There are plenty of resources for designers looking to shape their online content strategy, but often the basics are overlooked. For those wondering what exactly they’re supposed to do when it comes to data, Leslie Carothers will likely be able to help. “I feel that’s the missing piece for retailers and designers—how to use the data they’re getting,” Carothers tells BOH. “They know how to look at it, but not how to use it to make smart decisions and move sales forward.”
One of the industry’s earliest digital marketing experts, Carothers has a long history of harnessing social media to help designers and home furnishings brands grow their businesses through both her own firm, The Kaleidoscope Partnership, and a new custom publishing venture, Savour Partnership, which she founded with HGTV columnist Sam Henderson last year. This month, she will deliver the keynote at Lightovation, the biggest lighting show in North America, which is held at Dallas Market Center in conjunction with the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market.
“If [brands] are already advertising on Facebook or Instagram, if they have a website, they can immediately start looking at those numbers—and maybe do something different now that they know what those numbers mean,” says Carothers. “I want to leave attendees with a sense of, Wow, I didn’t realize I could do that, I didn’t know that was there, or how to use that.”
Dallas Market Center invited Carothers to return for Lightovation on the heels of a popular social media–focused presentation she gave in June to celebrate the opening of DMC’s Smart Center, a 6,000-square-foot meeting area equipped with comfort-driven lighting, voice activation technology, and charging stations. “What we found is that buyers coming to Market are looking for quick, actionable intelligence when it comes to digital tools,” says Cole Daugherty, DMC’s senior vice president of marketing communications. “They want practical information that they can implement next week in their business, and Leslie is our digital professor for practical skills. She takes a classroom approach and says, ‘Let’s start with the basics and build upon that.’”
For the Houston-based Carothers, digital marketing is a third act. Her early background was in investment banking, followed by 16 years as an in-house designer in Houston for Roche Bobois and Cantoni. When she left, she wrote a 62-page workbook and began a sales training program for dozens of home furnishings businesses. “Their sales were increasing because I taught them how to use design-based language,” she explains today.
In 2007, she discovered Twitter, then a nascent platform geared more toward individuals than brands. What she saw, though, was a powerful tool for retailers and manufacturers to connect with consumers. “I wrote a post for Furniture Today about this thing called Twitter,” she recalls. “And then I just decided that I was going to be that person.”
Following the address, she will host three workshops offering specific, strategic ideas to help retailers use the data they already have: the first on optimizing a Google My Business listing to attract more leads; the second on Facebook advertising, focusing on implementing tracking pixels to determine which ads are generating the most traffic; and the third on understanding, and growing, Instagram engagement—which she stresses is very different from creating content. She’ll also cover how to link an e-commerce shop to a brand’s Instagram feed, which, when supported by ads on the platform, can drive sales. “I want to help brands answer the question, ‘I’m going to spend XYZ on advertising—how do we know if we’re having any impact?’”
Lightovation: Dallas International Lighting Show (Dallas Market Center, 2100 Stemmons Freeway) will be held January 16–20. Register for the show—and Carothers’s workshops—here.