K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for Marketing

Sep 15 2016

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To Advertise or Not to Advertise


KBB recently asked our KBB Designers Network on LinkedIn about using social media and other advertising techniques to draw customers.

The following is a constructive conversation among three members of our group with some useful input and tips to succeed:

Paul McAlary, Main Line Kitchen Design, Narberth, Pa.

We post and use paid advertising on Houzz, Facebook and YouTube. We pay money to belong and advertise on Angie’s List and pay for review updates and listings on Customer Lobby. We post on our Twitter and Instagram accounts and have a listing on Yelp and dozens of other listing sites. We post and maintain a LinkedIn profile and company profile and participate in the groups we belong to.

The list goes on and on and includes Google+, Klout, Pinterest, Scoopit, Median, The Garden Web and Home and Garden. Add to the social media sites the money we spend on PPC advertising on Google and Yahoo and what we spend on SEO and our website and the “chat box” on our website, and you are talking a huge financial and time-consuming undertaking. And we haven’t even mentioned the organizations we pay to belong to like multiple NARI chapters, the NKBA, the BBB, etc. All these thing make your business visible and findable on the web.

Anne Harvey, AKBD, Fresh Kitchen & Bath Design, Cary, N.C.

Of all these avenues, which ones have brought you the most business?

Paul McAlary: Besides referrals, the best investment to least:
The chat box on our website, our website itself, Houzz free listing, Houzz paid listing, blogs, Facebook dark posts, Youtube, Customer Lobby, PPC Google ads, PPC Yahoo ads, Remarketing Ads, Home Adviser, NARI Memberships, Yelp, Angies List.
After these there is little determinable ROI on our other efforts, but even so our efforts on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, etc., help us come up better on internet searches. In comparison, we monitored a large Yellow Page ad for a year and received zero leads.

Anne Harvey: Being a natural skeptic, I have come to some conclusions regarding social media; mainly that their main objective is to make money, not help me be successful – although they are more than happy to take my money and make empty promises about how paying for their service will get me more clients.

We have a society of window shoppers and DIYers. Many users of social media are not out there looking for professionals no matter what the “pros” tell us. They want free ideas they can execute themselves or as cheaply as possible.
I don’t answer the phone when I see Houzz, Home Advisor, etc., on my caller ID. The most successful designers and trade professionals get all their new business via referrals and stay booked months in advance.

Paul McAlary: There is no question that referral business is the best, but no business can grow or even remain static without non-referral customers added to their pool of customers. Getting fresh customers from varied sources also makes a business more sustainable during tough economic times. Advertising – even if it’s simply putting out flyers or signs on lawns – is essential. And the best ways to advertise change yearly.

I am the biggest of skeptics but also try to be open to new ideas, products and advertising trends. Mastering using social media to create business is difficult, and most people selling their services to help you do it won’t succeed unless your business is a very common type that there are known techniques for. And you must excel at any type of advertising to make it work. I know business owners that do incredibly well using Houzz, Home Advisor or Angie’s list, but they put a huge effort into making it work for them,

Denise Butchko, Butchko & Co., Chicago

Not having a presence on social platforms is equivalent to not having a website in today’s market. Your online presence and image are researched by customers to develop trust before they contact you. These platforms are not created to help fill the top of your sales funnel, and you can’t “spend your way” to leads. You can, however, support your organic efforts with paid efforts to increase the qualified leads that can come to your business.
Yes, all platforms will accept your money. That doesn’t guarantee business any more than a Yellow Page ad or even a print or TV campaign guarantees leads.

Anne Harvey: I may not be a fan, but it is a necessary component in today’s world. I have a website, Facebook page, etc., write a blog, create customized flyers and have lawn signs. I didn’t mean to imply that I don’t use social media.

Paul McAlary: Here’s a funny story of how bad advertising won’t help you.
Thirty years ago there was a tool company that advertised in the Yellow Pages across from my ad as a general contractor. I know from the size of the ad that it cost $500 per month in 1986. The advertisement should have read:
Whatever your needs may be, we have what you are looking for. Unfortunately, for five years before they went out of business, it read:
Whatever your needs, maybe we have what you are looking for.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apr 22 2016

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Best Practices for Getting Published

Blog Coverings Session

Last week during Coverings 2016, I was part of a panel titled “Getting Published,” which focused on best practices for industry professionals and their PR counterparts to get their projects and products under an editor’s radar.

The panel also included Elaine Markoutsas, a columnist with the Chicago Tribune and Modern Luxury Chicago; Eileen Kwun, senior editor of Dwell; Julie Taraska, products editor for Architectural Record; and moderator Paul Makovsky, editorial director for Metropolis.

418 KBB Raw2

Here is an abridged version of the session with some key points to consider when pitching to an editorial personality – specifically mine.

– Email is better than calling since we can’t see pictures on a call. The call will come later if we set up an interview.

– Send professional photos. You can send low-res at first, but make sure you have the high-res versions and the rights to the photos so we have permission to use them. Please do not send a query without a photo.

– For extremely large photos, consider using a platform like Wetransfer or Dropbox to send those. Make sure you tell us who you are and which project it is when you send files from those sources.

– Let us know how old – or new – the project or product is.

– Specifically for projects, tell us if you are pitching it to multiple sources or if it has already been published in a similar publication/outlet.

– If it is a project, let us know what the reader may learn from it. We want to feature more than just an attractive kitchen, bath or showroom.

– Once you have emailed us, we will respond as soon as we can, but let us contact you if we are planning to cover what you sent. Our inboxes are ALWAYS full, so please do not send repeat emails.

– A lot of publications work weeks – and even months out – for their issues, so study the editorial calendar online to see what’s coming up in advance of contacting us.

– Make sure you know to whom you are pitching and that the content applies to that publication.

– It also helps to know the publication’s audience.

Those simple tips will make everyone’s experience easier when it comes to submitting projects/products to media outlets. If you have any questions, please email me at Chelsie.butler@emeraldexpo.com. You can also visit our social media sites to get to know us better:

Twitter: @kbbconnect
Instagram: kbb_magazine
Linked In: KBB Design Network

Jan 14 2016

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5 Best Practices for KBIS Marketing


Floor shot

1. Stand Out. With hundreds of exhibitors, thousands of attendees and more events, sessions and activities than we can count, there are many opportunities to get your brand noticed at the show. Here are a few approaches to make sure that you stand out:

·      Partner Up: Joining forces with like-minded brands helps increase your footprint and impact. Cross promote your major products in partner booths, join forces to sponsor (and sit on) a panel session, and collaborate to co-host an experience for media or bloggers.

·      Get Involved: Make sure that your brand has a presence outside of your booth. Take advantage of networking opportunities, co-host educational sessions or sponsor a party or event. These activities get you out in front of people in unexpected ways and keep your brand name top of mind.

·      Find Your Voice: Identify a key point person to speak out on your behalf and help you rise above the clutter. Having a singular voice creates consistency of message and helps elevate you as an expert in your field.

2. Get Scheduled. Once you have your game plan in place, it’s not enough to simply stand in your beautifully designed booth and hope to catch media as they tour the show floor. Our job as an agency is to identify media who would be a good fit for your brand or product collection and make sure that you’re fitting into their busy schedules.

3. Do Your Homework. The real work is in the planning, which ensures that your time on site is as productive as possible. We help our clients develop a detailed schedule, making special note of important sessions to attend, networking events and appointments. We do our homework before, during and following the show to make sure that no opportunity is lost.

4. Be Social. Attendees are increasingly turning to social media to find out what’s trending at major events. Posting consistently and compellingly from your booth and around the show will ensure that you have a voice in that conversation.

·      Listen: Monitor the show hashtags to make sure you’re abreast of the latest trends and news.

·      Join In: Like, comment on and reply to messages from influential people. Provide value to these conversations beyond just talking about your products.

·      Get Creative: Make sure that your visuals are clear, compelling and sized appropriately for each channel. Short videos, GIFs and other dynamic content also help to catch the eye.

·      Go Live: Unveiling a product? Think about experimenting with Periscope or other live video offerings to give followers a behind-the-scenes debut.

5. Have Fun. And remember, have fun! These types of events are great opportunities for building relationships. Attending networking events, dinners and parties creates chances for you to meet new people, solidify friendships and cultivate partnerships. Enjoy!

– By Sharp Communications. Follow the Sharp team on Twitter @sharp_think or by using #SHARPxKBIS”

Nov 11 2015

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Five Online Metrics You Need for Lead Generation (and Five You Don’t)

Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For years I’ve listened to a host of consultants, speakers and experts talk to kitchen and bath companies about their online strategies and all of the different steps they must take to be successful. But when it comes to the online metrics that help companies to grow, the so-called experts are carefully vague, generalizing the online experience as “lead generation.”

Understanding the online world – and its role in helping you grow sales – is more important than ever. So understanding online metrics – the right metrics – is critical to making better marketing decisions and evaluations.

Here are five pairs of common online metrics and explanation regarding why one matters and why the other is likely to be misleading to you.

1. Visitors vs. Visitors from within Your Marketing Territory. Do most of your customers live in a specific geographic area? I’m willing to bet the answer is yes. After all, kitchen and bath designs or remodels by their very nature involve showing up, in person, at the homes of your prospects.

The broader point is that you can’t sell a kitchen or bathroom to homeowners on the other side of the country. If you operate in a territory 100 miles around St. Louis, why would visitors from Seattle matter to you?

If you hire a firm to boost your website rankings (commonly known as an SEO firm), we recommend that you incent your provider not just to drive traffic, but to drive traffic from visitors in your particular sales or service area. You can track the location of visitors through a free Google Analytics account.

2. Leads vs. Issued Leads. What’s “a lead” anyway? The truth is, it could be almost any name, address, phone number or combination thereof. And for many lead-generation companies, that broad definition is exactly what they use when promising to “deliver leads.”

But that’s not what you need – particularly when it comes to online lead sellers. Instead, you want to measure “issued leads,” defined as leads given to a salesperson to follow up on after your team has spoken to an interested homeowner. Those are the leads that result in sales.

Lead quality matters, and there are important differences between what one provider considers a lead and what you consider a good sales opportunity. Here’s an example: According to lead sellers, a “bathroom remodeling lead” could be a $60,000 master bath project or a $400 tub re-glaze.

There are huge differences among these opportunities – even though lead sellers typically refer to them the same way. It’s a game so many lead-generation companies play to goose their numbers – and their profits.

3. Clicks vs. Conversions. Clicks have been around as an online metric since the dawn of the Web, but clicks for their own sake don’t matter. Clicks from India, for example, are not only not in your marketing territory, they probably aren’t even real people (e.g. “click-bots”). Traffic that stays on your website for a second (literally) also isn’t coming from a real person, let alone a bath or kitchen prospect, and doesn’t provide any value to you. Yet, these register as clicks.

Online marketing companies will also do things to deliberately increase their volume. It’s incredibly easy to send unqualified traffic from social media promotions or to place links to your site all over the Web – where they know it will get phantom visitors. Or, they can resort to dozens of other methods that appear to generate visitors.

You want flesh-and-blood homeowners visiting your site, so you need to move from “clicks in general” to “clicks that matter.” Which clicks matter? Those that lead to conversions. Google Analytics can help you see where the clicks come from, who spends time on your website and whether they’re interested in your kitchen or bath options.

4. Phone Calls vs. Qualified Phone Calls. Pay-per-call services are growing in popularity; they generate leads in the form of phone calls to you, and you pay based on the number of phone calls you get. When you sign up with a service to generate phone calls, it’s in their best interest to generate as many calls as possible. Shady tactics include putting your name and number out to cold call lists and auto-dialers, as well as having technology to call you at night – after business hours. Then they trumpet their results back to you: “Look at all the calls our program is generating for you!” The solution is to monitor your telephone traffic by checking for length of call, listening to sample recordings and understanding which calls are billable vs. those calls that are no good.

5. Social Followers vs. Reviews. “Followers,” “Likes” and “Fans” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and elsewhere are all the rage these days. Not only are these social metrics hip, they’re easy to measure.

The problem is that few have found a significant correlation between this type of activity and leads for kitchen and bath businesses. Social media has a supporting relationship for your brand, but it doesn’t drive any volume of leads.

Social reviews by customers, on the other hand, are extremely valuable because reviews are a new type of “online currency.” The more you have, the more likely Google, Yahoo and others will rank your website near the top of your local kitchen and bath listings.

The important thing is to make sure you actively ask customers to go onto Yelp, Google and Angie’s List and review your company. It will take the homeowner five minutes, but it can pay big dividends for you in the search engine rankings.

Activity – even precisely measured activity – can be easily confused with results. Nowhere is this more common than when gauging success online. If you keep your focus on the metrics that matter, you’ll drive more sales via the Web. All the best in online success!

– Todd Bairstow is co-founder and principal of Keyword Connects (keywordconnects.com).