Let’s get visible

Sarah Hitchings, sales and marketing director of The Residence Collection and Window Widgets, outlines why having a visible brand is now more important than ever.

When markets are good and everyone is making a good margin, then in theory all respective brands are visible to their respective customers and target audiences.

It’s also difficult to stand out, as there are more marketing messages being communicated than ever before, with some individuals too busy to absorb any content.

But when there’s change or disruption in any market, there comes opportunity. Unfortunately, in this instance it has come about in all global markets due to Covid-19, which has been devasting across countries and communities worldwide. Of course, our first thoughts and wishes go out to those that have been affected by it, our valued employees, customers and business partners.

From a commercial perspective, it’s caused an unprecedented closure of the glass and glazing sector. For some it’s been a case of furloughing all staff and ceasing marketing activity, but for some, us included, it’s been an opportunity to engage with consumers and trade businesses better than we have been able to achieve in the past due to lockdown measures.

The UK government imposed the lockdown on the evening of Monday March 23, when prime minister Boris Johnson addressed. While we had many concerns across the business in terms of operations, finances and employee welfare, from my perspective it was a time to invest in our powerful marketing programme more than ever before.

Over two and a half months in from lockdown we’ve engaged with more consumers than ever before on social media who are keen to find out the benefits of investing in our design-led windows and doors in their homes. The likes of B&Q have also experienced a surge in demand for home improvement products, including power tools, paint and wallpaper.

During those 10 weeks millions of homeowners spent more time within the home, realising that DIY jobs need to be completed or the fact that their existing windows and doors are starting to look dated, or that the hardware or glass units have started to fail. We’ve had the time online to closely interact with these consumers, and there’s a genuine sense of excitement in the potential investment in a Residence Collection window or door.

With more than 58K likes and followers on Facebook, we’ve created brand penetration with homeowners and this also exemplified on other social media channels including Instagram where we boast 12.5K followers, and Pinterest where we enjoy 168.2K monthly unique viewers.

While our interactions with style-savvy consumers have blossomed considerably, we’ve also continued to invest in our marketing communications with customers and the industry.

To help our trade partners polish their marketing, we sent out several educational bulletins during April and May, which were focused on social media tips (given the increased use of these channels over lockdown by consumers) and photography, where it’s widely regarded that we have one of the best image libraries in the industry.

We also combined all of our marketing assets, including brochures, logos, images, social media links and a showroom guide, as part of a bigger ‘Welcome To The Residence Collection’ portfolio. In between all this, we’ve been using our 3D printer to manufacture mask straps for NHS hospitals, along with establishing a back-to-work plan with full safeguarding in place.

After the first few weeks it was safe to say that order intake and enquiries surpassed our best estimates by some way. The work we did during lockdown with our marketing will no doubt have helped, but we’ve also been able to inspire and assist our trade partners with their back-to-work programmes to generate more sales.

Being visible as a brand has never been so important for us, and you can see those companies that have thought similarly with their respective trade activities. We are a long way short of getting back to normal and I do believe our thought processes and the way in which the industry operates will change. But with change comes opportunity and we’re fully focused on grasping this safely and compassionately.

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