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A Concrete Artisan's Strategy for Marketing Like Apple

Cory Hanneman has put a lot of thought into developing a sales strategy for decorative concrete that involves, in his words, “raging against the big-box machine” and its road map of “massive selection and predictability.”

Specifically, his five-point plan was inspired by Apple. If the computer company can make frustrating technology warm and inviting, he reasons, Element7 can do the same for unpredictable concrete.

“This sales process and collection of procedures came about after noticing how the Genius Bar at the Apple store always made me feel good despite how problematic technology can be,” he says.

“1. We make a lot of art out of concrete and have filled a gallery downtown and donated a handful of cool benches to the city with our logo.

“2. We invite people into our gallery and just let them look around. We begin by talking about acquiring tastes and the beauty of imperfection — things like Bob Dylan, Levi’s jeans, old Harley-Davidsons, etc.

“3. We frame stained concrete as something timeless and great, but not for everyone. Most people want crap from a big box store where they can feel in control because of how marketers manipulate them.

“4. We admit that acid stain really boils down to, like, 4-6 colors, but they are all classic. Green jeans, anyone? No. Of course they should be indigo, and brown concrete sounds pretty good, too.

“5. We create an experience where the artisan and the client get to dance with the concrete to make something that looks world-class. Maybe more important is a consistently great experience despite the inconsistency of concrete and the staining process.”

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