“How do we get our interior finishes into the marketplace in the middle of a pandemic?”
This is a question we hear increasingly from manufacturers and distributors of interior finishes, whether they are involved in flooring, tiling, wallcovering or fabrics.
The honest answer is that it is really quite tricky, but one thing for certain is that it is very different in early 2021 than it was until early 2020. Specifiers are working from home in many cases, and cannot meet your specification reps. Retailers are closed under the highest levels of lockdown, and even when they are open they are reluctant to meet company representatives – after all, if you’re only allowed have two people into your shop at any one time, you probably don’t want one of these to be a rep!
Things have changed, and are unlikely to ever return to what they were.
Continuing to try and do things “the way we’ve always done them” is most likely a fast-track to business failure. So, if you are a manufacturer, distributor or contractor trying to succeed in the interiors industry, here are some tips for surviving (and hopefully thriving) in a changed business environment.
- Reach out to trusted clients and have open conversations about how the new operating reality has impacted on how they work. How do they communicate with clients, with suppliers, with regulators, with colleagues? It’s amazing to us how few people actually do this.
- Use insights gleaned from these conversations to establish how your own methods of operating need to adapt. Do you need to train your specification teams on how to do Zoom or MS Teams presentations properly? Can you adapt your CPD presentations to be delivered online? Does your website contain downloadable resources (specification sheets, colour charts, NBS specifications, Test certification, Warranty information etc)?
- Ensure that your website is properly optimised. How is it performing on Google search for your key products and services? Are key items on your website easy to find for users? Is there a chat function? Is there a sample ordering or consultation appointment request facility? Is your website visually attractive (the answer to this really needs to be a resounding ‘yes’!).
- Create a Marketing Strategy that fully integrates digital elements such as Social Media? Have you an in-house “digital champion” or do you need to outsource these elements to specialists? If you’re not already on social media, make a decision to get on it now. The recent Brands Survey Report 2020 from leading publication The Drum found Social Media to be the single most important component of the marketing mix. It is imperative though, that you decide to focus only on the platforms most relevant to your customers, and to invest time and resource into these. (See our Blog on “Best Social Media Platforms for Interior Finishes Manufacturers” for more on this).
- Evaluate your organisation and also your competitors versus “best-in-class” organisations from a marketing perspective. Can you gain a competitive advantage in your marketplace in any (or several) key areas by offering your products or services to key customers in a better way, one more appropriate to their needs, not just yours?
There is no doubt that this new situation is a challenge, and is especially daunting for companies who have not yet developed an online presence. However, that is where Inside Digital can help. We are the only Irish marketing consultancy focused exclusively on the interior finishes market. Our team have worked with significant global interior finishes manufacturers, as well as distributors and contractors over the past three decades, helping them to establish or build their market share in the Irish interiors market. We could do the same for you.
Why not get in touch and have a chat about how we can use this experience and our digital marketing expertise to help your company succeed? We’d be delighted to hear from you.