While the financial and economical world seemed pretty much in turmoil last week (and the end isn't nigh according to many) our own quarterly management report (July-Sept) shows a rather different picture. Not that we aren't affected by the turmoil - we are 13% down compared to last year-to-date results - but Q3 counts for almost half of our total turnover of 2008.
Anyone reading this blog for a longer time knows I'm a 'statistic' freak - if that's the correct word - but if you don't measure you don't know what's working and which famous 50% of your marketing budget brings in the best results.
In our management report we have two separate ways of measuring our results: per source and per client type (some types come with a higher margin than others). The source tells us which marketing pilar is working well and which isn't. And like the last 3 years our website - as source of where a client has heard from us first - brings in over 60% of turnover (in Q3 even a massive 83%). Contrary to last year our DIY-floor client type shows a drop of 62%, but our Supply & Install client type increased with 13%. Percentage wise the 'online client' type (who have never set a foot in our showroom) is an absolute winner: 13300% (yes, that's thirteen thousand three hundred) more than last year-to-date.
That made me dive even deeper into the statistics: 62.5% of the number of online-clients had their first contact with us through one of our AWeber email lists. And we shipped these 'online' ordered materials as far as Portsmouth, North Yorkshire, North Wales, Scotland and funnily enough (back) to The Netherlands.
Last year October my good friend (and accountant and business adviser) Richard C suggested I'd look into this AWeber online email marketing software. He was convinced it would suit our type of marketing (right beside our informative website) rather well. And as so often he was quite right! We had to invent a whole new name for this source of turnover: AWeber clients and I reconfigured our reporting system to show this growing number of clients: differentiating between 'normal' website clients and those clients who first of all requested information from us through one of our AWeber lists. In Q3 our AWeber clients contributed 31% of our turnover, total year-to-date 15%
It definitely shows that "The more you tell, the more you sell" (to please Shuaib) - and that telling the whole story might take a while to bring in the results (AWeber is in place now for a whole year and 'only' now in Q3 our AWeber prospects turn into clients). But bringing in the results it definitely does!
Our statistics show more: our paper ads (yes, we have multiple pilars of marketing in place, of course we have) in 5 regional Village Directories are starting to have a possitive effect too. We've launched this ad campaign in Q2 and focussed on headlines - not selling, but informing and no standard company name banner at the top of the ad - and again since Q3 we see an increase in our turnover from this source. This month - October - we had the opportunity to have an editorial placed in it and we kept to the same principle: The more you tell, the more you sell. The editorial covered how and why natural wooden flooring is the only robust floor covering that becomes more beautiful over time; not the standard who we are, where we are and how good we are.
I've lost count of how many visitors our shop has seen lately who come in carrying one of the five magazines in their hand.
So, are we pleased with the results of 2008 so far? I have to be honest, it is a mixed feeling. Yes and no. Compared to all the stories you hear out and about of falling customer confidence, failing large retailers, failing banks, failing other 'trusted' organisations and increasing unemployement figures; we seem to be doing alright as small and specialised retailer. Compared with last year, where we saw a hefty 66% growth, we know there's a big chance the end result this year comes in even or at lower turnover. But then again, we might surprise ourselves.
One thing is for sure though: info-marketing (new word?) is definitely our way. Even if we still write "double Dutch English" some times. Customers are becoming more cautious before making a buying decision. They keep searching for more and better information. Small businesses who are able to build trust by giving more and better (free) information to prospects will eventually win the sale.
(For those looking for more information on how AWeber can help grow your customer base too, click over to my 1 Plus 1 Makes 3 dymamic website - aka blog - which is regularly updated with hints and tips on using AWeber. I'm also about to announce a complete u-turn on the AWeber Guide and if you don't want to miss out on that, subscribe to the Kiss2 of 1 Plus 1 Makes 3 blog-alerts).