Case Study: WindsorONE — live from Word of Mouth Supergenius

2:10 — Kurt Vanderah introduces WindsorONE‘s Craig Flynn.

Note: There are tomatoes on the chairs for you to throw IF you don’t like the presentation. And bags of spaghetti to throw against your wall.

2:11 — Craig: Throwing Spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks.

How many people have gotten crushed in the market for their house? It happened to us too. We had to cut our marketing budget. We had to find WOM. We met Andy Sernovitz at a builders’ conference.

We sell to lumber yards, and lumber yards sells to builders. So we started to go to lumber yards and talk to the important people — the yard influencers and the unloaders. They are hourly. We can’t reach them, and they don’t want to talk during lunch.

#1 We started hiding free schwag in our bundles of lumber. We put different stuff in our bundles, and this made people want to open the next unit. When builders came in, there was more incentive for the people at the lumberyards to open their bundles and give them to the builders.

We also included tell-a-friend forms. Filling them out meant their friends would get shirts with simple messages: Made in USA, Protection the President would be jealous of, and 30 year warranty.

2:15 — Results: People wanted to open WindsorONE — $6 a unit versus the $1800 total cost.

2:15 — Craig: #2 Call Kurt for a shirt. What if we stamped “call Kurt for a shirt” on our boards and gave our phone number? Everyone who calls gets a shirt, business card and tell a friend form. 9 out of 10 builders learned about the stuff we make. We build relationships, we tell them about stuff we make, and builders learn about our products from getting our shirts and talking to us.

Builders told others to use us.

$25 per year for the stamp, 50 leads a week, and 3000 leads in the last year vs. 50 a month for advertising. This saves $250,000 in advertising.

2:18 — Brad: #3 Cool Shirts — People call to ask for shirts. Example: “Got Wood?” shirt. Guys wear them out. “Killer Joints” by Charlie — shows finger joints but is a take-off on pot culture. Cost: $3/shirt. Results: people wear the shirts and friends see them.

2:19 — Brad: #4 Call Bunt for a bottle of End Cuts primer — we gave away a bottle for free. Everyone thought they were getting booze instead of primer. That one didn’t work. The message was confusing. But we spent pennies, and we just switched back to “call Kurt for a shirt.”

2:21 — Brad: #5 White board booth in the trade show — we created a giant white board and asked customers what they wanted to see more of, less of, and what campaigns we should do next. We cut the wall apart and sent customers pieces of the board with notes and follow up.

We saved $5,000 by not shipping a booth, and only spent $10 per package for the follow-up.

2:22 — Brad: #6 Baseball cards — Our old business cards were boring. We made fun card with pictures and stories on the back. There are now vintage cards. These are great story-tellers. Our business cards stand out and cost less than $0.70 a card.

2:23 — #7 Thomas on the board — a blog where we talk with builders and get pictures of jobs and stories. We’ve had good traction. One builder sent a note to all of his clients, pointing to our to blog and telling people about WindsorONE products.

2:24 — Brad: #8 Invited a few core customers to WOM conference — This is the first time a supplier has taken an interest in helping us market.

Results:  stronger relationships with core customers

2:25 — #9 Sent package to customers –sent cards, invites to conference, and bags of tomatoes — and invited customers to “take their best shot.” $20 per package and great buzz.

#10 — Dons of WOMM — Private WOM community for lumber yards from different geographical areas. We sent them a creative Godfather-themed invite.

Results: gaining traction.

2:27 — #11 Craig: Blog vs. 50 T-shirts. The Empty — lumber yard guys could learn about how we do our WOM. We started working on a book on visual communications. Then I met Seth Godin, and I applied to spend a day with him. During the day, I showed Seth the blog and the book. He said it would never work. He said, “you’re not thinking about your audience.” Instead, we traded blog posts in for 50 shirts, putting one idea on a shirt each week. Then we’d send sales guy a new shirt once a week.

Results: starting to work

2:30 — #12 Craig: Preventing disasters — a simple idea that saved us millions of revenue.  A lot of lumber comes from Chile. The Chilean Earthquake affected this. So we created the Flynn report and started reporting about it. We reported accurate information about raw material and when you’d see product again. We were honest about when we’d have product again. We told customers to buy other people’s products. We had to increase product pricing. We were open and transparent. We knew our competitors were following our blog, and signing up for their email feeds.

So, simple and open wins every time. We told it like it was — no PR spin. It saved us customers. We didn’t lose any core customers. Now the blog is more of a CEO blog since that disaster is over.

Results: Cost — a few dollars to set up blog, Millions in revenue to save.

Q&A (Or tomato throws)

Q: 2 crises to make you creative — the housing crisis and the earthquake – Does it take a crisis to get you to make a shift?

A: Craig: When you have no money and you need to pay for mortgage, we went all in on WOM.

Q: Liz Pullen, What the Trend: Your Twitter page hasn’t been updated for a while — is that a Spaghetti throw?

A: Not many of our customers are on Twitter — they aren’t interested.

Q: Jonathan from Blackrock: Where do the ideas come from?

A: Next talk is Maker’s Mark — alcohol helps. Even when we walk through plants, we ask “what if?”  We have white board walls. We throw people out if they are always saying “No.”

See for details and our artist’s info from the slides.

Love this live coverage? It’s all thanks to the hard work of the very talented Howard Greenstein.

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