Marketing your way out of a crisis…

The lockdown has given Darren Taylor, managing director of Searle & Taylor, the chance to examine his marketing activity closely, but is letting customers design their own kitchen online part of it?

I have written before that I decided a while ago to concentrate on marketing as I want to future-proof my business in every way possible because none of us quite knows what the future holds.

With the help of a fantastic design and writing team, I invested in a beautiful new 56-page brochure, which is going to print as I write. The digital version is available via my website and I am already building a database of potential clients that are interested in our work. I would never have normally made the time to dedicate to this project if it hadn’t been for lockdown, so there are some positives to all of this.

With the aid of my 16-year-old daughter who knows about all things video-content related, I now have three fantastic new videos for my website and I also have an account on something called TikTok as a result. I might possibly be the oldest person to appear on TikTok and the only one that isn’t dancing, but I am getting loads of views from young people whose parents might hopefully want a kitchen at some stage.

I also managed to make my own 360° panoramic film of my new upstairs showroom dedicated to ELK. However, Stephen Spielberg may not need to be too worried just yet, because as the camera spans around, you can actually see me crouched uncomfortably on a kitchen island in the reflection of an oven door.

On a more serious note, I chose not to take up any kind offers to add digital design software to my website for potential clients to use, because my business is aimed at a discerning purchaser and we offer a complimentary design service. Even though I have been a designer for nearly 30 years, I also found the software difficult to fathom without any formal training, because I still draw all my designs by hand, which are then converted to renders by others.

I do wonder how many kitchen companies benefited from presenting this opportunity to consumers? How many potential purchasers happily digitally designed their own kitchens in order to become potential future leads? Answers to the editor, please, as I am keen to adapt if this becomes the ‘new normal’.

Instead, I remained ‘old school’ and made yet another video to demonstrate how to measure your kitchen just using a pen, piece of paper and a measuring tape and that actually went rather well, and the phone did occasionally ring and I received website enquiries too, which I am still working through.

That said, because the phone did ring and people did still want to discuss having a new kitchen from me during the crisis, I found that I required the service of a freelance agent who can very competently use the latest up to the minute design software and he created stunning renders and fast. This really helped me while my designers were furloughed and when they return, I will be looking to invest in new design software in-house. Presenting this project using Zoom guaranteed a sale, so another positive drawn from this awful situation.

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