Easy Blinds is well known as one of the leading blind makers in New Zealand. They use only the best quality components, with fabrics designed specifically for New Zealand conditions. They pride themselves on service and product quality that are second to none, providing a wide range of blinds and curtains at a set quoted price.
While they maintain a showroom presence in Auckland’s St Lukes, most of Easy Blinds’ business now comes through their website. With that said, they do not regard themselves as an ecommerce business; the website is the first channel of contact, after which customers are served by real people locally to give a made-to-measure result.
“By the time I met with Chris at Ark Advance, we had been through a number of digital marketing consultants over several years,” says Don Watkins, Easy Blinds’ Managing Director.
“They all offered different elements of the service – things like website design and development, Google ads and social media management. But we couldn’t settle down with anyone. I was finding it hard to get clear on what I was paying for and what the direction was in relation to our specific needs.”
“Obviously, our biggest issue was trust,” says Don. “Aside from that, we had a particular need to bring in the most business at the lowest cost. Our market is very wide, ranging from business owners and bulk-buying property developers through to home renovators. Paying more per click was not a model that appealed to us, and it seemed there would be a better way to cater for this.”
The biggest issue this caused, according to Don, was an inability to grow the business. “Ultimately it was an anxiety,” he says. “Anxiety about our outgoings on digital marketing without any clear view of the results, which then undermined our confidence in growing the business in new directions.”
Meeting Ark Advance
Fortunately, friends in a different field had spoken of their positive experience with Ark Advance. “As with any unregulated industry, it seems to me that there are a lot of cowboys out there in digital marketing,” says Don. “It was important to me to find a provider who was transparent and crystal clear about their offering and accountability.”
Don started with Chris Price as his primary contact, and was relieved by his first impression of the company. “When I first walked in there, everyone looked busy, not chatting over the water cooler,” says Don wryly. “With Ark Advance, I also got to deal with one or two core contacts consistently, with support from their technical team as necessary. Chris is very focused on getting everyone ‘on the same page’ with a common understanding, which was the ideal fit for our needs.”
Business went quiet for Easy Blinds during the first nationwide lockdown of 2020, so Don and the Ark Advance team used the time to strategise: building a structure around where they wanted to go with the business, the objectives required and how to achieve them.
The plan they devised involved developing the brand identity and growing recognition through lower-cost channels. This would support other aspects of their competitive advantage: much of their business comes through word of mouth, so casting a wide net with their digital presence ensures a maximum of recognitions and reminders.
As revealed by research*, Kiwis started spending again following the first lockdown – most notably on domestic travel and home improvements.
“Working with Ark Advance over the lockdown meant that we were in the box seat when the market picked up again,” reveals Don. “It’s important to be on top of the heap when people are searching, and our investment through Ark Advance gave us that boost with a stronger, more visible brand.”
With so many potential customers unable to travel, and more inclined to notice the potential of their home, Easy Blinds were able to regain the ground they had lost over the lockdown period. From that point, they enjoyed the benefits of the mini boom.
So what lies in the future for Easy Blinds?
“Our relationship with Ark Advance has brought us both stability and flexibility,” says Don. “We are no longer jumping from one provider to another, and Chris’ impressive network gives us access to trustworthy providers of complementary services.”
“All of that has given us the foundation of trust that we were lacking before, and we are now looking forward to embarking on an expansion with confidence.”
* Tony Alexander NZ Spending Survey July 2020