K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for Business

Jan 15 2018

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What Design School Didn’t Teach You

Wherever your trade was learned, it is unlikely that it taught you how to handle everything in your chosen field. Such things as difficult clients, marketing struggles and disaster installs are some situations a designer cannot learn in a classroom.

One Modenus Lounge Talk, “Things They Didn’t Teach You in Design School,” at last week’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show explored just this issue. Panelists included designer Cheryl Kees Clendenon of Pensacola, Fla.-based In Detail Interiors; Leanne Wood, principal of Flying Camel Advertising and PR; and KBB’s managing editor, Erinn Loucks. The panel discussed best ways to get published, how to use social media to your advantage and how to choose the best clients.

Picture Perfect. All three panelists agreed that good-quality photography is one of the best investments a designer can make. Professional photography on their websites and social media platforms can attract potential clients and can be used for pitches to interior design magazines. 

Using Instagram. This is an excellent tool for marketing your brand, however, it should not be mixed with your personal account. Unless it’s design related, save the photos of your kids at the beach for another place. Be sure not to always post other designer’s projects, and use the platform more to showcase your own designs.

Getting Published. Editors love to see new projects! All you need to grab our attention is to send us professional photography and characteristic features that might fit our publication. Designs that include universal features, sustainability, challenges or even unique colors or materials are great to point out. This goes for all trade and consumer publications; think creatively about how to present your projects, and consider what you as a reader would like to see and learn.

Choosing Your Clients. Starting out, it might seem like you should take every client who comes your way. However, knowing you can work well with them can start your career off with a good reputation and an easier project. Know how your personality works with other personalities and what kinds of projects at which you would excel. This will help eliminate problem clients and potential challenges from the outset.

What did you learn at KBIS 2018? Share with us on Facebook or on Twitter @KBBconnect. 

Dec 18 2017

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Market Smart: Make a Big Splash for Little Cash


If you’re spending big money on marketing, you’re probably wasting it.

Some of the best marketing that kitchen and bath professionals can do costs the least. Some of the most powerful promotion costs nothing at all. You can take the “price” out of your promotion and make a maximum impact for a minimal investment.

Step one in that process is to identify and promote your “Only.” This million-dollar marketing word can turn a bland brand into a killer commercial.

Are you the area’s ONLY kitchen and bath specialist who is also a Certified Living in Place Professional? Is yours the area’s ONLY award-winning design firm? Is yours the ONLY one that offers such a wide variety of cabinets? Tell me what only you do, and I’ll work only with you.

Once you have identified your “Only” phrase, include it in your social media profiles and in the “About Us” section on your website and Houzz site. Establish your expertise in the local marketplace, and communicate your credibility through videos, blog posts, articles and social media commentary. Use these low-cost and no-cost platforms to address kitchen and bath industry challenges, changes and trends. Include information wherever and whenever possible about your industry experience and accomplishments.

Make blogging the focal point of your “Big Splash, Little Cash” marketing campaign. Use your blog to offer solutions to the key problems your clients face. Your blog can:

·         Boost your credibility

·         Attract prospective buyers

·         Establish you as a resource for the trade media and other industry “influencers”

·         Enable you to start conversations about industry trends

·         Enhance your search engine rankings

·         Drive traffic to your website. Studies show that websites with blogs get 55 percent more visitors than those without them.      

Expand one of your posts or articles into a short report, and grow your database by offering the report online at no cost to those who provide you with their contact information. Then reach out to that database on a regular basis. Get into the “smile and dial” habit; make 10 contacts a day to those you need to know, and you’ll pump up your promotional pipeline in no time. Share that online special report with industry bloggers and the trade media, and offer to assist them the next time they’re looking for an industry expert to consult or quote.

Writing articles and columns and submitting news releases to industry and general media outlets are great ways to generate free publicity – the best advertising that kitchen and bath pros can’t buy. Savvy design professionals also use public speaking as an economical and efficient way to position themselves as industry authorities. Presenting seminars, classes and workshops to groups of prospective clients is smart marketing at its best.

You need not – and should not – fly solo in your personal marketing efforts. Partner in your promotion by aligning with allied professionals, and seek marketing support from vendors and suppliers. The good news is that you don’t need a big marketing budget to make a big marketing impact. There’s no need to be rich to get recognized. You can use no-sweat, low-cost marketing strategies to make a big splash for little cash.

Fred Berns, a design industry coach and copy writer, is the author of the audio program entitled Million Dollar Marketing on a Shoestring Budget.

Sep 19 2017

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Use Your Bio to Promote the Star You Are

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It has never been easier to get the kitchen and bath services and products you sell elsewhere. Competition is intense. Search for “kitchen and bath professionals Denver” on Google, for example, and you come up with more than 2.8 million listings in a nanosecond.

But there’s one thing that prospective clients can’t get elsewhere: YOU. That’s why it’s absolutely, positively critical these days for you to sell yourself, as well as your services.

There’s no better vehicle for you to make that personal sale than through your bio on your website, your Houzz site and in social media. That bio is your most important online and print personal marketing tool; the vehicle you can use to explain all that you do, all that you’ve done and all that you can do – and how well.

Problem is, most K&B industry bios undersell the professionals they’re supposed to promote. They’re often vague and wordy and, in many cases, are more of a hindrance than a help. A poorly written bio can block you rather than boost you – and disqualify rather than qualify you for the kind of projects and clients you want and need.

You can’t advance to the next level in your kitchen and bath career with a personal profile that fails to distinguish and differentiate you: you can’t get good clients with a bad bio.

What does it take to create a profile that spells out your special-ness, establishes your expertise and communicates your credibility? To craft a killer bio, include your:

+ “Only” phrase (____ is the area’s only kitchen designer who…)
+ Experience
+ Skills, specialties, capabilities
+ Awards and honors
+ Client profile (who you serve and how)
+ Accomplishments
+ Unique services and products
+ Publication history (where/how you’ve been published)
+ Resources (vendors, contractors, etc.)
+ Affiliations
+ Educational background
+ Other qualifications

Use your bio to explain who you work with, and how. Include the benefits you offer and how you help clients overcome their most formidable design challenges. Point out how you help them save time, money and stress and make it possible for them to enhance the value and the resale value of their living space.

And don’t forget to talk about your team in your promotional profile. Point out how you work with some of the area’s foremost contractors and that you have access to a national (and international?) network of vendors and suppliers.

When you create and promote an effective bio, you ensure that the people you need to know…know you. Your bio is your very best way in these highly competitive times to blow your horn and toot your flute.

Fred Berns is a design industry coach and copy writer – http://interiordesignbusiness.net

Jul 17 2017

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Artificial Intelligence and Interior Design

Above image: A simulation of a design created by Artificial Intelligence.

It’s not just science fiction. Artificial intelligence (AI) is starting to leak into our daily lives, from Siri to smart appliances and Amazon Alexa. According to a recent report from Tractica, a market intelligence firm, AI software applications will grow from $1.4 billion in 2016 to $60 billion by 2025.

Planner 5D, a consumer-focused interior design app, is currently creating machine learning algorithms that will train on more than 40 million real user projects. The app’s AI is also learning general interior design rules, technical requirements and how to match colors and styles. For example, the app is learning that a TV cannot be placed in front of a window or it will reflect light; that a bed should stand sideways to a window and that a couch should be placed in front of a TV or a fireplace in the living room.

Our question was, will technology like this make professional designers irrelevant in the future? We talked with Alexey Sheremetyev, co-founder of Planner 5D, to find out more.

The Advantages of AI in an App

Speed is the main factor. Any design project takes a long time, because a person working on it needs to think each detail over and sometimes mistakes happen. Computers work much faster and use information that has been collected from other users and projects. AI doesn’t make mistakes either, unless there was a human error in programming. Therefore, AI can design any typical project much faster and with better quality. A user will only have to edit the final product according to their wishes. That also affects the price, making design much cheaper, since the process will be much faster.

AI and Clients

A user has to choose a space they will be designing, put down the walls and windows and indicate the address of the house. AI will then calculate sunlight and other parameters necessary for the project. Then a user has to choose what kind of space this will be (bedroom, kitchen, living room, etc.), select the style (Provence, modern, Scandinavian, etc.) and color palette. In a few minutes, they will have their project ready.

AI and Interior Designers

If a designer is working on creative projects, AI can hardly help. But if a designer is creating various similar-looking projects by using one template that only needs to be adjusted and modified, then this is a job for AI. For example, AI can be successfully used for a multi-apartment buildings or new-build developments where the houses look similar and have similar floor plans. A designer can prepare one project, and AI will be able to adjust it to other apartments or houses.

What influence do you think AI will have on the industry? Let us know on Facebook or on Twitter @kbbconnect.