construction, and business was booming. We got a ton of foot traffic, and people would ask questions about our products. We often didn’t know the answer, so when a customer asked something, whether about a tool or carpet fiber, I’d say, “Hold on, I’ll get you that information.” Then I’d go to the back and call Home Depot or Lowe’s to get the answer. I had them on speed dial!
The business grew. I got a contractor’s license, and it grew more. Eventually, I started working in sales with a manufacturer and got to know other store owners. I learned how small businesses run and how big companies operate.
Then came 2008. New construction dried up and I needed to make a change. I had a computer science degree and thought I should use it.
By then I was living in the Phoenix area and I connected with a local flooring retailer/installer that needed help online. They were doing $800,000 a month in revenue but had no tracking or real analytics. The company was spending $100,000 monthly on the internet but didn’t know how that money was, or wasn’t, working. I created a tracking protocol and began identifying who the customers actually were.
We segmented them and then grouped them in order of importance to the business. Through this process we learned which segments were working for us and which were actually holding the business back. Today, that company has more than $3 million in revenue per month.
Most company owners go after too much and, as a result, don’t master anything. We started from scratch, rebuilding the marketing message and focusing it to only target the exact demographic we wanted. We didn’t add any other group until we’d reached diminishing returns in that one segment.
Another important lesson has to do with mobile marketing. Businesses think they need to constantly target a mobile audience, but often they don’t really look at the data. Mobile may not be performing as well as leads from a desktop, and it may carry a higher cost.
What’s most important is that you solidify your base and, before investing heavily in any marketing plan, make sure you really understand the origin of your leads and your sales.