Residential Lighting: What's your take on retailing today?
Rick Segel: I think independents have the greatest opportunity ever in the history of retailing. There are more no-cost and low-cost marketing tools available today that didn’t even exist a few years ago. When I was judging the Showroom of the Year competition, it was amazing how showrooms under $2 million (in sales) had online presences far superior to showrooms above $5 million.
RL: You’re talking about websites?
RS: Yes. Years ago you'd get a recommendation from someone, “Oh, I went there. It was a great store.” But today people use Google. They judge stores from what they see online. Websites are your front door — and side door, back door, middle door, top door, bottom door as people search online using certain terms. Wherever those terms appear on your website is where they go. They often end up on blogs and then click through to the website. Blogs are important because they can hold all these terms, which becomes your "DNA" — the words people use in Google searches.
RL: But aren't blogs high maintenance?
RS: Sure. But, here's a site that you'll think is too good to be true — fiverr.com. People do things for $5. I have a blog post that goes out every week. I pay someone to do the research and post it. She charges me $5 a day. So for $25, I have up-to-date stuff.
RL: What other ideas can help our digital marketing?
RS: One of the best resources is Hubspot. For the Showroom competition, I graded everybody’s website through their marketing grader, which reveals weaknesses and how to correct them. This is the concept of inbound marketing, people searching for you as opposed to you banging a drum and saying, “Come, see me.”
One of the biggest things is the landing page. If you do a specific type of lighting, you want a landing page that talks about it. The biggest mistake some people make is creating all these separate websites. That doesn’t make sense, not to mention that they should be buying every related domain name possible and link them to their site.
RL: Any ideas for the physical showroom?
RS: The greatest retailer of all time is Apple. Just 11 years ago they opened a retail store and broke every sales number of the best retailers in history. They built their business on the Genius Bar and on classes. They made the store look busy. They created a buying frenzy.
You can’t wait for word-of-mouth advertising to work anymore. So, have events such as, “How to Make Your Living Room Pop” or “The Ten Secrets from the Best Interior Designers in Denver.” In a tough real estate market, how do you sell a house? By enhancing it with lighting. How do you enhance architectural lighting? With outside lighting. There should be a class at least once a month. Bring people to the showroom. Create "return-ability."
RL: How can we improve our selling?
RS: Four magic words: “Did you see this?” When someone comes in the showroom, point to something and say, “Did you see this?” It’s the power of focus. The customer is buying one thing, and you say, “Oh, did you see this?” You show them something that will either go along with what they are buying, or something totally unrelated.
Then, to close the sale, you keep saying, “Did you see this?” until they say, “I’ve bought enough.” It’s a nice opening, a simple transition to a multiple sale and a nice way of closing the sale, and the customer is in complete control at all times. When I mention this in my seminars, half the people look at me like I’ve got four heads. Usually, those will be the people that write and say, “I can’t believe how silly this thing is and how effective it is.” I have about five boxes of such letters.