This week, my installer was at our house changing out a wireless video device that’d seen better days. Ah, the joys of custom install, right? Anyway, talk began of getting new clients. As I listened to his stories, it hit me that as an industry, sometimes we stick with the same old songs because they’re familiar and we know all the words: word of mouth, yard signs, truck wraps and a dicey dabble in ads or an open house once a year. But have we really tried a new tune? Maybe now’s the time to be the champion of change in your market and take it. With that, I’ll share some secrets to secure the lead on the locals.
1) Win Over the Woman of the House
I’m a woman, so I can say it. This is THE prime audience that craves a better, easier, more convenient life. It’s the ideal group to win over to get new customers. Host a ladies tech night! Invite current female clients to bring their friends in for wine, appetizers and interactive fun around the latest technologies that appeal to women: security, lighting, and pass around the mobile phone so they see how they can turn everything on in the home as they drive up. You can even host it at a key client’s home who’s thrilled with what your company’s done.
Give tech prizes or gift cards from a local spa that would be glad to partner. For every friend your current clients bring, give an entry for a big prize—a flat screen or $300 off a system upgrade. This not only brings in new clients, but furthers relationships with the women in the homes you currently service.
2) Cross-Market with High-End Car Dealers
Yes, some of our dealers are having great success by cross marketing with local high-end car dealerships. Hmm, bored high-income customers waiting for their cars to be serviced with nothing to do as they stare at poorly painted walls with a Porsche poster and money burning holes in their pockets? No, it can’t be. All stars aligned!
Sling your best-looking brochures on their tables, a video in the lounge that shows off killer home technologies and your company as the specialist starring role—it all plays. Take a non-aggressive approach. This crowd is tired of being pitched. Trapped audience alert! As they tap their fingers on their phones and count the minutes, show off cool things they could be doing—like checking to see they shut the garage when they left to service the car. Add your company info and a call to action. Give a free XYZ for an in-home or live demo.
3) Buddy Up to a Builder
Not a nifty new idea, however, we’ve discovered dealers thriving with this. I personally spoke with a builder and dealer who’ve teamed up. The CE dealer is positioned as one of the builder’s “partners of choice.” Whenever this builder specs a new home or a major remodel, at the right time, their software notifies the CE dealer to arrange an AV and automation demo and bid. This dealer focuses on what I call the “FAST WOW factor.” This hits them with three key things they can do then good, better, best options. In cases where the dealer senses the client isn’t sold on an integrated system, he doesn’t sing the blues. Rather, he stresses the importance of installing proper home wiring now. And, costs incurred down the road will be much higher and more disruptive to the family. (Also works with architects and designers.)
4) Converse with Commercial Decision Makers
Commercial account decision makers can deliver major new clients and projects. Sometimes winning just one of these folks can take your band to rock star status. Become good friends and prod them to add a little “tech” to their own homes—for example, a remote, a mobile app, and a central controller. Throw in the app for “free.” These folks can be an important gateway to growth and new clients. Get to know them.
5) Grow Your List and Fans
Knowledge is powerful. We all know newsletters are a strong source of education, new ideas and—you guessed it—new clients. Today, having an e-newsletter and social media isn’t a question of if you have it, but it’s a question of who’s on the list, how you’re growing it and supplying regular, invaluable content. URC provides fantastic content in our Consumer e-pub you can repurpose. Check. You’ve got some great clients on your list. Check. How are you adding fresh ones who can translate to new clients? Well, “check” this too.
Offer current clients something for forwarding your newsletter to 10 high-prospect friends, or ask their best Facebook friends to like your page. Have them post a positive testimonial for entry into a random drawing. The more folks you can communicate with translates to more potential clients getting your new ideas, offers, and exciting product news.
6) Get Ready to Dazzle Them
Our feet on the street have witnessed more traditional tech nights or open houses transformed into a bigger scope where a dealer invites all their top customers in for an evening wine-and-dine adventure. This group mixes and mingles, and is comfortable interacting on a deeper level. If she says yes, he breaks out the credit card. If she doesn’t have a he, well then she breaks it out. In Dallas, there’s a dealer who’s got a supper club of key clients who periodically bring new friends to the group. Amidst entertaining is discussion of the latest technology trends.
7) Remember the Classics
At the end of the day, many of the classics still work. Keep the best golden oldies on the playlist while you test a new “get clients” melody. Education and making consumers happy are still the driving factors. When you do a great job, people talk. When you do a poor job, people talk even more. Remember to track what’s working and not. All the while, keep pleasing those customers you have—extraordinary service always brings more to the table.
Cat Toomey is URC’s director of marketing.