CORE Brands Outlines 2013 Marketing Initiatives
Paul Starkey, chief marketing officer for CORE Brands, plans to hold eight to 10 town hall events across the country to outline the company’s new marketing plans.
Chief marketing officer Paul Starkey is roaming the country conducting a series of town hall meetings with integrators to outline “how CORE Brands is working for you,” he told about 30 CE pros gathered in Framingham, Mass.
“I’ve witnessed a remarkable thing in marketing over the past five years. Dealers are now willing to take on a recognized brand even if it means they have to sacrifice margin, exclusivity and even some product quality,” he says. “The days of being an engineering and manufacturing-based company are over. CORE Brands is going to be consumer oriented. It’s the new way to do business.”
CORE Brands, which consists of Aton, BlueBOLT, Furman, Panamax, Proficient, SpeakerCraft, Xantech, Sunfire, Elan and Niles, has 3,000 products in 17 categories. About two-thirds of the brands’ revenues are derived from audio, with control/home automation and power protection/management being the other two primary revenue categories. Starkey expects the number of SKUs to be reduced in the future, but says the 17 categories is “the right number.”
Among the expectations Starkey says dealers want from their suppliers these days are brands that are:
- Recognized by consumers
- Have their minimum advertised prices protected on the Internet
- Make it easy to do business with in terms of ordering, credit and access
Among the company’s plans to be instituted in 2013 are:
Websites: CORE Brands will revamp the websites for each brand to make them more “consumer-facing” in an effort to act as a lead-generation mechanism for dealers. Currently, the group has 13 websites that will be optimized with content and video for search engines and include dealer locators to feed leads to integrators. CORE Brands will also be working with SEO expert Netsertive to drive regional leads to dealers from other websites.
Cross-brand Incentives/Rebates: Dealers will be encouraged to use multiple brands, earning rebates and discounts based on volume. Indeed, attendees at the Framingham town hall that are Niles dealers each received a 20 percent discount on their first order for SpeakerCraft, and vice versa. There will also be a simplified price sheet for dealers reflecting their pricing and shipping costs across all 10 brands.
Dealer Portal: The CORE Brands site will be the primary B2B portal for dealers with 24/7 ordering, simple electronic approval system, education and more. Dealers will be able to track open orders, purchasing history, credit and the status of their incentive rebates. The portal will also include video-based training.
Builder Program: With housing on the comeback, Starkey says there is no better time to get re-engaged with homebuilders. To that end, CORE Brands will be identifying key builders in various regions of the country and working with them to track their projects and model homes.
Consumer Call Center: Hand in hand with the dealer locator, a consumer call center is in the works. This call center will answer inquiries from consumers that come in via the dealer locator, filter those leads with some questions and then feed the qualified leads to integrators. For now, the program will require dealers to pay to be on the dealer locator and pay for each lead they receive. Nortek has been doing this type of program in the HVAC industry very successfully for three years, notes Starkey.
“By making dealers pay to be in the program, we know they are committed,” he says, noting that currently leads that come to various CORE Brands’ companies are disseminated to multiple integrators. In the new program, the filtering process will identify only one integrator to get the lead based on customer satisfaction, skill level based on what the client is looking for, and other factors.
Specifying Tools: Starkey notes that the sales skill level of many integrators is more important than it was before because there is more competition for fewer jobs. To that end, CORE Brands is developing an iPad-based specifying tools that includes sales “queues” for dealers to help them make salient points during the presentation. It also helps with product maintenance because the specs and pricing for individual products will be automatically updated in the app. The product will be beta tested to see if integrators want and will accept a tool like this.
Client Satisfaction Studies: The company plans to institute direct outreach to end users after an installation. Dealers will be asked to provide the contact information of their clients for this outreach, which is designed for individual CORE Brands’ companies to be able to market new upgrades and products to consumers. The goal will be to spur them to contact their local integrator. Consumers who agree to participate in the outreach will be incentivized with unique benefits that could possibly include lifetime upgrades, special pre-announcement information on products, advanced replacement warranties and extended warranties.
“I want to be the co-owner of that client with you,” says Starkey. “My brands were in 210,000 homes last year, but I don’t have a single address so I can market to that customer and help pave the way for the next upgrade for the integrator.”