Over the last two decades, marketing in the outdoor living industry has shifted from generating brand-product awareness to consultative selling, which requires an enterily different approach. To start, a lead magnet should be one of the most essential tools in your marketing toolbox today.
From Investopedia: "A lead magnet is a marketing term for a free item or service that is given away for the purpose of gathering contact details..."
This article explains how this became a trend and gives some examples and inspiration for marketing of dealers & suppliers of sheds, sunrooms, patios, sunscreens, pergolas, and other outdoor structure.
What marketing for outdoor structures looked like before 2000
Up to 2000 the majority of your marketing budget was spent on getting your name out there.
If a prospect knew you could deliver what he needed, he would ask for a quote and potentially some references. Some consumers would go through the trouble of getting several quotes from different suppliers, but some didn't even bother. Once you acquired your lead, most of your marketing work was done.
What marketing for outdoor structures looks like today
Over the last decades, the internet changed how marketing works in the outdoor living industry, in 3 major areas:
1. The consumer "googles" the product
Back in the days, getting more information about a product was a slow and costly process: you had to visit showrooms, ask for a paper folder by mailing back and forward, have phone calls, meet up with sales guys, visit specific events, ... And trust the people who gave you the information.
Now, the consumer can find and validate all the information he needs at the click of a button. Due to the internet, he can validate this information by checking your peers for comparable products or services.
2. The consumer "googles" your brand
Online reputation is a game changer. Before the internet, the potential impact of an unhappy customer was small; he could tell friends and family, but that's about it. It would take some extreme persistence for a customer to have a huge impact on your brand reputation.
Today, the internet allows the customer to spread his frustrations online at the click of a button, so he could potentially hurt your brand big-time in a few minutes; especially if he has a big online reach.
And, as most of the online presence is persisted over time, a negative review might impact you for a very, very long time.
- "Trust comes on foot, but leaves on horseback." - Dutch proverb
3. The consumer wants to be involved in the product choice
Back in the days, a salesman would suggest you to pick a certain type of product or service, and you had to take his word for it. You could of course validate this with some of his peers, but that required a lot of effort.
Today the consumer wants to make his own decisions based on the options your provide.
If people find the information they need on your website or social media, that gives you a huge advantage. Word of mouth is a great lead magnet, but if you want to extend your reach you need a proper online presence to inform the consumer.
The shift to consultative selling in outdoor living marketing
As the customer behavior has changed, your marketing also needs a different approach. The internet has caused outdoor living marketing to shift from traditional sales to consultative selling. The following table highlights the differences:
Using a standard sales pitch
Dialog with the prospect
Thinking about the impact of this, results in a very clear insight: the better you can inform your prospect (via online channels), the more likely he is to buy from you.
In today's world, just having a regular website with some contact data and a few pages about your product is not enough; typically you need to provide more ways to inform and guide your customer. Most of the marketeers call these tools or assets lead magnets.
Well known lead magnets in marketing
Lead magnets are available in all marketing industries; some examples of lead magnets are:
Whitepapers & E-books
Checklists or todo-lists
Calculators & (3D) product configurators
Templates ( texts, sheets, presentations, ...)
Podcasts & vlogs
Viral videos or pictures
All of these lead magnets have the same features:
They attract your prospect
They engage (with) your prospect
They inform your prospect
They bind your prospect to your brand
Your prospect might talk to others about it
Below is a great example of a viral video that took a company from zero to 12.000 new subscribers in 48 hours: dollarshaveclub.com
Example lead magnets in outdoor living
There are a lot of lead magnet examples in outdoor living, so I picked 3 that I like.
1. Home Depot project calculators
These allow you to calculate your exact costs for a certain project, for tiling, kitchen countertops, air-conditioning, insulation, ... You name it, they've got it.
2. The Brustor Sun Protection Configurator
Disclaimer: this lead magnet is using our 3D product configurator platform, so we are biased on this one.
This configurator allows prospects to configure their own sun protection and visualize it on a photo they took from their yard or house. It generates thousands of leads per month.
3. The Knauf U-value insulation calculator
This tool allows you to calculate the U-value (insulation value) of their products, suitable for different use cases: roofs, walls and floors.
I'm sure that you can find many more great examples; feel free to leave some in the comments!
Outdoor living marketing has shifted in ways we could not have imagined in the year 2000. The trend has changed, and is here to stay. Think about ways you can provide value to your potential customer by using checklists, templates, ... or whatever lead magnet you can think about.
Oh, and if you are considering a 3D configurator, feel free to reach out to us!