NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Digital advertisements were a slam dunk for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, but recent changes to Facebook and Instagram's algorithms have made it difficult to break through and expensive to generate sales. A Brooklyn home furniture company found a strategy that works for their business.
Hoek Home creates modular, quick assembly desks, tables and stools from their factory in Brooklyn. Brian Chu and Conor Coghlan started the business after hearing from family and friends about how difficult it was to set up and move furniture.
"It's not really about an aesthetic for us. It's more about a system and simplifying people's lives," said Coghlan on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.
Coghlan and Chu met while studying architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. They reconnected years later to start their own design and fabrication firm, A05 Studio and later Hoek Home.
Initially, Hoek Home got a sales boost by promoting their home office videos on Facebook and Instagram. Within the last few months, their customer acquisition costs have skyrocketed. Now, they rely on user-generated content.
"We would ask our customers to send videos of themselves assembling the desk and share it on their story. So essentially what we're trying to do is advertise through word-of-mouth," Chu said.
They've also partnered with micro-influencers to promote their furniture on social media.
"We've gained quite a following through some partners that we work with, some advisors that have really helped us out," said Chu.
Hoek's Home Office Desk sells for $495 on their website and accounts for 60-70% of their sales.
"It really offers a huge amount of value to have your desk set up during the week, and then, say you're having friends over for dinner, you're having a party on the weekend, and you just need that extra space, you just click it back together. You can hang it on the wall, you can slide it under your bed," Coghlan said.
Coghlan and Chu say listening to customers' feedback has helped them grow. They even have a whiteboard in their factory with a list of what they call "expanded ideas."
"We actually have outreach to our customers to hear what their experiences are with the furniture that they have so we can take their comments and really try to fine-tune and tweak certain portions of our design to to come up with a new product or a new feature or just make the product better," said Chu.
See growth ideas on the Small Business Spotlight video above.