If there’s one thing that separates better lighting showrooms from big-box stores, it’s the availability of lighting designers who can give advice. Because of this key difference, owners of lighting showrooms say it’s important to promote their company’s singular ability to provide aesthetic vision and technical know-how to residential lighting projects.
To publicize these services to customers, lighting showrooms are using a variety of vehicles, most notably radio and print advertising, Web sites and lighting designers themselves.
“Before you market lighting design services, you have to make sure you have the substance to back it up — a very informed and knowledgeable staff,” says David W. Richard, a Certified Lighting Specialist with House of Lights in Scarborough, ME. “Once that is in place, you need to make sure your advertising supports it. We are doing everything we can to get the word out to make people aware of lighting design and its potential.”
In addition to print ads in local media, House of Lights has revamped its Web site to include a tab that customers can click on to learn more about the company’s professional lighting designers, who will provide blueprint-planning assistance, site visits and in-store consultations.
In Mount Pleasant, SC, discerning interior designers, contractors, architects and homeowners turn to local resource Candelabra for designer-oriented lighting products and services. This is in spite of some powerful competition, “large 10,000- and 12,000-square-foot showrooms that have been around a long time” compared to Candelabra’s 3,800 square feet and mere seven years in business, says Candelabra Vice President Sam Moore. Even so, the store inevitably gets the nod when a project calls for high-end products and help from lighting designers.
“Our typical customer is not the one who comes in and says ‘I need matching sconces and chandeliers, and I want the entire house to match with the same finish on everything,’” Moore says.
Candelabra advertises its unique product and design niche in local print media and on its soon-to-be redesigned Web site. High-quality interior photos do much to set the design-oriented tone and convey to customers the caliber of products and services that are available. Candelabra also promotes its 2007 ARTS Award, which Moore says has done much to increase the store’s design credibility with customers.
“We do use that in our marketing,” Moore says. “The ARTS Award has done a lot for us. A national award is great for recognition on a local level.”
Candelabra has also hosted events for the local design community, of which it has become an integral component. Even so, Moore says the best way to market the lighting showroom’s design ability and support is, ultimately, a job well done. “We prefer to stay busy working for [designers] rather than hosting social functions,” he says.
Similarly, Brent Smith, owner of Southern Lighting Gallery in Augusta, GA, has discovered that well-trained and experienced salespeople are far and away the best marketing aids. Each of the 10 salespeople on staff at Southern Lighting is a trained lighting specialist. When they do their jobs well, which includes interpreting blueprints, surveying job sites and making detailed lighting recommendations, it is the best possible advertising for Southern Lighting Gallery.
"That’s what sets us apart from our competition and the big boxes,” Smith says. “We advertise ourselves as a full-service lighting showroom. You’re going to be able to find the product cheaper somewhere else, but you’re going to get the [design] service and the knowledge here.”
Quick Tips for Offering Service From On-Staff Lighting Designers
- “In our ads, I always encourage customers to bring in their plans and drawings, so we can assist them,” says Raj Dhanda, owner of Neena’s Design Lighting in Boston.
- “[Lighting design] isn’t always about the lights, per se, but about the mood created by the light,” says David Richard, a Certified Lighting Specialist with House of Lights in Scarborough, ME. “[In turn] advertising doesn’t always have to be about showing a particular light fixture; it can show a mood of lighting or lighting technique.”