Web Site Additions Offer a Competitive Edge

I had no idea until I’d lived in Chicago for a while that we have the largest population of Polish people of any area in the world, with the exception of Warsaw, the capital of Poland. Often when driving by Chicagoland businesses, especially those on the southwest side of the city, you’ll see signs that say “Mowimy po polsku.” That translates to “We speak Polish.”
Where am I going with my Polish example? I’m alluding to the fact that we need to remember to encompass our entire market area and not miss out on any potential clients when doing business.

One of the ways to do this easily and inexpensively (even free!) is to go online and find a translation tool for your Web site, such as AltaVista’s Babel Fish (www.altavista.com/help/free/free_searchbox_transl). This tool will translate to/from up to nine languages. Adding the tool to your site enables users to translate your Web pages into their language of choice with just one click. Simply ask your Web site developer to put the translation tool onto your site – and off you go! It’s a simple thing to do, and it’s just a small logo-like button added to your Web site.

There are other benefits to adding a translation tool to your site. For starters, it is a positive reflection on your business. It makes you look tech savvy and, believe me, there are very few kitchen and bath dealers out there who have added this option to their Web sites. It will put you ahead of the pack! Even if someone doesn’t need the tool, they will see it and subconsciously be aware that you stay on top of the latest technology.

Reaching Your Audience

To serve the large number of Spanish-speaking consumers in the U.S., General Electric recently launched its GE Appliances Web site in Spanish: espanol.geappliances.com. On this site, consumers have the ability to access information on GE and GE Profile appliances, contact customer service, access GE’s Design Center and more. The Hispanic population of the U.S. is currently around 44 million, representing 15% of the population, according to the Usability Sciences Corporation.

Another appliance manufacturer doing innovative things with its Web site is TurboChef. Its site, www.TheOvenReinvented.com, easily explains how the TurboChef technology works and has a professional chef demonstrate how quickly its technology cooks different foods.

When you get to the site, you have the option to cook at different minute increments, depending on “how much time you have.” Or, you can explore the world of TurboChef cooking. If you begin with cooking times and choose two minutes, for example, the chef explains how the cooking technology will produce a gorgeous chocolate soufflé in just 120 seconds. If you opt to explore the world of TurboChef technology, just as efficiently as the oven cooks, the site explains its airspeed technology in easy and simple to understand diagrams and demonstrations.

If you are thinking about displaying a TurboChef in your showroom, or you already do, use this site to your advantage. You could set up a laptop or flat screen monitor next to the TurboChef display and, with the computer set to the TurboChef Web site, consumers could learn how the technology works.

Again, thinking like this puts you ahead of the competition. Consumers are always looking for the latest and greatest to put them ahead of the Joneses. When you put something like this in your showroom and keep it active, it becomes a fabulous sales tool for you. Consumers see you as technologically advanced, which translates to them that you are a better designer and a better company than your competition.

The Art of Blogging

Another consideration for your Web site is the addition of a blog. The word is a combination of two words, web and log. A blog is an online running commentary of sorts, regularly updated with information on topics and happenings as they relate to your business. In fact, KBDN has one on its site (www.kitchenbathdesign.com/MediaCenter), and the editor regularly blogs about what KBDN has come across at industry events, such as K/BIS.

Not sure where to begin? If you’re not a writer, tap into someone on your staff who is. Ask the person to take a couple of minutes a few times a week to put their design-related thoughts online. Here’s an example of how simple it could be:

4/11/2008:
As a kitchen designer, I find that most people who walk through our door aren’t aware of all of the new offerings in appliances and cabinetry. That’s exactly why I’m here at K/BIS, which is our industry’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. It’s only open to industry professionals. I’m here to find the latest and greatest, so that I can bring all of the knowledge back to our showroom on Main Street, USA and share it with you, our client! Check in here over the next couple of days to read about all of the new trends and offerings I come across. I have to close now. I’m off to hear the opening speaker.

4/12/2008:
Wow! I stopped by the Jenn-Air booth at the show today. You should see the gorgeous oil-rubbed bronze finish it has on display. This year the company is introducing its built-in refrigerator and microwave to the collection. The cooktop in this collection is my favorite! There is so much oil-rubbed bronze in the home nowadays in door handles, knobs, just hardware in general. Hence, this is such a great fit! It’s a really warm finish and complements the warmth of wood cabinetry.

I also went to a roundtable on technology use in the kitchen. It really is amazing how far we’ve come, and I’ll be incorporating some of these ideas into our showroom over the next couple of months. You’ll have to stop in to experience the changes!

4/13/2008:
Last night I attended our cabinet manufacturer’s event. The company displayed the new product coming out over the next year. I was just blown away! I’ve already decided a new display will be coming to our front window.

So, you get the idea of the blog now. You can also incorporate it into your e-mail marketing. Prior to heading to K/BIS, send out a blast e-mail letting everyone know that you’ll be reporting back daily from the show in order to share the latest and greatest.

After all, that’s what it’s all about, right? Getting the latest and greatest out there to our clients and potential clients? The Web is just the tool to do it.

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