What is the most successful invention in the history of mankind? If your answer to this question is “the Internet,” you would be correct. And, of course, what drives the Internet is the public’s desire for information.
So, to draw potential clients into a showroom, it makes good marketing sense for kitchen and bath firms to position themselves as the key information resource in their area for these kinds of projects.
Marketing experts believe that it is virtually impossible to differentiate the quality of services such as those that ultimately create a kitchen or bath. They can only be differentiated by the way that they are delivered to the prospect. The use of consumer seminars, published booklets and speaking engagements serve this purpose extraordinarily well.
Prospective buyers need to understand that unlike cars, clothing or jewelry, kitchens and baths are largely intangible products. They become tangible products only through a unique process of interviewing, selecting, designing, estimating, consulting, ordering, scheduling, coordinating and installing on time an incredible number of products, parts, fixtures, surface materials and minute details.
Only then, after using the completed kitchen or bath, will the buyer know how well the tangible product will perform.
To accomplish all of this requires people with extraordinarily diverse skills, product knowledge and professionalism. Indeed, it’s the intangibles – the process and the people following that unique process – that can make or break a project’s success. If a kitchen or bath does not fit as designed and specified, or it doesn’t function properly for the buyer’s individual needs, the results can be just terrible.
For that reason, educating consumers about the intangibility of kitchens and baths, and the right way to buy a kitchen or bath, is critical. One of the best vehicles to accomplish this end is to conduct consumer seminars.
While best presented in your showroom, these can also be conducted in remote locations such as a bookstore, library “community room” or a hotel room. The key, particularly in these economically tougher times, is to present subjects of interest to consumers that have a value-based message.
Members in our group report that the following three seminars that were developed for them have resonated very well with their target customers:
- How to Save Thousands on a Designer Kitchen or Bath
- How Much Should a Good Kitchen Cost?
- How Much Should a Good Bathroom Cost?
Seminars provide industry professionals with a wonderful opportunity to showcase their knowledge, passion and professionalism while furnishing truly useful information to potential clients.
A portfolio of information typically accompanies the formal presentation; it contains a handout covering the seminar slides presented, a project interview sheet, company brochures, product literature and a business card. The end result is a rewarding and memorable educational experience for attendees.
Indeed, the audience tends to bond with the presenter, wanting to linger after the 60-minute program to ask questions about their own projects. As a result, group members report that 33-50% of the separate parties will either become leads that very evening or within 30 days.
And the closing percentage on these seminar leads is not far behind that of referrals or previous clients. By doing these seminars on a monthly basis, many firms are experiencing a consistent flow of qualified leads – even during this weak economy.
Booklets & Articles
Like seminars, published booklets and articles “tangibilize” a person’s expertise. Because consumers contemplating kitchens or baths have such a strong need for worthwhile information and advice, a “tips from the pros” approach has been quite successful with members in our group.
Booklet titles such as Buying a New Kitchen, Buying a New Bath, Relax During Remodeling, Buying New Cabinetry, You Get What You Pay For, and 10 Real Advantages to Remodel Now have all been well-received by target audiences.
Popular consumer magazines such as Signature Kitchens & Baths frequently look for feature stories by industry professionals on subjects of interest to their readers. Besides adding credibility to your resume, these published articles – along with the published consumer booklets – can serve as effective calls-to-action that can be used in print or radio ads. For example, “Pick up your FREE Guide to Buying a New Kitchen when you visit our showroom” is a powerful call to action, and one that is likely to spur increased showroom traffic.
If you have enough material at your disposal, writing brief weekly or monthly columns on kitchen and bath remodeling tips for your local newspaper can provide the readership with good advice. As such, it can also be an excellent source of leads to build your business, while increasing your credibility as an expert in the kitchen and bath design field.
Clubs and organizations in most communities are always looking for good speakers to be a highlight of their meetings. Pick ones whose members represent the demographics and psychographics of your target customers. Then send out a media kit offering your services as a speaker with a suggested list of 30- to 45-minute topics.
Include a head shot photo of yourself and a short biography. This is a great way to leverage one of your standard consumer seminars, customizing it a bit to the expected audience.
Another kind of speaking engagement is proving to be a big winner for one of our group members. He landed a Saturday morning talk program where he answers listeners’ questions on remodeling issues. As a result, he is not experiencing the sales slump that most other dealers are around the country.
In conclusion, be reminded of this marketing axiom: Put your clients’ interests ahead of your interests and you will get what you’re looking for.
Advertise your seminars and published booklets on a regular basis, furnishing the public with the information it needs and wants on kitchens and baths, and you will sell your fair share of projects – even in this tough economy.