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Know your channels: Keep them close to get closer to your High-End home consumers

Wayne McMaster

3 April 2014

Smart interior brands are working with and through their dealers and designers to get closer to their consumers

As a manufacturer of high end interior products, you may not have a clear line of site to all those involved the channels that specify, supply, deliver, install, and most importantly sell you product. Do you know them all?

You may ‘know’ the interior designers, architects, specifiers and who the dealers are. You read the trade publications, you go to conferences, you subscribe to newsletters. But do you really know what that person needs from your company to help inspire and influence the home owner's purchase?

While you have spent all that money on your brand, your website, your amazing new iPad app, does it mean anything to the person down the channel? This person may be sitting across the dining room table, on the job-site or in latter stages of home making purchasing decisions with the homeowner. What does it mean to them?

Many times, the interior designer has a great influence over the homeowner and what are they armed with? Their own marketing materials. Maybe they use your brochure, but in the end people buy from people they know, like and trust. No one trusts a brochure or an iPad app in the same way.

As budgets become available now that the recovery is here, be sure to include all the stops on your sales channel. Remember to equip everyone with what they need to help the next stop on the channel. Your one-step dealer/designer channel doesn’t have to be onerous – and high-end home brands don’t necessarily have to cede control of their consumer relationship to dealers and interior designers.

Make the effort to understand these professionals. Research them. Sit with them at the table with the homeowner. Put the time in to see how they use your cool new gadgets vs what they are comfortable using. You might be surprised at the wide range of options you need to provide.

You also have to think about how your brand message is delivered. It is the last stop in the funnel. Think about how you enable the sales process to occur as easily as possible. Are you making it easy for the designer or dealer to sell your products?

Here are four things manufacturers can do succeed:

  1. Keep your channels close. Work with dealers/specifiers to understand what support/collateral helps them influence the home owner's decision and secure the sale
  2. Word of Mouth Still Rules. How can you enable your end consumer to share her purchase with the world? Many manufacturers have leveraged social media to allow consumers to brag about their purchase and support the brand.
  3. Follow-Up After the Sale. What ways can you touch your end consumer after the sale, not necessarily with another sales message, but with a thoughtful communication that will endear her to your brand?
  4. Capture Sales Data. Smart manufacturers are devising ways to capture data that they did not previously have. For instance, one premium home brand offers a post-purchase gift, but the dealer and the designer have to share the consumer data in order for the manufacturer to ship it.
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