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Dunn Lumber / 2015 - Present
Content

Dunn DIY: Make It Yours

Early in 2014, we released a film for Dunn Lumber. They wanted to tell the story of their legacy—one built on trust, quality, and traditional values like hard work, honesty, and integrity. The film was a reinvestment in their past, showing how Dunn Lumber has been building better lives in the greater Seattle area since 1907. The film gave us an opportunity to get to know Dunn Lumber well. Through the process, we uncovered a specific pain point for the business: While contractors remained loyal, the homeowner had left for the big box stores. Before long we were in discussions about how to enliven the Dunn Lumber brand and recapture a bigger customer base, including weekenders and DIYers.

Finding the Perfect Audience

In 2009, the North American Retail Hardware Association estimated the United States DIY market at $294.5 billion, and found that big-box home center sales—retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s—represented more than half of the DIY total at $178.4 billion.

We knew there was tremendous market opportunity for DIYers, but we also knew that the best strategies are specific. With a clear understanding of the marketplace, who you serve, and the obstacles they face, you can be more specific about how to create the right kind of content.

We found that women account for 85% of all consumer purchases and they initiate 80% of all home-improvement decisions. They also spend 50% more per average purchase than men do at home improvement stores.

The research made it increasingly clear that our audience was not just DIYers, but female DIYers. What if we created a content platform, catered specifically to women, that featured beautiful and useful home improvement and lifestyle projects? Enter: Dunn DIY.

Imagining Dunn DIY

When creating the Dunn DIY brand, we kept our primary audience in mind while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the original Dunn Lumber brand—a belief in the possibility of the win/win and a focus on providing real value to customers. For a slightly more feminine feel, we softened the colors in Dunn Lumber's standard brand and used the thinnest typeface in the existing Dunn family of fonts.

We also knew that with a heavy emphasis on video content, we needed a regular host. We partnered with Kirsten Dunn, a fifth-generation Dunn Lumber employee with a background in theater and Lindy Hop. It was easy to pick up on Kirsten’s fifties-inspired personal style cues—pin curls, polka dots, and the occasional punch of color—and adapt them specifically for Dunn DIY. Kirsten, with a little bit of bebop and a lot of lumber yard knowledge, was the perfect fit. Watching her knowledge grow alongside our audience reinforced Dunn DIY's core messaging: you can do it. Over time, we added a secondary color palette, as both a point of differentiation and as a maturation of the Dunn DIY brand and point of view. 

Making a Brand People Recognize—While Continuing to Innovate

We started Dunn DIY as a 12-month campaign test, but the more we learned about the audience the more we were able to create the space to evolve the visual aspect of the brand. It was a reaction to what we were learning about our audience—because we didn't have one when we started. We used the data to inform pushing the brand in a new direction based on what we knew about the audience and what they were responding to. Then, once the brand was widely known, it allowed us to create collateral that fulfilled other business needs for the company that they wouldn't otherwise have had a outlet to use for, like in-store brochures, merchandise, and direct mailers that provided readers with useful information. 

Inspire & Empower

Dunn DIY is a content marketing platform, and as such the goal is to drive traffic to Dunn Lumber's website and the stores without overt sales messaging. The best content marketing provides value to customers (and prospective customers) with no strings attached. If we deliver consistent, valuable content to Seattle’s DIYers, we will stay front-of-mind for their next home improvement project. 

We create and curate content that engages, provides value, demonstrates Dunn Lumber’s commitment to quality materials and expert advice, and strengthens relationships with Seattle homeowners and DIYers—and we have fun doing it. Because Dunn Lumber has historically best served contractors, creating a platform for the DIYer was a significant change of pace. We wanted to keep the barrier to entry low, providing best-in-class content that didn’t require power tools or sophisticated cuts. 

When planning content, we’re sure to produce content that inspires, educates, and drives action. Whether it’s a step-by-step blog post or a video tutorial, we use simple language and provide all the details necessary for a DIYer to complete a project—by themselves or with the help of an expert Dunn Lumber team member. 

Here we’ve taken a page from Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. The lifestyle content, like how to make your own strawberry planter, is meant to bring people in the door. Then, because we want to inspire and empower DIYers too, we include more involved weekend projects that require a greater degree of technical skill or expertise. Dunn DIY was the online manifestation of the in-store experience—could we encourage Dunn DIYers to take on a project? And if so, would they rely on Dunn Lumber for their expert advice and quality materials? The short answer: yes. 

If you build it, will they come?

What started as a one year project has evolved into an essential component of Dunn Lumber’s overall marketing strategy—in large part due to our ability to measure what worked and what did not work. We leveraged analytics insights about our best-performing content, and used those to create more great content—specifically, evergreen content that exists not just on the blog, but in places like YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest. Effectively, we created a cycle that grows and strengthens not only the quality of content we produce for Dunn DIY, but also the engagement in and around our community. An additional positive outcome of the increase in performance and impressions, is that we’re able to build brand partnerships—ones that allow us to amplify Dunn DIY and its content on a larger scale. 

Dunn DIY: Year-Over-Year

We’ve entered our fourth year of producing content for Dunn DIY, and the most notable accomplishments are website traffic growth, YouTube views (which, in early 2018, exceeded three million), and an in-store presence with end caps, seasonal themes, and live events and workshops. Per the web traffic and YouTube views, both numbers demonstrate that the investment in a compound growth strategy is paying off. Creating content for Dunn DIY has generated a flywheel effect that, today, is generating its own momentum.