Here’s a great marketing opportunity you should not pass up: Enter your showroom in the third annual Supply House Times’ Showroom of the Year Contest. You have three chances to win, depending on the size of your showroom. The winners will be featured in the October 2010 issue of Supply House Times.
Before we discuss the rules and requirements for the contest, let’s talk about what great public relations and marketing can do for your business.
The Power Of Public RelationsWhen I operated my own showroom, I learned very early on that when someone else said something nice about our business, it was a lot more powerful than when we said the same thing. A good friend who owned and operated a successful public relations/advertising business helped design our company logo, letterhead, business cards, etc. She also guided us on where and how to spend our advertising and promotion dollars. (There weren’t many of those dollars in the beginning.) Most importantly, she impressed upon me the incredible power of good public relations. For example, our company could spend a lot of money running an ad in a high-end home magazine and get “X” bang for the buck. But if that same magazine ran a story about a great kitchen or bathroom that we had sold the products for, our “bang” for the dollar was three or four times greater - and it didn’t cost us anything. (Yes, it did cost us some time, energy and creativity to get the story in front of the magazine editor, but the end result was so much better.)
Here are some other things that helped our showroom business:
- We were a member of the local Chamber of Commerce. Each
year they selected a “Small Business Person of the Year” and “Small Business
Person to Watch.” I was honored to win both of these awards at different times.
The chamber hosted an annual awards ceremony attended by several hundred
people, and an article and pictures were published in the newspaper. This put
our company’s name in front of many potential customers.
- Kitchen and Bath Design News magazine did (and
still does) a “Best Kitchen and Bath Showroom” contest. We entered our business
and won the “Best Showroom in the West” award. The magazine did a big article
with several pictures. We notified our local newspaper and television stations
about this and that put more articles and pictures in front of potential customers.
- We were featured in a story on showrooms in Supply House Times, which provided us with another great opportunity to use it locally.
These are just three examples of PR opportunities that we helped make happen. We were pro-active in entering contests and putting stories in front of editors (newspapers, magazines, television and radio). We worked hard to let these people know we were the local kitchen and bath experts, and if they needed stories or information on design, style, color and finish trends we were the source. Certainly not everything we entered or put in front of editors turned into stories - but a lot did!
People like winners. They like doing business with winners - so we weren’t shy about letting folks know we were very good at what we did. If you don’t brag about your business, who will? In public relations you have to make good things happen. It very rarely happens on its own. If you need help, find a PR firm that can guide you.
Supply House Times' Showroom Of The Year ContestSo why should you go to the trouble of entering this year’s Supply House Times’ Showroom of the Year contest?
- If you win or are a runner-up, you can share this
information with your local media and get some great PR.
- You can buy extra copies of the Supply House Times
issue that features your showroom and make sure your current and potential
clients get a copy.
- You will want to frame the article and put it in a prominent place in your showroom so that folks will see that you’re the best of the best in the country.
Remember what I said about people liking winners? You may be a winner now, but when a third party says so, it’s much more credible. Your vendors like winners, too. Who knows, you might be able to earn some extra “perks” from them. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
Preparing your entry will take some extra work and effort. You’ll need pictures. You’ll need to share all that you do that is unique and effective in how you display product, build out your showroom, market your company, train your people, etc. (See all the criteria listed on page 80.)
In 2008, we had about 50 entries for our first Showroom of the Year. The winning companies were: Morrison Supply, Houston, TX; Salon Blue Ridge, Flat Rock, NC (a division of Wilkinson Supply); and Kenny Bath and Kitchen Showroom, Jackson, TN (a division of Kenny Pipe and Supply). Our 2009 winners were: The Fixture Gallery at Consolidated Supply Co., Tigard, OR; Davis & Warshow (58th Street location), New York, NY; and The Showroom by Sierra Plumbing Supply, Grass Valley, CA.
See the extra PR those companies just got? There are 1,000 or so showrooms out there, and many of them are beautifully done. I hope to see more than 100 entries this year. It’ll be a lot more work for the judges, but we’ll be happy to do our job if you’ll do yours!
Visit www.supplyht.com and search for “Showroom of the Year” to read the articles that featured the 2008 and 2009 winners. It’ll give you an idea of what other folks were doing to become winners and you’ll see an example of what you could look forward to this October when we feature the winners.
Get started now. Do a first class job putting your entry together. Don’t be afraid to brag about your business. If you have questions or need some guidance, please feel free to contact me. Good luck!