Into the great known

When first we entered lockdown in March few would have hoped to emerge well at the end of it. Perhaps we can have more confidence this time round, says Apeer’s Asa McGillian.

If the world has not yet fully accepted the rigours of living under a pandemic, most of us at least carry a mask along with our mobile phone and purse or wallet.

The hope is that we never become fully comfortable and relaxed living this way, and that we will return to some sort of pre-Covid normality with the availability of a vaccine.

When the UK entered the first lockdown, the window and door industry went into hibernation, with the majority of companies simply shutting up shop. We joined with the rest of the industry in closing our factory gates and sending people home. All except for the marketing team who, rather than battening down the hatches, stepped up its assault on the hearts and minds of British and Irish homeowners with the launch of a series of promotional videos, distributed through social media channels that included YouTube and Facebook.

As part of a total revamp of our marketing we had produced a series of seven stylish and evocative videos designed to appeal to aspirational homeowners. These showed various aspects of a wonderful life, with lovely people, happy families and all shown through some very classy and stylish videos produced by a very talented production team, some of whom were involved in the filming of Game of Thrones.

They communicate positive messages about the security, comfort and style of our residential doors. And, despite being only halfway through the revamp of our marketing programme, we had the videos. So, we decided, ‘let’s get them out there’. And the results could not have been better.

As we now know, homeowners confined to their homes spent much of their downtime examining their properties and hatching plans for refurbishment, which included their doors.

Our videos were out there and it became clear they were being seen by homeowners when, towards the end of April, we began to receive enquiries in significant numbers. It’s true to say we were surprised at the volumes.

These we passed out to our retail installers, and they responded in anticipation of lockdown ending and orders have been coming in strong numbers ever since.

The strong bounce-back demand was a huge relief. When we decided to keep our foot on the floor with our marketing in March, we hoped that our videos would be seen but, along with everyone else, we had no idea what the response would be.

We knew that people would be home, and we assumed that video channels would at least be as active as any other time, so it was worth getting the message out there, even if we didn’t know when we would get back to work.

This latest marketing stance continues our approach of going straight to the homeowner. In this latest campaign the messages are more refined, with greater reliance upon video, now established as a strong element in consumer marketing.

If we assume an installed cost of around £2,500 for a resi door, that can equate comfortably with a suite of furniture or dining room furniture. So, as well as homeowners thinking about a new resi door as part of home improvements, we want them to think about it as part of a decorating project.

They can get colours to match their interior decor, refresh the exterior of their property as well as improve security and thermal performance, all for what they might spend on furniture. Our videos, brochures and website all show beautiful interiors that we hope will inspire people to look at the whole house, including a door that is very much part of the overall colour and styling theme.

Just a few days into lockdown #2 the atmosphere feels different to before: the novelty value has been replaced with a greater air of trepidation – perhaps we had hoped that we would see an endgame in sight by now – but our factories remain open and, within the window and door industry at least, the focus is now very much on making and fitting the backlog of orders, while we have the opportunity.