A lot of businesses still struggle with how to use social media effectively to communicate with their end consumers. They don’t see their company or their industry as high tech, or sexy, or particularly cutting edge – in short, they just don’t see the fit of social media for their situation. Manufacturers and wholesalers of consumer durables might well consider themselves in this situation. Take carpeting for instance. I can't remember when I have seen this industry featured in a marketing magazine.
Ms. Whittemore agrees the carpet marketing environment is traditional. “It’s not high-tech, and not promoted as high-touch – even though carpet engages the senses more than many home products.” Far from being cutting edge in retailing or marketing, price is often a more dominant feature than fashion or design in messaging.
So carpeting is a market few would see as ripe territory for new media.Stay tuned as we find out more about bringing social media to the marketing of a carpet manufacturer.
Seriously good statistics
Flooring the Consumer was launched in June 2006, and is now ranked as #108 on the Ad Age top marketing blogs, and has over 800 subscribers. These are seriously good statistics for a blog of this type.
More importantly, as you'll see in the coming posts, the blog is achieving business results. Ms. Whittemore is the Director for In-Store Innovation for the Wear-Dated carpet fiber division of Solutia, a $3.8 Billion company with 6000 employees. The company manufactures nylon fibers that go into residential carpet. Her work involves training, presentations, and thought leadership at retail for the flooring industry.
Below, authors of the Carpetology blog. The same team "elf themselves" at the Office Max site.
Born out of frustration with traditional marketing
The blog was born out of Ms. Whittemore’s frustration with traditional marketing to achieve her business objectives. “I had been flirting with the notion of a blog -- actively for 9 months prior to taking that step -- because I was so frustrated with traditional marketing, had things to share with my audience of flooring retailers and retail salespeople, and couldn’t get published fast enough and frequently enough by the trade press.”
In addition to this challenge, there was minimal budget for a traditional newsletter, and she felt these had become “inefficient” as a communication tool in any event.
After attending a Columbia Business School conference on marketing innovation, Ms. Whittemore says she realized “most of the people in the room not only blogged, but were also cutting edge marketers… and true innovators.” She took her content ideas and her sense of urgency to work, and the blog was born.
About consumers and retailing, not just carpeting
There are now three blogs as well as a Twitter feed, and Facebook activity. The blogs each have a distinct audience. Flooring the Consumer is targeted to the trade, and addresses topics such as marketing to women, the retail experience and consumers in general.
Carpetology, launched in December 2007, is a consumer blog about all things carpet.
The third blog, The Smoke Rise Blog, is a community-oriented, more personal blog.
While the consumers are online, not all the retailers are. There are retailers keen to reinvent the experience, however, and these are the ones that Flooring the Consumer reaches, and that keep the author motivated.
Next up: how to keep people engaged with relevant content, and how to measure success.