Episode 124

Romancing Your Audience Online

by Smarter Building Materials Marketing

You might have a marketing plan in place for your building materials brand, but are your products capable of exciting your audience? We talk with a designer, who also works for a manufacturer, about an effective yet overlooked strategy that can keep your audience truly engaged and excited about your products.

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.

In this episode, Zach and Beth talked with Richard Anuszkiewicz, Lead Designer at Design Galleria and Creative Director at Monogram Appliances, about product marketing, plus how manufacturers can capture their audience and build longevity into their brand. He also shares which two manufacturers are experts at romancing their audiences that you can take inspiration from.

Elevating the Design Industry

Richard Anuszkiewicz has had a passion for design for as long as he can remember. “It's always been something that has been a part of me ever since I was young, being creative and the art and design space,” he explains. “So I've been extremely committed to this line of work and through that, it's opened a lot of doors along the way.”

He joined the Design Galleria Kitchen and Bath Studio almost two years ago, to help launch their Nashville office and 4,000 square foot showroom. He was most recently hired to work with the Monogram brand as creative director. “I've worked with the brand very organically over the last four to five years now, where I attended a training out of their Chicago he works showroom,” he explains.

He worked with them on different creative projects over the years, including continuing education courses. He was brought on formally as creative director, which means he facilitates the “product launches, marketing initiatives, developing the look and feel to the brand.”

Richard, who was awarded the best large booth at the 2019 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, plays a large role in what the Monogram kitchen looks like and how their customers experience that space.

“[I]t's intentional that when you walk into the space, you know the look and feel of a Monogram kitchen. It's certainly elevated, it's always luxury, but it has a certain palette and warmth to it that we want people to connect with.”

How To Position Building Products Today

Richard is creative director for a manufacturer, which means that he acts as a marketer, but has a deep understanding of the manufacturing side of the industry.

That means that he offers a unique perspective when it comes to promoting and positioning products for the companies he works for. Most manufacturers have had to get super strategic about their marketing, and Richard offered us some insights on positioning building products in today’s rapidly changing industry.

With more homeowners improving their living spaces and planning more functionality into their homes, manufacturers need to think more holistically about their products and how they fit into their respective spaces. And they have to do that when demand is high, while everyone is also dealing with lead time issues. He makes a few suggestions for manufacturers to think through.

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Where does your product fit into their lifestyle?

Richard tells us to think about “increasing the lifestyle value in a home. And that's something bigger than dollars and cents. When you can realize that with your investment in the space that you live in and how it should relate to the things around you in your life, that's worth something.”

He also suggests considering how people are using your products and addressing the needs they have around them. “How often are you opening a refrigerator on a daily basis? How often are you turning on that faucet? The quality of these products matter; the story behind these products matter.”

How are your customers using their spaces?

“When we think about the timeframe now, if anything, it's just put a further magnifying glass on information or trends, if you will, that we already knew existed,” he explains. The kitchens in our homes today aren’t the same space they were decades ago.

“The kitchen space specifically was that strictly utilitarian room. And now it's so much more than that. It's multipurpose, it's dynamic,” says Richard. People use their kitchens today in a few different ways: to come together as a family, to plan the day ahead or to answer work emails.

“So when we think about those spaces, we just have to be realistic to the fact that there's so much more thoughtfulness and design and purposefulness that we have to really put into this room.”

Being thoughtful in the room’s design is part of it, but that thoughtfulness should be extended to the products that go into the room, as well.

“Where, when we think about appliances and they're really just trying to appeal to lifestyle habits. So a lot of people are very influenced in a health and wellness story, so how are we developing technology to better implement those needs or wants?” Refrigerators from Monogram, for instance, come with climate control, to keep produce as fresh as possible, for as long as possible.

“The more that we can, in a very sophisticated way, integrate appliances and make this again, feel like a living room where you’re not walking in and seeing this huge, bulky refrigerator sticking out at you,” says Richard. “We want these rooms to be beautiful, but also highly functional.”

Pay attention to consumer behavior across all industries.

Richard says manufacturers can stay on top of trends by listening more to their audience. “You have to be aware of the synchronicities, and synchronicities are these ideas that if you're aware and in tune, you can start to actually predict and see trends as they happen because it's all intertwined,” he explains. He does that by paying attention to multiple industries.

“So for example, we can take the idea of a brass faucet,” he explains. Most people wanted to get rid of gold and brass fixtures in their homes — they considered them outdated.

But in the clothing and jewelry industry in the last few years, the trend of silver accessories was swapped out for gold. “And then it transferred into home goods.”

Trends can come full circle, but it’s up to manufacturers to pay attention to them, even if those trends aren’t happening in your space. “And now we see brass in the home space taking on a totally new form. It's fresh, it's beautiful. It's a much more contemporary take on brass.”

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Building Longevity Into Your Brand

Innovating in the building materials space is a continual process. “As soon as a product hits the market, there's something bigger and better behind it that's already underway. And if there's not, there's an issue there,” explains Richard.

Some of Monogram’s ovens, for instance, come with LCD screen technology for the user to program its cooking settings. “Well that's technology,” says Richard, “and those LCD screens are able to be consistently improved upon and updated.”

If you have a smartphone, you know how often software updates happen, and how they improve the functionality of those devices. “So it's the same thought process,” says Richard, “we have to be aware of the idea of, ‘How can this product have longevity to it?’”

That technology and its updates are what keeps a product relevant. “And stay relevant. And so there's no question that the way that we integrate technology is a facet of that thought process,” says Richard.

Depending on your product, there might be tried-and-true aspects to what you’re selling. But Richard encourages manufacturers to examine your product and what you’re offering to customers, and to consider the “foundational principles of good design, like symmetry, balance, proportion, scale.”

Richard warns manufacturers that what’s trendy or edgy might not be the best bandwagon for you to jump on, “because you can put something out that's extremely trendy for a moment,” he says. “But then what does that really do for your brand and the longevity of it?”

If your products make an impact and actually help your customer, that’s what matters.

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How To Romance Your Audience

For manufacturers who want to amp up their marketing strategies this year and make an impact on the industry, Richard gave us a few final tips.

  1. Nail down your brand’s story.

Richard emphasizes how important it is to develop a clear message for your brand and what you’re offering: “What sets you apart, who you are, again, the look and feel to the brand, every detail matters,” says Richard. How a material feels and the way that customers use a product: “All those things matter.”

That requires a thoughtful marketing message and communication strategy for manufacturing brands, and it takes some leg work and research. But it can pay off.

  1. Believe that story.

Any manufacturer can set up a website and blog to tell their brand story, but Richard urges brands to bring emotion into it. “I truly think of it like a storybook and you have to romance this product or idea for people to have some sort of emotional connection to it,” he says. “Because if there's not, then there's no real connection or brand identity.”

All of us have brands that we pick up off the shelf every time, and “there's a reason behind it that you pick that product, you have some sort of emotional tie to it, whatever it is,” he says. “So you have to know what your product is, you have to believe in it. Because if you don't, it's not going to sell. People have to understand the story. You have to be excited about it.”

  1. Stay connected to your customer.

Marketing to your customers can be a bit like a dating game. It’s about staying in touch with a person and engaging with them so that the connection you share stays fresh and exciting. A product has the capacity to delight whoever is using it. “And it should speak to you in some way, whatever it is,” says Richard.

When you figure out how to keep your customer excited and passionate about your product, you keep the relationship alive.

Who’s Doing It Well?

Designers create spaces that can make a big impact on the people who visit them, and the products that make those spaces functional can also make an impression. Richard mentions a couple of brands that do this particularly well.

“I’ve always had a ton of respect for the Kohler company,” he says. “The way that they know their brand so well that there's always a look and feel, a fit and finish. There's always a progressive technology story behind it.”

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Richard recognizes Cosentino, as well, for their global perspective and “the way that they launch new products.”

“These are all things that can truly affect, as humans, the way that we feel and the mood that we have,” says Richard. “And there's a whole psychology there that I think all too often, we take for granted of, again, just turn that faucet on, we're not thinking twice about it. But there's a deeper story to be shared.”

Want Even More Insight?

Check out the full podcast with Richard for more ideas on marketing your product in today’s industry.

You can find Richard on Instagram at @RichardA2Z or email him at [email protected].

Or reach out to us at [email protected] — we’ll help you tell your story online and determine how your brand can navigate the exciting trends ahead.

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