There's a lot going on at Parr Lumber for its Do-It-Yourself customers: eight cabinet outlets; window and door showrooms; fencing, decking and siding sold at 23 lumberyards in five Pacific Northwest states; and a network of contractors known as "Parr Pros." But Parr also had a problem: The robust DIYer that Parr counts among its customer base often was unaware of the Hillsboro, Ore.-based company's specialty division.
Parr's solution? It devised an innovative and interactive multimedia ad campaign that literally turned the discovery of the division's virtues into a game, and rewarded customers who played.
Parr's "Remodel Road Trip" ran from March through October. To qualify for one of two $10,000 Home Makeovers, customers had to visit one of Parr's yards as well as both a cabinet shop and millwork showroom, plus attend a Parr event such as meet-and-greet barbecues with contractors, all to collect various game card stickers. As an instant reward, consumers visiting each location received special one-time-only discount cards.
Customers were also required to collect virtual stickers by visiting specific links from the homepage of the dealer's website, www.parr.com. Those links include its Home Improve-it Club; Project Buddy, which offers project management services primarily for decks and fencing; Parr Pros; and Northwest Neighbors, a site that encourages consumers to support Portland-area retailers selling products for building, remodeling, or home improvement.
Parr publicized Remodel Road Trip with full-page newspaper ads, 14 weeks of radio spots, in-store merchandising, electronic messages on 42-inch plasma screens in each of its locations, banner ads on media partner websites, and e-newsletters to customers. The retro-style design of the game cards and other promotional literature–devised by Portland, Ore.-based ad agency Wheelhouse 20/20–helped make the campaign stand out.
The game, according to Parr officials, created a fun platform that allowed its various locations to engage with homeowners. It also helped minimize the intimidation that retail customers can feel about dealing with pro-oriented building material suppliers.
More than 200 customers completed game cards. The retailer also compiled a database of between 2,000 and 3,000 customers who made at least part of the journey, says Nancy Cranston, Parr Lumber's marketing manager and the granddaughter of the company's founder.
And to say that the Remodel Road Trip drove retail traffic to Parr's virtual and bricks-and-mortar locations would be an understatement. Cranston says that from March through Sept. 30, the company enjoyed a sizable jump in targeted website page views. The product section, which had been gotten 37,000 visits between January and September of 2010, recorded a 24% rise over the same nine months this year, while the Project Buddy section, where visit counts were in the high hundreds last year, recorded a 1,243% gain this year.
Membership in Parr's Home Improve-it Club also grew by 29%. At presstime, the company did not have specific data that tracked how many actual leads the campaign directed to its Parr Pros.
The dealer awarded its first Makeover in July, and Cranston says the winner has been posting images showing the progress of his home's remodeling on Parr's Facebook page–a plus for a dealer with only 100 "likes" on that social media site earlier this year.
Parr Lumber allocated $50,000 of its advertising budget to the Remodel Road Trip campaign. But pulling off a multifaceted marketing campaign is a lot of work, and Cranston indicates that if Parr were do try something like this again, it would probably do it from an angle that places more emphasis on events that bring customers and contractors together.
With business from contractors building new homes likely to be pretty limited for the next few years, Parr Lumber's marketing will be targeting repair and remodeling contractors and their homeowner clients, says Cranston.