Book Review: Marpeting From January 2012
There’s no shortage of books to help in the selling process, but what distinguishes Marpeting— Advertising and Marketing for Carpeting & Flooring is both the depth of information and how it is laid out. The book covers everything from psychological principles behind how consumers think to the nuts and bolts of creating a successful advertising strategy, and the information
comes in a format that urges a total immersion in the topic but allows for a piecemeal approach as well. It’s also written specifically for the flooring industry.
Marpeting was written by Drew Eric Whitman and Stefan Hoher. Whitman, a marketing expert and consultant, has been teaching the psychology of the consumer for 28 years. Hoher started off in the newspaper business in Germany, then opened an advertising agency, and now works as director of marketing technology for Shaw’s Tuftex division. The subtitle of the book is How Tuftex Dealers Can Use Over 100 Secrets of Madison Avenue Psychology to Stand Out, Attract More Customers & Sell More Carpet & Flooring, though the lessons apply equally to all floorcoverings.
Broadly speaking, the book is broken up into three sections—one that discusses the psychology of the consumer, another that shows how to translate that psychological roadmap into specific selling tools and techniques, and a final section that offers a methodical step-by-step approach to building a successful “marpeting” and “e-marpeting” plan. Whitman wrote the first two sections and Hoher put together the third.
Whitman starts off with an introduction into the key thoughts on consumers’ minds, including the “Life Force 8” (LF8) and the Secondary 9. LF8, the “desires that are ‘biologically programmed’ in each of us,” include a range of key biological imperatives, like survival and the enjoyment of life, freedom from fear, pain and danger, social approval, care and protection of loved ones, and comfortable living conditions. The Secondary 9 covers learned desires, like cleanliness, convenience, dependability, curiosity, bargains and expressions of beauty and style.
Whitman is an advocate of teaching from the inside out, creating a framework of knowledge and understanding upon which to build all of the techniques and strategies for effectively marketing and advertising. His “17 Irresistible Principles of Consumer Psychology” lays the foundation for how to channel people’s desires.
The first principle, for instance, is Fear Creation and Alleviation—Ease their minds and sell more carpet, and it includes four steps to fear formation. Other principles include: Tapping the Ego—What does their carpet say about them?, Restructure Their Beliefs—How to change their reality (including a section called The Kung Fu Concession), Cialdini’s Keys to Influence—Six shortcuts to the sale, The Psychology of Tag Questions (Aren’t you glad you use Dial? What would you do for a Klondike Bar?), and Providing Evidence—Satisfying your customer’s logical mind.
The final principle—Heuristics: Serving billions of lazy brains daily—relates to how knowledge is acquired and how to take advantage of that process. For instance, Whitman tells us that, “if we’re exposed to the right type of information, our ‘mental trains’ will stay on their peripheral processing tracks and pull into the station fully prepared to make a decision in seconds or minutes instead of hours, days, or longer.”
The biggest chunk of the book is developed to Whitman’s Madison Avenue advertising secrets, 41 proven techniques for “attracting more customers and selling more flooring,” and it’s clear how the psychological principles inform this section—the very first secret discusses how to profit from the “Human Lazy Factor.”
The advertising secrets go from the practical to the profound, from how to construct sentences, use personal pronouns and choose fonts to the psychology of human inertia and creating “neurological ‘open loops’ that engage readers’ brains.” Tips also include the psychology of visualization, engaging consumers’ brains by involving all their senses, the psychology of size, page and section, and how to structure guarantees that automatically increase sales and reverse risk.
The way the book is designed allows readers to decide whether they want to learn the topic from the inside out or go straight to the advertising techniques, tips and checklists or to Hoher’s “E-Marpeting” section.
Bob Hill, president of Illinois’ Floor Covering Associates, skipped right over to “E-Marpeting,” because that’s what his team is currently trying to figure out—how to develop a more effective Internet strategy and improve their Internet presence. Hill said, “I think it’s great to have a ‘how to’ book that is focused on our industry rather than being generic like most ‘how to’ books.”
Sandwiched between Whitman’s advertising techniques and Hoher’s marketing tools are two short sections that each pack a punch. Section 4 is an ad critique clinic that dissects five print ads, clearly explaining what is wrong with every element of these ads that, at first glance, might have seemed okay. Section 5 offers 101 tips to boost ad response, including a handy 46 point “Killer Ad” checklist that may well be the most valuable item in the entire book, since it basically guides the creation of effective ads.
Stefan Hoher’s section on How to Create A Powerful Marpeting Plan & Successful E-Marpeting quickly gets down to the practical issues involved in marketing, first covering the importance of generating a marketing plan.
Hoher devotes several pages to marketing on the web, covering what flooring retailers’ websites should do, along with search engine optimization, pay-per-click and how to set up a Google AdWords account to help drive traffic to websites. Hoher walks readers through the creation of online ads, then discusses Google Analytics as a way of tracking and analyzing traffic to the website.
While Hoher does not feel that social media is as critical as some others claim it to be, he does caution retailers to make sure they understand how, what and when to communicate. “I would suggest you get started but don’t expect Social Media to solve your marketing problems.” (For more on how to approach social media, check out Jay Flynn’s Digital Evolution on page 62 of the January 2012 issue of Floor Focus.)
Hoher emphasizes the importance of review websites like Yelp.com, CitySearch.com and Google Places, where starred reviews serve as a powerful way of guiding consumers, and he also discusses how to respond to positive and negative reviews.
Whitman and Hoher’s Marpeting has no shortage of good tools and tips on how to boost traffic and sales, and retailers will no doubt be able to glean useful ideas within minutes. However, the well organized presentation of the psychological underpinnings of the consumer process and how it manifests in marketing and advertising provides an opportunity for readers to truly understand how the whole system works, and in the end that understanding may prove to be the biggest tool of all.
Copyright 2012 Floor Focus