How a Home Product Brand Reinvented Face-to-Face Customer Meetings in a Pandemic

  • Categories:

    Industry Trends, Work

  • Date:

    September 1, 2020

How a Home Product Brand Reinvented Face-to-Face Customer Meetings in a Pandemic

Industry Trends Work

Has your brand historically relied on face-to-face sales visits to interact with customers? If so, you likely had to pivot in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because the traditional sales visit went out the door when shelter-in-place orders affected all 50 states this spring. Meanwhile, social distancing, mask wearing and daily cleaning became the new normal. And, as home product brands transitioned to work-from-home conditions, they were forced to reexamine how their sales teams interact with customers.

While many companies pulled or drastically reduced their marketing spend, VELUX® skylights largely stayed the course with its advertising: broadcast, OTT, digital, social media, paid search and influencer marketing. But the brand also smartly positioned itself to connect with homebound consumers by creating a virtual design consultation service. Launched in April, the service helps spark ideas and offer product and installation education as consumers research home renovation projects … from the comfort of their own home.

Why a Pandemic Presented the Perfect Opportunity for Change

So, what made a challenging spring season the perfect time to launch a new design consultation service?

    • Consider: With consumers at home, overall screen time increased, and online research activities skyrocketed. According to Google, “home repairs and projects” surged into the top of the search engine’s overall category. What’s more, many consumers acted on that intent, pulling forward an average of four months’ worth of home DIY projects during the second quarter of 2020.
    • At the same time, competition online fell across the majority of “home repairs and projects” searches, with many brands and online retailers pulling back their ad campaigns. This resulted in reduced cost-per-click results on Google and Bing and also reduced VELUX’s cost per mille (CPM). On Pinterest, staying the course resulted in a spike in engagement, click-through and save rates for VELUX paid pins.

    Turning the Sales Team into Design Consultants

    In creating a virtual design consultation service, VELUX tapped into its sales team’s extensive product and design knowledge. The free service enables homeowners to schedule a 30-minute phone or video chat session. Using Microsoft Teams, VELUX reps can answer skylight installation and design questions, while homeowners can share photos or video of their homes to better understand where skylights may be installed. Reps can also recommend installers in the consumer’s area, if they are ready to install.

    VELUX created a landing page with a simple scheduling function and product information. Then, they spread the word with organic and paid tactics including:

    • Pay per click (PPC)
    • Programmatic banners
    • Retargeting
    • Social media
    • Content amplification
    • Influencer marketing

    What Success Looks Like

    For many consumers this year, home became the setting for not only living, but also working and schooling children. As a result, they seemed to have an increased desire to connect with the outdoors. Whether they already had skylights on their home renovation list or were inspired in the moment, the VELUX virtual design consultation service fulfilled a need, and the numbers reflect that:

    • The service launched on April 20, logging 41 consultations during the remainder of that month.
    • It averaged 265 consultations per month from May through August.

    Virtual consultations not only helped homeowners gather information about skylights from the safety of their own homes, but they also provided insights to help VELUX understand what questions linger in the minds of consumers as they approach a purchase decision. Many homeowners homed in on the technical details of energy performance and rain sensor operation, while others sought details about replacing old skylights or sought to understand the value of adding skylight blinds.

    Depending on homeowners’ needs, the VELUX rep refers them to an installer in their area. If homeowners are not ready to install, they’re added to the brand’s email nurturing program. By providing insights into the technical aspects of VELUX skylights, in addition to design considerations for placing them in the consumer’s home, the virtual consultations provide consumers confidence in their brand selection in addition to the product they envision adding to their space. Their confidence is borne out by some sales resulting from these virtual visits.

    Even though the sales team has started to reenter the field to make in-person visits, the virtual consult service remains active and popular. Consumers have gravitated toward the convenience and safety that are so desired in this new normal — not to mention the personalized service they have long expected.

    Does your brand also rely heavily on face-to-face interaction with customers? Do you have questions about how to approach your business in a world transformed by the coronavirus pandemic? Email me.

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