Although innovation is important, consistency is critical when you market a dock hardware business. In this industry, the application of fundamental marketing tactics is more valuable than promotional fads and gimmicks.
So what separates the best dock hardware businesses from average companies? Surprisingly, the ability to create clear brand messages often outweighs product quality and other considerations.
Some marketing initiatives lend themselves to simple measurement while others are more challenging. Direct mail can be evaluated by tallying the cost of inputs (e.g. a premium mailing list, printing, postage, etc.) and measuring the number of customer responses you receive from the campaign. The difficulty comes when you are tasked with quantifying market presence and brand influence. To gauge brand reputation and presence, many dock hardware businesses turn to media monitoring. Even more importantly, media monitoring can alert you to negative commentary early, giving you the opportunity to counter negative mentions with more accurate and more positive messaging.
Like many businesses, dock hardware businesses frequently sell specific products at ridiculously low margins to boost traffic and new customer acquisition. Moreover, a loss leader marketing strategy can compensate for dead periods when customers tend to making purchases. But to be effective, loss leader marketing requires planning, especially in product selection and price points. For dock hardware businesses, the real benefits of loss leaders emerge through the careful marketing of other products, usually offered at a much higher margin. Whenever possible, piggyback a loss leader approach with the purchase of bulk merchandise that can be bought at a discount.
Lone rangers don't survive long in a dock hardware business. Most leaders are oblivious to the fact that the marketplace shows no favoritism - for every marketing challenge your business faces, there are hundreds of other businesses and leaders struggling to solve the same problem. Even though trade journals have value, we've found that the best insights are often gained through face-to-face contact with industry insiders.
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