KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for October, 2013

Oct 29 2013

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Social Media for Interior Designers, Architects and Kitchen and Bath Manufacturers: Part One

Social media done well can be the most important toolkit for kitchen and bath professionals to develop their competitive edge. Show their expertise, value and thought leadership to potential and repeat clients. Continually improve their knowledge in any area including trends, products, news, business management and innovations. Create relationships within the industry and for new clients with an ease and international distance that would have been impossible at first.

Why You Should Prioritize Social Media
Why should social media be a priority in your kitchen and bath business? Simply put, your goals can be divided into business development, continuing education, relationship building and thought leadership with peers and customers.

Design is visual, and we are a more visual society. Social media, chosen correctly, is heavily dependent on pictures, infographics and graphs that reach the audience you seek. Your work will often sell itself. Think of many social networking sites as today’s version of when customers would clip magazine pictures for their idea books. Houzz.com, for example, does exactly that:  enables consumers to create Ideabooks out of photographs uploaded by industry professionals and then search for and contact professionals in their area.

Architects, interior designers, and more ∨

Before starting a bathroom remodel, search for bathroom ideas and interesting products, including a one-of-a-kind tub, vanity and bathroom sink.
For small bathroom ideas, browse photos of space-saving bathroom vanities and clever hidden recessed medicine cabinets.

First, your customers are online. While just seven years ago only eight percent of America’s adults were online, now 85 percent of them are online, and 72 percent use social networking sites (Pew Internet August 2013). While you should look at the population of particular social media when choosing where to spend your time and energy, in general at least an equal amount of people using social networking are women who make decisions and buy online and are college educated and within the highest income brackets. The 70 million baby boomers – 80 percent of whom own their homes and spend money on home improvement – are actually the fastest-growing segment on social media.

Secondly, social media increases traffic to your website. Some sites are very good at directly bringing people to your website, and others help increase your SEO (search engine optimization – how likely that your information will rank highly on the first page of the big search engine sites like Google and Bing). Social media can do more than tags and other optimization programs because they are built naturally to take what you post and attach it to your rank.

Create a Website that Sells Your Expertise
I am constantly surprised at how many designers, architects and some of the smaller manufacturers neglect their websites. In today’s day and age, especially in an industry that is so visual, your website should be your absolute best foot forward. Having a good online presence and using a lot of pictures and videos significantly sets you apart, and without it, many buyers will just never even give you a chance because they have learned to go online when looking for recommendations and when doing research about firms, services and products.

In brief, your website in a “must do” in any social media plan. It should have a combination of corporate brochures and a more interactive blog that includes news, events, trends – something that shows off your personal work and your expertise by educating people for free.  While WordPress and Blogger make it increasingly easy to create and/or maintain your own website for free, and if you are heavily involved in social media, your site can be a “landing page” website that points to all of your social media sites, your blog and other social media sites.

How to Be Successful on Social Media
It’s crucial in social media that you follow some basic “rules of engagement” to be successful. A good website for the kitchen and bath professional must:

– Be easy to navigate and read
– Provide a reason for users to visit repeatedly
– Collect emails and post new information consistently
– Have the ability for the user to engage through commenting
– Feature easily “Pinnable” photographs

If you ever have a question on how to engage in social media, think of the online world as the largest host of industry and consumer events. If all the opportunities for connecting and engaging with your peers, new products, consumers and continuing education were under the same massive convention center roof that was hosting events for fraternity gatherings and class reunions, you’ve entered the first page of any social media.

After you have defined your goals for social media, find and engage in the “right rooms” like you would at a convention center. This includes selecting the best platforms for you and then surrounding yourself with the people in your plan. Interact with people as you would at a cocktail party. At an industry after-hours event for professionals or consumers, would you wear a banner around your neck that read, “Read my Book!” “Visit my Website!” See what I have done!” and start conversations with a sales pitch? Of course not! The easiest rule for engaging in social media is to use the same manners and behavior that represent the transparent, authentic you.

In terms of your time and content, a good guideline is sharing in thirds: No more than 30 percent of your content should be about you, your projects, your skills, your awards, your clients, your posts and…well YOU. And when you are sharing your own “great stuff” directly, remember to please not post advertisements or even advertorials. When sharing about you, present your skills and expertise in ways that help those you want to reach such as case studies, before-and-after photos, teaching points for peers, etc.

The rest of your content sharing should be about others. Spend about half of this time sharing what others are doing – from industry trends to articles by colleagues and sites like www.kbbonline.com where you help others, establish your thought leadership and build relationships. Sites like bit.ly and scoop.it allow you to curate and save sites and share them with multiple social networks at the same time. Hootsuite enables you to schedule your messages so they go out at prime times for your market at a regular pace and so you don’t have to be online for the sharing of the first two kinds of content. A full third of your time should be direct engagement (not automated messages) with others through places like twitter chats, communities on Facebook, G+ and the new wave of industry-specific offerings online.

Social media is not broadcast media. It is first and foremost about building engagement, interaction and relationships. Say please and thank you. Recognize what others are doing. Develop relationships where the conversation doesn’t always have to be about work. Share. Share. Share. Give more than you ask or show about yourself. Be helpful. Be a valuable resource. Create and share resources of interest to your peers and consumers. Be a friend, colleague, expert – be REAL. Don’t be afraid to – in fact it’s expected that you do – share the personal you, your interests, family and day-to-day life conversations.

– Through Demand Design and its sister companies, Gail Zahtz solves similar challenges for the design and healthcare industries by enabling them to meet the needs of baby boomers. Specializing in all areas of experience design, Zahtz is the first leader to combine the best of universal, accessible, sensory, sustainable and evidence-based design. She will be speaking at KBIS on Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 12:30 p.m. on “Reaching and Designing for Baby Boomers.”

Oct 28 2013

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Digital Assets Keep Manufacturers up to Speed with Designer Demands

ID-10046415By David P. Warren

Dog-eared pages, tear sheets and snail mail sample requests don’t tuck neatly into the “virtual office” we all work and play in these days. Manufacturers are churning out new digital resources to drive inspiration and product selection as fast as product is coming off the factory line – to fit the new digital-based, on-the-go lifestyle you and your customers have come to expect. From revamped websites to virtual catalogs, inspiration apps, in-store integrations and real-time social media updates, brands want to be available where, when and on whatever device you need them most.

In our industry, many manufacturers do not have the luxury of e-commerce direct sales, as their dealers, showrooms and wholesalers deliver the physical product. Instead, they have learned to position their websites not as a shopping aisle, but a showroom of their product offerings and a resource for designers to draw inspiration.

Highly visual, sharable content like that found on Pinterest and Houzz provides a familiar format for browsing. Thanks to these social sharing sites, clients are becoming more involved in the design conversation from the outset, pulling inspiration from sites and coming to you with ideas before you put pen to sketch paper. With the help of direct links to product sites and brands tagging themselves on boards and images, you can more easily find resources to make a client’s pinned dream become a reality.

Virtual Catalogs
To keep the latest and greatest products at your fingertips, some manufacturers have converted their traditional print catalogs to virtual catalogs that can be easily accessed online, offline and on various devices such as smartphones and tablets through Apple and Android Apps, as well as on laptops. With updates in real time, you and your clients can have access to the latest and greatest products, images and specs so you know what to ask for when you go into a store.

These catalogs also incorporate intuitive search functions that provide suggestions based on your search query. You may be looking for one specific product, but the catalog can show you a handful of other options that may also work.

Find something you love? Catalog pages can be shared via email, social channels or even stored offline for later reference. These online applications even allow you to take notes on pages – no need for old-fashioned dog-earing or sticky notes.

Syncing up with Showrooming
Retailers and manufacturers have come to expect and encourage designers to use both online and in-store resources to inform purchases. As noted previously, many manufacturers do not sell directly to customers. When someone finds inspiration online, they may not know where to go to make that inspiration a reality.

Retailers and manufacturers also offer more interactive point-of-purchase displays, provide in-store Wi-Fi and create applications that provide on-demand information to make design decisions easier. For example, Electrolux recently launched a mobile app called Electrolux Concierge that can provide product information by scanning images off of in-store, point-of-purchase material.

Armed with an arsenal of products in the palm of your hand, you can work and collaborate more efficiently in the office or on the go. What to do with those old catalogs? They work nicely as a handy step stool.

 David P. Warren, Digital Marketing Manager, Dal-Tile

Oct 25 2013

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The New Face of Luxury

The New Face of Luxury

There is a difference between writing and hearing about innovative products and actually experiencing them. At the Kohler Editors Conference last week, I had a first-hand look at the glamour and invention behind some of these luxury kitchen and bathroom amenities.


My shower in the American Club Resort

As this was my first press conference and my first time to Wisconsin, I had little experience to draw on. I certainly did not expect to pull up to a historic hotel in a tiny, picturesque town and unlock the door to a gorgeous suite with an even more beautiful bathroom. Glass, above-counter Briolette vessels hovered above a dark, open-face vanity. Adjacent was a large, rather intimidating looking tub that I knew would get good use from me. And lastly, I found myself staring agog at the shower, which sported five different sprays, including a rainhead, which I had never actually used before.

Still overcome with glee, I used the spare hours I had the first afternoon to explore the town of Kohler.

Created in 1912 by the company, the little town looked like a live version of Monopoly complete with perfect lawns, a picturesque police and fire station and of


The Village of Kohler

course, the massive and historic Kohler factory.

On our three-hour walking tour of the factory, I learned more than I could take in but took away a few key understandings. The factory, housed in several buildings, creates Kohler’s products in a systematic, sustainable and artistic manner. Time is of the essence, and there was no standing around for any worker. I saw the both the integration of robotic technology, as well as the prevailing usefulness of people.

My favorite part was visiting the Arts/Industry building, where Kohler commissions arts to spend several months creating art using the

materials and equipment Kohler provides. Artists are only then required to donate a piece of art to Kohler by the end of their residency, which I saw evidenced throughout the town. I got to try my own hand at making a ceramic pot, but I’m doubtful Kohler will be taking me on anytime soon.

I got immersed even more in the products I had seen being made at the Kohler Waters Spa. I received a Riverbath and massage, and even as I went into the treatment having no clue what a riverbath was, I wasn’t too surprised to see a much larger, more intricate version of the bathtub in my suite. In the treatment, I was of course instructed to relax and enjoy the various settings in the tub, which included everything from a waterfall, different jets, heating, and colored lights. Instead of sitting calmly in the huge bath, I turned back into my six-year-old self–changing the colors, playing with the jet combinations and seeing how many different things I could make the tub too. It was by far the most fun I’ve ever had taking a bath.

The Kohler Design Center

The Kohler Design Center