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Helping Before Selling

Furniture World Magazine


Once in a while a business innovation appears that is a true game-changer for Main Street small business owners including furniture and bedding retailers.

Our store, Gardner’s Mattress & More in Lancaster, PA has developed and implemented such a system called Infotail that has changed the way we look at and comport our business.

Infotail is the brainchild of mine, along with my business partners Ben McClure and Mike Capuzzi. If you’ve been following this series of articles you’ve already been exposed to small parts of this system. In the next four issues, we will take a deeper dive into this marketing and sales strategy we’ve implemented in our own stores and consulting client businesses.

The system is grounded in the power of putting educational information in the hands of people who need what we sell. Helping before selling is a key point of differentiation in the way we think about our business.

Another key differentiator is the way we think about our customers. We call this the Infotail Customer Lifecycle which is delivered to customers through the use of properly designed marketing and sales tools, systems and automation.

At its core the system’s power is that it creates informed prospects, profitable life-long customers and raving fans. It combines information-based selling with automated direct response retail marketing systems.

Parts Of the Sales & Follow-up System

Tools - A collection of information-centric tools that first seek to inform and educate prospects with quality information before an actual sale is made. These are marketing pieces, customer relationship building devices, and process/procedures used in our business to assist in customer acquisition or fulfillment.

Systems - These are a combination of tools strategically put together to create a WOW experience for leads and prospects. These systems are organized, reliable and consistent, therefore they deliver consistently predictable results. They also have had the added benefit of creating wealth and freedom for us as store owners.

Automation – Marketing and sales management automation is at the core of the system and is what holds our marketing and staff to account. It permits our tools and systems to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.

The Furniture & Bedding Customer Lifecycle

It’s a sad matter of fact that typical home furnishings retailers look at their customers completely wrong.

set it as a goal, it completely changed the way we approached marketing and sales.

Most business owners think in terms of transactions in these ways:
  • “I need to up my close rate to 35%.” 
  • “I need to serve 20 customers today.” 
  • “I need to sell six bedrooms this week.” 

This churn and burn attitude ignores the potential lifetime value of a customer and what this value truly means to a business.

An ideal customer is a vital and valuable business asset. To maximize this asset, our job is to:
  • Identify our target customer.
  • Offer them educational information to get them interested in our products and services.
  • Offer this information and capture the lead.
  • Get them to visit us for the first time.
  • Convert them to a customer.
  • Deliver and delight them with our offerings.
  • Nurture and get them to become lifetime customers.
  • Make them raving fans of our business. 

Essentially, we make a sale to get a customer, and do everything in our power to create value and keep that customer for life. When done correctly, the lifetime value of a customer is expandable, not only by future purchases, but also by the referral power that customer represents.

There is no reason a customer who started with us this year, cannot still be a customer a decade from now, resulting in substantial incremental value to our business. In order to accomplish this, we keep in mind eight strategic goals that are also presented in the diagram on the first page of this article.
Eight strategic goals

1. Target Recipient: It all started with getting a clear picture of who our ideal customers are. Once we found out “who our who” is, our marketing became more focused and relevant. This enabled Gardner’s Mattress & More to attract more of the customers we want, and repel those we are not meant to do business with.

2. Inform & Get Interest: We developed information-centric marketing tools that attract, inform and educate our ideal customer and get them interested in doing business with us. By helping our target recipient with educational and valuable information regarding the products, services and solutions, we immediately differentiate our business from the masses.

3. Lead Capture: Using information-centric tools such as a call-to-action, we capture both online and offline leads in order to follow up and offer compelling and valuable reasons to visit our business.

4. Prospect Visit: We have one single goal with our lead follow-up marketing. It’s to get them to visit our location and become a first time customer. We use specific strategies to accomplish this.

5. First Time Customer: We know that every first time customer has the ability to become a repeat, lifetime customer, NO MATTER WHAT IS SOLD!

6. Deliver & Delight: Making the first sale is by no means the end-goal. It’s just the start of a mutually-beneficial relationship with our customers. Our goal is to deliver on our promise and delight them with unexpected surprises and personal touch-points, immediately after the first sale, and on a regular basis.

7. Lifetime Customer: Using the tools and systems, we nurture and keep customers coming back. The future sales and referral potential with our properly nurtured customers is huge.

8. Get Referrals, Testimonials & Reviews:
In today’s business environment getting happy customer referrals, testimonials and online reviews is mandatory! We use automation tools to get happy customers to leave positive testimonials and reviews, and tell their friends and family about the business.

Eight Things You Can Do Right Now

Whether you are ready to change your approach or are looking to score incremental business, here are eight suggestions that have worked for us at Gardner’s Mattress & More.

1. Advertising: We often recommend a laser focused approach to advertising. Consider including copy and messages within your advertising that call out to your potential customers. Instead of 50% off language, use language such as, "wake up happy & pain free, download our mattress buying guide to find out how".

2. Buying Guide: We make people into prospects by getting them to request our mattress buying guide. Now we are in a conversation with them, and all of our subsequent communications are focused on continuing a conversation, at their pace, so we can get them to visit our store.

3. Lead Capture: We use lead capture not just for our mattress buying guide, but for offers, financing, and even the coupons we call savings passes. Upon capturing a name and email, our email marketing system delivers the savings pass they requested. Then the marketing works to get them to visit the store.

4. Conversation: Steps 1-3 work to collect unique information for each potential customer that enables us to encourage relevant, timely, and personal conversations. If a lead claims a savings pass, we let them know when that savings pass expires and that a store visit is required to use it. If they ask for a mattress buying guide to be mailed, we ask them if they in fact received it and if so what feedback do they have for us? Keep in mind that all of these efforts, while powerful in and of themselves, act synergistically to create a higher return on investment.

5. Information Capture: We collect all kinds of information. Even if someone just buys a pillow, we ask for, collect, and record when they expect to buy a mattress next, and of course subsequent communications begin.

6. Make An Experience: We seek to make every point of contact an experience. Each customer receives a unique gift bag on delivery that contains candy, note pads, and pens along with referral and testimonial forms. These forms are digitally captured and then printed with each customer purchase. They contain relevant data for every customer making them unique. But for us the experience doesn't stop there. Our delivery staff rolls out a floor mat for use inside the home, and wears foot protection so as not to dirty or scuff floors. We even offer to vacuum under and around the bed with the use of a battery powered vacuum.

7. Stay Connected: We add prospects to our printed and mailed newsletter list. This has proven to be an inexpensive way to stay connected to our best customers. It keeps them aware of what is going on here at Gardner's and communicates new and exciting offers and products available for purchase.

8. Don’t Trash Your Pen and Ink: The biggest success story we have to share here is that although we have an online referral system, 20 times more referrals are mailed back to us than are generated by our online referral program! While the online aspect is very unique from a technology standpoint, the old school paper, ink, and stamp method of mailing back the form we provide offers a far better return on investment. Weekly we average 18 names given to us as referrals and of those names we sell through to 20%. That’s almost three sales weekly from just referrals.

About Jeff Giagnocavo: Jeff Giagnocavo is co-owner of the retailer Gardner’s Mattress & More and the co-creator of Mattress Retailer Weekly. Mattress Retailer Weekly is shared with you every week so you can get new customers, stay ahead of your competition and increase your sales tickets. Get your FREE subscription by visiting www.RenegadeMattressRetailer.com or text MRW to 484-303-4300.