I'm always watching and observing how the business world around me uses marketing techniques and how non-technical businesses adapt and respond to change and challenges.
One company that impresses me every time I step into their premises is Stevens & Graham, a family owned business established 1947. An unlikely candidate from the outside for they exist in a downtrodden area of Glasgow with an old warehouse with no remaining windows directly opposite – but definitely not an organisation to judge by the cover.
Inside their emporium of carpet is Sandy Graham, a gentleman who understands his market, his product, his competition and his customers to the nth degree....a man who I enjoy listening to and continually learn from.
He has guided his company into the internet age by picking out a high-value niche product from their range and ensuring front page Google search engine rankings on a global basis. How?? By going after Tartan. And that is no mean feat. He courts the overseas, ex-pat and corporate markets incredibly successfully, providing high quality acres of delightfully patriotic floor coverings. Check it out at www.tartanrugs.co.uk
He also courts his customers wonderfully well. An encyclopedic knowledge of his stock and his immediate ability to calculate discount/profit margins helps, but outstanding is his manner. He always has a positive story to tell – an exciting encounter about American golf enthusiasts wanting to get a few rugs for their summer house “back home” or the lucky-chance opportunity to carpet the Prince's Trust show-house at the Ideal Home exhibition. No hard luck stories here – up beat, up tempo...customer service all the way.
Importantly this message, this approach, is found echoed in all the front-line staff.
His simple answer to the economic downturn – a sensible increase in his sales and marketing budget. After all they are not only about Tartan, but all floor coverings for all requirements, a message which they are taking firmly to the world through their website, their impeccable staff and their new outlet in East Kilbride.
As Sandy himself frequently says “Very Good”.