The months following Christmas can feel like a marketing wasteland. With no major holidays in sight until Easter in the middle of April, showrooms have few calendar opportunities to tie into major marketing campaigns, and the cold, snowy weather in many parts of the country often keeps customers inside and shopping online.
How can you encourage customers to come to your store and stay connected with your brand? We asked marketing experts and showroom managers for their thoughts.
Seminars and Events
Getting customers to your showroom is perhaps the biggest hurdle during the winter, but if they have a good reason – other than window-shopping – then they’ll brave the wintry roads and shopping hangovers to make it in. One tactic is to hold seminars and events.
“You might be able to use education and training as part of that reason to get someone to come into your showroom on a cold, winter day,” Rob Hilbert, Principal of marketing company Your Lighting Brand, says.
Devin Kirk, Vice President of Merchandising at Jayson Home in Chicago, holds events in his showroom in the winter, bringing in vintage pieces from places such as Palm Beach and France. He and his team brainstorm ideas for themes and build up from there. “For us, there’s a vintage and antique component, so we can bring in a little trunk show of vintage finds and make a small event out of it,” Kirk says. “That gets people into the store to see what’s new if they’re not inspired otherwise.”
Last winter, Kirk and his team put together a Beer + Brownies event that had a tie-dye, “hippie” motif. It brought about 100 people to his store. “It was easy for us to execute, but it was something special for customers and gave them a reason to come in. Our store is great for hanging out, and we’re happy to have people laying out with their friends on our sofas for an hour or two.”
Email and Social Media Marketing
During the post-holiday months, Hilbert says building a strong SEO strategy will help showrooms stay found and relevant, even when customers may not want to visit in person.
“If you can’t get on the first page of Google search,” Hilbert says, “you’re doing something wrong.”
Hilbert recommends focusing on YouTube, the second largest search engine. By creating short, informative videos, Hilbert says showrooms will provide customers with great content that is easy to share on all social media platforms. He also advises showrooms to revisit their websites and revamp any outdated designs, photos or keywords. Websites must be responsively designed and fit for any and all screen types. Photos need to be bold and beautiful, and each webpage needs relevant keywords.
Winter is also a good time to communicate with customers. For Rand Dorman at Dorman’s Lighting and Design in Lutherville, MD, consistent communication through email is key. To build his list throughout the year, he asks customers at his store’s events to write their email addresses down and enters them in a drawing. The winner gets a small prize, and Dorman’s contact list grows.
While Dorman says Facebook has been effective for them, he adds that there’s one other advertising channel that’s been surprisingly effective: AM radio.
“It gets the demographic that Facebook doesn’t reach,” he explains. “There’s a pretty good market that still listens to AM radio believe it or not, at least in Baltimore.”
If you’re able to connect with your customers – either through events or online marketing – through the post-holiday months, then they’ll be more likely to stop by your showroom when it’s time for a little spring cleaning.