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How To Get More User-Generated Photos of Your Building Products

Creating an easy purchasing experience for your customers is a part of guaranteeing building product sales, but for eCommerce sites, that requires imagery. For manufacturers, getting images for your online presence is a challenge, so this week’s guest gave us a surprising strategy you might want to steal.

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Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov
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More About This Episode

The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insights on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.

Paul Hostelley of Docking Drawer talked with us about launching a new product and how they met the challenge of attaining photos to help site visitors understand the product’s application.

“Let’s Go to Vegas.”

Paul Hostelley oversees sale, marketing and business development at Docking Drawer, a company that offers in-drawer electrical outlet solutions for any type of drawer, whether it’s in a commercial kitchen, hotel room or next to the nightstand.

“It solves a problem that everybody has in a safe and legal manner,” Paul explains. The Docking Drawer was the invention of Scott Dickey, who owns the company. “His wife asked for in-drawer outlets, and being an electrical engineer and in the semiconductor space, he said, ‘Sure, no problem.’"

Scott wound up with a prototype that worked and decided to take the model to the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Vegas. “I came along to help out because my background is in design,” explains Paul. “I've been living a sales and marketing lifestyle for many years in the printing industry.”

174 Lets Go to Vegas

Bedrooms Page

The Docking Drawer was a big success at KBIS and “gave us a lot of energy and excitement to continue on, to build more products,” explains Paul. Recently, Docking Drawer launched its newest Trio product in the UK market.

We asked him to tell us more about how Docking Drawer was launched and marketed after its debut in Vegas. “There's nothing in the market currently like Docking Drawer, so we have to educate the market about our solution,” explains Paul.

How to Source Photos AND Promote Your Product Successfully

Educating customers about a product is part of a good sales strategy, and if you’re running an eCommerce site, it will only benefit their experience of purchasing your product.

But for the marketing team at Docking Drawer, figuring out who those customers are and what problems they’re trying to solve takes leg work. “We took us some time to figure out exactly who our best customers were and to figure out how a sales cycle occurs in this industry,” says Paul. “So, it's quite a spider web of a problem to figure out.”

“We figured out, ‘Okay, so a kitchen designer has a lot of influence.’ And then we figured out that a homeowner or the end-user has even more influence,” he says. Docking Drawer markets to the homeowner or other end-user, using a pull-through sales strategy — so the homeowners will take their ideas (and demands) to their installer or designer.

“We speak to that audience, and then we make project planning super simple for anybody who is technical. And our spec book is extremely detailed. All of our information is public-facing. So [are] our DXF and step files, so you can pull those into two or 3D project planning programs. Our electrical certifications are all public-facing, so we make the technical journey very, very simple.”

But if you’re a manufacturer, you probably already know that to educate users about your product, you need images, not just technical jargon. “Every manufacturer we talk to — I don't know anybody unless they've got a huge internal team that does this — struggles with photos,” says Zach.

And Docking Drawer started out with very few product photos on its original website. “It was all measurements and rulers and really, really technical in the beginning,” explains Paul. “We figured out quickly that we needed imagery to sell our products, and we figured out how difficult it was to get imagery.”

Paul’s background in sales and marketing (and a trip to a consignment clothing store) gave him an idea: to buy photos from customers.

“They had a counter that had pricing behind it,” he says. “And I was like, ‘I cannot believe that these people are just sitting here and people are coming to them with clothing, basically bringing inventory for their store, that they then put on the floor and resell and make money — [I] would love to have this type of model at Docking Drawer, but with photos.’" He developed a photo buying program to help bring in better imagery for the Docking Drawer site.

“We buy photos from customers on our website,” says Paul. “It says get up to $500, and we basically will give customers more money than they paid for the outlet in exchange for photos of their project.”

174 How to Source Photos AND Promote Your Product Successfully

Photo Buying Page

The Docking Drawer photo buying program makes it easy for customers to send the company their photos. “It has a QR code that will scan and will go and explain the program. It is everywhere and anywhere that we talk about Docking Drawer, we'll talk about our photo buying efforts. We're getting, right now, about 250 to 300 photos a month coming in.”

Improving Your Ecommerce Site: Baby Steps

These images and videos allowed Docking Drawer to launch a visual shopping experience for their website users recently. “So when you go to Docking Drawer, you can just click on a room,” explains Paul, “and it's going to have customer photos showing those applications, and it's going to have the customer story.”

This visual experience goes beyond educating about the product, and we talked with Paul about how manufacturers might improve their own eCommerce sites to make the product experience more impactful for customers.

  • “We want to be as easy to contact with however you want to be to get a hold of us, if that's a phone call, a chat, an email, a text,” says Paul. “I mean, we have every option for communicating that's available because whether it's day or night, we want to help. You might talk to me, might talk to the owner of the company. You might talk to somebody on my team.”
  • A good website experience isn’t a jarring one, so refrain from using pop-ups immediately and give users plenty of ways to engage with your site before they leave. Then, consider an exit message. “We want to have you get time to get to know us and things like that but if you're heading out the door, we might just say, ‘Hey, before you leave, can we send you some information?’” he suggests.
  • Unboxing videos are common in other markets, and Paul used ideas he’d seen in backpack product videos for inspiration. Docking Drawer’s videos give viewers an idea of what they can expect when they purchase the product. “It shows you what's in the box (photo buying cards in the box, by the way). It shows you the product, how the arms are included, the cords included, all the screws are included, like everything he needs in this box — ready to go.”
  • Once you’ve got a visitor on your site, start offering them help, or guide them toward the solutions they might need. Docking Drawer does this with an interactive quiz for potential customers. “[W]e want customers to find their products in a way that they're comfortable with,” explains Paul. “Some little details and then it'll give you a recommendation saying, ‘Based on these inputs, this is what you should get.’”

Like other industries, marketing products through visuals (especially video) can add to their experience, and Paul was inspired by other product experiences. “The implementation of our quiz to Docking Drawer came from another industry,” says Paul. “It was a company that was selling bras. I mean, their specialty was bras and finding the right bra for the woman that was trying to purchase a bra, and so we thought about that process, right, because everybody's different.”

174 Improving Your Ecommerce Site Baby Steps

Outlet Selector Quiz

That same quiz (you can take it here) asks visitors if they’re a homeowner, designer or other professional so that Docking Drawer gets clearer, more granular details about who is visiting the site and how those people might use the product.

The benefits of that data will go a long way toward understanding their customers and how to make improvements in the future. “So, we get to know our customer better. We can have a better conversation with them [with] just a little bit of detail. And we know the metrics, too,” says Paul.

Want Even More Insight?

Even the smallest details can improve the customer’s eCommerce experience. “I think it's important to have these great customer experiences to make them comfortable to do business with you,” says Paul. “I think people have choices where they want to spend their time. And I think you need to make that time. It's almost like a dinner party, right? We want to be the house that you want to come to and hang out and have drinks.”

Hear more of our awesome interview with Paul and listen to the full episode.

Check out Docking Drawer and the full experience of their website, or you can get in touch with Paul by emailing him.

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