Five marketing lessons learned from nine foggy doors

By Martin R. Baird | September 23, 2004 | Last updated on September 23, 2004
4 min read

(September 2004) Lessons in marketing abound in every aspect of life. I’m living proof that even something as mundane as a door can lead the way to marketing enlightenment.

I recently needed to replace the sliding glass doors in our Annapolis, Md., home because they were fogging up in certain kinds of weather. Who would think there would be marketing lessons hidden in the fact that I didn’t know who had manufactured the doors?

Marketing lesson #1: Make sure that contact information about you is on the materials you send out and that it’s easy to find. Make it easy for your existing clients to know where you are and how to reach you, as well as people they may share your materials with. I had nine sets of sliding doors and not one of them had any manufacturer’s marking, except the name of the glass that was used.

Marketing lesson #2: Be sure to include all your telephone numbers — including a toll-free number — in your marketing materials. What else are your marketing materials for? Another example of contact information not being provided, which has nothing to do with my doors, occurred when we moved to Annapolis from Arizona. I worked with an agent to arrange our homeowner’s and auto insurance. He would not give me his toll-free number. This insurance agent almost lost my business simply because he wanted to save a few dollars on long-distance calls.

Also include e-mail and Web addresses. I would have loved to go to a Web site to learn more about my doors. Alas, I couldn’t.

Marketing lesson #3: Sometimes a person who appears to be a “small” client can really be big business. When I couldn’t find the information I needed on the doors, I made some calls to local window and door shops. No one was interested unless I wanted to replace all the windows and doors in my house. I would think replacing nine sets of sliding glass doors would be a good-sized order for most shops. Make sure you take time with people to understand their real needs. Don’t wave them off after you hear only a few words. You could miss an opportunity to grow your book.

Eventually, someone recommended I call Home Depot and I did, even though I knew that my doors were not on display at that particular retailer. The person there who helped me turned out to be a marketing guru.

First, he said it would be difficult to guess the brand of the doors and determine the company that made them. He could have stopped there and let me go but he didn’t. Without taking another breath, he said, “We have sliders in stock starting at only $329.”

Marketing lesson #4: Look for the opportunity. This was wonderful marketing. The Home Depot employee was turning a bad situation into a good one because he saw an opportunity. It isn’t always easy to find a way to sign up a new client. Sometimes you have to look for the opportunity. And it may mean taking one kind of situation and turning it into another. The client won’t do this for you.

I told the Home Depot guy that I didn’t want low-end doors. He said, “We have Anderson doors from $897 in stock.” I laughed and said that sounded expensive because I had nine sets. He was great yet again. Without a pause, he said, “Get one every other week.” He explained that when he has a big project to do at his home, he breaks it down into little pieces. That helps him get it done.

Marketing lesson #5: Be prepared for the objections and know your products. Knowledge will help you find the answers to your clients’ concerns. The Home Depot employee knew the objections and how to overcome them. He was knowledgeable about his products. He knew how to look for a variety of solutions.

This was one of the best marketing efforts I had encountered in a long time. He wasn’t being pushy. He wanted to make a sale, but more than anything, he was trying to be helpful and he knew how to do it. You market yourself because you want to help people and — of course — make a living at it.

These five lessons from my sliding glass door experience are valuable information that we all can use when it comes to marketing. What you can learn from the Home Depot employee is particularly important. I constantly tell advisors that they must sell solutions, not products. I tell them again and again that potential clients care only about what you can do for them.

So start working on that mindset. And be open to more marketing lessons that are out there in your everyday life — who knows, maybe the next time you need help with a home project (or any other problem for that matter), you might walk away with a lot more than parts and supplies. If you’re looking for it, you might learn something about marketing.

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Martin R. Baird is president of Advisor Marketing and author of The 7 Deadly Sins of Advisor Marketing, a book that offers easy-to-implement marketing ideas for financial advisors. Advisor Marketing is a full-service marketing management firm that provides a variety of services to financial advisors to help them improve their marketing methods and increase revenues, including seminars and conference speaking engagements on such topics as referrals, marketing, client communication and transitioning to fee. The company also provides a service that tests multiple variables of a marketing campaign simultaneously so advisors will quickly know which elements of a marketing effort offer the best opportunity for success before they launch the campaign. The firm’s Web site,, offers marketing advice, information and tools for to help advisors market their practice, meet the needs of their clients and increase sales. The site also offers such services as a free weekly electronic newsletter and reports on how to conduct different kinds of marketing. Advisor Marketing may be reached at (480) 991-6421.


Martin R. Baird