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Pinterest: Inspiring consumers with visual appeal

July 7/14, 2014; Volume 28/Number 2

By Jenna Lippin 

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 12.00.52 PMThe first half of 2014 has come and gone, and while most people are in summer relaxation mode, this is the best time to refresh your marketing strategy to get the creative juices flowing.

What has plenty of room for creativity? Many marketing and design experts are touting Pinterest, the social networking platform based on visual content. Users are able to create an endless amount of pinboards with photos that focus on the board’s respective theme. Typically when the images are clicked, the viewer is brought to the website from which the picture originated or a related page.

As consumer behavior changes, flooring retailers today are becoming more comfortable with social media. Once Facebook and Twitter are tackled (or attempted), the natural progression seems to be toward Pinterest.

“Pinterest is an incredible resource for design influence and a powerful tool for bringing people to your website,” explained Christine Whittemore, chief simplifier at Simple Marketing Now. “Look at Target and Nordstrom, for example. Their top pins on pinboards translate to products in store.”

Indeed, flooring retailers—though smaller than megastores like Target and Nordstrom—are proving to be successful with Pinterest to inspire consumers and drive traffic. Having a link to Pinterest on a store’s website, which typically appears as a small button with the Pinterest symbol, is a guaranteed way to bring customers to the platform and see what you have to offer.

“We’ve had a Pinterest page for a while, but we just put [the link] on our website,” said Tom Pelusio, general manager at Rochester Linoleum Carpet One, which has six locations throughout upstate New York. “Some salespeople said they’ve heard response [to our Pinterest]. In the next year I expect even more. Consumers love seeing galleries so they can visualize the products in their homes and get design ideas. With more to look at, an extensive amount of content, we keep their interest. We’ve seen lots of activity from our website because consumers are going through it to get to our Pinterest. It’s definitely helping generate traffic.”

Andy Kessler, general manager at Discount Dave’s, with two locations in southwest Missouri, said that the visual aspect of Pinterest is a great help in showing customers what the store has to offer, and aids customers in explaining the looks, products and designs they want.

“Pinterest has helped us meet our clients’ needs more effectively by being able to share visuals back and forth rather than verbal descriptions,” Kessler explained. “We have found this is the best and most efficient way to help guide our customers to the products they need to achieve the style or feel of the rooms they have shown us when looking through images together.”Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 12.01.18 PM

While retailers’ Pinterest boards are providing inspiration for end users, these dealers are getting help with their creative edge from other pinners. Rochester Linoleum, which has enlisted the help of local IT student Austin Bartlett for managing social media, follows not only Carpet One Floor & Home’s main Pinterest account, but also other Carpet One co-ops, industry magazines and manufacturers like Armstrong and Mohawk.

“We get assistance from Carpet One for a lot of web content,” Bartlett said. “Some of the content was organized by them, and it seemed to work well. There is a lot of interaction on Carpet One’s main page, so it seemed logical to go from there.”

Kessler has Discount Dave’s Pinterest profile follow other flooring stores to see the types of content his peers consider relevant. Keeping track of trends from other parts of the country adds some perspective as to what’s hot in design as well.

“I like following other flooring stores so we always keep up to date on what other companies are using as far as ideas, products, etc.,” he said. “I even interact with a few that are on the East and West Coasts to see what trends are happening there so that we can be ready if and when the trends in our area change and know what products people may be looking for in the future.”

Aside from pinpointing trends, Pinterest is also helpful in staying connected with consumers of varied demographics. For example, with the economic upswing, now is the time for young professionals to start buying homes, which, of course, need flooring.

Erica Hughes, who handles social media and marketing for Al’s Carpet, Flooring & Design Center in Machesney Park, Ill., noted how important Pinterest is in attracting customers from opposite sides of the consumer age spectrum.

“There are really two demographics,” she explained. “I’m 31, so I’m that second (younger) demographic we look at for flooring. I have a house, I’m married, we’re improving our home, we’ve had our jobs for a while and we have disposable income now. I’m sitting on Pinterest looking at what we can do.”

But there is also a target demographic with empty nesters in their 40s, 50s and 60s who want to redo their homes; they are all on Pinterest, too. “They come into the store and say they saw something on Pinterest they want to use,” Hughes continued.

Erin Appleman, vice president of marketing and merchandising at Rite Rug, with numerous locations throughout Ohio, also noted how Pinterest attracts the target audience of female consumers age 35 and up. “The photos [on Pinterest] are designed to provide ideas and inspiration for the home,” she explained. “We also want to create a relationship with consumers, so they will think of Rite Rug when they are ready to purchase flooring.”

Hughes summed up Pinterest best: “Pinterest has a format people will go to for ideas. With Pinterest you are getting a photo, and a majority of the time you are clicking on a photo and going to a link. You can create inspiration boards for different parts of the home.”