Rooted in traditions, heading for the future
Piiroinen is an almost 70-year-old family business from Salo. For Finns, Piiroinen is perhaps better known than one would realize. The company manufactures furniture for homes and auditoriums as well as seating systems for sports arenas. Besides furniture, Piiroinen manufactures a variety of metal components that are used in assembling furniture. Especially Finnish companies use Piiroinen’s metal components but the company also manufactures furniture for foreign companies upon contract. It is highly possible that the very chair you are sitting on contains parts made by Piiroinen. The company is one of Finland’s biggest and most versatile metal surface finishers. Besides other furniture businesses, Piiroinen’s customer base consists of companies from completely different business segments.
Sales manager Timo Kaivonen is the third generation of Piiroinen. Kaivonen has followed the company’s operation and development since he was little. Piiroinen was founded by his grandfather, Arvo Piiroinen, almost 70 years ago. Piiroinen’s businesses have a revenue of 11 million euros, and the company employs 110 people in Finland.
BASELINE: Old ways of selling and marketing no longer working.
CHALLENGE: Company seeks growth and wants to internationalize.
SOLUTION: Modernization of sales and marketing, marketing automatization, CRM and new web services.
A long history does not mean settling for the old
Piiroinen’s history stretches almost 70 years back. How has the company reached so far? Timo Kaivonen answers:
“We are a family business. Committed and eligible staff, continuous learning as well as the experience that comes along with our long history are our strengths. A long history also means that you have to give up some of your old ways bravely, and make room for new ways of doing things. We want to develop our operations continuously.”
Beforehand Piiroinen’s marketing was based primarily on taking care of certain key customers.'
“A few years ago we noticed that our traditional way of marketing was not working as well as it used to. We needed more leads. The world has changed by the introduction of online channels and people buy in a different way. We wanted to react to this change.”
Something had to be done, but what? This is the part when Kaks.io Labs joined the journey.
Customer-orientation as the cornerstone of change
“With the help of Kaks.io’s experts we started to think about how to respond to the changes of the market situation in our field of operations, and how we will use our design-knowledge to stand out from the others.” Kaivonen states.
Customer-orientation was the starting point for the strategic work re-defining the furniture business.
“We decided to approach the project customer-first: how can we change our operations in a way that we are offering them relevant solutions at the right time? With workshops and discussions we figured out how we are going to answer the challenges of a changing sales environment. Together we have refined our multi-channel sales strategy aiming for internationalization and we have also figured out practical stepping stones to implement it.”
New ways of sales and tools to support it
As a part of the development work Kaks.io Labs renewed Piiroinen’s web pages to match the brand’s image and be mobile friendly. The webpages were built with the HubSpot tool for marketing automation. Piiroinen also took into use HubSpot CRM and Sales modules, that replaced the existing tools of Microsoft Dynamics. With the new tools all customer data was to be found in one place: you do not have to combine data from several resources in order to investigate trends.
“The webpages have to be interesting and offer concrete utility for our customers. That is why it is important for us to be able to edit our pages and content effortlessly. This worked well for us after the reform. Customer data is in one place and it is easy to see. Now it is easy for us to recognize situations when the customer needs our help.”
Marketing Automation was although only a part of the project. “Kaks.io has not only educated us in taking a new tool into use. Kaks.io have helped us to implement entirely new ways of working and introduced a new sales process. Just a tool does not solve how we are going to be one step ahead of our competitors. It is all about a comprehensive change in how we work and internalizing the inbound-methodology:” Kaivonen states.
You can only evolve by doing
HubSpot is built around inbound-thinking. With this mindset one can answer the customer’s needs on his or her terms: give relevant information in the format and at the time that suits the customer best. Inbound-thinking has demanded a comprehensive change in reasoning in a traditional company.
“Customer-oriented marketing is here to stay. I cannot think of an industry that this change does not touch. Customers do a lot of work comparing products online, and we have to answer that need. Our company is lucky to have realized the need for this change right from the beginning, also at the level of the board, and the development project had support from the board from day one.”
Not all companies are this enlightened.
“In the worst case scenario the board has completely fallen behind from societal change, and is the reason why there is no reaction to changes in market demands. It does not really matter what you call your marketing tool, but the inbound-methodology works. The customer wants the information when it suits him or her, and finds the service or product on his or her own. It is not necessarily the same way that the company is used to do things, or how one finds information oneself. If you get stuck thinking in the ways that you would do it yourself, it is only your own opinion and point of view. It means that the sample is only you. In the modern world things change so fast and there are several different ways of working. Therefore it is very important to look into models of working that are suitable for you, and research on a broad spectrum.”
Design at the core of business
Design has been the driving force of furniture business from the start.
“When we expanded our business to public space furniture at the beginning of the 1990’s, we acknowledged right away that well-made and outstanding design is one of our most important competitive advantages. The criteria was that the products utilized the competence of the former factory, which was manufacturing metal. Design is highly relevant to all of our business activity in the furniture industry and it sets the stakes high in many things. Now our production has been diversified. Besides producing metals, we also make the most of our chair’s form pressing and furnishing ourselves. In terms of design and formgiving I see a lot of inbound-potential: through these we find unlimited interesting subjects, that we can utilize communication in different ways.“
Make one great, and scale
Changing your marketing does not end in taking into use new marketing tools.
“On the contrary, we are only in the beginning of our journey. It is important to continuously try new ideas in practice and take the successful ones into use at a larger scale. Our most popular product families are Pi and Grand Canyon. Their webpages are also the ones we have put most effort in creating content. It is nice to observe visitor amounts. We have gotten loads of offer requests through our web pages. We always try new ideas first with our most popular pages and the ideas that work best are taken into use for other product categories.”
“Our trust in Kaks.io arose even before the first meeting, since we heard good things about their work from our networks. We will trust Kaks.io in future development projects as well.”