Show the World You’re An Expert
You’ve worked hard. You’ve worked long hours. You’ve put blood, sweat and some tears into building your business. Now it’s time to show the world what you know and put that school-of-hard-knocks knowledge – that expertise – to good use.
You want to showcase your expertise so that you position yourself as an authority and enjoy the credibility that comes with it.
AFTER ALL, YOU EARNED IT!
Think of yourself as an expert CONTENT PROVIDER, one who will generate interesting, relevant information packaged in a way that is appealing to homeowners and people considering becoming homeowners. Or even people who live in houses. With the proliferation of HGTV, practically everyone is interested in home-related topics.
Let’s start with the most obvious choice – blogging.
Let’s Go Blogging
When starting a blog, the hardest part isn't how to set it up online. No, it's creating interesting content that people will actually want to read.
We have a few suggestions.
Think about the kinds of things you can write about. Try focusing on all things home-related that involve cabinetry. This could include the obvious kitchen and bath design issues, but you can expand that into home offices, entertainment centers, laundry rooms, garages, master closets, dressing rooms.
When you start to drill down, you’ll find endless inspiration. LED lighting, countertop materials, cabinetry care and maintenance, smart appliances, colors for the home, etc. etc. etc. What are some things that people need to watch for? Or watch out for?
You know all this from what you do for a living. All you have to do is think about what you do every day, the questions prospects ask you, the information you provide when meeting with clients in their homes.
Sit down with your laptop or tablet and come up with 100 ideas for blog posts. Yes, 100. You should be able to it in your sleep.
Next, create the outline for the first five articles so you know where you’re going to start and end.
Then you have to actually know how to write. You’re not writing the Great American novel, but you do need to have a cohesive thought process that explains things in an interesting way. Remember Freshman Comp? This is where that knowledge comes in handy.
The best way to write is first person. You’re positioning yourself as the expert and speaking from your own point of view, so use “I.” Assume your reader has no background knowledge on the subject you’re writing about. Keep articles to about 700 to 1,200 words.
Don’t overlook attention-grabbing headlines. Remember your marketing basics: Interrupt your readers with the headline, engage and educate them with your article.
Movin' On Up - Local Newspapers
Once you have several articles posted to your blog and “in the can” so to speak, it’s time to find a wider audience.
Every town has local newspapers that report things like high school sports, church fund-raisers, and city council meetings. Usually these newspapers are free and are supported by local business advertising.
These local papers offer a nice, easy opportunity for your marketing efforts. All you have to do is become a regular contributing columnist (or blogger—it’s essentially the same thing) and you’ll realize big rewards. (More on rewards later.)
These little newspapers struggle to find original editorial content. If you approach the newspaper with an offer to write a bi-monthly blog / article for their newspaper / website and you’ll do it for free, you’ll most likely have a receptive audience.
You don’t want to just tell the editor you have a “great idea” for some home improvement articles. You need to show him or her you already have content prepared. Share a list of some headlines you have prepared in advance (20 should do it) that are interesting and catchy. Take them from your blog posts, but if you need more, here’s a few examples to get you started:
The Secret of a Stress-Free Kitchen Remodel
Is Your Kitchen Embarrassing You?
The #1 Most Common Mistake When Hiring A Remodeler
You should also have actual articles already written, not just ideas for articles. Together with your headlines, three articles are enough to impress whomever you show that you’ve come prepared and that you have a plan for writing the rest of the articles.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the paper several times if you don’t hear from them right away.
Even if they say no, don’t worry. You can still use the articles on your own website and blog and in your email marketing. Put the editor on your email distribution list and send them the articles consistently over time so they can see the type of information you have to offer. Be patient. Be persistent.
You're In A Special Position
As a business owner in the kitchen design / remodeling world, you have several unique publications and websites that will gladly accept your articles. Kitchen+Bath Business and Kitchen and Bath Design News actively solicit articles from industry experts on relevant topics, including “Before and After Case Studies.”
And then there’s Houzz.com. They have a dedicated section for industry professionals to post articles showcasing their expertise on topics that consumers are hungry to learn about.
The procedure for getting your articles to editors at industry-specific magazines and websites is pretty much the same as those outlined for the local papers. Pitch your ideas to the editors by submitting your headlines as a “teaser”, then follow up to determine if they have any interest.
Ok, now about those benefits...
When articles you write are featured in the newspaper or on the newspaper’s website, or – hopefully – both, you get credit for being the expert on that topic.
You can promote this from that moment forward. You are a published expert on kitchen design and remodeling! It doesn’t matter if people actually read the articles; just knowing that you are an expert puts you way ahead of your competitors.
Huge SEO Boost
Since local newspapers are… well, local… that’s a very positive thing regarding SEO for businesses like yours. Every time one of your articles is posted on the newspaper’s website and linked to your own website, Google is going to notice and consider that a very important link.
After a year of weekly or bi-monthly articles, when people in that local market search for home improvement topics, not only will the articles themselves come up, your website will come up, too.
Google will know that you are the local expert. You will get that credit and your rankings will go up. Your leads will go up, as well as your sales and profits.
And that's a fact.
Kitchen Design Partner offers a Package that includes Content Marketing, Blog Posts and articles of interest. Contact us online at www.kitchendesignerpartner.com
or call 888-766-8470 to learn more .
We create and follow trends, as does the fashion world. And we both sell the same things: beauty, glamour, luxury, romance, sex. And all of us would be lost without photography.
Yet, unlike the world of fashion, many kitchen designers do not appreciate or understand the power of photography. They think a quick snap with their cell phone and they’re good.
Not So Fast
As a business owner, you have to showcase images that help you stand out from the crowd.
Good photography can mean the difference between “just ok” and “great”. Think how you come across to your prospects. If your photos look cheap, expect people to start out with you by asking “how much”?
If your photos convey quality, you will attract customers who value quality and are willing to pay for it. Low quality photos translate to low quality workmanship. And vice versa.
You want your photographs to capture images that will support and grow your brand and tell a visual story of who you are. People shopping for a new kitchen need to see photos to stir their imagination. Most people do not have the ability to visualize what their new space will look like. That’s why Houzz exploded when it appeared – it fulfills the need of homeowners who want to SEE what their remodels will look like.
What Makes a Photo Good?
What goes into making a kitchen photo good or not-so-good? Let’s illustrate with some... um... photographs.
We’ll start with a good photo. What makes it good? This is a long, narrow, galley-style kitchen and yet from the angle chosen by the photographer, you can clearly see all elements of the room - sink, stove and fridge, industrial-style faucet, even a section of the hood. You are invited into the scene to explore the rooms beyond. You’re enticed and intrigued. The lighting is kept basic to add drama. The simplicity of the design is further enhanced by the minimal styling; two colored vases provide a contrast to the white of the cabinets, countertops and backsplash. Everything is balanced and in proportion; no one element overpowers the shot. Your response to it is immediate and emotional.
Your prospects don’t need to analyze a great photo like we just did. It speaks to them and charms them, and they don’t know why. It just does. That’s a good photo.
Kitchen Photo No-nos
Now let’s look at a few “bad” photos. We probably don’t even have to say why this one is bad. This is a beautiful kitchen! Look at all the things that make it desirable: two different finishes, stainless steel appliances, stone floor, subway tiles. And yet, we look at this and think - I don’t want a kitchen designer whose work is shown like this. Do they even know what level and square is?
How could this be fixed? A tripod will hold your camera steady and help to square up the shot.
Here’s another fabulous kitchen shown in a bad way. What color is this room anyway? Is it white? Is it gray? How can we tell when the lighting is so poor.
How to fix this? Either Photoshop or other digital photo-editing software can add some brightness and/or contrast. Or you can get some lights at a photo supply store that provide indirect lighting that won't create "hot spots" and will bounce light off the ceiling.
One more example of “bad” that could have been “good.” Poor lighting and fuzzy focus do not show this nice kitchen to any advantage. Again, Photoshop or other digital photo-editing software could revive this photo that is now D.O.A.
Styling the Shot
In our design world, there are other factors to consider when photographing finished jobs. Staging the shot shows how a kitchen will look when it’s lived in.
At left is a lovely kitchen, completely bare. The shining hardwood floors, beadboard sides on the island, the custom wood hood, furniture feet on the sink base are fabulous custom kitchen features worth looking at. But wouldn’t bar stools, flowers, possibly a bowl of fruit make it look more appealing and inviting?
The photo (below) is the ideal to which all photo staging should aspire. Not only is this kitchen fabulous in all its white glory, the photo is staged perfectly. Note how the accessories complement the completed kitchen in a way that looks “real.” They fill in empty spaces, but don’t overpower the overall room design.
Photo staging doesn’t get any better than this.
And then there’s this (left). Whoever took this photograph was looking over the cabinet blankets at the lovely cabinets and counter and appliances beyond. This is where a professional photographer would save your shot. You would not get a photo like this if a professional was involved.
Truly this photo is unusable because of the poor staging and layout. And that’s a shame because there are features that are worth showcasing.
Vertical? or Horizontal? It's How You Use It.
Something else to consider when setting up shots is whether you want a horizontal or vertical layout. You will get more of the room in a horizontal shot, but vertical gives a different perspective.
Compare these two photos (above). Same room, one vertical and one horizontal. Which one is “better”? There is no correct answer. It just depends on how you want to use the photo.
Pros are Your New Best Friends
As every business tries to market themselves to attract customers, the quality of their photos becomes increasingly more important. You have to produce photos of your work that help you stand out from the competition.
When your marketing photos are professional, they will attract customers, create value in the eyes of your prospects, and build your brand. Think of all the different ways you can use photos: Pinterest, Houzz, your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, news releases, articles for local publications, email marketing, and more.
Kitchen Design Partner will assist you in placing your photos where you will get the most "bang for your buck".
The photo at left is a dark and fuzzy and out of focus cell phone shot of a very nice kitchen. (In defense of the photographer, this was a scouting shot taken before a professional shoot. Seeing the scouting shots allows the pro to know what to expect when he arrives with his equipment.) The quality of photos from cell phones has come a long way, but they are still far inferior to a professional shoot.
Below is the same room, shot by a professional. What a difference! Details are crisp, and lighting creates an appealing glow on the hardwood floor. Compare the backsplash behind the range in both photos and see which one you want representing your work. Yes, professional photography can be pricey, but it is so so so worth it.
In addition to superior equipment, the professional has a trained “eye.” He or she knows how to frame the shot to best capture the spirit of the space. The pro knows how to light the scene, something amateurs struggle with. And the professional knows just where to place the fruit and the wine to fill any blank spaces. What he sees in the camera is completely different from what you see looking at the same thing.
In today’s digital world, you get to see what your photo will look like on the computer screen before the camera shutter clicks. Don’t like the way the light reflects off the backsplash? Move the camera up or down, adjust the lighting. Don’t like the cupcakes in the shot? Take them out. Gone are the days of agonizing over a shot and then having to decide if you like it after looking at Polaroids.
Kitchen Design Partner recommends forming a working relationship with a professional photographer so he or she can get to know what you want in your photos to best showcase your work. You get to know how they work and what they charge. It’s a win-win for both of you.
Photography creates instant reactions. In the first few seconds, photography conveys your message in a powerful way, compelling people to take a closer look.
Our industry is highly visual. People are highly visual. We all require photographs to help us experience our world, market our products and sell our services. As the old saying goes: sell the sizzle, not the steak. And your photos provide that sizzle.
One More Perfect Photo Before We Go
Although this isn't a kitchen, it was taken to show cabinetry in a family room. Notice the artfully placed accessories. You just want to snuggle up in that chair with the luxurious throw, don’t you? The shot is well lit, the framing is square and level, and the cabinets create a strong background and are shown to their best advantage. And most importantly, you want to know more about how you can achieve that look in your own home.
And that, my friends, is what marketing is all about.
Kitchen Design Partner offers a Local Foundation Package that includes how to use your photographs to best advantage. Contact us online at www.kitchendesignerpartner.com or call 888-766-8470 to learn more about how to increase your online reviews.
Kitchen Design Partner
We've got the insider's perspective on what it takes to build the most successful kitchen and bath design businesses in the country.