I was sitting on stage when TV personality and designer Summer Baltzer steered the discussion to the topic of “Getting to Know Your Client.” Summer and I, as well as Remodeling Magazine’s Nina Patel, were joined together as parts of the Wilsonart-sponsored panel discussion – “Ten Tips for a Look for Less”. Wilsonart HD, you see, was a sponsor of Building Moxie‘s 106 Yard Fund. … So too was Houzz. And perhaps that’s why it was just so exciting (for me) when Summer, then Nina, and then I shared our experiences (right there on the stage) with/on/about Houzz – the popular online platform.
Summer was saying that in initial meetings she works to understand just how her clients use a space. For this, some early meetings may take place in the home, as the client(s) go about their average, any-day, daily activities. Take, for example – a kitchen, then perhaps Summer might suggest a consultation. This consultation would involve a meal cooked at/in the home, with the entire family present.
Now, yes, I know . . . while Houzz probably still couldn’t cook you dinner (Wait! … *checking* … Nope. Still can’t; I’m sorry – Not yet), there are still many things that Houzz can do. And our panel that day seemed to agree.
Houzz Can Do
I know you know Houzz is an excellent source for inspiration and a great go-to when you just want gorgeous house stuff to look at. And I know pros know that it is a great free tool for helping you market your business. To that end, I might suggest my post – Houzz in the House, but continuing.
In the webinar “Using Houzz to Market Your Business,” host Annie Nozawa tells us that Houzz is currently receiving 300+ millions monthly page views from 9+ million unique visitors. Many, as I suggested, are homeowners looking for ideas, inspiration and in many cases – they are looking for the right pros. Pros that they can work with.
Using Images to Show Off Your Work
Along with this, and as identified by the platform’s annual Houzz & Home Survey, Annie notes a changing in the general expectations of homeowners. On Houzz, specifically, users actively collect images into virtual manila folders, aka Ideabooks – some 3 million created so far. Perhaps due to the confidence afforded by “an initial safe distance” (my words), it appears that these same homeowners, who are certainly more empowered today, start earlier with the planning for their projects.
One surprising fact that this survey pointed to – planning often includes the collection of not only images but also of professionals as well. These homeowners in some cases are not only using it here as a passive resource, they are also reaching out and communicating with the pros they have then found there.
Images Create a Common Language
Now, quickly back to that panel discussion. Summer pointed out – almost as valuable as spending time in a client’s home, spending time with them shopping. (You know – getting a sense of the products and designs that speak to them). The problem here though, and as one member of the audience questioned, these activities can be, well, very time consuming. … Enter again the remote (collaborative) aspects of tools like Houzz.
Houzz, as the panel suggested, helps to create an ad hoc visual language, a language of design. And as a response perhaps to activity identified and already happening (naturally) on the site, Houzz did it. They formally added a Collaborate feature earlier this year.
More on Houzz’s New Collaborate Feature
To nutshell this, pros and homeowners can now develop ideabooks jointly. A pro or a homeowner simply creates this “collaborative ideabook”, and they may then still make it public. But collaborating on Houzz may in fact be far more effective if the ideabook remains set as private – an invitation sent (via notification or email) to the parties participating.
The best part – it’s readily available from virtually everywhere. What I mean – No appointments needed, no time even really needs to be shared, the collaboration occurs more or less when one (or more) of the parties is offline . . . only when the time, for each involved, is convenient.
Saving Time, Shortening Sales Cycles & Other Wondrous Things
It has been suggested that all of these factors result in a shortening of the sales cycle, because required review rounds are effectively being eliminated. I mean – it makes sense; some pros we know are already using Houzz AS their primary portfolio. (Yes, they point prospects directly to their profile on Houzz.) From this, prospects can now very clearly see what a pro can offer even before they have that very first discussion.
Houzz as a Complement to Your Existing Web Presence
The site, too, is a great practical complement to many pros’ websites. (And especially now as some web hosts are clamping down on file size limits.) Houzz accommodates a whopping 30MB file size, making it perfect for (unlimited) cloud storage. Cloud storage which can coincidentally be accessed from any desktop or even from your iPad. (Yes, Houzz has a highly ranked iPad app, too.)
Further, as Annie points out, pros in part are gleaning a sorta (anecdotal) metric from Houzz as well. By monitoring specifics on ideabooks, they are gauging what ideas and/or images are best engaging the general population and/or the folks in their market. They look at feedback not only on content (read: projects), but also at such things as the angles and lighting on particular images. By noting how many times given images are being added to ideabooks, the amount and tone of questions, etc., they can make more informed decisions on how best to proceed in other marketing channels.
CNN called Houzz – “The Wikipedia of interior and exterior design,” your one stop shop for inspiration. This article provides additional coverage – Houzz taps into the Home Improvement Craze, well worth a look. Enjoy! ~jb
Optimizing your Houzz Profile, Portfolio & Presence
Some key ways pros are being discovered on Houzz include: via their photos, through keyword searches, and through a very robust editorial channel. On adding keywords to images, Annie Nozawa recommends attempting to “target words someone searching for you might use.”
Homeowners are also searching Houzz’s directory to find pros. This directory ranks pros based on 1) the number and quality of photos 2) (again) on the use of keywords 3) on the number and quality of available reviews & 4) on the “recency” and frequency at which your profile has been updated.
Getting Found on Houzz
Updating your profile is not necessarily a direct activity. This is accomplished in part by making sure your actual profile info is accurate and up to date. However, within Houzz’s framework, your profile is also updated just by being active in the Houzz community. By answering questions and chiming in, your participation is tracked under your profile’s Discussion tab.
Homeowners doing their due diligence dig deeper into how pros are participating (or not) in these discussions. On this specifically, Annie says, “Considering the pro is often busy in the field, it may not be something we’d suggest committing say ten minutes a day to. While 5 to 30 minutes at a time is common. Really, whenever you have the time, to make the time, works.”
Again she suggests actively updating your profile, your portfolio, adding certifications, etc., participating on questions as well as uploading projects and photos as soon as you have them available.
Houzz is a sponsor of Building Moxie’s 106 Yard Fund. Some images via @AdManJack.