Trevor Scott, owner of Rugby Fitted Kitchens, shares his thoughts on how to use the power of marketing to ensure that your brand gets in front of as many potential customers as possible
Last month I, along with around 200 other retailers and suppliers, attended the kbbreview Retail and Design Conference, followed by the kbbreview Retail and Design Awards dinner at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.
You can read more about the conference on this month’s news pages (pgs 4-5), but one phrase came up again and again that resonated with me – ‘the power of the brand’.
We live in a multimedia, interactive world, dominated by brands – and consumers are drawn to them. The power of marketing means everyone has heard of major brands like Apple, Ford, Coca-Cola, Hovis, BT, Sky, etc.
Within our own industry, some will have heard of multinational appliance brands such as KitchenAid, AEG, Bosch, Neff, Hotpoint, Miele, Smeg, Zanussi and perhaps a few others. These are major names with huge marketing budgets, so no great surprise here. But who, and I mean no disrespect to them, outside of a narrow group of consumers neck-deep in purchasing mode, will have heard of, say, V-Zug or Bertazzoni?
And when it comes to kitchen furniture brands, I would suggest that, with the possible exception of Poggenpohl, Siematic, Smallbone, Magnet and perhaps Wren, nine out of 10 British consumers would struggle to name any.
As an independent kitchen specialist retailer, it is up to me to create a local or regional brand that, once a consumer is in the market for a kitchen (bedroom or bathroom), they recognise and search out.
How do we go about this? What follows may seem like teaching my grandmother how to suck eggs, but I hope some of it will be of use.
Once upon a time, our business was called Rugby Fitted Kitchens, which seemed reasonable, as we’re in Rugby and we supply kitchens. But outside of Rugby, who has heard of us and why would they want to travel from Leicester or Northampton to visit a ‘local’ kitchen retailer?
So a couple of years ago, for our regional and national advertising, we rebranded as RFK. We de-localised our brand. This alone has broadened our appeal to a much wider market and now we’re regularly supplying kitchens 50 to 60 miles away and have done work in south London, the Home Counties, East Anglia, mid-Wales, Essex, France and even Barbados.
A wise old marketer once told me that half of all advertising is a waste of money – the clever bit is knowing which half. So it’s important to spread your budget across all valid platforms carefully – and regularly, as you never know when the next high roller will be in the market.
Local print advertising in the paid-for or free papers is, in my opinion, a waste of time now. Yet, simply because of the need to keep the tap dripping with a level of subliminal awareness, we still appear every few weeks in the largest local rag. Most of our print advertising budget, which has been hugely reduced as we have grown, now goes on either local A5 colour periodicals targeted at the ABC1 demographic, or in KBB national consumer glossies.
These adverts are designed to drive traffic firstly to our websites and then through our doors.
And talking of websites, is yours mobile- or tablet-friendly? If not, it should be. One of ours is and the other, our main one, is currently being redesigned to be not only a tablet-friendly format. It can also be updated using a standard Content Management System in-house so that we can react to marketing and product changes quickly and inexpensively. It should have been done a year or more ago, but hey, we’re not perfect.
Do you have video clips on your site or a YouTube channel? You should. Google algorithms will boost sites with video content. And if you don’t have an up-to-date projects and case studies page, you’re missing out. Research has shown these are the most popular pages on KBB suppliers’ websites.
Our aim is to always be on the first page of any Google search below the paid-for ads.
Surely you’ve all got a Facebook page? But do you post on it regularly? Did you know there are better days and times of day to post? Did you know you can preprogram posts in advance? Posts shouldn’t all be sell, sell, sell, either. People often tell me, for example, that a recipe we posted on a Friday was tried and enjoyed at the weekend, so we know our followers are engaged with us. We prepare our posts a week or more in advance.
Although I’m not personally so keen on Twitter, we do participate. Pinterest, however, is really useful for getting your products noticed and shared. In fact, in its early days, we had a new Neff product pinned from our website even before Neff themselves did.
Houzz is becoming increasingly important to us, as more and more consumers are using it as a first point of contact for online home improvement research. We have a mini-site within Houzz. This encourages us to seek out more recommendations and get better photography done of our projects, as the site itself nags you to do so.
We also have a Google mini-site that is similar to our main site, but it all helps to square the circle and make sure that, however your product is searched for, all roads lead to you.
We’ve also been working with AdWords for the best part of a year now. Our budget is around the cost of a half-page in a local rag, but the benefits are tangible and the resultant analytics are worth their weight in gold.
Radio is another good channel. We have a really annoying jingle, but you won’t forget it in a hurry. It works for us, especially for ‘call to action’ campaigns.
I could go on, but the main thing to remember when working with any and all of the above, is cohesive joined-up thinking. Make sure all adverts, in whatever format, tell the same story at the same time.
And don’t forget events. We try to run at least five or six cookery demos a year. We prefer a formal, two-hour evening demo to an all-day rolling one on a weekend. We invite past, present and prospective clients and our attendance is rarely less than 40, and has been over 90.
Also, support external events. We provide local food festivals with a mobile demonstration kitchen and home economist. This year, we’re doing three.
Remember, it’s all about the brand – your brand. And don’t be afraid of bigging up your local brand by association with a major name such as, in our case, Neff.
And how do I find the time to do all this? I don’t. For the relatively low cost of between a half and a full day’s labour a week, I employ a social media and marketing specialist. And he’s in Cumbria. But that’s the great thing about the internet – I don’t need to be sat next to him.