Designers Share Cost-Effective Marketing Tips

Kitchen & Bath Design News recently posed the question to dealers and designers in the kitchen and bath industry: What are some cost-effective marketing techniques for kitchen and bath design firms to adopt? Following are some of their responses:

“Ultimately, marketing is about forging relationships, and relationships take time. You have to be patient and good things will happen.

A great thing to do is write some articles for your local newspaper. There are a million resources for getting local work that way. Also, if anything special is happening at your firm, create and send a press release to your local newspaper.

In addition, you may want to consider being a speaker at a local group or joining a local design community chapter.

Of course, there is also social media, such as blogging. For instance I know a blogger who is an interior designer and she blogs about regional stuff, so she will come up a lot in regional searches. That is a very wise strategy.
The trick is to look beyond your own town when you decide to pursue these avenues.”

Susan Serra, CKD
Susan Serra Associates
Northport, NY

“One of the most cost-effective things that we’ve done is go straight to an ad agency for our marketing purposes. We told them what our budget would be and they instantly started picking out things that we could do within that budget. It worked out well because we received a certain amount of television coverage and also public relations work. Our agency found events that we could sponsor throughout our community. So, for the entire summer of 2009, for instance, we were the lead sponsor for an outdoor summer concert series. This created branding in the market for us, and our target clientele saw our logo and met us at these events. Likewise, we also sponsored a gala to benefit a center to help abused children. Had we not invested in the marketing person, we would not have known these things existed.”

Julian McKinney, g.m./sr. designer
Wilmington Kitchens Design Studio
Wilmington, NC

“We are getting a lot of requests to pool our marketing resources with other local kitchen and bath firms. The idea is that if each company were to contribute $1,000, then that pooled money would stretch further than if one individual firm were to do it on its own. In our area, you have about 10 exclusive companies doing that and they are coming up with giveaways and open house events to drum up interest. It definitely makes sense as an option for start-up companies that don’t have the resources for a television commercial.

Mike Mason, sales manager
Kitchens by Design
Allentown, PA

“What we have found to be most effective and cost effective is to get involved with a local publication. We chose a publication that a lot of people in our area read. It is a small, inexpensive paper that is mailed to every home in our community. We will place an advertorial in there and the advertorial will talk about who we are, what we do and what we offer in terms of our design specialties. It is a hometown approach, but it is a very inexpensive ad to place. It also gives us a chance to include some pictures from our kitchen and bath portfolio along with a few words from me, the owner, to mention that I was raised in this area and we love what we do, and how we can help people manage their projects. Overall, we try to take the more personal approach, and it seems to work really well.”

Randal Rice, CKD, owner
Kendal & Co.
Rochester Hills, MI

“What I am trying to do is work with realtors in our area for cross marketing purposes. There are a lot of homes that are sitting vacant right now, and so many of them need new kitchens and baths. So, I try to work with the realtor where I come in, take the measurements, create the drawings for the kitchen and price it. I obviously keep the drawings here at my office, but I do leave a quote and a brochure with the realtor to share with a potential buyer. The brochure would be from the cabinet companies that I use, so the buyer would have that additional information as well.

It is a strategic alliance because, obviously, the first person they are going to call is me because I will already have the drawings ready.

We are also granite fabricators, so once we get someone here we can help them update their master bath too, so it works out well.

We’ve also sponsored baseball teams and golf outings in our community and we network through the chamber of commerce. Those are all very effective marketing techniques we’ve used in the past.”

Stacy Carsello, designer, ASID
Kitchen Gallery
Spring Grove, IL

“It’s hard to say what some of the best marketing strategies are today because of the economy being the way it is. I would say the biggest bang for your buck is going to have to be the the use of the Internet and your Web site. You need to have a good, functioning, well-thought-out Web site and have the Web site optimization figured out properly for your region, because you never know where or when a potential client is going to be searching for your services.

Fifteen years ago, Web sites and the Internet didn’t exist. Instead, you used newspapers and direct mail. We still do some direct mail, but if we’re looking for an efficient way to advertise our business, [the Internet] would be my top choice.

Bill Pease, CKD, president/owner
Custom Kitchen Bath Center
Fremont, CA