2012: a New Marketing Reality

October 11, 2011

Just when you thought you had a handle on marketing your kitchen and bath business the rules are changing again.

There are a number of recent statistics that may shock you and should (at the very least) put your current marketing plan on trial.

  • We now spend more minutes each day with apps than we do with web sites.  On average 81 minutes are spent with apps compared to 74 with web browsing.  The increased usage of smartphones and digital tablets (such as the iPad) is credited for the new reality.

But as the many kitchen and bath professionals I speak with tell me – “that doesn’t affect me, my clients are older and smartphones and digital tablets are in the hands of kids.”   – if you subscribe to that concept, the reality doesn’t support your theory. According to an August 2011 Nielsen study, demographics break down evenly.

  • Smartphone Owners as of Q2 2011:
    • Ages 35-44          19%
    • Ages 45-54          20%
    • Ages 55+              18%
    • 50% are Women
  • Tablet Owners as of Q2 2011:
    • Ages 35-44          17%
    • Ages 45-54          18%
    • Ages 55+              19%
    • 43% are Women

As you begin thinking about your marketing plans for 2012, these numbers should represent a guide.  Yes, you still need to consider traditional marketing to stimulate the customer – TV is a good bet (as an aside).  But beyond that, are you supporting your digital and social efforts with allocated and dedicated resources.

  • Is your entire website visible on mobile devices?
  • Do you have a mobile version of your site?
  • Do you have a presence on a smartphone/mobile device app?
  • Have you allocated resources to maintain your social sites?

The 4th quarter is when most of us pull together our budget and marketing plans for the following year – your leads in 2012 will be coming from a new reality (in addition to a new economy) – be prepared!

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How to Attract Kitchen & Bath Customers in Today’s Economy

June 4, 2011

We all know that selling a kitchen or bath design project is not like selling a widget – it’s a process that is based on a potential customer finding you, learning about you, meeting you, trusting you, and accepting you.   In this unstable economy it’s a long, and time consuming process.

Before the “great recession” it was different… remember?  Money flowed more freely, opulence was in vogue, and customers were willing to wait until YOU were ready to begin their project.  The tables have turned.  Money is tight, cost is driving design decisions and you are now one of a dozen “remodelers” in the mix.

It seems many kitchen and bath professionals are not willing to accept the new reality.  They are not willing to spend money to make money, as the old adage goes.  There is a feeling among many professionals that a single marketing avenue will bring in new business.  Are you among them?

  • If you think your Facebook page alone will bring new clients, you are incorrect.
  • If you think your Blog alone will bring new clients, you are incorrect.
  • If you think Search Engine Optimization (SEO) alone will bring new clients, you are incorrect.
  • If you think Search Engine Marketing (SEM) alone will bring new clients, you are incorrect.
  • If you think your Website alone will bring new clients, you are incorrect.
  • If you think your TV Commercial alone will bring new clients, you are incorrect.
  • If you think your Magazine Ad alone will bring new clients, you are incorrect.
  • If you think your Direct Mail Piece alone will bring new clients, you are incorrect.

See the pattern?  The answer you are looking for is known as Integrated Marketing.   It is just what it sounds like – it is integrating all your potential marketing and advertising avenues together under a single message based on your competitive advantage.  Think of it as the place where traditional media, the Internet and newer marketing technologies come together to engulf your market with your message.   If it sounds scary, it’s not really – you may just need a guide.


Social Snooping worthy of 007

May 28, 2011

I was surprised this past week when a business I am following posted a question I considered to be confidential, somewhat proprietary information.  The question the owner posted to his followers was innocuous enough, or so it seemed on the surface.  But it was seeking a response regarding a possible business alliance – would the follower consider this an opportunity worth pursuing?  What the business owner likely didn’t realize was that among his followers were competitors, members of the press and dozens of others he probably didn’t even know.  Add to that his, and all his followers privacy settings, their ability to tweet and repost and you are set for a world-wide announcement, you may not be ready to make.

If you are going to use social media, use it responsibly.  I hate to sound like a PSA for alcohol, but if you’re going to participate, understand the risks.

Facebook has taken off among Kitchen & Bath industry professionals.  Spend time on any of the LinkedIn kitchen and bath industry discussion groups and you’ll see that “liking” one another’s Facebook pages are among the most “discussed” discussions.  Be sure you know who “likes” you.  Your customers and their friends – that’s who you are looking for; or your competition (local or regional).

As a marketing professional, I encourage my clients to first and foremost determine their competitive advantage in their marketplace.

How?

Among my suggestions – snoop on your competition to determine what they do, how they do it, how successful they are at it, etc.

Snooping is getting easier with new technology.  In the “olden days” you needed to watch for TV commercials, find brochures, search for ads and maybe wait for a home show.  Today just “like” them on Facebook, visit their website(s), Blog(s), follow them on Twitter… what’s next?

Are you making it easier for your competition to size you up?  There is a fine line between enticing your customers to come visit to learn more and putting it all out there for the world (your competitors) to see.

As Stg. Phil Esterhuas of Hill Street Blues always said – “Hey, let’s be careful out there.”


Facing Facebook

May 14, 2011

The interaction between social networking sites is nothing short of amazing.  In at least three of the kitchen & bath industry LinkedIn groups to which I belong, there are ongoing discussions regarding link exchanges among kitchen and bath professionals’ Facebook pages… and it works like a charm.  Business owners are “meeting” and “liking” one another’s pages.  But to what end?   That is what I want to delve into a bit today.

We all know that we need at least 25 “likes” to get a username for our Facebook page – if this is news to you, and you have 25 or more likes go to facebook.com/username to select one for your page.  The username will serve you well in your marketing efforts.  The LinkedIn group discussions are a wonderful tool for reaching your username threshold.  Beyond that – from 26 to your first thousand… these LinkedIn discussion groups hold very little value if you are a showroom owner whose marketing efforts are business to consumer.

Once your username is in place, it’s not about how many followers can I collect… it’s all about how many “qualified” followers can I collect.  Qualified followers should fit the target market you have outlined in your marketing plan.  Those people living within a certain geographic area, at a specific income level, of a certain age-range, etc.  This is where more “traditional” advertising techniques play a role.  Driving your target market to your Facebook page may be a better tactic than sending them to your website.

Studies indicate that your Facebook (and Twitter) followers are following you in order to get something from you… a discount, the inside scoop on new products, etc.  You also have the ability to immediately update, add photos, coupons, links and more without waiting for your webmaster to update your site – which can sometimes takes days or weeks.  But the absolute BEST part of driving traffic to your Facebook page – your visitors have agreed to receive your postings… getting your name, your face, your products into their collective psyches as often as you post and they login.  – AND remember, they have requested that you do this!  With a strong enough following, you can be less concerned with fighting the Google SEO battles – let your Facebook page drive traffic to your website.

[An aside:  SEO is still vital to those doing their initial research, so don’t ignore it, but reevaluate your marketing tactics and budget expenses].

So visit and like my Facebook pages:

Facebook.com/Zpromotion

Facebook.com/KitchenAndBathChannel


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