A change in course for Belgian flooring specialist Impermo: “That story belongs to the past. From now on, we want to inspire rather than indoctrinate”. Commercial director Diether Claeys says his company wants to reinvent itself.
Everyone in Belgium knows the jingle with which Impermo very consistently announced its promotions on radio, TV and online over the past five years. “We always want to be in the customer’s ear, because that customer is not interested in us all the time”, Claeys says. The man behind the retailer’s recognisable campaigns elaborates: “Only once every ten years, people think about redesigning their kitchen or living room, starting with the floor. Only then do they pay attention to us. Hence, we need to be ‘always on’.”
That strategy has worked: “We are proud of what we have realised: we have more than doubled in those five years, in terms of turnover and number of stores. Out of every ten euros of marketing spent on flooring, seven come from us. Our competitors are mostly ‘local heroes’, with just one or a few stores.”
However, Impermo now notices that the effect of promotions is not as strong as before. “There is a promotion every month, so people wait for the next one: the sense of urgency is gone”, Claeys found out. Therefore, it is now time to question and adjust the marketing approach.
The commercial director is not yet willing to reveal many details about Impermo’s new direction, but he does already gives some outlines – including a logical shift from above-the-line to digital. “We also want to reach the customer much earlier. We are trendsetters, we are the first one to think of when you want a floor. Therefore, instead of just talking about price and product, maybe we should tell people what the trends are? Inspire, not just indoctrinate.”
Listen to the customer
In many companies, sales and marketing are islands that do not always communicate well with each other. Impermo is different: Claeys combines both responsibilities. He is not a typical marketer: sales is his background. “60 % of my time is spent on sales, 40 % is marketing. I bear the consequences of my actions myself. The advantage is that I get compliments or get criticised right away by my sales team: they let me know immediately if something is working or not…”
So do customers: “Reviews arrive directly in my mailbox. That is great: customers tell us what to do, so there is no need to hire an expensive consultant. We recently investigated what stops customers from buying from us: we immediately had a list of five things that we could implement. The only one who talks good or bad about you is the customer. If you do not listen, it does not end well.”
Will we see videos of Impermo on TikTok soon? Will the familiar song disappear? Diether Claeys may reveal some secrets at RetailDetail’s Retail Marketing Day, on 21 September in Antwerp. Speakers from Jacob’s Conceptstore, Lunch Garden, Kruidvat, Microsoft, Deloitte, Standaard Boekhandel and Club will also take to the stage there, offering fascinating stories for retailers looking for marketing inspiration. Book your ticket quickly via the link below.