Transparent Marketing

Transparent Marketing

In their book “Don’t Think Pink” the authors Lisa Johnson and Andrea Learned call for the need of Transparent Marketing to attract female customers. Over the last years women became the key- customer especially in the home furnishing business.

Transparent Marketing supports credibility. Credibility translates into trust; trust translates into relationship, and relationship can translate into sustained sales. The trick about this approach is to focus on the need of women without directly pointing to it. Here are some areas to emphasize on:


1. Focus on key customers

Instead of trying to be there for everybody, the focus should be on a specific customer group. This small group of customers will later on attract a larger audience. Choose niche marketing over mass marketing.

2. Know your customer

Find out as much as possible about your customer. Find out how they act and react. Communicate online and offline as much as you can and listen carefully. Make sure that the message you are sending online through your website and social media is consistent with your real life activities. What are the challenges of your customer? What is their motivation? What are they afraid of? What are their dreams?

3. Be present

Women are always thinking about their family, friends and neighbors. Make sure your customers can use the relationship with you to improve their social connections. Take advantage of the power of word-of-mouth-networks. Be at the right places at the right time, so that your customers always keep you in mind. Work together with other brands for common goals to reach out and explore new markets.

4. Open up

Keep improving the way you make the life of your customers better. Inform your customers about all aspects of your business. Include your customers in your decision process. Always ask for feedback. Use your testimonials to reach out to other customers. Work with referrals as much as possible.

5. Be emotional

Women like to be taken away by stories about how your product will improve the quality of life. Capture her imagination to help her understand how your product or service will fit into her life. Select images, messages and stories that will authentically reflect the values of your customers. A good story will give them the tools they need to visualize what it will be like to interact with your brand.

Apply your marketing to all senses of the customer. The customer will recognize the small things, the background music and the color of your displays and will pay more attention to the message of your store. Offer some little extras that the customer will discover herself.

Never push anyone into buying something. Be sure all questions are answered before the sale will be closed. It’s the experience with your brand that builds the bond with your customer.

6. Be Bona Fide

Your brand should be different from others and stick out of the crowd. Don’t follow your competition!

Show personality and be authentic. Be honest with the strengths and weaknesses of your brand. Work with real life situations to promote your product instead of idealized scenarios. For example showrooms must not be perfectly cleaned up as a display.

Be consistent in what you say and what you do. Two-faced messages disturb your credibility. Encourage questions and provide as much information as possible. Make sure this information can be shared publicly.

Source:  Don’t think Pink by Lisa Johnson and Andrea Learned, 2004



Simple Living

You may think “Why is there a post about Simple Living on a Blog about Furniture and Interior Design?

The reason is that a growing number of people realize that chasing the Golden Egg does not make you happy. Long working hours, stressful jobs, exhausting commutes are just not worth it anymore. People prefer spending time with their family, being together with friends and neighbors or working out in Mother Nature. They like to spend time preparing for a good meal and be part of what their kids are doing.

I am not talking here about hippie communes or lonesome hermits in the middle of nowhere. More and more people rethink their life and choose different priorities than before. The idea of simple living is almost 3000 years old and can be found in every civilization. The famous Bohemians in Paris in the 19th Century were part of this movement.

Simple living does not mean you have to refrain from luxury but enjoy it. Luxury is great as long as money plays a minor role. Being happy and grateful – That’s what’s important.

Simple living is also about the little things in life. Things you would not even recognize doing like enjoying the foliage of the forest in the fall on a hike.

This way of life creates different expectations from retail stores. These people don’t storm in the store every time the sales sign goes up.

In my opinion these customers value their time and want something different out of their visit.

Some of them may come, because food is offered (think of Ikea). Others may be attracted by events for the kids, like a puppet theater, a magician or a crafting table.

These customers prefer to enjoy the merchandise, not necessarily with a buying intention in mind. Some may be inspired by the store layout and develop design ideas for their home.

Some Boutique Stores also mix up their merchandise with art, jewelry, shoes, food, cosmetics and table ware. The stores have a special type of customer in mind and cater exactly to his taste.

There are many ways to increase traffic in a store, but to find out what fits best, you have ask the customer. People like it, when their opinion is valued. The customer feels taken care of. The customer feels in control and that creates trust.

The good news about trusting customers: They may become loyal to your store and you see them again and again.

You Are How You Live

You Are How You Live

Your home is your castle. Everybody knows the feeling to come home after a long day or trip and fall in your favorite chair and leave everything behind. Your home provides this shelter and feeling of security.

Our homes play an important part when it comes to determinate who we are and our goals in life. The old saying “Fine feathers make fine birds” is broadly accepted and someone looks like a million dollars in a exquisite suit.

Unfortunately this perception is not so much accepted when it comes to our homes. Because a home is also a hiding place where you crawl into when you need a break, the influence of the interior design is underestimated. We think nobody sees the wobbling chair or the chipped table. But unconsciously you see it yourself and it influences your attitude.

You are a mirror of yourself!


In her successful book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” the author Marie Kondo describes the meaning of uncluttering and organizing.  I think this book has changed the minds of numerous people.

But its not only the tiptop looking home she is talking about, she is also talking about valuing and respecting your belongings. The things you own should be meaningful to you and you should take good care of them. I think this starts when you purchase a product:

  1. Before you buy something new, make sure you really need it. A lot of times products are only used for one time occasions and can be easily borrowed from friends or neighbors.

  2. Do your homework before buying something new. Look online and visit different stores to get a good idea how your product is offered. What are the different designs and what are the different price points. Be sure to check the whole product range from the cheapest to the most expensive offer.

  1. Check out why there are different price points. Is it because a vendor can offer cheaper? Is it because the difference in quality? Be careful with “Sales”: Be sure a product is significantly marked down and not just reduced.
  1. Regarding the quality, check carefully if a lower price justifies the lower quality. Is the price low because the product was produced overseas under unbearable conditions? In Germany we have the saying “Who buys cheap buys twice”
  1. Before the final purchase, picture the product in your home. Measure carefully and if in doubt visit the store again with your questions. Make sure the color fits in the room. Be sure you understand all features of the product and how they are useful.
  1. Last but not least enjoy your new product!

Happiness and Business Style

Everybody wants to be happy. Customers want to be happy. Businesses want happy customers.

There is a lot of advice out there on what to do and not to do, to be happy. Here are some core messages and how businesses can act accordingly.


  1. Be Happy to be Happy

One of the most important things for a happy life is a happy attitude. People that live every day as if it were their last, enjoy life and don’t worry much. When people live in the present moment they understand better what’s important and stop chasing the future. Carpe Diem – Seize the moment. Act now and not later! Keep asking yourself what’s really important and will something matter in a year from now.

Businesses who follow that path accept the limitations of planning. Planning is a process based on assumptions with a high chance of mistakes. Because you never know what may happen, plan for several possible futures. A plan should only be a guideline for a business rather than a default.

It is also helpful not be rely on experience. Experience is always related to the past and strongly dependent on specific situations. What worked in the past must not necessarily still work today.

Businesses should also be careful with the trust in “facts” or in “experts”, because every situation is different and general advice often does not help in special scenarios.


2. Positive Thinking

Successful businesses have meaningful goals. They appeal to the customer in many ways, not just one. They are filled with inspiration, because common sense is not enough to reach inspiring results. These companies believe in what they are doing and combine bold dreams with realistic expectations.

Successful companies embody a fundamentally positive business attitude. Negative thoughts are ignored, because of the snowball effect and the power of these thoughts. Problems are considered a potential source for learning. The unknown is part of daily business life.


  1. Fill Your Life with Love

People are interested in a person who is interested in them. Each person we meet has the potential to teach us something. Instead of putting others in their place we must put ourselves in their place. Before you satisfy the client understand and satisfy the person.

Business is done between people. Selling is based on relationships. Believing in the best in people usually brings out the best in people.


People can be the wind beneath our wings or the anchor on our boat”

 John C. Maxwell


4. Appreciate Yourself

Successful companies celebrate who they are and what they have. They have trust in their intuition and listen to their feelings.

The first competitor of a business is indifference. Successful companies look for the extraordinary in the ordinary and go where others aren’t. They stand for one distinctive thing that will give them a competitive advantage. This is a promise to the customer.


 5. Do it for You

And finally business should follow the Nike Slogan: “Just do it!” Marginal tactics executed passionately almost always outperform brilliant tactics executed marginally. Good should not be ruined by perfect. Failure is part of the process and helps succeeding. Remember that you become what you practice the most.


  1. The Happiness Equation by Neil Paricha
  2. Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
  3. Winning with People by John C. Maxwell

8 Ways Spending Money Makes You Happy

8 Ways Spending Money Makes You Happy

As the saying goes, Money alone cannot buy happiness. But money can buy, what makes people happy. This was shown by numerous studies to this subject by Elizabeth W. Dunn of the University of British Columbia, Daniel Gilbert of Harvard and Timothy D. Wilson of the University of Virginia. Here are eight ways how spending money really makes you happy.

            1. Prefer memories over products

While material things are quickly perceived as boring, the memory or traveling or attending concerts last longer.



            2. Spend money for others

There is no indication that people are happier when they simply spend more money for themselves. But anyone who donates parts of his income or purchases gifts for others, is happier on average.  There is neuroscientist evidence that people who are asked to donate to a local charity, have brain activity in regions of their head that are also active when people are rewarded.

           3. Buy less insurance

The research of Mr. Gilbert shows that people deal much better with disasters than they would believe. He speaks of the psychological immune system. In contrast, buying extended insurance warranties that extend the guarantee of a product is not always useful.

           4. Pay now, consume later

Anticipation is the greatest joy! The great thing about anticipation:  It often makes you even happier than the actual event itself.

But many people pay for their purchases with credit cards. That means: Consume now, pay later.  The nuisance of having to pay is pushed into the future, which is supposedly not as bad. Experiments show that this is not the case.

            5. Pay attention to the “unimportant” things

People make poor judgments regarding their future happiness feelings of purchases and tend to overestimate some of them. In other words they think buying a product makes them happier, than it actually does. That’s why you should think about in detail how you would actually use the product in everyday life. You may be surprised!

            6. Buy many small amenities, instead of a few large luxury items

Little pleasures, great happiness:  Treating yourself to something frequently is more important than quantity, number or scope of the item. An experiment showed that people prefer short frequent massages over a few long ones.

            7. Do not compare too much

Research shows that people comparing different offers prior to a purchase mainly focus on the price. It would make them much happier to spend a little a more and get better quality. The quality difference of product is often not obvious at the moment of purchase but comes out later through the use of product. In Germany there is a saying: “ Who buys cheap, buys twice!”

           8. Follow the crowd

 Experiments show: Those who rely on the experience of others have a better chance to invest their money properly – and to be happy with a purchasing decision. The abundance of consumer reviews for all kind of products and services on the web is therefore very helpful.

Source: Sueddeutsche Zeitung; November 20, 2012: So macht Konsum gluecklich

Buying into Happiness

Everybody knows that the retail environment has changed in the past 10 years and will keep changing at a fast pace. The boomer generation gets older, millennials  are stepping in as new customers, online shopping, constantly improving technology and so on.

What’s more is that the priorities for spending are different today. According to the WSL Strategies 15th Biennial “How America Shops Mega Trends Survey”, 55% of women said their top spending priority is paying off debt, followed by saving (48%) and vacations (35%).

WSL titled the study “Buying Happiness” and concludes that American shoppers want to be more financial responsible, have a less stressful life and spend more time with the family.

Gone are the times when whole families swarmed out on the few free days per year (mainly holidays) to add more stuff to the house. Gone is the lure of buying without paying through generous financing options. Gone is the luster of “cheap”.

Today the Happiness of Buying includes the mindful choice of a product along with a positive buying experience. People prefer ecological materials that don’t cause harm for them or the environment. People feel responsible for the way their product was created. They want to know who produced the product and how was it done. Quality moves in the spotlight for a longevity, durability and aesthetics.

Happiness does not only come from concept of “less is more”, it’s also the creation of joy, positive energy and value that comes with the purchase.

Shopping must be fun and a rewarding yourself with new things that you can afford creates happiness. There is not much need for more products unless they are either completely different from the existing ones or they are improving the life of the consumer in a new way (disruptive products). The relevance of a product today depends highly on its background. What makes a product special is often the experience the customer keeps in mind when he bought the product. Every time the customer sees his product in his home he is reminded of the story that came with the product. What a happy moment!


Source: Home & Textile Today, May 6, 2016

Hello again

Hello again,

After more than a year without writing anything on my blog I am finally back. What has happened in the last year? Well, a lot. I have looked deeper into, what moves people  to makes decisions. What makes a store attractive? What must a product have today to be successful? I probably still don’t know the answers to all of these questions, but I have gathered a lot of thoughts and ideas.

It is my that understanding, the customer today is looking for more than just a product. The times where people flocked to the stores and get carried away buying tons of mostly inexpensive merchandise are over. At least for the sophisticated customer that does intensive research before committing to a brand or a product. It is very important to know where the product was made, how it was produced, what is in the product, and what impact the product has for the customer.

The customer today also likes to build a story behind a purchase. How did he find a product? Was it fun to pick it out in the store? Why did he buy this product and not something else? Does the product still provide joy and happiness when it is at home?

This is where “Artful & Inspired Living” comes into place. In a world that’s cramped with stuff in attics, closets and garages, you have to choose carefully what you put around yourself. A lot of books are written about decluttering and minimalist style but I don’t think that’s the answer. You can learn how to get rid of things, but the key is to create an atmosphere of joy and pleasure at home.

A home provides the most happiness when it is filled with objects that create joy, provide wonderful memories or are simply practical and functional.  A home can be the fertile soil for great things and lift up its owner to a better life. “Show me how you live and I tell you who you are!” is a saying with a lot of truth.

I am very pleased to introduce two more companies that I am working with. The companies are based in Germany with the company FM Munzer, manufacturing high class sofas and the other company Hobbs Design designing and producing unique cabinets.  Both companies fit perfectly in the concept of Artful & Inspired . Please stay tuned for my next post to learn more.