Most building product manufacturers, who sell into the home improvement market, are missing a of lot sales. They focus on those homeowners who are most likely to take on a project and ignore the larger opportunity of attracting new customers.
The basics of marketing teach us to focus our efforts on those most likely to be a customer. The problem is when we take this too far. It’s like we are continually distilling the market to a smaller and smaller group of potential customers. Taken to its conclusion we end up with a market so small that it’s no longer viable.
The other problem with this strategy of focus is that we focus too much on our direct competitors rather than enlarging the pool of potential customers. We worry more about loosing a sale to a competitor than growing the overall market for our product.
If you sell to a big box like Home Depot or Lowe’s or a dealer, you don’t help them by simply switching a customer to your brand. You help them by growing the category. While the strategy of growing the category usually benefits the market share leader, this is also an opportunity for the smaller brand. The opportunity for the smaller brand is to act like the leader because so many leaders don’t lead.
What prompted my thinking about this was an article in the New York Times about tiling a bathroom floor. The normal approach would be to reach potential customers through places where they are, like big boxes and home improvement media.
The New York Times article reaches a much wider group of potential customers. It reaches people who:
1. Have never done a DIY project, which enlarges the market
2. Inspires people to remodel a bathroom whether or not they do it themselves.
3. Also reaches those people who are already in the DIY market.
Some inexpensive tactics to expand the category are social media where I see some smart building product companies promoting the project and not just their product or brand. Public relations like the New York Times story are also a great tool.
I am not talking about shifting the bulk of your efforts to enlarging the market. I am only suggesting that you not ignore this opportunity. If you decide to do it, it doesn’t take a lot of money. It mainly takes a change in attitude. Stop focusing on beating your competition, think bigger and act like the leader.
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