Business Operations

An Insider’s Guide to Marketing & Selling Cable Rail

While a variety of railing options are available today, a growing number of homeowners are opting for stainless steel cable railing.

When consumers build or purchase a home in a location with a beautiful view, they want to do everything possible to preserve that view. While a variety of railing options are available today, a growing number of homeowners are opting for stainless steel cable railing.

Looking beyond the view

Cable railing offers a number of benefits when compared to traditional railing systems. Since the cables are much thinner than pickets, they are virtually invisible—providing an unimpeded view and making them ideally suited for decks or terraces with panoramic vistas. But that’s not cable railing’s only appeal. Typically easy to install, it also offers exceptional durability and requires very little maintenance to maintain its beauty. Moreover, its elegant, clean-lined design can complement many different home styles while adding to a home’s resale value.

According to Rick Beckwith, sales manager at Roadside Lumber & Hardware in Agoura Hills, Ca., “Our customers in the Santa Monica mountains have invested in their properties for the view. The clean, streamlined appearance of cable railing not only enhances their view but also adds more value and greater enjoyment to their investment.”

Why sell cable railing?

Cable railing can be a solid addition to any dealer’s product offering. In fact, it can help to generate additional revenue beyond the railing sale.

Says Erin Moore, owner of Colo-rado-based Moore Lumber & Ace Hardware: “Selling cable railing has definitely brought in some customers that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. They come in for a railing system and end up purchasing the entire deck package.”

Tom Booker, chief deck guru at The Deck Store in Indianapolis, In., echoes that sentiment: “Once customers visit us for cable rail, they get exposed to our level of service, plus they see all of the other products we carry. We’ve seen a direct impact in our sales since we added cable rail to our offering.”

Another advantage of cable railing for dealers is the ability to generate sales from a small amount of retail space. Well-designed cable railling displays require only a minimal footprint—a consideration that is especially important for smaller stores.

If we offer it, will they buy it?

As with all product lines, the challenge for dealers selling cable railing is finding cost-effective ways to reach potential buyers and resonate with their needs. From marketing collateral to special displays to social media promotions, cable railing vendors can help dealers effectively promote and sell cable railing—and grow their businesses—through the following tools and services:

Product displays. Show off cable railing at your store so customers can see, touch and feel the product. Ideally, your cable railing provider will offer a variety of display configurations that can be easily adapted to your store’s particular layout.

Some cable rail vendors even offer space-saving displays that make it easy to showcase the posts and cable railing in an inviting, interactive way. Make sure to place the display(s) in a prominent space to quickly grab the attention of customers as they walk through your store. Your cable railing sales rep can also recommend the best place to locate your display for optimal impact.

Point-of-sale brochures/handouts. Ask your cable railing provider to send you a supply of printed promotional materials along with copies of their product catalog that your customers can browse at their leisure. More marketing-focused cable railing companies may have a pre-packaged retail display that includes eye-catching signage along with a selection of cable railing accessories and associated literature. If not, you might want to consider placing a small plexi-glass stand containing the informational materials at the checkout counter to ensure customers “can’t miss them” when they’re completing their purchase.

Website content. If you have a company website, make sure to include somewhere on the site your cable railing vendor’s logo along with photos representing their product offering and a link to their website. Ask the cable railing provider if they can send you a high res logo and product photos. Some companies also offer content such as how-to pieces, frequently asked questions and videos to help increase the value of your website. Also, don’t forget to ask whether the company has an online Dealer Locator, and—if so—make sure you’re included.

Email marketing. Sending out periodic emails announcing new products, store updates, and sales promotions can help to drive business for your store. Some cable rail companies offer access to email lists that include contractors, architects, builders and other potential customers in your target market. They may even send emails on your behalf.

If you already have a list of email addresses from customers who have “opted in” to receive communications from your business, the cable railing provider may be willing to work with you to create compelling content and “ready-to-go” emails that you can send out to your contact base. Inexpensive email programs such as MailChimp and Constant Contact are easy to use and can help you manage and track your emails.

Social media engagement. If you don’t already have dedicated Facebook and Twitter pages for your store, consider setting them up. Start small by posting one or two times each week to build followers. Check with your cable rail provider to see if they have an image library they can give you access to containing high res photos of their products and projects, including lifestyle imagery. Some vendors offer helpful “how to” videos on installing cable railing that you can easily share on your social media pages.

Taking it a step further, your supplier may be happy to take your cable railing-focused content (posts, pictures, videos, etc.) and then distribute that content across their social channels. This can be a powerful way to drive potential customers to your website and social media pages, while also increasing their online engagement with you. Social media-savvy cable railing providers may hold periodic social media contests that can help to generate traffic for your store.

Event support/co-marketing opportunities. If you need materials for a customer day or contractor day, your cable railing company may be able to provide you with banners, brochures and signage to support the event. In some cases, they may even be willing to send a company representative to attend the event and help answer questions.

Sampling program. Reach out to your cable railing manufacturer to see if they offer samples. Samples are a great tool for showing customers the quality and ease of use of the manufacturer’s product range and can go a long way in helping you to close the sale.

Reaping the rewards

Booker sums it up well: “Cable railing has become increasingly popular in the last several years. Our customers are installing it inside and out, and in every style of dwelling—from log cabins to ultra-modern homes. It’s an attractive, highly durable product, doesn’t take up a lot of shelf space and continues to boost our sales. In fact, it’s become one of our biggest selling lines.”

Andy Penny

Andy Penny is Vice President of Marketing & Advertising for Feeney, Inc., a leading provider of cable rail systems, along with custom rigging, hardware, and services (www.feeneyinc.com).

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