Two Roads Merge in Design and Your Company Should, Too!

It has long been thought that residential and commercial design were two separate entities not meant to overlap. Over the last decade, we have seen a shift in that mindset. Designers are incorporating more luxurious, and sometimes industrial, elements into residences, while also creating more relaxedleisure spaces in commercial offices, healthcare facilities and the like.

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Homeowners want to rest in the comfort of a hotel-like bedrooms with crystal chandeliers, plush bedding, additional sitting rooms, and French doors as the entryway; spa-inspired bathrooms including deep soaking Jacuzzis, oversized showers with multiple shower heads or the ability to be turned into a steam room; restaurant-style kitchens equipped with 8-range stoves, double ovens, wine refrigerators and dispensers, and industrial refrigerators with front paneling that blends seamlessly with the custom cabinetry; and corporate-equipped home offices with the necessary built-in shelving and storage, windows that allot for plenty of natural light for the daytime and appropriate installed lighting options for late night work. On top of all of this, homes are being made to be as energy-efficient and technologically-integrated as commercial buildings.

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On the other side, healthcare buildings, corporate offices and educational facilities are adding “homey” amenities such as community-style lounge areas; additional, informal seating beyond the desk in offices and large cubicles; and the companies with a robust amount of space are even bringing fitness facilities to their buildings. Outdoor spaces are being designed for employees and visitors to meet or work in these spaces. These are all in an effort to create welcoming spaces where the occupants can relax and stay longer.

So what does all of this mean for the home and building products industries? It means your consumer base could be expanding exponentially (or already has) and you could be missing out on new business opportunities. Expanding your company’s client base and marketing to include both residential and commercial audiences can increase the awareness of your company within your new and existing markets. New clientele can lead to a surge in your company’s profitability overall growth, which is precisely what we all work diligently to achieve.

To learn more about branding and brand expansion, feel free to contact us at http://kleberandassociates.com/contact/. This blog was inspired by the article “At the Intersection of Commercial and Residential Design” in the February 2015 issue of Interiors & Sources.

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2015 Home Remodeling Trends: Coffered-look Ceilings Set the Style

Many home remodeling trends change from season to season, however, there are a few classic looks that never seem to go out of style. One of those is the coffered-look ceiling.

The ceiling is an often overlooked space where personal style and overall home décor meet to create a dramatic effect in residential remodeling projects. Are you a homeowner, builder or remodeler planning to remodel a family room or basement woodtrac_ceilings_man_cavearea? If you are, give serious consideration to the ceiling as the oft neglected fifth wall.

As you think through options for ceiling design and material, evaluate the overall atmosphere and character of the room. The project designer can often solve other interior design issues with the right selection of ceiling height, material, or style. If the space is large with a high ceiling, select a dark colored ceiling to add depth and make the space more inviting. Make a small space feel larger by adding a light colored ceiling, raising the ceiling height, or by installing ceiling panels, planks or beams in a small and repetitive pattern.

Read more…

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Cracking the Blogger Code: How K&A launched our Home & Building Products Blogger Network

 

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Much has been written recently about the rising influence of third-party bloggers. When consumers are researching brands and products, bloggers are among their most sought after resources.  This growing trend hasn’t been lost on marketers, either—37 per

cent of marketers say blogs are the most valuable type of content marketing. That’s why, in the spring of 2014, Kleber & Associates set out to research bloggers. We made it our mission to identify the top bloggers for home and building products, and develop a definitive method for estimating their value. The result: after 10 months of work, we believe we have the most complete H&BP blogger list in the industry, as well as a unique compensation scale we call the “K&A Fair Market Value.”

Analyzing the Blogosphere
With more than 172 million Tumblr pages and 75.8 million WordPress blogs on the web, our first step was narrowing our focus to the best blogs within our niche—home and building products. We compiled a comprehensive list based on Alexa rankings, Klout scores, networking, word of mouth and other sources, then carefully analyzed and scrutinized every blogger on our list, using 10 separate criteria. Then, using good ole’ fashioned detective work, we whittled the list down from over 5,000 bloggers to our current list of the top 500 home improvement and building product experts. Every blogger has been fully vetted and assigned a fair market value score.

Assessing Blog Value
We prefer keeping our fair market value formula confidential. However, we can tell you it factors in web traffic, independent SEO/Search rankings and social media stats with a focus on engagement rates.  Our Blogger Network is already being used with tremendous success by several K&A client brands. For example, WoodTrac ceiling systems have been featured on three highly influential blogs in the past 90 days. Before our research, it would have been a guessing game on what a client should pay or how to approach a blogger. Using K&A Fair Market Value, we had the leverage we needed to help ensure the best rates.

To learn more about the K&A Blogger Network, shoot us an email: info@kleberandassociates.co
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Why You Should Add Blogger Outreach to your Marketing

Be honest—who would you trust more to tell you the unbiased truth about a product or service: the product’s manufacturer, or some anonymous blogger writing a review online?

If you answered the “anonymous blogger,” you aren’t alone. Today’s savvy consumers trust third-party opinion writers much more than paid advertising or brand-sponsored websites.  According to Technorati’s Digital Influence Report, blogs are among the top five sources of trustworthy information, and when it comes to actually influencing purchase decisions, blogs rank #3—even higher than Facebook. In a study conducted by BlogHer, 81 percent of online consumers said they trust the advice they read in blogs, and 61 percent have made purchases based on a blogger’s recommendation.

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Using Bloggers Effectively

So how can you get bloggers to write about your product? How much does it cost, and how do you know you’ll get a good return on your investment? The truth is, there are no easy answers. With 172 million Tumblr pages and nearly 79 million WordPress blogs on the web, the trick isn’t just finding a blog, it’s finding the right ones. Most blogs are very narrow in focus, which means their audiences are highly targeted (and valuable). The better a blog aligns with your brand and your product, the more likely you’ll reach the audience you’re looking for.  As for the cost, there are no easy answers there either.

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Bloggers have no pre-defined rate cards; there are no set standards, so the terms can vary, to say the least. Some bloggers request free product samples, while others charge thousands of dollars to sponsor a post, based on site traffic and influence. With so much consumer trust placed in third-party bloggers, however, the potential ROI should be obvious; one endorsement from a powerful blogger can wield tremendous influence with your target audience. That influence can also reach across multiple digital channels (typically, bloggers don’t just write on their own blogs, they also post opinions on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest). In the realm of public relations, blogs definitely have the potential to be highly rewarding. It’s a tantalizing prospect—millions of websites with devoted followers looking for the next great product, ready to engage.

So what are you waiting for? We’d love to discuss how you can incorporate bloggers in your marketing, both effectively and affordably. Contact us today at info@kleberandassociates.com.

Please click here to join our eNewsletter list for the latest home and building marketing news, trends and updates.

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How Girl Day Spotlights the Issue with Engineering

Yesterday, we celebrated Girl Day. The mission is to attract more females to the engineering and automation world. It is also important to note that Girl Day is not just a one-off event… it is meant to spark momentum and awareness about the importance of a continued effort to support this mission. So, while yesterday focused on the immediate need (introducing girls in your community to engineering careers), it also provided the knowledge and tools to continue to educate women of all ages about the profession in the future.

NPR reported that close to 40% of women with engineering degrees either never use their degree or leave the profession for reasons like the glass ceiling, a lack of self-confidence or a lack of mentors. The same report points to getting more women interested in engineering as the biggest problem the profession faces.

Girl Day represents the push happening in society to interest more women in engineering. This push is meant to balance out the playing field among men and women so that there will not only be more women actually using their engineering degree, but there will be more young women saying that they want to be an engineer when they grow up.

That is why Girl Day is so important; it gets us talking about this issue.

Social media is a key player expertly used to spread the word of this movement by creating awareness for both the issue that makes Girl Day necessary and the event itself. A whole campaign launched for this special day uses the hash tag #BringItOut to highlight the idea that there is a little engineer in every girl to be discovered. A series of YouTube videos made for this campaign feature females discussing qualities of the profession that might interest girls such as curiosity, problem solving, innovation and design.

In addition to YouTube videos, the sponsor for this campaign, DiscoverE, is using Twitter to get some bigger companies involved.

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By getting companies like GoldieBlox involved through social media, the #BringItOut campaign is able to gain more clout and extend the reach of the message.

 

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We think Girl Day nailed it with this one. What do you think?

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Showcase Custom Closet System Photos in the 2015 Top Shelf Design Awards Contest

WoodTrac closet system by WoodTrac, in cherry finish.

WoodTrac Closet System in cherry finish.

Are you a designer, custom home builder or remodeler who has completed a custom designed closet or home organization system in the past year? Enter your closet system and home organization photos in the Top Shelf Design Awards Contest honoring designers for their creative closet and home organizational designs.

Each entry must feature a single custom home organization project completed on or after January 1, 2014. Entries are due on March 13, 2015, and the required entry fee is $45.00.

wood_logo_mainThe awards presentation will take place on the show floor Wednesday, April 15 at the end of the opening day of the Expo, enabling more show attendees to see the great work of top designers from across the country. Award winners will be featured in Woodworking Network magazine and celebrated during the 2015 Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo, running April 14-16, in Chicago.

Attractive master bedroom Closet System by WoodTrac by Sauder

Master Bedroom Closet System by WoodTrac

The Project must have been built for an outside customer (someone other than the entrant his/her/itself or one of the entrant’s employees); and may not have been previously submitted for the Closets Top Shelf Design Awards.

Each Entry must be accompanied by at least three professional quality, color images (equivalent to 266 DPI or higher). Photos will be submitted under the following categories:

  • Garage: under 600 sq ft
  • Garage: over 600 sq ft
  • Home Office: under 150 sq ft
  • Home Office: over 150 sq ft
  • Closet: Laminate under 18 l.f.
  • Laminate over 18 l.f
  • Closet: Wood under 18 l.f.
  • Closet: Wood more than 18 l.f.
  • Closet: Reach in closets
  • Specialty: Craft, pantry, wine, laundry and mudroom

The submission deadline for the contest is March 13, 2015. Full contest rules are available at the Contest Rule link. Contact Michaelle Bradford at mbradford@vancepublishing.com with any questions.

 


Kleber & Associates is an Atlanta-based integrated marketing communications agency serving the home and building products industry for 25 years. Visit the Kleber & Associates website for the latest news and information about marketing for home and building products for consumers, architects, builders, remodelers, designers and manufacturers. Through our marketing, advertising, public relations and digital marketing expertise — we build better brands that build a better home.

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Optimism was all the buzz at IBS 2015

DCW 2015: Smarter, Leaner Organizations a Cause for Optimism in US Building Market

We’re a couple weeks removed from the biggest trade event of the year –  Design and Construction Week 2015.  In year’s past, we took this time to digest what we saw, follow-up on press opportunities and take a collective sigh of relief.  As we discussed in our recent newsletter, our team walked the equivalent of a 1/2 marathon in three days. It’s an exhausting grind physically but even more so mentally. It takes time to truly process what we saw and offer insight to the big trends our team noted during the show. Individual products are only a piece of a larger pattern – what was the overall macro trend?

“From Despair Comes Improvement”

The overall consensus of both our clients and other attendees was renewed optimism about the marketplace as a whole. Few believe we’ll ever return to the levels saw before the market collapse and to be frank – that’s a good thing. Companies are emerging from the recession smarter and more efficient on all facets of their business. When production and demand slowed, organizations had to re-think their operations and approach. What we’re seeing now are organizations better structured for sales optimization and better controlled supply chain. Several sales professionals at the show said their company had invested, or were making plans to invest, in CRM systems to better track their output and offer better alignment with marketing to close leads. In one particular booth, I was given a demo of their leads gathering process. The tried and true card scan remained the first step. From there though, the data was exported directly into the company’s CRM system and an automated email, based on the person’s geographic location, was sent from the sales professional covering the territory’s own email.  No sifting through hundreds of Excel files after the show. The company was able to strike while the iron was hot. Marketing and Sales working in-step? Now there’s a trend this agency can get behind.

It’s hard to find a positive from the economic downturn. This said, companies appear to have taken this time to look in the mirror and improve from within. The result?  A smarter organization.

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Scent Marketing: A Familiar Smell

While not a new marketing concept (in fact, we wrote about it in 2009), the practice of using aromas to illicit an emotional connection remains an intriguing premise. Most recently, airlines are discussing the use of scent in brand marketing to help differentiate their flight experience. Delta is among a number of airlines that already use fragrance as a branding tool. Its signature scent, ‘Calm’, has been used in both the airplane cabins and the hot towels provided to premium class fliers for a few years. The Wall Street Journal reports that not all fliers are excited about this trend, though. Those with asthma or other sensitivities to scents and chemicals are apprehensive about possible reactions. In light of these concerns, some airlines have decided against going through with plans to utilize a unique fragrance for branding purposes.

Although some airlines deemed this tactic too risky, there are still many other brands that are using these fragrant practices, particularly hotels and casinos in Las Vegas. MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, the Bellagio, the Venetian, and many others on the Strip are using the sense of smell to help guests form unique bonds to their memories of these locations. Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando uses fragrance in a different way by distributing artificial sugar cookie and waffle cone aromas at the top of the stairs to lure visitors downstairs to the inconveniently located ice cream shop. This is a whole new take on scent marketing that proves it has more than just the potential to create new associations with a brand; it can also play to consumers’ already existing associations with a smell to advance a brand.  This tactic seems to be pretty simple for a company already heavily linked to a smell, but perhaps other brands would have a more challenging time executing it.  But think of this – the average consumer views tens of thousands of marketing messages daily. Doesn’t it make sense to connect with a potential customer through other means? We have four other senses waiting to be tapped.

For those companies that want to utilize all five senses in the branding process but have difficulty deciding how, companies like ScentAir can assist. ScentAir offers consulting on fragrance options and how to utilize them. The presence of companies like this demonstrates the increasing demand for scent as a marketing tool.  What are some creative ways you could envision scent playing a role in marketing programs?

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Our Picks for the Best New Products at this year’s IBS Show

So we’ve talked about the amount of walking we did, the trends we saw and the sentiment among the attendees. What about new products? You can’t have a trade show issue without discussing the star attraction. Our team compiled their favorites and we left it to a vote. With over 1,300 vendors, there were ample choices this year. Unlike year’s past, we didn’t have any parameters to fill – just pick what you felt was a truly innovative and cool product.

Without further adieu, here’s the Kleber & Associates top products from Building and Construction Week 2015.

 

Yes - this is a manufactured flame!

Yes – this is a manufactured flame!

Dimplex OPTI-V

Gas log fireplaces aren’t a new phenomenon – the new line-up from OPTI-V takes it to a whole new level, however. With integrated steam ports and infrared light sources, these new fireplace products not only mimic real fire but the signature elements as well. Synthetic smoke, optical flame patterns and unique designs make for a dramatic replacement to the traditional fireplace or as a focal point in a home’s interior design.Gas log fireplaces aren’t a new phenomenon – the new line-up from OPTI-V takes it to a whole new level, however. With integrated steam ports and infrared light sources, these new fireplace products not only mimic real fire but the signature elements as well. Synthetic smoke, optical flame patterns and unique designs make for a dramatic replacement to the traditional fireplace or as a focal point in a home’s interior design.

Bosch Power ReadyWC18CF-102_500x330 r122216v33
You pull up to a job and are greeted with the dreaded battery drain – the small wane of the drill then dead silence. If you don’t have another battery or an outlet to connect the charger, that $200 drill was out of action for the day. Enter Bosch and their new Power Ready charging solution. Compatible with all Bosch 18V battery packs, Power Ready is a technology using contact-less energy transfer, also known as inductive charging. 

Per Bosch: “when the charger is plugged in and the compatible battery is placed on it, the charger begins wirelessly transmitting an alternating magnetic field. The battery, featuring an internal copper coil, acts as a receiver. As the alternating magnetic field penetrates the coil, voltage is induced and a charging current flows to the cells until full. Similar to conventional charging, the battery and charger are in constant communication during the charge process to ensure proper charge and a long battery life.” No plug or replacing the battery? Power Ready is truly a game changer in the power tool space.

Creative Mines: Synthetic Surfaces Continue to Amazecreative_mines

Nature’s canvas, with its unique qualities that give each installation a personalized look, has long been sought for homeowners seeking a high-end finish in harmony with nature. It’s natural properties- the texture, sheen and patterns- that offer one-of-a-kind options for the homeowner. With natural-sourced materials being a premium price point, two companies in particular are emerging as leaders in this new synthetic space. We first met the team at Creative Mines at the 2014 Pacific Coast Builders Show in San Francisco. Over those past six months, Creative Mines has developed a portfolio of stunning veneer stone surfaces, both naturally sourced and crafted options. Unlike other manufacturers, Creative Mines keeps sustainable sourcing core to their operations. Rather than using fly-ash by=product, for example, the company uses a high-purity, natural pumice pozzolan that “enhances compressive strength, minimizes efflorescence, resists sulfate attack, reduces permeability and improves durability.” The end result is a near flawless application rivaling stones pulled from the mine.  Eco-Top, an Asian based manufacturer, took the nature’s look one step further and was showcasing its new wall-hung synthetic panels. When our team first walked by, we honestly thought it was natural wood and wondered how they cut is so thin. The realism and texture was as close to natural as we’ve seen at a show. Company reps said the veneer is made for wall-mount but additional products were in development. Synthetics have come a long way since the wood paneling we had in our parent’s basement.

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The Romans first pioneered the use of arches in their designs – noting their rigidty and structural strength. The design was so revered in fact, Roman engineers designed the city’s aquaduct system using the principle for bringing water to its citizens across hundreds of miles. In design, the arch is still a popular addition that adds a bold structure to a roof. Its’ construction, however, can be a taxing process requiring a craftsman. Enter Universal Arch Kits – an out of the box system that allows builders a complete arch solution with minimal install time. Universal has multiple options including Archways, Dome Ceilings, Groin Vaults, Barrel Vaults and Cove Ceilings

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Dads in Ads: What’s the Latest Trend?

The way men are portrayed in advertising  and on TV has changed a lot over the years.

On this year’s Super Bowl, it’s changing yet again.

Here at Kleber and Associates, we specialize in brands that are built around the home, so it makes sense that we pay attention to how homes and families are depicted in advertising, in pop culture, in the movies and on TV.

For example, back in the early days of television, families were almost always portrayed with a patriarchal father as the leader of the household. Dad characters respectable, hardworking, and solely responsible for making family decisions.

These guys didn’t lounge around the house in sweat pants; they wore suits and ties and often smoked a pipe—think Jim Anderson in “Father Knows Best,” or Ward Cleaver in “Leave It To Beaver.” Even Ricky Ricardo wore a suit and tie.

According to Mark Crispin Miller, author of “Dad Through the Decades: Thirty Years of TV Fathers,” the depiction of males on TV began changing around the mid 1960s, and continued its downward slide through the 80s and 90s. It began with buffoonish dad characters, like Darren Stevens on “Bewitched,” Jed Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and even Fred Flintstone.

As the dads shown in prime time began losing authority, the role of women began to gain prominence and influence (of course it’s no coincidence that the women’s rights movement was happening at the time).

This is when women began gaining clout as decision makers in the household, and when advertisers began making females the primary target of their marketing. Who can forget the Virginia Slims campaign aimed at female smokers—“You’ve Come a Long Way Baby”? By the 1970s, one of the top shows on TV was “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” featuring an independent, never-married career woman.

A few years later, women were regularly portrayed as the leader of the household. Consider Claire Huxtable in “The Cosby Show” or the mom in “Roseanne”—they were the ones paying the bills, keeping their kids in line, and regularly outsmarting their goofy husbands.

In the 90s, dads weren’t just goofy, they were nonexistent. The top shows of the decade rarely featured the traditional family anymore. Think “Seinfeld,” “Sex and the City” and “Friends.”

No dads in any of them. In fact, one of the only memorable father characters of the decade was Homer Simpson. Hardly a positive role model.

This trend didn’t go unnoticed. In 2008, Kleber and Associates wrote a white paper called “Missing Males,”  in which we discussed the shifting portrayal of fathers on TV and in advertising. In the paper, K&A cited research by Rose Cameron, author of a worldwide study on men in the media. She found that “74 percent feel images of their gender in advertising are out of touch with reality.”

In another study conducted by Leo Burnett Worldwide, Inc., nearly 80 percent of American men said they  can “barely recognize themselves in advertisements.”

Here’s one example. Verizon Wireless did a commercial in which a father tries to help his daughter with her homework and fails. The daughter is annoyed with her father’s ignorance, and turns to her mother with a look that says, “Obviously males can’t do math—get him out of here.” The mother, in an act of female solidarity, instructs the father to go wash the dishes.

Glenn Sacks, columnist, commentator, talk radio host and highly outspoken critic of male stereotyped advertising, was so angered by this offensive depiction of men that he launched a campaign against Verizon’s “anti-father” advertisement. According to Sacks, Verizon’s ad message was clear—“Dad is dumb, dad is useless, mom is smarter than dad, hell, even an eight-year-old is smarter than dad.”

One of the many letters Verizon received about that ad stated, “When I look around I see men working 50 hours a week or more to support their families, and still managing to help their children with their homework, read them bedtime stories, and be fine role models. Why can’t I see any men like that when I turn on the TV?”

Well, maybe that time has finally come. In the Ad Age article “Move Over Mom, It’s Dad’s Turn In Ads,” it says that the depiction of fathers in advertising is beginning to change, with “fatherhood featured prominently, positively in…this year’s Super Bowl.”

“Kind and gentle dads,” they write, “are populating pitches this year for everything from General Mills’ Cheerios and Hyundai Sonata to Similac. Proud papas will also star in
at least three Super Bowl spots—for Unilever’s Dove Men+Care, Toyota and Nissan.”

So why the sudden emergence of positive dads in ads? Jennifer Bremner, marketing director of Dove Men+Care, explains it well in the Ad Age article. “Talking to dads is just smart from a business perspective,” she says. “Men are doing more shopping, dads in particular.”

Here at Kleber and Associates, we’ll definitely keep that in mind in our marketing of home-related products. Our research shows that men are more involved than ever in home design and making appliance choices.

According to a study by the NPD Group, a retail and marketing data company, not only is the number of men involved in cooking and cuisine at a historical high, but today’s “men covet mixers, toasters and gourmet appliances just as much as navigation systems, mobile phones and audio components.”

Men aren’t just decorating man caves and cooking on barbecue grills anymore. They’re increasingly involved in their home lives, and marketers should tap into this vast market. Forward thinking companies are already providing enhanced style features and amenities that reflect the growing presence of men in this new arena.

It’s similar to the way women were treated by car salesmen years ago. My wife once stopped by a local dealership to browse, and the salesman practically ignored her. “Hey where’s your husband?” they asked.
We ended up buying our car from a dealer across town.

Marketers of kitchen and bath fixtures, appliances and other home design products should learn from those mistakes and stop ignoring the male audience. Whether single, married or fathers, men today represent a significant source of disposable income throughout all areas of the home.

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