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Designer Contracts’ digital world

Louise Walters, commercial director for Designer Contracts, provides her thoughts on how flooring companies can make digital work for them.

An essential part of any marketing, a company’s website is the shop window on your business and critical to giving a flavour of who you are and what you do. Style and content will vary according to whether its B2B or B2C but it needs to be visually appealing and say who you are, what you do, where you do it, and what makes you different.

Most companies are now pretty well versed in what they need and want from a website; and understand that keeping them up to date and harnessing the latest technological tools is essential. For many people, visualising floorcoverings in-situ can be a difficult concept, so showcasing products through good lifestyle photography is important. For us, it is also critically important to detail the different types of flooring available, the features, benefits, and tech-specs so the various requirements of the end user can be met.

Social media
Social media is an essential tool for reaching customers and with so many platforms to choose from businesses need to first establish the ones most appropriate for them and then tailor their language according to the chosen audience. LinkedIn is a firm favourite for B2B messaging and enables a professional tone focusing on business. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are beneficial as they enable a more relaxed and informal kind of communication with the ability to showcase lots of product photography and fun internal information which can be just as interesting to customers as the serious stuff!

Making time for social media should be high on the list of priorities for companies in the flooring industry as it is now a vital avenue to market – whether talking around the subject of flooring or promoting products and services.

Email marketing
Emailers can be beneficial if carefully timed and with appealing content. Over-use can ultimately switch off the recipient, so to maximise their effectiveness, the use of email communication needs to be part of a carefully curated and targeted marketing plan.

Videos are a useful sales tool for contractors to demonstrate their work – they can help to reassure potential clients of experience and a track record while adding a different type of content into the mix.

First class photography is vital and remains a key component of any marketing strategy for companies in the business of selling products, particularly across consumer facing platforms. From aspirational lifestyle images to ‘drop-in’ cut-out shots to detailed technical images, money spent on product photography will always provide a good ROI. A service is harder to capture through imagery and it’s important to have a clear and precise idea of who the target market is (and what they look like!) and how you wish to portray your own company (and what you look like!) before embarking on a shoot. A service is best described with words: images support the story and those featuring people help to ‘humanise’ what you do.

Virtual showrooms
As a result of the pandemic, this is an aspect of show home marketing that has become more prevalent. During the restrictions it offered potential customers the chance to view company showrooms in a realistic, 3D-way without having to visit the site itself. While nothing can compete with viewing a show home for real, virtual reality walkthroughs are now an option that we offer.

Although house buyers are once again free to visit show homes, virtual tours can be a useful tool for people who are ‘first screening’ the developments they wish to visit; and among potential buyers who may live some distance away and can’t do the travelling involved in a site visit.

Room visualiser software
This is still a fairly advanced and expensive technology which could be a useful selling tool once the technology becomes more accessible. As stated earlier, many people find it difficult to visualise flooring samples on a bigger scale in their own environment. Lifestyle photography has a major role to play in demonstrating the full effect of flooring in-situ but room visualiser software takes this to the next level and shows people how their choice of flooring could look in their surroundings.

Our planning team uses software using the CAD floor plans which enhances accuracy, saves times and waste so that we plan in the most cost-effective way.

Our installations team uses an online fitting diary. This is an application that we use to manage and plan our installations, fitter communication and payments.

Our customer service teams use a customer service module. This is an application that we use to record and manage any customer service issues that are raised quickly and effectively, it allows us to book service visits and receive reports back from our inspectors.

AR, VR, and apps
As the world becomes increasingly ‘audio/visual’ people relish the chance to find out more from podcasts, YouTube videos and increasingly, short reels on Facebook. Anything that makes information quick and easy to digest in an age when time is of the essence and people just need to ‘cut to the quick’ to find out what they need to know. Augmented and virtual reality can really help consumers visualise how an item might look in their own home; apps are hugely popular, but only where they serve a genuinely useful function – a poor and ‘disappointing’ app can do more harm than no app at all.
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