Countertops Magazine Archive

5 Ways to Leverage Technology to Outsmart Your Competition and Increase Profits

Back in the 90s things were much simpler than they are today. It was the golden era of Michael Jordan, Seinfeld and the George Foreman Grill. Pay phones and paper maps were still in wide use, and free AOL discs were one of many tangible items keeping the U.S. Postal Service alive and well.

If you were in business in the 90s, you remember how expensive marketing was. Yellow pages, direct mail, billboards and newspaper ads all made up your marketing budget, and they cost a pretty penny. More people responded to these types of ads back then. Marketing was simpler. The more you spent, the more business you would get.

Today, sales and marketing is anything but simplistic. There is so much to be up to speed on: social media, customer relationship management, web analytics, marketing automation, enterprise resource management, and the list goes on. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you understand that it is all a matter of leverage.

A few decades ago, the business with the deeper pockets had the advantage. They could hire the best sales reps, pay for the biggest advertisements and afford the best equipment. If you wanted to dominate your market, you didn’t have to be savvy; you just had to have cash.

Because of advancing technology, these days it is hard to stay up to speed on everything that is available to you and your business. There are so many software services, marketing technologies and website advancements, and they are developing at faster and faster rates.

Today, it is extremely difficult to know how and what to leverage to impact your bottom line. Because of this, in this decade the advantage now lies in having the ability to implement marketing efficiencies and insights that win you more business. These are things your competitors are not doing. If you are a David and you are fighting a Goliath, you win by being savvy.

So what technologies do you need to know and leverage to impact your bottom line in 2014? Here are the top five and how to out-savvy your competitors:

1. Social Media
Many countertop businesses use social media. It is very trendy, and not having a Facebook page or Twitter account is almost sinful nowadays. There is a lot you can use to your advantage in social media. Pictures of finished kitchens and baths, before and after images and remodeling tips all make for great content on social media.

To leverage social media for your business you need two things: systems and strategy.

Strategy in social media is essential. Without it you will not positively impact your sales or bottom line. There are many objectives to achieve with social media. Be sure your strategy is focused on increasing revenue to your business.

To increase revenue via social media, the key is to build a large fan base and turn these fans into leads.  Doing this, however, can be trickier than it sounds.

What works the best with homeowners is having an existing relationship where they are liking, commenting and sharing your content. You then want to provide them with an incentivizing offer such as an exclusive discount, interesting report or free download. You can also have contests and offer incentives for customer referrals.

Your fans should be incentivized to either give you business or give you their email address so that you can have a method of following up with that prospect.

Having systems for your social media efforts is equally as important. You want to have systems for your social media engagement, management, tracking and follow up. This will ensure that your efforts are efficient and, more importantly, consistent.

Social media management software is a great tool to help with systemization. Services such as Hootsuite™ enable you to schedule posts, manage multiple social networks, track engagement and share responsibilities with multiple employees.

Social media can be a great source of revenue for you. Be intentional in your strategy and use systems to help with consistency and efficiency.

 2. Marketing Analytics
Become savvy in marketing analytics and you will have your own gold mine. As the old management adage states, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” So, measure everything.

First, every website should have Google Analytics installed. It is free online service that will tell you where your visitors are coming from and their behavior on the website.

With Google Analytics, you could learn, possibly, that most visitors who request a consultation on your website come from search engines. You will then know to invest more in getting traffic from search engines. Website analytics will provide these statistics to you and more.

Technology has advanced to a point where you can track almost any marketing campaign. If you are spending money on advertising you need to be able to effectively track your return on investment.

In the countertop industry, call tracking software is a great way to do this. It enables you to assign unique phone numbers for each online lead source, such as your own website or an ad on another website or a search engine ad. When the person calls, you know exactly where they came from, whether or not they turn into a sale, and how much it costs to acquire them.

With call tracking you can also assign unique phone numbers for different offline campaigns. For example, if you send out a direct mail piece, use a unique phone number to measure the number of responses you receive and the cost to acquire each customer. Everything will be tracked by that unique phone number.

With this data you can determine if your campaign was a success. You are in a powerful position if you know that you can spend $2,000 on a direct mail campaign and generate $20,000 in new business.

This kind of insight can help you grow your business many times over. The first step is collecting the data. The second and most important step is using this data to help with key business decisions.

3. Marketing Automation
One of the greatest technologies to leverage in your business is marketing automation. At its basic level, marketing automation helps you convert prospects into sales-ready leads while on auto-pilot.

This is done by sending a series of email messages that are delivered to prospects in a specific sequence to help guide them through the process of deciding to choose you for their countertops.

To be highly effective, you will want to have unique messages being sent to unique prospect groups based on certain criteria. For example, you can send specific messaging to homeowner prospects and completely different messaging to building permit holders. Everything is automated and timed out to their sales cycle.

Once you have a prospect and you have gently guided them to being a sales-ready lead, you can then leverage job management software such as Moraware to schedule follow up calls with your salespeople to close the sale.

The best part about marketing automation is that it is hands-free. With it, you have a system in place that is following up with prospects and guiding them through the sales process, and all of it is done automatically.

4. Audience Profiling
The more you know about your target audience, the more effective you will be at marketing to them and knowing their hot buttons when selling.

Audience profiling goes beyond demographics and can tell you what your customers like and dislike, if they prefer Twitter to Facebook, what TV shows they watch, which radio stations they listen to, their religious beliefs and much, much more.

Two of the most respected data sources for audience profiling are Synergos Technologies and MediaMark Research & Intelligence. These can be used to both profile customers and predict buying behavior.

The benefits of this information are that you will have a greater knowledge of your customer base, know how and where to reach prospects and be able to refine your marketing and promotion campaigns for greater response rates.

5. Advanced Targeting
If you are savvy at advanced targeting you will have a unique advantage over your competitors.

Audience profiling provides incredible benefits because you will learn where your customers are and how to most effectively reach them. With advanced targeting, you will be able to run successful marketing campaigns across social media, Google, YouTube and more. Reach your customers where your competitors don’t even know to look.

One of the most effective advanced targeting methods is on mobile devices. It is predicted that Google searches on mobile devices will overtake those on desktop computers by 2015. If your advertising efforts are not currently directed to mobile phones, it will be better to start sooner rather than later.

Some mobile targeting sources to consider are apps such as Pandora and TripAdvisor. Also, it is very easy to tailor ad campaigns to mobile devices on Google AdWords. Within their interface you are able to create mobile specific ads and extensions for phone calls. Google also gives you the ability to control your costs for ads specific to mobile users.

Retargeting is another form of advanced targeting that you can do within Google. Microsoft and Facebook have retargeting capabilities as well. A retargeting campaign shows ads to individual people based on a behavior online such as visiting a website. For example, if someone comes to your website, you can then target them across the internet with a special incentive or offer.

Video ads and advertising on YouTube is another advanced targeting strategy that very few stone businesses are using today. Consider developing video promotions or commercials and running them on YouTube for much less than the cost to run on traditional television networks. YouTube also allows you to target specific user profiles or keywords. To learn more about advertising on YouTube visit

With a little effort and guidance you can easily become a tech savvy marketer and outsmart your competition to win more business. Leverage the right technologies and efficiencies so you can make more profits this year. Then you can party like it’s 1999.

About the Author

Aileen Davis is the president of Stone Marketing Systems (SMS). SMS is dedicated exclusively to helping Stone businesses increase their profits through innovative sales and marketing strategies. To join Davis’ free e-newsletter or schedule a complimentary 30-minute marketing tune up session, go to or call (888) 813-9658.