29 May 2010

How to sell kitchen cabinetry: my slide back into advertising part four

My fourth installment is called Energetic. To reprise:

I have a couple of sidelines, one of which is doing project work for an ad agency. Over the last year or two, I've been taking on some different things to see where I want my career progression to head next. Part of that is writing for this ad agency. Well as luck would have it, the agency happens to be the agency of record for the design studio where I ply my trade. I'd been unhappy with some of the copy that ended up in ads and on the website and as someone who's a pretty good writer and who has a vested interest in how a kitchen studio presents itself, having me write the new website was a logical choice.

In January, I was in a brainstorming session with the ad folks and we were figuring out how to position the studio in the new website. Kitchen design's a curious thing in a lot of ways. Kitchen designers make their money from selling cabinetry but selling cabinetry isn't what I wanted to emphasize. Any monkey can sell cabinetry, and many of them do. It takes a real designer to build on that and to make rooms that capture the fundamental essence of a particular client.

I refer to my essence capturing as story telling. I work with my clients to have their homes tell their stories. Good design follows a narrative. Always.

I've been at this for long enough that I know that kitchen design as a business presents itself to the world by showing completed kitchens. These completed kitchens are terrific for portfolios, they tell a potential client what a given studio is capable of. However, these completed kitchen designs don't allow a client to project himself or herself into the image. Often times, these completed kitchen images are a barrier. Most people lack the vision thing. And when I show someone one of these photographs, I spend a lot of time guiding the person in front of me. "Imagine your home with something like this but not really like this." It makes for unnecessary confusion a lot of times.

Usually, I assemble a presentation board of finishes when I'm rolling out an idea rather showing a lot of completed projects.

So when it came to how to show the skills of a kitchen design studio on its website, I wanted to take my presentation board idea and make it a more fleshed out marketing position.

The result is something I call design stories.

We played around with this idea for a couple of months and then three weeks ago we booked a photographer and a studio. It was a collaborative effort but my resume claims sole credit for it. Resumes exist to toot my horn, right? And just for the record, none of this would have been possible without the great Amy Allen of Allen Harris Design or incredibly talented and patient photographer Chris Stickney.

Anyhow, we spent the day in the studio and assembled five still lifes (I was calling them Still Life with Cabinet Door) and shot all five of them in a single day.

The fourth one is called Energetic and my body copy follows.
Every room tells a story, and every room has a different story to tell. At Kuttler Kitchens, we consider it to be our top priority to help you select the finishes that tell your story.

To help you get started; here are five, very different color and finish palettes. Each one tells its own story and we call them Tranquility, Classic, Sustainable, Grounded and Energetic. Using these as a starting point, how can we help you tell your story?

Dynamic colors and finishes tell the energetic story of a life spent in high gear. Medallion Cabinetry's Bella door in a wheat stain combines with lively quartz counters from Silestone and  die-cast Marcel hardware from Du Verre to express the vitality of someone who's on the go and would have it no other way. Your life is active, dynamic, fresh, spirited and at Kuttler Kitchens, we can help your kitchen tell that energetic story.


  1. The story telling idea is really great. Some clients will really get this. It will help their imagination soar. Then there are the other clients, that need to see it all put together. They need pictures to tell the story. Then there are the ones that need a show room to walk into. they have to touch and feel everything. We take for granted that our clients can picture things in their minds like we can. I guess if they could they wouldn't need us.

  2. As someone who has had two kitchens renovated, I can tell you that if I saw that type of ad, I'd immediately be skeptical, and perhaps just cross that company off my list entirely.

    It comes across as incredibly patronizing and insulting. If you're trying to sell me your skill at interior design, then show me your previous work. Surrounding a cabinet door with kitsch that fell out of a dollar store tells ME the story of a designer who's more interested in selling the dream of an ideal kitchen, not the reality. It's not exactly hard to make your "product" as ambiguous as possible and simply nod your head at whatever interpretation your client comes up with.

    It also tells me the cabinets are overpriced, since they can afford to pay someone to take 5 pictures of a door (in one day, no less!) and write copy that sounds like a parody of a Hammacher Schlemmer catalog.

  3. Sue: Thanks for the compliment. Of course this stuff works in concert with the rest of our approaches to selling kitchen designs. We have a full showroom, a big screen monitor to do 3D rending previews on and the website's filled with images of fully renovated kitchens. I want to get people thinking about their own lives and for the most part I think this does that. As the commenter who followed you shows though, some people won't be happy until you give your services away.

    Claire: Wow, please keep coming back and insulting me any time you'd like. I like it especially when someone goes for the jugular and does so while hiding behind an onscreen alias. What's the word I'm searching for here? Oh yeah, cowardice. Have a great life and I'm sure someone from Home Depot or Lowe's would be happy to help you with your next project.


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