Crunch Time

Dan Minor

The Catalyst for Change is HERE

March 25, 2013

The most quoted line that I have heard for the last six years is that, "we can't wait for things to turn around!" This is referring to the magic day when people start buying product again like they used to. I am hopeful for that day also, and want it to come to pass. In the meantime, retailers and manufacturers alike have been searching on their own for that silver bullet or catalyst to jump-start things. Both retailers and manufacturers have tried to discount their way to create that catalyst, and in the end with that method, no one wins. If you're reading this, you're looking at that catalyst for change right now.

The lifeblood of our industry is the end consumer. Unless you communicate with HER, you will not see increases in your business. However, that is easier said than done! She shops online with her laptop, her iPad or her smart phone. If she can find what she wants online, and decides that she likes it enough to see it in person, only then will she take the time out of her very busy schedule to go to the store. Another thing: most consumers between the ages of 25-50 have no idea where to get their furniture, and never give the local retailer a second thought, because they probably have no idea you exist.

Manufacturers face a more difficult problem with the fact that out of the thousands of different brands out there, only a very small handful of them have name recognition outside the furniture industry. So retailers have lost their notoriety within the marketplace since the shift online by shoppers, and the average customer doesn't know manufacturer brands.

What's the catalyst? You must be online in a big way to get your message to her where she shops.

Content drives where you stand with search results, so the more you have, the higher the likelihood you will be seen. Creating content through blogs, recommendations, testimonials, product descriptions and company history helps, although one company will have a hard time creating enough content to be very relevant online. You need third party help - sites that bring your content together with theirs in a rapidly growing, constantly updated marketplace.

You should be asking yourself the following questions. What is your Internet strategy? How much are you spending to get your message out? Digital advertising is very inexpensive in comparison to traditional media, so have you looked into focusing your dollars there? How much time is spent developing your sites? Who is your Internet partner(s)? What are they doing to spread your message? If you do not have the answers to these questions, you are behind, but you have time. Work on it, make it important, and watch for "things to turn around"! They will, if you invoke the value of going online as your company's catalyst for change.