By Fara Young
Challenge: Wesley Allen, a luxury iron bed manufacturer based in Los Angeles, raised the bar for b-to-b furniture marketing during its 25th year of attending the International Home Furnishings Market show, the industry’s largest semiannual home furnishing trade show.
Although Wesley Allen was a well-known home furnishing company before the October show in High Point, N.C., it believed it could improve upon its past success by accelerating its brand promotion to more prospective clients. "We wanted more exposure," said Maier Rosenberg, the company’s COO.
During previous years, the manufacturer’s preshow marketing materials had failed to narrowly target prospective clients, said Lenn Grabiner, principal and creative director at Grabiner/Hall, the marketing company that restructured Wesley Allen’s brand image. "We needed to reshape the perception in the industry of what this company was," he added.
One big problem was how Wesley Allen exhibited its products at the show. Because it shared a 5,000 square-foot showroom building with other furniture companies at the show, it was difficult to distinguish itself to potential furniture dealers and buyers.
Solution: Wesley Allen turned to Grabiner/Hall last May for both an external image update and a targeted marketing campaign. Grabiner/Hall had already been providing Wesley Allen with other marketing services for about a year. After Wesley Allen purchased a 13,000 square-foot building in High Point to permanently use at future trade shows, Grabiner/Hall began redesigning the outside of the new building. "We wanted to make sure that the appearance of the building was appropriate and attractive," said Rosenberg. Grabiner/Hall painted the top trim of the structure black and the bottom, gold. The most striking part, Rosenberg said, were accent photo shots taken of beds that were blown up and hung on three sides of the building.
Besides attracting show visitors from the outside, Grabiner/Hall created a preshow direct mail campaign by sending out 15,000 invitations to prospective clients, including a new audience of interior decorators. "[Wesley Allen] expanded its universe and included a different target market this year," Grabiner said. "We wanted to put a special piece together that really spoke to designers."
Grabiner/Hall also placed advertisements for the new showroom in Furniture Today, In-Furniture and Furniture Preview , magazines distributed at the event. And because the new building’s space allowed Wesley Allen to feature three rather than one furniture lines this year (Iron Beds of America, Wesley Allen and Amanda Sutton), the ads provided three different price levels and marketplaces, Grabiner said.
Results: With the new marketing strategy, trade show traffic at the Wesley Allen building increased from previous years by about 30%, even though attendance at the other High Point building decreased for some showrooms by 25% to 40%, according to Rosenberg. Grabiner added that Wesley Allen even reconnected with clients from 10 years ago, which were impressed with the company’s presentation.
For the next High Point show in April, Wesley Allen plans to enlist Grabiner/Hall to design more invitations and create a different atmosphere in the building, Rosenberg said. "We didn’t have much time to do the interior in October," he said.
Grabiner also predicted future trade show success for Wesley Allen. "We will create a very interesting environment to help sell the products and better educate the visitors as to what Wesley Allen brands are all about," he said.