Butler Floor and Carpeting had tried conventional marketing and advertising but, after 63 years in business, the third-generation family-owned Pennsylvania operation needed to try something else.

Butler Floor’s owners take pride in what they do—giving a big “wow” to residential customers and enhancing the enjoyment that comes from home improvement. During Butler’s 63 years in business, from when Julie Czifra and her brother Tim Croft bought the operation from their father in 2011, who bought it from his parents decades ago, they’ve installed millions of square feet of flooring for its loyal customer family.

When Julie and Tim took over the family business, in what was the toughest sales market ever, they knew they had to revamp their marketing to generate more leads.

And they succeeded.

By doing the opposite of what anyone would expect, Butler Floor created buzz, generated 1,618 new prospects, and opened up a funnel of valuable, previously untapped leads.

What did they do? The solution is under your toes.


Refurbishing the Marketing

Through a coaching program, Butler Flooring learned that marketing isn’t about throwing dollars at advertising. Instead, it’s about realizing who the target audience is and finding innovative ways to reach them.

Here’s what they did.

Using the trending marketing concept of micropublishing, Butler produced a killer, free downloadable e-book titled, “How to Get the Right Floor at the Right Price,” which helped the company demonstrate its expertise in the flooring industry.

Then, they created an engaging contest to bring highly qualified leads to Butler quickly, while simultaneously generating brand goodwill, the Butler Ugly Floor Contest. Because social media marketing can be relatively low-cost, with the potential for high payoff, the Butler Ugly Floor Contest was initiated on Facebook. While everyone would expect a focus on attractive floors, they went in the opposite direction and drew attention by focusing on unattractive floors.

Here’s how the contest rolled out:

•A promotion was set up on Butler’s Facebook page.

•Contestants within a 50-mile radius were invited to register and send in pictures of their ugly floors.

•Each contestant paid a $5 entry fee via Paypal, which was designated to the charity of the contestant’s choice. Community goodwill came from donations to the Humane Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters League and a variety of parent-teacher organizations.

•Facebook visitors were invited to vote on the ugliest-of-the-ugly floors.

•Top vote-getters were submitted to review by a judging panel for the final winner

And the winner, please…

Lo and behold, homemaker, wife and mother, Denise Dupe, out-uglied everyone else with her 1970s faded out, threadbare, full-of-holes, smashed-to-the-padding orange carpet.

Look closely—rumor has it Ziggy Pop lost an eyelash here. Poor Denise, and her family, to have to tiptoe on that carpety mash-up for all those years. Our condolences.

But, wait. There were two winners.

First, Butler sent out its crew. Denise made her selection and the orange monster was ripped up and her spiffy new carpet was installed toute de suite. All is well in Butler, Pa.

But the bigger winner is Butler Floor and Carpet itself.

And now for the Big Reveal: 42 contestants registered, providing Butler with several dozen highly qualified leads who had already indicated they need a new floor.

Butler reached 1,576 prospects through Facebook.

That’s a total of 1,618 new prospects who are talking about Butler Floor and Carpet, and telling their friends about it through social media.

Take a second to consider those numbers. Now, not all those people need floors, and even the ones that do may not need them now. But let’s take the long view. Let’s call a new floor, conservatively, at a $3,000 price tag. Even if Butler sells a new floor sometime down the road to 10% of these new leads, that’s still a whopping opportunity worth nearly half a million dollars over time—and all at little to no marketing cost. Plus, the contest also raised awareness (and funds) for local charities.

In Julie’s own words, “The results surprised me. I didn’t know online marketing could be so effective. Now we’ve decided to make our Butler Ugly Floor Contest an annual event.”

If your business faces tough competition, and you can’t quite stand out from the crowd, do what Julie and Tim did. Think about what everyone else is doing, and think counter-intuitively.

In the case of Butler Floor, they did three things:

1. Instead of focusing on beauty, they focused on ugly.

2. Instead of ads that sell, they used social media to give something away.

3. Instead of trying to close leads right away, they took the long view.

Butler Floor did it, and you can do the same for your business. But don’t go it alone. Reach out to a qualified mentor, coach or consultant. A good mentor will invest himself in your success, help you generate ideas, co-create a strategic plan, and coach you through a campaign that has real potential.

I wish you much success.


Jon Goldman is the CEO of the business strategy firm Brand Launcher (brandlauncher.com). He is an entrepreneur, an accomplished speaker, and the author of two works on business and marketing topics, including one that has been translated into Japanese. Get a free copy of his latest e-book, “Vendor-to-Expert,” at vendortoexpert.com. To contact him, call (410) 235-7070 or jongoldman@brandlauncher.com.