When the bottom dropped out of the builder market, most lighting showrooms felt the pinch. Many who stayed afloat were able to do so because they made a concerted effort to court interior designers.
While some manufacturers sell direct to designers, there are others who have invested significant money in creating tools for lighting showrooms to partner with interior designers in their local communities.
One of those companies is Capital Lighting Fixture Co., headquartered in Georgia. “When it comes to selling to interior designers, show them possibilities, not products,” notes Rupa Raman, Content Marketing Manager. Today’s savvy shoppers tend to be well-equipped with idea boards and images at their fingertips. Whether they’re professional interior designers or homeowners styling their own space, they have various tools at their disposal to help them visualize the look and feel they want to create.
“At Capital Lighting, although we don’t sell directly to interior designers or end users, we’re mindful of the fact that we’re designing for them,” Raman explains. “We work with our showroom customers and ecommerce partners to identify and deliver trends and design concepts that resonate with [them].”
Customers entering a lighting showroom today don’t want to be “sold” products. “They want to be able to connect the dots in their decorating vision,” Raman notes. They want to discover whatever inspiring applications, creative ideas, and smart solutions you can offer. “Does your selection align with their favorite trends and taste? Do you help solve a decorating dilemma? The way we see it, every fixture we design is the missing piece in a homeowner’s decorating puzzle or the perfect finishing touch in an interior designer’s dream project,” she comments.
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“Visual tools like Designer’s Choice help us look beyond the obvious and explore creative installation options.”
“As part of our approach towards highlighting trends and lifestyles rather than putting the emphasis on products alone, we launched Designer’s Choice — a style guide with a magazine feel — featuring beautiful imagery, inspiration, and applications as a way to connect our showroom customers with the design-savvy shopper,” Raman says. “Working in conjunction with our social media stories and digital marketing efforts, the magazine facilitates and nurtures the Capital Lighting-Showroom-Designer partnership.”
Lighting showroom salespeople have reported that Designer’s Choice helps them showcase products better in the context of trends and lifestyles. “From mailing it out to prospective shoppers in their neighborhood to using it as a showroom tool, our customers enjoy a lot of flexibility in how they take advantage of the magazine,” Raman comments.
The feedback from interior designers and design bloggers has been enthusiastic, according to Raman. “My clients tend to be very visual people, as am I,” notes designer Mendee Williams. “We love that the magazine has inspirational lifestyle shots showing us applications we may not have considered otherwise. Visual tools like Designer’s Choice help us look beyond the obvious and explore creative installation options.”
Alicia Armstrong, the owner and author of the blog Our Vintage Nest, says, “I’m such a visual person, so naturally, I love seeing how lighting can completely transform a space! A room can go from beautiful to stunning with just the right light.”
“Even as interior designers, we are always inspired by one another’s work and Designer’s Choice is a great way to see a company’s products being selected and showcased by professionals,” explains Brittany Hayes, creator of the blog Addison’s Wonderland.
Kellee Hollenback Hammond, VP/Sales & Marketing for Littman Brands & SONNEMAN-A Way of Light, headquartered in California, says Littman Brands’ Lighting Look Book publication was developed five years ago as a way to “give our dealers something tangible” as a selling tool.
In addition, when Hollenback Hammond discovered there were only two accredited classes in lighting for interior designers, she saw to it that Littman Brands create several CEU-accredited lighting sessions to meet that need. With all the changes in technology and regulation going on in the industry, Hollenback Hammond has found that interior designers want to learn more about lighting for their clients’ projects.
Littman Brands’ Lighting Look Book, which is provided in volume to lighting showrooms, also serves another purpose. “It can be used as a pocket guide for showroom salespeople who are new to the field,” Hollenback Hammond states. Filled with inspiring lifestyle photography as well as lamping information and style guidance, the Lighting Look Book is a great take-home resource for designers and consumers alike.
Cleveland-based Hinkley Lighting has experienced much success with its comprehensive lifestyle-focused LIGHTING MADE SIMPLE guide, which is available in digital format or as a printed publication that is mailed out to consumers or interior designers who request it. Filled with simple guidelines, advice from renowned interior design experts, plus gorgeous photography shot in picturesque locations, LIGHTING MADE SIMPLE is updated every two years to keep abreast of trends. The manufacturer describes it as “The ultimate resource for selecting and purchasing lighting for [the] home.”
When it comes to targeting the interior design community, sharing lighting information in a way that is easy to understand and share with their clients is becoming more valuable than receiving a nominal discount. Just as consumers hire interior designers for professional guidance in creating the perfect living space; interior designers are starting to seek out lighting experts to help them get up to speed in the latest lighting developments that consumers have been hearing about.