What you’ll learn:
This week on the Page 1 Podcast, Jason and Jamie take us on a guided tour of Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA)—the 13-billion-dollar industry bringing you new technology solutions for the home. They also dish out marketing tactics to help houseware companies tap into the underrated channels of builders, architectures, and designers.
About our guest:
Jason Barth drives the overall company vision for The Premier Group and operates day-to-day by leading the sales and design team. Jason is passionate about the solutions that Premier curates for each individual client and takes great responsibility for not just the end result, but in consistently providing the “Ultimate Customer Experience.”
Jamie Carey graduate from Miami university of Ohio with a bachelor’s in marketing. Post college, she became a professional photographer for 14 years, which eventual lead her to the role of Director of Business Development at The Premier Group where she leads in design, content creation, and overall marketing strategy.
Key takeaways from this episode:
- Jason’s & Jamie’s unconventional career paths to The Premier Group—2:12
- What is CEDIA and why is it such a big deal?—4:40
- The Premier Group stats (number of employees, different departments, etc.)—5:34
- A breakdown of The Premier Group revenue per sales channel—6:50
- TPG’s two fastest growing segments—10:30
- How homeowners can use smart product analytics in a way that is easy & relevant—12:11
- Ins-and-outs of The Short Throw Project: LG’s new innovative tech product with TPG—15:28
- How to tap into an underrated market of Builders and Home Professionals—24:10
- Top Tradeshows for houseware brands to network and target the Builders channel—26:35
- Step-by-step strategy to break into the Builders channel—28:03
- Marketing tactics to engage designers and architectures—31:55
- How to create key messages that resonate with multiple customer personas—34:14
- Favorite book, habit, ritual that made Jamie and Jason more successful—37:39
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Page 1 Podcast, a twice weekly podcast featuring a variety of guests and thought leaders on topics ranging from channel strategies to tariffs, influencer marketing, best-in-class product launches, and all the details about how to accelerate your eCommerce sales with the big box retailers, or what we call rCommerce. Now here’s your host, Luke Peters.
Luke Peters: Thanks for joining us on the Page 1 Podcast. I am your host, Luke Peters. This is the podcast where I bring you the best and brightest leaders to share consumer product sales and marketing strategies that will help you grow your business. I am the CEO and founder of NewAir Appliances, where I cut my teeth selling products online, and now I’ve started Retail Band, where I hope to help other brands succeed in product launches, influencer marketing, and B2B online sale strategy. And quickly, right now, I’m offering a free evaluation of your online sale strategy. So if you’re interested, find me on LinkedIn, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And let’s get started here.
Luke Peters: In this episode, you will learn from Jason Barth and Jamie Carey about the company Premier Group. And we’re going to talk about designing, engineering smart homes. But what I thought was really interesting is we’re going to talk about a $13 billion portion of the economy called CEDIA, and Jason will talk more about that. And also just talk about how we can sell into the builder’s sales channel and learn more about builders and architects. And for those of you that have home products and home appliances, learning about how you can grow your business with builders. So Jason and Jamie, thank you both for joining me today.
Jason: How you doing?
Jamie: Thank you.
Luke Peters: And Jason, I have your bio here. Quickly, you graduated from DePaul with degrees in communications, consumer psychology, and finance. Is that three degrees?
Jason: Yeah, I like to say I didn’t like any of it enough to go overboard, so I just learned a little bit about everything.
Luke Peters: There you go.
Jason: But they’ve all served me well.
Luke Peters: You’re a glutton for punishment. And then, Jamie, if you don’t mind giving a quick intro about your background.
Jamie: I graduated from Miami University in Ohio and graduated with a marketing degree. But, out of college, I became a professional photographer for 14 years. So this job now combines those two skill sets, marketing and photography for The Premier Group.
Luke Peters: Are you a Canon or Nikon gear user?
Jamie: Canon. Canon.
Luke Peters: Oh man. Come on.
Jamie: But I’m not going to hate on Nikon.
Luke Peters: I got a bunch of Nikon gear and all these expensive lenses. Photography’s awesome. What kind of stuff are you shooting?
Jamie: I started off as a portrait photographer. So weddings, families, senior portraits. I’d always been interested in architecture, but based on my schedule and the age of my children I needed to get out of nights and weekends and started getting into more commercial or architectural photography, which is what ultimately led to this opportunity here with The Premier Group.
Luke Peters: Good for you. And you know what, being good at photography, it helps so many ways. I’m sure you know this, and probably ways you don’t even realize. Especially when you’re shooting products or even stuff around the house, you’re probably the go-to person for everything because you know how to properly frame something. So it’s cool to have that skill set, I bet.
Jason: It’s amazing how difficult it is to shoot the interior of a home and get the right perspective without distortion, the color balance, get the lighting correct. It’s extremely challenging and we’re fortunate that Jamie’s very talented. We brag a lot. We look at pictures of our projects and then we see other pictures and we’re like wow, ours look a lot better.
Jamie: It’s just one of those things that many companies, not even just our industry, but many companies neglect to photograph their finished work. It’s just something where when you finally get done with something you’re already onto the next one or two projects. So once I came on board and I had that skill set, it’s just been nice to be able to document our projects and then submit them for some of these awards that we’ve recently won.
Luke Peters: Absolutely. I started out shooting our products. We do appliances and they are really difficult with glass and stainless steel. And luckily we’ve been able to hire in or bring in some contractors that are just experts. And if you don’t start with a good image first before they get to Photoshop, there’s some things that just can’t be fixed.
Jamie: You got to nail it in camera.
Luke Peters: You got to get it in camera. Cool. So moving on into this, so Jason, you’re the CEO, and Jamie, you’re director of marketing and you handle social media, photography and relationships with some of the builders. So why don’t we get started on this, Jason, and why don’t you quickly describe the company and then describe what CEDIA is because I thought that was really interesting in our pre-discussion.
Jason: So we’re a member of what’s called the CEDIA Organization. That’s the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. That comprises about a $13 billion a year industry. It’s roughly 4500 companies across the United States are members of the CEDIA Organization, and we design and install home technology systems. So starting with network, then security systems, alarm systems, camera surveillance, access control. Of course audio/video and entertainment category. And then smart home automation. Lighting control, heating and cooling, control thermostats, motorized shapes, drapes and blinds. Essentially, if it has a wire we probably do it. But those are our major categories.
Luke Peters: Perfect. And then how about a little bit about the company? If you can just break down a total number of employees, talk a little bit about your physical footprint and the different departments you have at the company.
Jason: So we’re in our 21st year in business. This year we’ve got 23 full-time staff that focus on sales and design of technology systems and curating all the product information that’s out there, and then the physical implementation with onsite with project management and onsite installation. We work directly for consumers, and as you started to allude to, we work a lot in the builder channels, so with builders and people building new houses. And we also get a lot of leads at the top level from architects and interior designers.
Luke Peters: Cool. And of that, so you said, I think, 23 full-time staff, how many of those are focused on sales or are most of them out in the field performing the work?
Jason: There’s five of us that are on the front end sales and design team. Myself and Jamie as well as Ken, and Tyler in my office, so technically design and engineering and sales. And then my business partner Matt manages the operations side of the business, so that’s all the rest of the field workers, technicians, programmers, network gurus-
Jamie: Service department.
Jason: Service team.
Luke Peters: And then talking about your channels, so you said obviously the end consumer and then you have the builder channel. Would the builder and the architect, would you see that as the same channel or would those be two different channels?
Jason: I think the obvious answer is that if you’re hiring an architect you intend to build the house… I think at the production level, you have the Toll Brothers and the Pultes of the world. You don’t ever meet with the architect. You choose from a pre-defined set of floor plans and that’s how they bring a little more value. They’ve built these houses before, they have methods and techniques and economies of scale. And if you’re building a custom home, well then it’s possibly a one of a kind, never been built before, and so then you’re working with an architect who is specifying all of the materials and products and design. And then that goes to, perhaps then you shop and get bids from multiple builders until you choose a builder who’s going to build your one of a kind custom home.
Luke Peters: And these are questions that really help the listeners understand the business more, and what I always find fascinating is the breakdown of sales per channel. So it sounds like the main channels would be the architect and builders, let’s just combine that for the sake of this question, and then the next one is direct into the consumers.
Luke Peters: So you’re literally having to work directly with the consumer, sell that project. It’s, I’m guessing, longer individual sales cycle.
Jamie: Yeah, Luke, and sometimes those customers come directly to us. So not all of our leads are from the trade. Some of the leads are the customers themselves, just…
Luke Peters: For sure. Because of your reputation and the marketing you’re doing.
Jamie: And our growth.
Luke Peters: If you want to just break it down by projects or dollars, what percent is going to be direct consumer, so you’re doing individual consumer homes, versus builder and architect?
Jason: It’s interesting. Certainly we do more projects in terms of the overall quantity for consumers that come to us directly who live in an existing home. Let’s say at any point in time, 96, 97% of America lives in an existing home and three percent are building at any given time. So we do a lot of volume, number of projects, but they gross dollars comes from the new construction projects because they tend to be larger. When people are building a home they’re buying more new things. Just like they’re buying new appliances. So they may be buying a new television or a new audio system, or if they’re putting in an alarm system. They’re higher dollar projects. They generate more revenue.
Jamie: Because they cross over into all of our categories versus just coming to us with an existing home, for example, and asking to put in a security system. Or asking to build a network. A new construction allows us to cross over into all of our categories of business. Then they just have one guy to deal with versus six different individual companies that might point fingers at one another. We manage the whole thing and make it the most efficient design for that customer.
Jason: Or try to go it alone and figure out themselves, which is a really horrible idea.
Luke Peters: Well, I mean hey, that’s really interesting. Obviously you love all your customers, but that builder vertical is a really valuable one for the company, just like you said, because you’re able to do maybe more bigger, deeper projects because it’s a home from scratch. And just for the audience, we’re going to go deep into that because I thought just in looking at Jason’s background and what Jamie has done for the company, I thought for the audience here on the Page 1 Podcast, it’s going to be valuable to learn more about this builder category because I don’t think it’s as well known as maybe it should be. We’re all focused on mass. So we’ll get into that. Before we get going there though, Jason, I wanted to ask a couple, hopefully, fun questions. So as far as technology goes, everybody loves technology, what is on trend right now? What’s new and exciting that people are putting in their houses?
Jason: Well, I can tell you for sure, for the last five years in a row the two fastest growing segments of our business are lighting control or lighting automation and security cameras. Everybody wants cameras. There’s no question that’s probably the hottest subject. Whoever you talk to they’re like yeah, I’ve got a Ring doorbell or I want the Google Hello or any of the other camera systems. And they want to keep an eye on the backyard and the driveway and the nursery and the you name it. So people want to keep an eye on their property and they want to feel safe and secure in their house. I think that’s always been number one. If you live in a home and you don’t feel safe and secure, that’s the first thing you’re going to focus on.
Jason: And then you get into the more fun categories. Lighting automation has been big for the convenience. And a lot of the time it starts with security. Automating front porch lights and garage driveway lights and flood lights, and then interior lights so it looks like you’re home when you’re not. Having a simple button like the goodnight button that turns all the lights off in the house when you go to bed. Having everything be dimable, being able to set themes for the home that are really pleasing. So that’s a big category.
Luke Peters: The camera section, I totally see that growing and it’s surprising, I didn’t actually think that would be the answer when I asked you this question. I thought you might talk about something in the sound department because there’s some cool stuff with Sonos going on and other brands like that. But it totally makes sense. I see the video camera and the security industry, you can just tell it’s massively growing. But that’s cool to hear it from someone who’s actually doing these installs.
Luke Peters: One thing I always think with that though is you’re collecting all this data and all this video and sometimes there’s data overload, like there’s analytics overload in business. And then it’s one thing to collect it but another thing to actually look at it. Are there a lot of automated triggers put on that tell the homeowner when they actually need to go look at that video, and otherwise they don’t have to touch that app? Or just diving deeper into it, I just think it’s interesting because there’s all these things we can do, but do we really have time in a day to go check, monitor and turn this into valuable new data or video or information that we have?
Jason: That’s an absolutely fantastic question. You used a couple key words there. One was you used the word analytics. And then you talked about do we really have time in the day to use this stuff properly. And of course, as a company who our primary role is to curate the information that’s out there for our customers and help them make choices with right are the right technologies for them. And then to make those technologies easy to use and relevant to their lifestyle, that’s our primary focus. So choosing the right product is big.
Jason: And so when we talk about analytic space cameras, I think there’s a lot of misleading advertising out there, where a manufacturer might call it analytics but it’s just basic simple pixel based motion. So if certain amount of pixels in the camera image move you get a notification. And with that basic technology, it could be effective but it could also create a lot of false positives. That’s the technology that falls by the wayside. Your homeowner can’t trust it. They don’t know that for sure that something happened. When you take it to the next level and use true analytics, where we can tell the difference between a deer and a dog, and a dog and a person, and a car and a deer or whatever it is that’s around your property, that that becomes a whole other level of reliability and security.
Jason: So again, there’s tiers of products for everyone based on price, point aesthetics, performance, et cetera. I think to the earlier point, it was interesting you said well, those weren’t the answers I was expecting, camera surveillance and lighting control. Those are two of the categories if you think about the CEDIA channel and the 4500 companies that are designing and installing systems for customers, that those are the categories they need help with. They’re less likely to try to do it themselves. Sonos is a great DIY product, and actually, interesting enough, we’re a huge Sonos dealer. That’s just a tool to us that we use to help provide music systems. But we’re typically not selling the Sonos One or the Play:5, we’re typically selling a client the Connect or the Connect Amp, or it’s now called the Port. The new product, the Port and the amplifier. And we’re connecting them to speakers that are mounted maybe in their walls or their ceiling or surrounding a swimming pool or a patio or a deck and embracing a more customized look and feel to the music system.
Luke Peters: That’s a really good thorough answer, and super interesting that the cameras can tell the difference of deer, dog, car. And I definitely understand or can appreciate the value of that versus say a pixel, something that’s monitoring if this many pixels move we’re going to call, we’re going to alert you of that movement. So that is really helpful and hopefully helpful to listeners. And I guess with that we got the Super Bowl coming up in a couple weeks and I think it would be fun to hear from you guys about maybe a fun project that you built with TV or sound in mind, and just give the audience of just an idea of what that looked like start to finish, maybe what the cost was, and what the components were that went into that.
Jason: Jamie can speak a little bit towards how we actually do market towards what you just said. We think ahead. Implementing a project, how far out in advance do we need to market about the Super Bowl. Or the Summer Olympics coming up this summer is going to be big, or March Madness before that. These are big times where customers are thinking about a deadline. Hey, I want to have my system ready for the big game.
Jason: So one of the really, really coolest new products that we’ve had the privilege of partnering with at LG is their new short throw projector. It’s a 4K laser projector that sits about seven inches from the wall and projects 120 inch image on a bright screen. And it’s just amazing. Everybody that comes into the showroom that sees that display is immediately thinking about where can I put this, what room is this going in, where do I have space? Whether it’s a rec room, a family room. We’ve had clients put them in the master bedroom. And just a big, bright, clear image. And the benefit of the short throw projection, the technology’s in the lens that allows the projector, instead of hanging it way back on your ceiling in the middle of the room or the back of the room, we basically can install that system anyplace where someone has a television. your television’s mounted on the wall or sitting on a cabinet, well now we can put the projector in the same location and project this huge image on the wall, a 10 foot image.
Jamie: And because of the special lensing and the projection screen itself, it gives us more flexibility in the environment that we could put it in. Because Jason could speak to the actual technology of the lenses, but now we can put them in more common rooms versus just a dedicated theater.
Jason: In a brightly lit space.
Jason: It’s not for the private theater anymore.
Luke Peters: So just so we can understand, is that better than having a big TV? Are there some advantages to this projector technology? Or is it mainly because it’s bigger?
Jason: It’s size. There’s no question that size drives a lot of buying decisions and price drives a lot of buyer’s decisions. You look at the marketplace and, reasonably, for the last several years, a Sony 85 inch TV, which is a big TV, it’s heavy, it’s bulky, but it’s a large image and it’s a great image, and you’re going to spend anywhere from four to six thousand dollars. In fact, at CES this year, the trade show in Vegas, the new 8K Sony televisions are out and they’re $13 thousand for an 85 inch.
Luke Peters: Wow.
Jason: So when you look at televisions, that’s reasonably the largest size television you’re going to buy for the three to six thousand dollar price range. This LG projector, it’s 5995. It’s six grand. And we can go 100 inches, 110, 120. We can go up to 120 inches. Some people think well 85 to 120, is it that big of a difference? It’s massive. You’re talking about the diagonal of an image, so you’re adding 75% more viewing area. It’s dramatic. It’s very immersive and really spectacular. It’s a completely different experience.
Jamie: And it just solves that design, I don’t know if problem is the word, but you don’t have to have it mounted on the ceiling. That’s key because before that eliminated a projector in most people’s mind unless they had a dedicated room like a theater or a basement. Now it’s just so flexible on where you can place this projector.
Luke Peters: So how far from the screen is it then? I’m trying to visualize how this projector would set up.
Jason: The projector, I’m going to say it’s maybe 21 inches wide and maybe four inches tall, and about 15 inches deeps, and it sits about seven inches off the wall. So you sit it on a credenza or a media cabinet or really anything-
Jamie: Below the screen.
Jason: … below the screen, and it projects at a very severe angle up to 120 inch picture.
Luke Peters: That’s amazing. So it’s pointing straight up right up on the screen, and somehow the image is corrected for and shows up on this screen.
Jason: Yeah, there’s a lot of technology in the lens, and then LG took it all away and they built this projector with a laser light engine. So it turns on instantly and it turns off instantly and there’s no bulb to replace like traditional projectors. It also has all of the features that LG built into their smart televisions all built into the projector. So you literally plug it into the wall, set it on your cabinet, shoot your big, bright, clear 4K image, and you can scroll through YouTube and Netflix and Hulu and all the apps that you would want to download directly into the unit.
Jamie: And there is a lot of design to the projection screen itself. With the lensing making sure that that image isn’t distorted in any way and it’s a crystal clear picture at 120 inches.
Luke Peters: Wow. This is going to be dangerous because my kids would never want to get off it, but what about the actual quality or clarity or, I don’t know how you guys measure it with televisions, but that versus say a typical, whatever the current technology is, LCD technology on the regular television versus the laser bouncing off a screen. What is better, when you’re looking at it straight or when you’re looking at it from, say, a 45 degree angle?
Jason: So the angle of viewing that you just mentioned really is a non-issue with any modern video displays. I know years ago if you get off access from a television would fade considerably. Especially the old Mitsubishi big screen TVs were probably the greatest selling big screen TV of all time, and at 65 and 75 inches they were massive and they weighed 400 pounds and people loved them. But if you got off access the image would look shaded. And that’s not an issue with any of the projection technologies that we use from LG or Sony or anyone else. And neither is the case with the flat screens. You almost can stand at a 170 degree angle, very severe angle, and there’s no difference in the picture quality.
Jason: What you were referring to, I think, was resolution and light output. All video images are created by light somehow. We have plasma televisions, where electricity excited plasma particles and they created a billion colors and you had a bright clear picture. And then we moved to LCD televisions which was basically tubes. LCD lights reflecting through a substrate to create a picture. And then we moved to LED lights, which just made the TVs thinner. And then they started local dimming where you had banks of LEDs, instead of around the perimeter of the TV they’re all back lighting the TV so that you could get better black level.
Jason: Certainly you and your listeners can review the whole history of these technologies and how they’ve gotten thinner and brighter and clearer and better contrast so the latest evolution in projection technologies to go to a laser light engine instead of a light bulb. So the laser is simply the light engine. It’s still projecting off of a chip set. So you have DLP projectors, you have LCoS projectors, you still have all the traditional technologies, you just have the new light engine. A laser doesn’t run as hot as a metal-halide bulb or whatever kind of lamp a different manufacturer uses. And it’s instant on and instant off. There’s no cooling period, it strikes immediately. So it feels like a really high end television experience. Resolution wise the chip sets are the same. You’re viewing a full 4K image. So you’ve got eight million pixels shining on your screen. The same as a 4K television.
Luke Peters: And so just to wrap it up here, probably too late to get it for the Super Bowl this year, but what’s that going to cost? So it’s six thousand dollars for the projector, but then there’s going to be installation. It sounds like a screen’s involved. What’s the approximate total all then?
Jason: So we have clients that spend on a home theater, whether it’s that exact projector and screen or something else, we have tiers. A lot of times they’ll spend anywhere from maybe five to $15 thousand on a home theater experience. And then we the next jump, people spend somewhere between 15 to 30 thousand. And then you have your 30 thousand and up clients, where you’re starting to focus on maybe it’s more of a dedicated room or a dedicated space. But your open media room’s anywhere from five thousand to 30 thousand for a video display of some type, a surround system, componentry, packed installation cabling, the whole deal. As with all products it ranges greatly. Just like buying a car or buying a watch, kind of anything. Or buying…
Luke Peters: Well, listen, thanks for taking us through and hopefully the audience finds that fascinating. And that’s the fun stuff. Talking about how we can have a cool Super Bowl or movie experience. But now let’s get into business. Let’s talk about this builder vertical, this category that maybe a lot of us could be selling more into and we’re not. And you alluded to it earlier with a CEDIA and talked about the industry a bit. I guess before we deep dive into the builder category, talk to me about the trade shows because you mentioned that earlier. You said there was a builder home show, there’s KBIS. Tell me a little bit about the trade shows, who’s there and what’s happening in that industry for those who are not familiar with it.
Jason: So KBIS is in Vegas right now as we speak. Yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Luke Peters: My team’s just coming back right now, actually.
Jason: Just about every builder that we know has been out there. And so there are manufacturers in our channel that have taken advantage of that. Smart home automation manufacturers like Control4, Sonos, a lot of manufacturers. No reason to name them all, but they’re all pitching to builders. Why should you show our product to customers, why should we be in your house. I come back to Sonos as a great example. We have a program for a handful of builders where the home owner can select speakers in different rooms with Sonos to drive it. And they can add a sound bar to their TV and it’s all wired in and installed as part of the house. Honeywell has a great program for builders that we utilize with their Resideo product for security systems and basic smart home automation. And so the advantage to the consumer, of course, is that you can make a selection with your builder and it’s installed before you move in and it’s wrapped into your mortgage. That makes a lot of sense for some people that you don’t have to come out of pocket. I’ve always said in this day and age you can operate everything from your smartphone, why not your house? It just makes sense that you should be able to do this.
Jason: So the building community, I think, has to be paying attention to these technologies. And I think the ones that aren’t are really going to fall behind in terms of even just their perception of the general public of how sharp of a builder they are based on they’re embracing technology or not.
Luke Peters: And Jason, what are the shows? So we talked about KBIS, were there other builder shows? And again, just thinking about other companies that maybe are strong in Home Depot, strong in Amazon but they haven’t looked at this builder channel. So what shows should they be putting on their calendar?
Jason: There’s the National Builder Show, like that, NHAB, the National Association of Home Builders. And those are in Vegas or Orlando or whichever. All the way down to regional and local shows. So I can speak for us, we attend local NARI events, the National Association of Remodelers. ASID, the American Society of Interior Designers, they have regular events. And so maybe we’re just attending those events to network, but sometimes we’re helping host those events so that we’re driving that traffic coming to our location. We happen to be inside of what’s called the Indiana Design Center. It’s a beautiful building on the north side of Indianapolis in Carmel, Indiana, and it’s the home to the design community for building and construction, remodeling and home design. And so we have a great space where we can host events and do continuing education credits for architects and designers who are specifying in working with builders. The whole community ties together in a really neat way. We’re all working towards the same goal, which is happy home owners with the right selection. It starts, I guess, for each individual, it starts locally and then for large multinational corporations they should be looking at the big shows.
Luke Peters: I’ll put myself on the spot here so we have wine coolers and beer coolers and we’re actually coming out with this really awesome beer froster. So if you’re advising me and could break it down into a couple steps and we’re not in the builder market and you’d say, Luke, you got to do these things to get into the builder market, there’s a huge opportunity, what might those things be? Just so we can make this tangible for the listeners here on actually breaking into this market.
Jason: So I think one of the things you could start out by doing is contacting your local builder’s association and finding out who all the members of the local builder’s association are. And they host a lot of events, like I said, ongoing education events or networking events for the builders. And maybe hosting one of those either in your own space, like your own retail environment or at a space, like a lot of times they’ll go to a local event center or hosted space where you can sponsor these events, and then they give you time to showcase your products or services at or during the event. They have their regular meetings that you can sponsor. And just start reaching out and try to get ingrained with the building community.
Jamie: And the design community as well, because a lot of projects like basement remodels or a specialty product like you’re mentioning with beer and wine, that’s something that a creative mind is definitely going to think of when they’re designing a space. It might even be the focal point or feature of the design. So chapters like ASID. For example, we’re hosting ASID next week, our local chapter. And it’s a great opportunity for us to be able to speak about what we do and how that might affect their design and basically just educating them on all the options so they don’t overlook something when they’re creating a beautiful space for their customer.
Luke Peters: And Jamie, so ASID is architect? Is that a architect group?
Jason: Yeah, American Society of Interior Designers.
Luke Peters: Got it.
Jason: And AIA is architect. So American Institute of Architecture. So all of these groups, the builders, architects, and designers. What we’re really building, what we’ve really built over 20 plus years is groups of people that are evangelizing for us. They’re out telling the market like oh my gosh, you need to go talk to Premier, you need to go look at what they do. You need to do this in your house, or we’ve incorporated this design element into your home with these products. You’re getting the people on the front end that are specifying these things, specifying your product and specifying your services. So the homeowner’s very likely, if they’ve hired one of these individuals, they’re not going to hire them if they don’t trust them. They’re not going to hire them if they don’t like them. So they tend to, once they’ve built that relationship with their homeowner or their customer, then that customer is really listening to them as an influencer that they have great influence on who their customer works with in terms of all the vendors. Whether it’s cabinetry or appliances or the painter, or the flooring company, in all of our categories. And we’re the resources for home consumer electronics.
Jamie: And technology and electronics, as we all know, it’s always changing. So these short little classes that we’re able to host, it’s basically a condensed Cliff version for the designers and for the building community because they don’t have the time or necessarily the knowledge to keep up with everything. So it’s their opportunity to come get their CEU credits and keep on top of their game when it comes to the latest and greatest and how to design spaces for those technologies.
Jason: They need to know enough to recommend the right partner.
Luke Peters: Well, listen, it’s really insightful. So so far, and we’re talking about this, the home building and also we got a little bit into design and architect and started these trade shows, NHAB, I think was the home builders association, and look at the regional shows. And then also look at it from a perspective of shows and organizations as related to builders, but then also separately to designers and separately to architects. And Jamie, from a marketing and branding perspective, is there more to it on the back end and how are you engaging with these different chapters and organizations besides attending the shows? Is there anything else you guys might be doing?
Jamie: Well, I think first and foremost, for us, our location certainly sets the tone for that. We’re within the Indiana Design Center, as Jason mentioned, which really is the hub for all of interior design here in central Indiana. So we’re very fortunate to have this location. And then with the 20 plus years of being in business, just that reputation and word of mouth referral, repeat business. When clients go on to finish their basement or when they move onto their next home, they don’t have to think twice about who they’re going to call. They know that we did a great job the first time, and now they’re probably thinking of this even at a more advanced stage or at the very beginning of their process versus considering it a little bit too late in the game and they couldn’t have expanded on the system as they wanted to. Do you want to expand on that?
Jason: Yeah, I think what Jamie neglected to mention there is that she’s an amazing photographer and when she utilizes the social media to tell our story through pictures and compelling videos… Like she posted a photograph of a project one time. We installed an LG video wall. Really spectacular video wall. It went in a office of a wealth management firm in their front lobby. And she took a picture of it and posted it to Instagram and we got a call from a client that said, hey, that looks absolutely amazing, I want that.
Jamie: That was a residential client that he owns his own business too. So it’s just interesting how you put these ideas in front of our customers or our followers and now all of a sudden they need something that they didn’t even know they needed.
Jason: Exactly. So storytelling, I think is huge.
Jamie: Education and storytelling.
Jason: Your showcasing what’s possible. You’re getting your customers or potential customer’s mind brainstorming about what’s important to them, what their priorities are. They’re thinking about their budgets, they’re planning. And then when they come to you, it’s surprising and often refreshing that they’ve already thought about this stuff and the light bulb has started to go off and maybe they’ve expanded their budget a little bit in a category because they suddenly realize how important the things that we do are for their life. And that’s pretty fun.
Jamie: Or maybe just explaining a technology in a different light. Not to separate male/female, but sometimes our technology decisions are driven by the male, for example, in a relationship. Well, then I’m a female, I can give the female’s perspective or the mom perspective on why these technologies make my environment more safe or make it more efficient. So just telling stories from a bunch of different angles too, to really create that need for the customer. And like Jason said, maybe it’s something they didn’t know that they needed.
Jason: To find that connection, where they’re connecting the dots. The light bulb goes off. You know what, I need that because I do this in my life and that product or that service would help.
Luke Peters: And I think the last part’s really interesting because you probably have a couple customer personas. And like you said, Jamie, there’s different customers. It might be the technology part with the guys. But then the guys are probably clueless, as we normally are, to a bunch of other important things in the house. And so you bring your perspective.
Jason: Nothing like a good stereotype.
Jamie: I brought it up, it’s my fault.
Luke Peters: Well, you didn’t have to say the clueless part, I’ll say that part.
Jason: There’s a lot of validity to with what we do, with home technology, it’s to get the buy-in from the whole family. We actually, I’d like to take a hard stance and say we will not sell a system to just one member of the family. We want everybody to come into the showroom, experience it, say wow, we all get it, we all love it, let’s do this as a family. But certainly you got to get the husband and wife together on the decision. And I find more often than not, again, nothing like a good stereotype, but women use these systems more than men. They really do, honestly. We all watch television, we all listen to music, we all turn lights on and off, we all get warm and cold, we all need security, but women tend to take more of the nurturing approach for the whole family. Hey, are the doors shut, are the doors locked? Is the alarm system on? Did you turn your lights off in your bedroom? All these kinds of technologies that we implement. And they also like to host and entertain. So we’ve suddenly made these things really easy to embrace.
Jamie: Jason and I joke a lot that sometimes the first step in our sales process, getting customers into our showroom for a private consultation, we laugh that sometimes it’s more like a marriage counseling session. Only because only one of the two…
Jason: Really wants to be here.
Jamie: Wants to be here. But one’s pointing fingers because the other one is the only one in the family that knows how to use the system because he or she is the one that designed the system but the other doesn’t know how to handle it. So we get really excited when those opportunities come through our door because our experience that we give our customers is all about intuitiveness and ease of use for anybody in the family.
Luke Peters: So what I heard there is just brands and companies, especially kitchen, home, and appliance should look for these design centers in their locales, and it sounds like that’s a great lead generator. And you’re next to the decision makers at the Indiana Design Center, so that’s definitely a valuable nugget and hopefully the audience can utilize that one. And then also telling your story on Instagram with great photography. We all know that, but it’s hard to do that, and it sounds like you guys are doing a great job. And just super interesting talking to both of you guys and learning about the company. And I think it would be great to wrap it up on a business perspective, do either of you guys have a favorite book you’d recommend to listeners?
Jason: Favorite book. So honestly, I read an enormous amount but it’s all industry related. So trade magazine, all that type of stuff. I’ve read Good to Great, but I’m hoping that anybody that’s running a company has read Good to Great.
Luke Peters: How about this from a different angle. Is there a habit, a ritual or a practice that either of you have learned that’s made you a more successful person?
Jason: Be consistent. Be deadly… If there’s anything customers want to count on it’s consistency in everything you do. Consistency means you’re reliable, that they can count on you. If you say you’re going to do something of course do it. But doing it consistently, I think is hugely important. So that’s for your customers, whether it’s a builder, or an end consumer or whoever, they can rely on your process.
Jamie: Our business is really focused on the ultimate customer experience. We take a real hands-on approach. We dedicate a lot of upfront hours in the sales process honestly before we even have made a dime. And a lot of times that earns us the business because of the level of trust we’ve been able to build with them over the hours we’ve spent directly with the customer. And just they’re then seeing us understand every square inch of their home plan.
Luke Peters: I think that’s great advice. So there you go, you guys have it. Be consistent. Consistency translates into reliability and into trust. And I think it’s great feedback, well said. How can listeners find more about you guys? How can they learn about you or connect with you?
Jason: Well of course our website. It’s we’re at premier-group.com. And then Jamie would love to connect on all our social media accounts.
Jamie: Facebook and Instagram and then LinkedIn as well.
Jason: And then House is a good resource. We didn’t mention that. We have a profile on House, but that’s a great resource for people shopping for all home goods really. Design and home goods. You can create an idea book and bookmark stuff.
Luke Peters: Wow. So are you getting a bunch of business or some business referral from Houzz?
Jason: We have. We’ve posted projects where clients have, not dissimilar to seeing something on Instagram, where they’ve said, hey, I saw this project, I want to do something similar. Absolutely. We probably have not been as aggressive with House as we could be, but I think it’s a great platform for sure.
Luke Peters: Local, fast-growing company, so that’s good to hear about that. In a later episode I’m going to look for a guest who’s had a lot of success on House. It would be interesting to hear that. And I know they’re in your category, so maybe from a slightly different angle because they’re a lot of consumer product-facing. But it sounds like your work is also referred through that. So listen, Jason, Jamie, I want to thank you both for joining me today on the Page 1 Podcast. And just want to thank all the listeners for listening to the Page 1 Podcast. Quick reminder that I am offering a free evaluation of your online sales strategy. You can take a look at sales strategy with Amazon, Home Depot, Wayfair. We can look at your product listings and your selling tools and see if influencer marketing might be a fit for you. And then we can present the findings directly to you. It’s quick, easy, painless and you get a lot of value. If you’re interested, find me on LinkedIn, or at email@example.com. Thanks again, everybody, for listening to the Page 1 Podcast, sponsored by Retail Band. I appreciate all of you guys, all of your comments, suggestions and reviews, and we’ll see you on the next episode.
Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the Page 1 Podcast with Luke Peters. If you like our show and want to know more, check out our other segments. Also, please help us out by leaving us a rating on iTunes. Want to learn more about rCommerce, check out www.retailband.com to get more great tips and tricks on how to accelerate your eCommerce sales with the big box retailers.
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