Designers Share Views on Marketing Success

Kitchen & Bath Design News recently posed the question to dealers and designers in the kitchen and bath industry: “In your opinion, what are the keys to running a successful marketing platform?” Following are some of the responses KBDN received:

“We feel that the key to running a successful marketing platform is consistency. You have to keep your name and image before the consumers’ eyes at all times. One way that we do that is to keep our image consistent throughout all mediums and also keep our company in the forefront [in terms of exposure]. For instance, we just exhibited at the local home and patio show and we will continue to keep marketing through local high-end magazines and design sources in order to best promote our company.”

Lisa Hilton, CKD, showroom manager
Kitchen World, Inc.
Jacksonville, FL

“Our marketing strategy is heavily weighted toward generating references from our clients. For instance, a monthly ad that we run [in one consumer magazine] showcases a kitchen or bath project that we have completed. It runs in full color, including product and design element information.

For builders we provide full design, layout and product selection services. We believe in educating our customers so they are able to make well-informed decisions about their projects. A knowledgeable client is a confident, and therefore, happy consumer.

Another crucial element is to have an interactive showroom that offers a variety of products from which to choose. It is important to have your staff meet together weekly to discuss current trends and new product offerings.

By branding our name and logo, we are recognized as a source for exceptional cabinet design and customer service.”

Wendy Tupper, sales manager
Cabinet Country, Ltd.
Janesville, WI

“We are a smaller company, so we are big proponents of the “more bang for the buck” theory. Recently we’ve been involved in the Remodeler’s Showcase, with 100 to 120 homes where we can show off our work. It is almost like the “Parade of Homes,’” but is for remodeling. There is some investment involved in that, but it is the greatest way to really broadcast who we are, what we do and get that information out to very qualified individuals.

I think overall it is a matter of keeping our name out there. We do some direct mailing to targeted neighborhoods, but to blanket it is tough. The unique part of it all is that we are putting ourselves directly in front of them. We have been thinking that the home shows and trade shows are the only way to advertise our ability and our talents, but we are also getting people who are there for the salsa chopper or the broom – basically those people looking to get a day out of the house. This was a change in philosophy for us and quite a bit more expensive. We are aware of that fact, but the return has been wonderful. The direct mailing, the home shows and the magazine advertising [are good], and you get a return for that, but in our view it is nowhere as near as good as that Remodeler’s Showcase.

Overall it can be an expensive proposition, but you have to be able to go out there and sell. You need to try different methods and approaches. Basically, what works for one company may not necessarily work for another.”

Kevin Miner, project manager
RSM Designs, Inc.
Oakdale, MN

“The most important thing is to do your homework with regard to marketing techniques. I would advise that design firms not forget to “brand” their company, if it hasn’t been branded already. Creating a brand helps the public easily recognize you. This also ensures that your marketing dollars are being spent wisely.

Another imperative is to know your clientele. Therefore, it is critical to spend a little time before agreeing to take on a project, making sure that you understand who your clients really area. To put it another way, it’s too expensive to market to the masses.

Something people may overlook is to make sure you understand that marketing isn’t just about advertising. In fact, it might not even include advertising. I like to think in terms of free marketing. For instance, designers can send photos of their work to a local magazine, newspaper, TV station or radio station, or write an article and send it in. Another option is to contact local organizations for speaking engagements. However, you need to make sure that you are targeting your clientele.”

Karen Black, CKD
A Karen Black Company
Oklahoma City, OK

“The main thing is to understand your market and who you are trying to sell to in that market. Essentially you have to know what their needs are and craft your marketing to reach them and appeal to them. To that end, it is imperative to understand the housing; knowing whether you are dealing with new construction or whether you’re dealing with renovation and remodeling is a key component. You also have to understand the kinds of budgets people are working with, and the desires they have in working with that space. In our area, it is a very Old World market as well as a minimal amount of contemporary, so when you put your marketing plan together you need to use presentations of your work that would resonate with what most people are looking for with their projects. These are all great ways to brand your firm, and what we try and stress, and have people appreciate, is the level of quality that we insist on with each project, especially in order to protect the name that we worked hard to build.”

Douglass Gheza, president
Gheza Group Design Studio
Santa Barbara, CA