Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Floor Covering's New World Order Online

Christine B. Whittemore
How relevant do you consider the web to you and the floor covering industry? I consider it significant. I believe that access to information online is paving the way to a new world order. In case you haven't yet had an epiphany similar to David Wootton's in Flooring and the Internet - Now I’m a Believer,  I'd like to put this new world order into consumer and business context and get your reactions.

When you're in the market for a product or service, how do you go about getting information before purchasing? Do you get into your car and drive around? Or do you sit down in front of your computer and type in Internet search terms in an online search engine such as Google, Yahoo! or Bing?

I start online. Even if I plan on driving around, I'll start at the computer to double-check locations, hours of operations, availability of parking [or access to public transportation] and to confirm product selection. Even for flooring.

The more complex the purchase, the more online research I do, and the more I prefer to do that research on my time, my terms, without being hounded by someone who doesn't have my interests at heart. I distrust hard sells and marketing pitches that are too biaised. I seek out reviews and perspectives from peer customers.  I follow people [virtually] whose perspectives I respect and I value corporate web sites only if they offer me relevant information and particularly if they act/feel as if real human beings are behind the site. [Note: I have been exploring how well retailers integrate their in-store and online retail experiences in a series of posts on Flooring The Consumer. You might check out Levi's and Lululemon athletica's retail experiences.]

Our floor covering customers are no different. They go online looking for information relating to their purchase and for confirmation that we might be trustworthy resources with whom to do business. [Yes, trust is a big deal! See Digital Visibility: The Reason Behind Content Marketing.]

That means that you had better be taking ownership of your online profiles and ensuring that both you and your company have a complete and up-to-date LinkedIn profile! [See Introduction to LinkedIn and Advanced LinkedIn for more information.]

Here's what I find so fascinating about the new world order.  It results from online technology - easy-to-use technology that enables search, engagement, conversation, interaction and community-creation. It's a democratic tool breaking down geographic, educational, cultural and personal boundaries. It's increasingly becoming mobile, too!  It allows like-minded individuals to connect and share information. It facilitates crowd-sourcing, co-creation, unexpected problem-solving and amazing cooperation.  It  allows corporations to engage in conversations with customers, employees and those passionate about your brand, product, company and industry, while establishing trust and credibility. Imagine the benefit for a high-involvement, complex product such as flooring!

The other fascinating aspect is that those taking part - in blogs, LinkedIn, photo-sharing, online reviews, Facebook, help boards - are no longer at the fringe. They are you and me! Entrepreneurs, corporate business people, retirees, school teachers, parents, grandparents, operators, etc...  Men and women. Our core floor covering consumers, too, many of whom spend a significant portion of time on sites such as Facebook exchanging life stories and brand perspectives.

Do you still think that floor covering's new world order isn't significant?

By the way, did you know that the Floor Covering Institute has a Facebook Fan Page? So does my company, Simple Marketing Now. Come visit and be sure to LIKE us!

~ Christine

Christine B. Whittemore
Chief Simplifier
Simple Marketing Now

2 comments:

  1. We have been seeing more & more customers finding us online. That's where they are starting their research. Many will contact us for appointments or sometimes just to ask a question about a product or a blog post they wrote.

    Debbie Gartner
    Owner of Floor Coverings International in Westchester NY

    ReplyDelete
  2. Debbie,

    How fascinating, although I'm not surprised. I expect that you will see the trend accelerating.

    What are you noticing from a mobile perspective?

    Thanks for adding to this conversation.

    All the best to you for the Holidays and 2011!

    Best,
    CB

    ReplyDelete