David & Goliath: The Independents Vs. Wren

Many of the great tales we’ve fallen in love with are based on the underdog. Frodo’s journey to destroy the ring. Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. David and Goliath. It strikes me that the independent KBB sector finds itself in a similar story, currently fighting a losing battle against a corporate colossus. Many opinions have been cast at Wren’s aggressive business model, but here’s our view on the whole thing…

Competition brings out our best performance; without it, we would operate far below the peak of our powers.

Without competition, many great feats may never have been achieved. For example, Thomas Edison versus George Westinghouse’s battle to bring electrical power to our homes in the late 1800s. Scott versus Amundsen for the South Pole in 1911. A 6-a-side football team versus the other bunch of halfwits on a Wednesday night. You get the picture.

Former SAS soldier and TV presenter Ant Middleton says you should ‘go to work every day thinking about how you can be better than your closest competitor because they’re always trying to ‘outdo’ you.’ We think that’s a bloody smashing idea.

It baffles us when we speak to retailers who sincerely explain that Wren is NOT their competition. Let’s get this straight: Unless you’re selling high-end kitchens upwards of £50,000, Wren is very much your competitor, and whether you’re aware of it or not, they have happily taken food from your table in the past five years.

Many of the most successful people in business learn from those in the top 1% of their field, which is something we’ve always strived to do. What are the ‘best of the best’ doing? How can we take that and make it work for me? According to some of the thought-leaders and gurus in the personal development space, ‘your life is defined by the questions you ask’. Make what you will of that…

We’re always amazed by the amount of anger and resentment independent KBB owners direct towards Wren. We’re not ignorant to the fact that they’re a ‘stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap’ kind of business that only care about sales numbers and are guilty of some shocking craftsmanship (as illustrated by the infamous Facebook page dedicated entirely to Wren-bashing). But, the truth is that with every day that goes by, Wren (and some of the other sheds) are eating away at more and more of the KBB market (a blind man could see that, but we also know this to be true because we’ve seen the figures). This may not be overly surprising to you (as it wasn’t to us), but what is surprising is that independents all around the land have simply accepted it and aren’t trying hard enough to fight back and stem the tide.

At this rate, the day will come when there’s not much of the pie left for us, the poor independents. If some of us put as much energy into our marketing as we did into berating Wren Kitchens, then things might start to look up for the independent sector.

Whatever your opinion of the little green bird, you can’t say a bad word about their marketing operation. It’s an operation that needs to feed a hungry beast, a beast so large it would quickly fall over and die should it be starved of enquiries. Such is the pressure to feed it, that it needs a marketing team that is slick, effective, and most importantly, generates results. Before we discuss what we can learn from Wren, let’s first address some common misbeliefs about the comparison between us and them…

“I can’t compete with Wren as they have astronomical budgets.”

Yes, they have deep pockets, but, as explained above, they need them to fill their vast network of showrooms with leads. We’re assuming that you have a smaller showroom, and smaller sales targets and should therefore be able to put a sensible marketing budget aside to suit your own objectives.

“Wren have showrooms that we can’t compare to.”

Yes, it’s hard to compete when it comes to size, but we smaller retailers have the chance to make the customer experience second to none, and most of us have a product that’s far superior.

So, what can we learn from Wren?

Get serious about sales targets.

The phrase ‘what gets measured gets managed’ comes to mind here, and Wren are certainly good at measuring key business statistics. In fact, the whole company is driven by numbers. I’m not saying that you need to turn your business into the trading floor of Wall Street, but set yourself a target and measure yourself against it each week.

1. Treat every enquiry as though it’s your last.

Independents can be guilty of not following up with brochure downloads, emails, calls and website enquiries sufficiently, and some of them don’t even answer calls (you’d be surprised how many). This kind of behaviour just doesn’t happen at Wren. They have hard-nosed salespeople who are well drilled in treating each enquiry like gold dust. Wren’s strategy isn’t one that we advocate, but there are ways and means of following up with enquiries that aren’t pushy or ‘salesy’.

The bottom line is that you must follow up if you want an upturn in sales.

2. Don’t rely on word of mouth.

The thought of Wren relying on recommendations, referrals and word of mouth is laughable, yet many independents hang their livelihoods on this unpredictable marketing method. Recommendations are the best type of lead, but it’s impossible to force them to happen, and they are completely unpredictable.

3. Spend money on marketing (and spend it all the time).

Business is easier when there are enquiries coming in regularly. The best way to make this happen is to make sure that you spend your marketing budget consistently. The typical buying journey for a kitchen consumer is very long and drawn out, and that means your marketing should be ‘always on’ to reflect these long decision-making processes. Wren advertises around the clock, 365 days a year. You should, too.

4. Wren doesn’t have a silver bullet – they’re only human.

One of the biggest fallacies regarding Wren is that they have some sort of unfair advantage, but the truth is that they have access to exactly the same kind of tools that we have access to; Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Google Ads, SEO, Display Ads, Email marketing, website optimisation. The list goes on. With the correct skills, we too can become a marketing powerhouse.

The Marketing Leap of Faith

In this article, we explore the strategy, method & personnel setup to get your KBB marketing strategy implemented in the most efficient way possible…


When a KBB retail business hits a certain size, the biggest driver of anxiety among the owners of the business centres around generating new sales and enquiries. Common questions include: 

“How are we going to drive enough new sales to sustain the infrastructure and overheads we have built?”

“Who will be responsible for our marketing strategy?”

“What even is the marketing strategy?!”

These are all questions that, without an answer, can lead to an overwhelming feeling of panic and disarray. With rising costs, pressure builds on the business owner to develop a system where sales are made rhythmically over a long period of time.

No longer will boom and bust, feast and famine or peaks and troughs be enough to get by. A stream of regular, quality enquiries that arrive each and every month is the only thing that determines whether the business will be successful (or not). You need a marketing and sales operation that is sustainable and delivers results over the long term.

Up until this point, many retailers have grown organically by delivering high-quality work relying on word of mouth and recommendations from satisfied customers. These types of recommended enquiries are, undeniably, the best kind of enquiry you could ever hope to receive as they often come with a degree of trust already built.

But whilst we all love a referral, relying on them as a means to grow your business is littered with pitfalls. Firstly, they’re as unpredictable as the British weather. You haven’t a clue when the next one might arrive.

It’s also impossible to make them happen – just try engineering a referral for a fully fitted kitchen in a tight timeframe and see what happens. You’ll end up waiting and waiting with no knowledge of when it might appear.

This means that relying on recommendations to grow your business becomes a very stressful situation. You must find a better way.


What is The ‘Better Way’?

The ‘better way’ for many involves employing a marketing person; handing over the marketing baton to someone who (apparently) knows what they’re doing. It means that suddenly the pressure to generate new business is shifted sideways and is no longer on your shoulders. Phew, what a relief!

Although having someone in the office with a degree in marketing and a list of social media accounts longer than your arm is an exciting prospect for the future, it’s fraught with dangers. In the rest of this article, I will explain why…

Firstly, businesses in this position generally employ one of two levels of marketer. It’s either a wet-behind-the-ears graduate that is cheap and cheerful or a more senior marketing person who has years of experience.


The Graduate

One of the big upsides of hiring a graduate is that they are relatively cheap. Depending on where you are based, hiring someone fresh out of university may cost between £18,000 and £22,000 per year. Someone in their second marketing position may cost a bit more.

Generally, they’re pretty savvy when it comes to the latest trends and marketing techniques, and for what they lack in knowledge they make up for with youthful exuberance and energy.

Finding a graduate to deliver Facebook likes and social media engagement is easy. The hard part is finding one who really knows what it takes to generate proper enquires (design appointments). Most lack the knowledge and experience to manage your budget (and time) using the channels that are truly effective. You can’t pay the rent with Facebook likes.


The Senior

If you want to employ someone who is more of a safe bet, you’ll have to pay for it. An experienced marketer who has a fundamental understanding of your business objectives and knows what it takes to achieve them is worth their weight in gold (you’ll be paying upward of £50,000 pa). They’ll know how to manage your budgets, will produce better results quicker and will be proactive, meaning you won’t need to get involved in every decision.


The Downside

And now we come to two (major) downsides.

Firstly, marketing in 2022 requires so many skills that it isn’t possible for one person to do it all. A restauranteur needs a head chef, a sous chef, front-of-house staff and someone to run the bar as well as a pot washer and kitchen hand. The reality is that a KBB retailer needs to have facilities for copywriting, design, paid search ads, SEO, email automation, remarketing, social ads, tracking, reporting and strategy planning. If you can find a marketer who will do all of the above you deserve a medal. Marketing is no longer a one-man job.

Secondly, in this situation, you can waste an astonishing amount of time if you don’t have an effective marketing strategy to work from. I’ve seen many well-meaning business owners employ marketing people but not relinquish control of the overall marketing strategy.

This means that the business owner, who often has little knowledge of marketing and likely comes from a background that involves being on the tools, designing kitchens/bathrooms or managing a showroom, directs the work of the marketer – a situation that culminates in ineffective output and poor return on investment.

Now, some readers may have spotted the irony in this article. It isn’t lost on me. I appreciate that I own a marketing agency operating in the KBB sector but, honestly, I have no hidden agenda here. I’m simply looking to give you the best advice, and that advice is to avoid employing someone in-house and, instead, do one of the following things…

Strategy 1 – Get a decent strategy and team to go with it.

These days, you can find great people who specialise in the areas listed a couple of paragraphs ago. They’ll work on an ad-hoc basis and if you can pull them together with a decent strategy and a small investment of time, you should start to see some good results.

Strategy 2 – Find a salt-of-the-earth marketing agency.

The other option is to find a marketing agency (which has a team possessing all the skills that you need) that aligns itself with your goals and ambitions and will take pride in becoming an integral part of your team. They might not be full-time, but they shouldn’t need to be if they know their stuff and can produce results.


Opportunity Cost

Whatever option you pick, be aware that it is not only money you’ll be wasting if you get it wrong. Time is our number one asset, and we must use it wisely. In my experience, it takes around 6 months to recruit new talent and get an idea of whether or not it’s going to deliver success. That’s a long time to be waiting around for enquiries when you need them!

Opportunity cost is very real, so finding someone who has been there, done it and got the t-shirt yet won’t cost the earth is really going to help you take your business to the next step.


A Guide To Climbing Google’s Rankings

To put it bluntly, ranking well on Google is the difference between getting your website in front of the people you want to see it and not. There are essentially two ways to help ensure your website (and brand) appear in front of local prospects who are performing searches online for relevant terms (known as keywords). The first is by using Google Ads. The second – and the subject of this article – is by ranking well organically which can be achieved with the right Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy.

Because of user intent, organic traffic is one of the most valuable sources of traffic. These visitors are actively looking for the very thing you have to offer, hence it makes perfect sense that organic traffic is a leading source of enquiries for the majority of our marketing clients. And if these people aren’t landing on your website, they’re landing on your competitors. The solution? Getting your site to rank. Here’s how to do it…


Before you start, you’ll need to ensure you’ve covered the basics…


There are plenty of tools and techniques to help you find a good keyword to target. But, ultimately, competitiveness and search volume are the two most important factors. If you’re unsure where to begin, your location or surrounding locations can offer a good starting point. For example, ‘bathrooms Birmingham’ or ‘kitchen showroom Southampton’.


Competitor research can also provide inspiration. What search terms are successful companies around you appearing for? Who else is ranking highly for the keyword you’re interested in, and what kind of content do they have on their website? Your content needs to be better (and better optimised for Google) than your competitors if it’s going to outrank them.


If your site has technical issues, it will always struggle to score highly with Google. These issues can be anything from 301 and 404 errors to slow site speed. You’ll need to run a site audit to find out if there are any problems that need fixing. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of online tools available such as Semrush or Screaming Frog. Or you can get in touch with an SEO expert.


Chances are, your website will naturally be ranking for something, even if it’s in position 40. Trying to improve existing pages that are already ranking is often easier than starting from scratch. You can discover what keywords you’re already ranking for by using Google Search Console.

Create outstanding content:

High-quality content is fundamental to ensuring your website ranks well, and there’s no getting away from it. Essentially, the aim of the game is to prove to Google that your site satisfies users better than anyone else’s. To do this, you need people to click on your page and stay there.


No one is going to stay on your site if it doesn’t provide the information they’re looking for. In SEO, we call this ‘search intent’. Think about what the title of your page promises and what it actually delivers. If these don’t align, you could end up with a high bounce rate (bounce rate is the percentage measurement of visitors who leave your site immediately before visiting another page). This negatively impacts your site.


What are you more likely to read, a blog titled ‘Discover 10 expert tips to transform your kitchen’ or ‘Kitchen design ideas’? Make your content sound enticing. Tell potential readers they’re going to find something different, something exclusive, something that’s not to be missed.


Huge blocks of text can be off-putting, as can a messy layout and a lack of imagery. Make sure the content you’re sharing is clearly presented, engaging, informative, and enjoyable to read. The more great content you provide, the better.


Even if you change a few words here and there, Google will pick up on duplicate content and filter it out of search results. It’s hugely damaging to your SEO strategy so just don’t do it!

Optimise it:

You’re not out of the woods yet. Once you’ve written your content, you’ll need to make sure you’re following the SEO rule book…

  • Include your chosen keyword in your H1 tag (the page title) and other H tags where possible.
  • Ensure your keyword naturally features throughout your content, ideally once every 200 words, But don’t sacrifice good writing to shoehorn it in – user experience is important!
  • Keep the page URL brief, informative and include the keyword.
  • Name images appropriately and fill out the alt tag (image description).
  • Help Google index your site by including internal links (links to other pages within your website).
  • Write an enticing meta description to boost your click-through rate (this is the description that appears in the Google search results).

Promote it:

Even though your content has been beautifully written and meticulously optimised, that doesn’t guarantee it will immediately start ranking highly. You still need to do your bit to help people find it and kick-start a response. This is called…

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to everything going on outside your site that helps it to rank, namely, building backlinks. Backlinks are simply links from other websites that lead to your site. They indicate to Google that other websites think your content is good, encouraging Google to rank it higher. You can build backlinks by submitting local citations, writing guest blogs on other relevant websites and posting on social media. If you do your research, you’ll find it isn’t as difficult as you might think.

The more relevant keywords you can get your site ranking for, the more your organic traffic will grow, resulting in more leads, more sales, and ultimately, a better bottom line. Growing organic traffic is crucial to our strategy here at Flo. If you’d like to know more, drop us an email at info@flo-marketing.co.uk.