Manufacturers and retailers of artificial turf playing surfaces have enjoyed a loyal customer base for decades. The fairly traditional industry hasn’t had to dramatically evolve over the years, but this is starting to change. Today, a new-wave of turf buyers, like golf course superintendents and sports field managers, are seeking out brands they can trust and relate to.
This isn’t limited to the turf industry; in fact, millennial buyers are starting to make up most of the buying force in many industries, which means the most prominent ways people find companies to buy from is changing.
These coming-of-age customers actively look for brands that have the same values as them, brands that they can trust and brands that cater to new digital journeys.
For turf brands that want to stand out, this evolution is important to tap into. While traditional buyers are still around and remaining loyal to their favorite brands, it’s never been more important to avoid complacency and keep up with the times by understanding the preferences of buyers who are just starting out in their careers.
This means creating and maintaining a positive reputation. With new competition rearing its head every day and a swathe of brands revolutionizing how they attract and sell to buyers, turf brands need to keep up.
Here’s why reputation is so important in the turf industry.
Research Starts Online
According to research published by the Sports Turf Manager Association, 98.6% of buyers in the turf industry believe the internet is an important informational tool. Not only that, but 65.9% use vendor websites for information.
With so much research into potential vendors happening online, it’s crucial for brands to maintain a solid presence across multiple channels. This is especially true when you consider that 75% of buyers use the internet to purchase sports turf industry-specific products and services.
Turf brands can successfully stand out by:
- Creating a consistent online presence through social media channels and their websites – making sure branding is the same across all platforms and that it’s easy for customers to find you
- Ensuring your website provides the information turf buyers need – research what buyers in the industry are looking for, and provide them with content to match those needs
- Researching the customer buying journey and implementing key findings throughout the sales cycle – optimizing the user experience, creating additional pieces of content, and generally providing as smooth a buying process as possible
Testimonials Are a Powerful Part of the Buying Journey
Although the buying behavior varies for new products, sports turf managers are typically inclined to listen to other sports turf managers on what has been successful for them. They are heavily influenced by testimonials of respected peers and they value factual information and applied research in their decision-making process.
Reputation is key to gaining a catalog of positive testimonials, which dramatically influences purchasing decisions.
Turf brands can collect and leverage testimonials by:
- Asking loyal customers to share their experience – reach out to your best customers and invite them to leave a review or testimonial about their experience with your brand
- Promoting testimonials across your website, including on the homepage, product pages and any key pages that buyers regularly visit
- Making sure the buying experience aligns with customer needs to increase the chances of a positive testimonial
For example, SporTurf displays a testimonial from a high-profile customer on their homepage.
Reputation Means Results
In the turf industry, reputation and results matter big time.
While stories can be a great way to capture the attention of potential customers, data always wins the day. This is because it’s a unique industry where even the uninitiated end user can see the value in work carried out.
Brands that stand out are the brands that religiously deliver exceptional results with data-backed proof.
Because reputation is such an important part of the sales process in the turf industry, results becomes a huge deciding factor. A brand that has a bad reputation likely doesn’t deliver good results. On the flipside, a brand that delivers excellent results will quickly gain a great reputation.
Turf brands can optimize their reputation by:
- Focusing on generating consistently good results – this means optimizing processes and the systems you have in place to create an enjoyable customer experience that leads to happy buyers
- Tracking data to identify key areas of improvement – knowing what’s working and what’s not working is important to optimize not only the buyer’s journey, but also the overall customer experience. The better the customer experience, the better your reputation will be – especially in an industry that regularly talks to each other
Building a reputation is key in an industry that relies on word-of-mouth recommendations and loyal customers that return time and time again. Without a solid brand and reputation, turf brands are at risk of losing out to competitors that have taken the time to both understand how their customers view them, and nurture the relationships they have with their most loyal buyers.