Understandably, there’s a fair amount of confusion in the industry right now about our recent rebranding from 29 years as Hardwood Floors to our new, independent brand, Wood Floor Business (you can read our news story about the change here). I wanted to clear up some of that confusion and answer questions I’ve been receiving from clients recently. Here are some key facts about Wood Floor Business going forward:
1) Our products and staff are the same.
All that has changed is the brand name. The magazine, E-News, website and social media are all the same products you know and trust. We have exclusive rights to all the content we have generated since the beginning, which can now be found at woodfloorbusiness.com. While I and three other key HF staff—Editor Kim Wahlgren, Associate Editor Andrew Averill and Publisher Shawn Gahagan—were offered jobs at NWFA, we declined, and continue in our positions here at AB Media Inc. along with our extensive support staff for production, circulation, marketing and much more.
2) We are invested in the wood flooring industry.
We aren’t a huge media company that happens to do a wood flooring magazine. AB Media Inc. is a small, family-owned company that has only three brands, all of which are considered an essential part of their industries. AB Media’s owner created Hardwood Floors magazine 29 years ago with the founding fathers of the NWFA, and we have worked to help build and improve the entire wood flooring industry ever since. Our dedicated staff have more than 35 years of wood flooring industry experience and understand the unique challenges and opportunities of this business. As a now-independent voice, we will continue to provide the industry with unbiased, valuable content, while connecting advertisers with the most engaged, qualified prospects.
3) We are looking forward—for our customers and our industry as a whole.
No one in the media business is successful in today’s extremely challenging market by being complacent. One of the reasons for our continued success is that we are constantly updating our products to meet our customers’ needs across all channels, from print to digital to social media. As our marketing partners know, we are always open to discussing new ways to achieve specific marketing goals—whether that be targeting a very specific list with a custom promotion or thinking outside the box with a special cover treatment. We also will continue to tackle issues important to the industry; in our February/March issue, our theme is “The Next Generation,” discussing what the current labor shortage means for our industry. And our April/May issue will, as always, contain our exclusive State of the Industry statistics. What topics do you think we should be tackling? We’d love to hear from you.
4) We exclusively own our email lists and related data.
We have invested many years developing quality email lists for our E-News and Custom E-Mail products, which are a part of a larger data platform we have—and will continue to offer—to our customers. Currently, our E-News and Custom E-Mail lists each have more than 17,000 email records and are constantly maintained to ensure active, engaged readers. Our open rates for each product far exceed industry norms: 45% for E-News and 34% for Custom E-Mails.
5) Our circulation is audited.
Wood Floor Business circulation is audited by AAM, the Alliance for Audited Media. AAM’s tagline explains their purpose well: Transact with Trust. The auditing process ensures that when we say our print circulation targets 23,500 wood flooring professionals who are decision-makers in their company, you don’t have to take our word for it. The audit process is both expensive and labor-intensive, but we feel it’s important to deliver that value to our customers.
6) We are still proponents of the NWFA.
We have contributed more than $5 million to the NWFA since the magazine began, and despite the fact that we are no longer contractually bound to NWFA, we are still proponents of the many good things the NWFA does for our industry.
I hope the above helps to eliminate some of the confusion you may have had regarding our recent name change. As always, feel free to reach out to me directly should you have any questions.
(800) 722-8764 ext. 107
When you deliver the perfect message directly to the perfect qualified audience, great things can happen. That’s why we’re seeing more and more customers opt for our Custom E-Mail solution.
Gone are the days of simply “blasting” anyone and everyone. Today our customers can target the exact prospects they want to reach and craft a message that inspires those prospects to take action.
We’ve worked with hundreds of customers over the years to send successful Custom E-Mails. Here are a few tips that lead to the best results:
1. Determine Your Purpose
Everyone has a different reason for sending a Custom E-Mail. For example, if you’re looking to drive direct sales, your messaging and call-to-action will be different than if you’re simply announcing a new brand initiative.
If you sell a product with a long sales cycle, it may not be feasible to expect prospects to make a purchase based off one email. However, enticing them to learn more about your product with a video or whitepaper can be a good way to move prospects further along your sales funnel.
Think about the objective of your email and make sure your content supports that objective. If the goal is click-throughs, a clear, concise call-to-action is important.
Also consider taking advantage of our targeting capabilities. With a custom list, you know the exact prospects you’ll be reaching and can tailor your message to have the most impact.
2. Choose Your Subject Line
Your subject line has the biggest impact on the success of your email. The best email in the world won’t do any good if no one opens it.
We’ve seen that the best subject lines offer value to the recipient, rather than just a sales message. In fact, the most successful subject lines rarely include brand or product names.
These are just a few examples. Contact me to discuss specific ideas and suggestions for your campaign.
3. Use Engaging Media
Videos and other interactive media are driving click-throughs better than anything else. This is a clear trend we’ve seen develop in the last year or so.
Emails with a prominently displayed video will encourage the opener to click-through to view it. Other media options driving engagement include whitepapers, infographics, photo galleries or customizable “build your own product” interfaces.
Not everyone’s goal is to drive clicks. But if yours is, enticing the recipient with content-rich media is a good way to do so.
4. Consider the Length
It can be tempting to put your entire sales message into the body of the e-mail. And with the right layout and supporting imagery, this has worked for some customers. But typically, keeping things concise is best — especially with professionals who are on-the-go. Remember, roughly half of your e-mail openers will be on a mobile device. Keep the message clear and concise.
5. Think About Your Landing Page
You’ve piqued the curiosity of your prospect with a great subject line. Your call-to-action inspired them to click-through. Now what?
Does your prospect land on a page that’s mobile friendly and supports the messaging in the email? Are you doing anything to try to capture the prospect’s name and email address?
Not every Custom E-Mail needs to drive web traffic. But if that is the purpose of your send, consider what happens when the prospect gets to your site and what you want them to do. Does the email link directly to the corresponding product page or will the reader need to navigate from your homepage? Is there an easy form to complete for more information?
These are just a few tips to help you make the most of your Custom E-Mail. Of course, every business has different objectives and circumstances. If you’ve purchased a Custom E-Mail, or are considering it, talk to me about how to make the most of the opportunity.
If you’re reading this blog, you’ve likely been to a few (or for some of you, a few hundred) trade shows. You know the routine. You spend weeks, most likely months, preparing for the show. It finally arrives, it’s exciting, you meet tons of people, gather leads and then in a matter of days it’s over. When you get back to the office, how do you make sure you capitalize on your interactions with the prospects you just met?
Companies spend a lot of time and money preparing for and attending shows. However, the greatest returns only happen when you take action afterward.
1. Categorize Your Leads
Not everyone you met at the show requires the same action and urgency. Some prospects might be ready to buy and require a phone call ASAP, while others are better candidates for email campaigns or follow-ups further down the line. But just because someone isn’t a “hot” lead doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Categorize your leads into hot, medium and cool groups (or whatever lingo you want to use) and then determine which follow-up methods are right for which group.
2. Respond Promptly
The sooner you can respond to your prospects post-show, the better. According to a 2012 study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, less than 50% of exhibitors send an email to their leads within a week of the show. With every day that passes, the likelihood of your lead forgetting your interaction, losing interest or getting too busy back in the office increases. Make it a priority to follow up as quickly as possible.
3. Be Personal
When possible, a personal response whether by phone, email or both is proven to be more effective than mass communications. Not every single lead will require a personal follow-up, but for your most important ones, it is worth the time. In the same study referenced above, its conclusion states:
Customizing follow-up email communications, tailored to attendees, who they are and what they articulated interest in, makes sense. It demonstrates to the attendee that an exhibitor was listening. It motivates an attendee to pay attention. In today’s marketing environment where consumers demand personal attention, targeted communications are a must.
And that was three years ago! The same truths are more apparent today.
4. Have a Call-to-Action
When you follow up with your leads, particularly via email, give them a clear call to action. Of course, the end goal is to purchase your product, but for high-dollar items, that may take some time. In the meantime, maybe your goal is to get them to visit your website, sign up for your newsletter, or have them follow you on social media. All of these actions build your connection with the prospect and give you another way to reach them. Whatever your company’s goal may be, give the prospect a clear and easy way to take the action you desire. Bombarding them with too many options can backfire.
5. Include Content!
Adding value to your follow-up communication by providing useful content can be a great way to nurture leads. You had a great conversation about a particular product? Send the prospects a link or maybe a video with more information. Someone expressed a particular problem on the job site? Send them solutions you can provide or a tutorial on that subject. Of course, to do this, you need to have a method of remembering the discussions you had with specific show attendees. Jotting a few notes on the back of a business card can help, or, if you have a lead-gen service, add a note when you scan their badge.
What methods have worked best for you when following up on trade show leads? Feel free to share your tips in the comments below.
There’s a new trend in advertising sweeping the nation. And as the author of this marketing blog, I feel compelled to tell you more about it.
This advertising medium is driving web traffic, helping brands separate themselves from competitors and leaving an impact on niche audiences from wood flooring to antiques. So what is it?
That’s right, trusty old print advertising is the “New ‘New Media’” according to the Columbia Journalism Review.
“Print is beautiful,” author Chava Gourarie writes in this piece published on CJR’s website.
It can’t notify you when a work email arrives, can’t be tweeted mid-sentence, and won’t die without a charger. Even better, it’s finite.
It’s also supposed to be dead. For years, the new media vanguard has preached “digital first” and the death knell has sounded again and again for print, as legendary magazines moved online or ceased publication altogether. Now, 20 years into the digital revolution, print is making something of a comeback.
In fact, 2015 saw the launch of 204 new print magazines according to Samir Husni, the University of Mississippi professor known as “Mr. Magazine .”
This article underscores a trend we have seen at Wood Floor Business, as well.
Many clients I work with are surprised to learn print advertising is the most popular form of advertising among our customers, but Gourarie has a great theory for why that is. Magazines, especially those with niche audiences (such as B2B magazines), foster tight niche communities that are appealing to subscribers and advertisers.
“People want to be part of a tribe, and magazines with tailored content for an ardent readership reinforce a strong sense of community,” Gourarie writes.
In our industry, I believe it can also be attributed to the visual, tangible nature of hardwood flooring. When it comes to marketing your brand, there’s nothing more impressive than a fantastic room scene of a well-done hardwood floor.
The importance of print advertising is just one of the reasons we recently invested in rebranding our magazine.
A magazine is “like a membership card you receive once a week, or month,” says Husni.
This sentiment is backed up by Wood Floor Business’ own subscribers, 77 percent of whom are the owner, president or CEO at their company.
And as an advertiser, the print magazine gives you a unique opportunity to connect with that community in a setting where the reader is not distracted by the chime of a new email or the next “to do” popping up on their computer.
Of course, integrated marketing remains important. Digital advertising can help you reach tens of thousands of prospects in addition to those who receive the magazine. But the next time you’re looking do something special with your marketing budget, take a hard look at print advertising. Your prospects are doing the same.
Typically, this blog is all about looking ahead. We’ve discussed how to create a marketing plan, how to make your workdays less stressful and gave you a sneak peek at our newly rebranded magazine. But before we get too far into 2016, it seems like a good time to do a little reminiscing.
The wood flooring industry as a whole seems to be getting stronger each year. And it was no exception for us at Wood Floor Business. Thanks to our loyal audience and advertising partners, we enjoyed a record-setting year in 2015. In today’s blog we share a quick breakdown of some of our statistics from 2015 and more important, why they matter to you.
WFB’s audience is growing and becoming more digitally savvy. More industry professionals are choosing to engage with us online in addition to print. In addition, we are seeing more people using woodfloorbusiness.com and reading our E-News on mobile devices. This goes to show that an integrated marketing approach is the best way to reach prospects everywhere they are choosing to engage.
Why it matters:
Our audience is highly engaged and look to the E-News as their twice-weekly source for industry news and information.
WFB is on every platform, connecting with our audience in every way they choose to engage. More people are choosing to become active on social media. This doesn’t come as a huge shock, but it’s interesting to note that 75% of our Facebook fans are male.
We care about improving all aspects of our brand, from print to digital. Click here to see more on how our rebranded magazine benefits advertisers.
We wanted to share these numbers with you not to pat ourselves on the back, but to show that WFB is continuing to find ways to connect with highly qualified industry professionals wherever they are choosing to engage. With our audience growing and getting more digitally savvy each year, it’s important that our advertising partners know we’re right there, connecting you with our audience on any platform, any time. We are dedicated to helping your business in the hardwood flooring industry succeed.
In my last blog we discussed four recommendations for a successful marketing plan. The fourth point, and perhaps the most important, was “determine how success will be measured.” In other words, what is your return on investment?
Measuring your ROI is sometimes easier said than done. With so much data at your disposal in digital advertising, what metrics do you need to be tracking? How do you measure if your marketing campaign was truly a success? That is the topic in today’s marketing blog: Five ways you can effectively measure your return on investment.
1) Set Clear Marketing Goals
The first step in tracking your marketing ROI is to set the objectives for your campaign. Will it be a branding campaign or a lead generation effort? A new product launch or trade show support? Maybe a push to drive traffic to your website and social media pages? This is important to discuss up-front with your media partner and work together to create a plan that will best achieve your goals. Different goals will have different advertising methods to achieve success.
2) Determine How You Will Measure Success
Success can mean many different things when it comes to marketing. If you are selling a high-dollar manufacturing machine gaining just two solid sales leads may be well worth the investment. However, if you are running a branding campaign two clicks isn’t going to do the trick. It is important to determine what you consider to be the key measurables of your campaign. Is it leads? Impressions? Clicks to your website? What does “success” equal to you and your company?
3) Track Everything (or Make Sure Someone is Tracking it for You)
These days prospects follow-up on advertisements in many different ways. The truth is most people just don’t pick up the phone and call your 800-number anymore. At least not before visiting your website, social media pages and Googling your company name. At Wood Floor Business we’ve worked hard to install some detailed data capabilities. We can track basic stats like impressions, clicks and email open rates or even help you with some more advanced targeting efforts. Our advanced database can help you target prospects based on everything from job title or geographic location all the way down to behavioral factors like articles read on our website or emails opened. The best part? We track all of this for you and deliver it in an easy-to-digest report.
4) Dig Deeper
It’s important to remember that not all stats are created equal. Before you judge the success of your campaign based on raw numbers alone, take a deeper dive into what they mean. Your e-mail campaign may have had a lower unique open rate than you were hoping for. However, were there key prospects that opened the email several times? Maybe even a few that forwarded it on? On the contrary, your Custom E-Mail may have been opened by 15,000 people but none of them were qualified decision makers. Take a step back and look at what the numbers really mean. Not sure what to look for? Just ask us. That’s what I’m here for.
5) Remember the Power of One
What does one new customer mean to you over the course of their lifetime? Gaining a loyal customer has double the value – their purchasing power but arguably even more valuable, their recommendations to others. According to Nielsen, 77 percent of consumers said advice of family and friends is the most persuasive when looking for information about products. What does one new customer mean to you?
Of course every advertising campaign is going to be unique. If you’re considering advertising with Wood Floor Business, I encourage you to reach out and discuss your goals and objectives. We’ll create a campaign that fits your needs and budget. Then we can put these ROI tracking tips into action together.
With 2016 quickly approaching, make this the year you put a marketing plan in place and start measuring your success.
It’s one of the first things I ask my customers. Unfortunately, I don’t always get a response.
Anytime someone is considering advertising with Hardwood Floors, I’ll ask, “What do you hope to achieve?” Or, “What is your marketing goal?” The response to that question serves as the starting point for our conversation and helps me guide you to the right products. However, most of the time the customer hasn’t clearly outlined what they hope to achieve — whether it’s brand recognition, driving traffic to their site, lead generation, becoming a thought leader in the industry or all of the above.
Nearly every marketer I speak to knows that advertising helps their company. They know that reaching the Hardwood Floors audience can help drives sales. But as for the specifics? Many haven’t gotten that far. And that’s what I wanted to address in today’s blog.
Below are four recommendations to help you get started on your new and successful 2016 marketing plan.
1. Creating a Marketing Plan Helps You Maximize Your Investment
As Ben Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” That’s not to say you’re bound to fail without a marketing plan. But having a plan will help you stay organized. It will lay out your key initiatives and a road map to achieve them. It will make your workflow more efficient. It will allow you to target key dates and maximize special promotions and trade show exposure. And best of all, it can help you maximize your investment and track the ROI. If you go into the year with a set plan and a set budget you can find advertising resources to make the most of that budget.
2. Outline Goals and Create a Plan Around Those Goals
Is your company looking for more awareness in the market? Are you looking to grow market share? Boost sales of a particular product? Improve the perception of your brand? Become a thought leader in the industry? Different companies have different objectives. Knowing what you’re trying to accomplish will help you narrow down your advertising options and find the solutions that are right for you. See what’s worked for some of the industry’s top brands in our Advertiser Success Stories.
3. Integrated Marketing is the Best Approach
It’s important to remember that different prospects engage with different forms of media. Digital marketing receives a lot of buzz and at Hardwood Floors we’re working hard on some advanced technology to make your digital advertising more effective. Yet, there is a large segment of our audience that only reads the printed magazine. In fact, 93% of professionals surveyed in a 2013 study by Martin Akel and Associates said that print publications are still a “desirable way” to access information. Also, in a 2015 HF readership survey done by Readex Research, 82% of respondents said the number one way they keep up to date on industry products is trade publications and websites.
Whether your advertising plans include Hardwood Floors or not, we recommend using an integrated approach — making your brand visible in print and online — to ensure you reach the entire market and not just a portion who chooses to consume one form of media.
RELATED: Why Marketers Can’t Ignore Trade Media
4. Determine How Success Will Be Measured
Perhaps the most important part of your marketing plan will be measuring its performance. This will vary depending on your marketing goals and the product mix in your plan. Common measurables for our advertising partners include number of impressions their ads receive, traffic to their website, growth in social media following, clicks on web ads, or open rates and click-throughs on Custom E-Mails. We can help you test different types of messaging and determine what is most successful for your brand.
With a new year just around the corner, it’s important to start thinking about your plan for 2016. I’d be happy to speak with you about your specific objectives and help determine the best path forward. In the meantime, happy planning!
It’s hard to believe, but summer is winding down and our staff is already hard at work on the 2016 Resource Book, the hardwood industry’s only comprehensive resource for everything wood flooring.
If you can name it, you can find it among the 330+ pages of the Resource Book: Products, which companies make which products, manufacturers, contractors, distributors by area, dealers and retailers.
This is one of our most anticipated issues each year and the great news is, there are many perks for advertisers in the issue. Here are five of the best:
1. Year-Long Visibility — Online and in Print
“We regularly hear stories from our readers who keep the Resource Book on their desk at all times, even after it’s torn and tattered from being referenced so often,” says Kim Wahlgren, editor of Wood Floor Business. “We love stories like that.”
As an advertiser in this issue, your company is bolded throughout and your, helping you stand out. But there’s also a significant online aspect.
Your brand will be featured in the online Resource Book, which receives more than 120,000 pageviews on woodfloorbusiness.com throughout the year.
2. Your Prospects Are Out There, Help Them Find You
In addition to the 23,500 people who receive the print edition of the Resource Book, thousands of people find it online each month. As an advertiser, your online listing includes a “Request a Quote” button, where prospects can request a quote right from your listing. In July alone, the online Resource Book had more than 14,000 pageviews.
3. Stand Out Above Your Competitors
As prospects search the Resource Book, both online and in print, issue advertisers are more likely to be found. In print, your listing is bolded, while non-advertisers are not. Online, you’ll automatically “pop to the top” of search results ensuring better exposure while your competitors fall to the bottom.
4. Increase SEO
Being listed in Wood Floor Business’ online Resource Book brings substantial SEO benefits, again helping more prospects find your brand. Many of our advertisers’ Resource Book listing can be found on the first page of Google results for their brand. In some cases, the Resource Book listing is higher than their own website!
5. No Extra Cost
When you advertise in the 2016 Resource Book, your brand reaps these benefits all year long just for the price of your print ad. With your purchase of any print ad—whether that’s a two-page full-color spread or a ⅙ page black and white ad—everything listed above is included. This makes your marketing dollars go further while gaining year-round returns.
Interested in helping your brand reach quality buyers in the 2016 Resource Book? Have additional questions you’d like answered? Just want to chat about your marketing goals and objectives? Don’t hesitate to call or email me anytime.
It’s no secret that marketing departments have shrunk over the years. If you’re at a large company, it’s likely you handle what was once the work of two or three people. If you’re at a small company, you might be your company’s entire “marketing department”—all while manning two or three other jobs.
It’s enough to make you freak out sometimes.
The good news: all that responsibility means every day is a new challenge. The bad news: it can get overwhelming. Below are seven tips to help you manage your time a little more efficiently and keep yourself less stressed.
1. Learn to Say No
It’s just two letters, but sometimes ‘no’ is the toughest word in our language. Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should. Spreading yourself too thin causes all of your work to suffer. It’s important to be a helpful and cooperative coworker, but sometimes being honest with someone upfront is better than telling them ‘yes’ only to fail to deliver later.
2. Shut Down Your Inbox
It’s so easy to become beholden to your inbox. The key is managing your time, not letting your inbox manage your time. Set a block of time where you log out of email, put your phone out of sight (and on silent) and focus on the work you need to get done without the interruption of email.
3. Find Natural Transition Points
Wasting 10 minutes here or there can really add up. A common source of lost time is transitioning between tasks. It can be difficult to get one project out of your mind and immediately devote 100 percent of your attention to something new. To combat this, try to find natural transition points like meetings or lunch. Finish one task before these events. Then, when you return to your desk you can focus on what’s next with a clear head.
4. Plan for Interruptions
So you’ve been procrastinating. Your project is almost due so you think, “Today I’ll just focus on this project for four straight hours and get it done.” Of course, things don’t work out that way.
Even if you could focus on something for four straight hours you’re bound to be interrupted. People stopping by your desk, phone calls, emails (see #2), impromptu meetings. All of those interruptions can really stress you out if they’re disrupting what you “should” be doing. Keep that in mind when planning your day. You’re going to get interrupted. Things are going to take longer than expected.
5. Plan Ahead
Speaking of planning… It’s so simple, but even the slightest bit of preparation goes a long way. As Ben Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Before heading home at the end of the day, take a look at your calendar and jot down some notes or at least mentally prepare yourself for the following day(s). Nothing worse than showing up to work and having a meeting that you forgot about.
6. Set Goals, Mini Goals
From the time we’re kids we’re told to set goals. But goals are worthless if they’re not reasonable. Set mini, realistic goals for your day. For example, when I have five custom proposals to create in addition to regular email and phone calls, writing down “Create five new proposals,” is overwhelming. But if I write down, “send proposals to XX and YY before lunch,” I suddenly have a reasonable goal that I’m motivated to get done. Plus, when you’ve achieved that day’s goals you know you can head home satisfied with your day’s work.
7. Eat the Frog
Mark Twain famously said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Apply this mentality to your to-do list. Get your most unpleasant task out of the way first and your day will only get better from there.
Hopefully one or two of these suggestions help make your professional life a little less stressful. And less stress is important important. According to Harvard researcher and New York Times best selling author, Shawn Achor, a positive mindset is the biggest factor in professional success. Achor says 75 percent of our professional success is predicated not by intelligence, but by our optimism, social support network and the ability to manage energy and stress in a positive way.
Something to consider next time you’re ready to freak out.
In an earlier blog I recommended David Meerman Scott’s book, “The New Rules of Sales and Service” and explained how it advocates selling through storytelling.
Many marketers already know this, but they’re making one critical mistake. They think they can tell their story and reach potential buyers on their own. It’s a comment we hear occasionally: “Why would I advertise? We have an email list of customers, a website with great information and a social media following to blast our message to.”
Nothing wrong with that.
But what about those buyers out there who don’t know you? The buyers who aren’t on your email list, visiting your website or following you on social media? I hate to break it to you, but there are tons of them out there! And many of them are turning to their industry’s trade publications to guide them through buying decisions.
But rather than take my word for it, here is some powerful data to consider:
In an independent study, media consulting firm Martin Akel & Associates surveyed business professionals across 27 different industries, including marketing, manufacturing and retailing.
A few facts from the study that lend credence to the power of trade media:
As I said in my last blog, it’s crucial to be telling your brand’s story and giving potential buyers information. But you can’t go it alone. Trade media is a great way to continue to tell your company’s story and expose that story to thousands of new prospects — prospects with real buying power.