Question :
We have a business that converts the humble shipping containers into stylish homes. We are a building company that has been operating many years and have been building our container homes now for just over one year. Our problem is that we have a great product, with a very attractive display Cube, everyone loves what we do, but there are no sales happening. This is getting crucial now and we need marketing which would put us on the map.     cubeliving.co.nzGraham.

Question submitted 24/06/20 @ 11:52am
Industry: Brand & Marketing
  • Hey Graham – I agree that the outcome, the results look awesome on the website – they are cool – what sort of work have you done to amplify the messages and/or build your community online? Share what you have done to date and then lets see if the advisors and wider community can give some suggestions, Andy

    Hi Graham,

    I can definitely see why everyone loves what you and your team do. I remember sitting around with buddies chatting about creating an office out of shipping containers for the end of the garden and we’d check out these elaborate designs from overseas like this one from the contemporist – https://tinyurl.com/y7dfah2w

    I checked out your website and it’s great – professionally put together with very clearly laid out options and a good range of inspiration from around the globe. The only thing I’d change would be the product mock ups so they looked more contemporary and include customer projects you’ve previously undertaken.

    So what’s the challenge? Awareness, reach, price point, planning consent barriers?

    I appreciate what must go into the build of these shipping container studios/homes but I did wonder if the pricing strategy allowed for maximum reach and affordability for the average Kiwi. With the entry Robin studio product coming in at $92,329 (albeit you’re offering it for $79k at the mo) I wonder if it’s just not stacking up for would be buyers – particularly as we see ourselves in recessionary times.

    I’m not trying to poke the bear but having just done a simple bit of desktop research I was presented with multiple contemporary studio options, made from wood but looking pretty tempting, from as little as $15k.

    So I think there’s a job to be done on the positioning, working on a ‘no consent required’ option, and working through the pricing models.

    I’d say your key opportunity at the mo is the ‘down the garden’ home office based on the significant recalibration of our new normal working existence. In a survey I saw recently 39% of workers wanted to continue to work from home, 8% were happy to go back to the office full time (these will be those living in shared accommodation and generally the younger demographic which won’t be your market), and a whopping 53% wanted the new normal to be a blend of both. But I know from chatting to scores of my clients that not everyone is geared up for that blended model. I’ve chatted to clients in their kitchens and bedrooms on Zoom with kids, dogs, babies and other halves all making noise in the background. There will be a lot of professional folks considering their new home office options and many will need an end of the garden sanctuary. It’s a big opportunity for you in my opinion.

    So in signing off – I love the shipping container studio/home concept and wish you all the best. I’ve written some broader marketing advice on other posts that may be of use and Manaaki recently penned an article on that which you can check out on Stuff; https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/prosper/advice/300037364/how-to-reach-your-market-steps-and-tools-to-grow-your-business

    If you want to chat further please feel free to reach out.


    Graham, congratulations on the concept and the designs.

    Would you be able to clarify your comment regarding no sales at the moment. Is the lack of sales since Covid? How have sales been since you started? Did they meet your original expectations? Are there any insights from the time of the launch of the business through to pre-Covid? What types of customers were buying the products, and can this be used to better inform the strategy going forward. Have you conducted any empathy work with the people who have enquired, but not converted? Is the lack of sales now due to a traffic issue or conversion issue, as that can inform different strategies going forward.

    Happy to chat as well. Leslie

    Thanks Guys, for all the suggestions and advice. We have had numerous enquiries from our website and we have followed up on all of them to no avail. We have put content onto our facebook page, and up until recently we had a social media company on board doing that. We do have 3 examples of “sleepouts”, one 10 ft., one 20 ft. and one 40 ft. which can be seen on our facebook page. They are not on our website as yet because our web developer has health issues and we have been chasing him for seven months now. They have double glazed windows/doors, fully insulated and lined on the inside ready to be fitted out accordingly.
    Unfortunately we have no other customer projects to display, as we have not sold a single one, apart from a 40 ft Mobile Health Clinic for Dr. Lance O’Sullivan.
    The challenge for us would be awareness reach, maybe price point. I agree with what you are saying about price, but at the end of the day they are actually more expensive to build, hence we are in the process of planning and costing a more affordable timber framed range of Cubes. And yes, there is a big market now for home offices etc.
    The lack of sales is from day one, and it is more of a conversion issue, more than a traffic issue.

    I should have mentioned the price on our three sleepout Cubes.
    10 ft is $19,990, 20 ft is $23,190 and 40 ft is $32,990.
    Cheers, Graham.

    Hey Graham, thanks for coming back, that must be super frustrating on your web developer, can you see any patterns in the leads that did not convert? have you tried going back to them to ask ‘why they said no thanks’ to see what is causing that?

    Just a thought after seeing all of your comments and thoughts from the team;
    I wouldn’t give up on any leads. I think this market is just approaching things cautiously. Keep the database, continue to follow up with helpful thoughts and inspiring stories or images via email directly plus add them to your regular newsletter. I made the effort to visit a portable home company the other day – I’ve had no follow-up call or email. And we talked about some follow up at the viewing. It definitely makes you consider if you want to purchase.

    Here’s an example of a cadence style sales follow up approach https://adespresso.com/blog/5-drip-campaign-blueprints-help-design-perfect-email-sequence/ also look at drip.com and then also look at chatbot options to put onto the site, these can link directly to mobile – you may be able to contact them in the heat of the moment while on the website and this might help cement your service angle but also reduce competitive searching.

    I could suggest digital programmatic advertising (noting that this can also go across audio radio and pre-roll)- to step yourself outside of the walled garden, but I think these other things and really honing in on your audience is best first.

    Hi Graham,

    Sounds frustrating with the inability to update the website. I’m assuming you’ve requested to migrate it to another agency/consultant so you can amend the site in order to support your business development. Assuming that’s underway it’s going to be important to present the full extent of your range including the new timber options, the price point and inspiring examples of similar concepts out in the wild even if they’re not yours.

    I stumbled upon this link the other day and it’s alerts sharing as they’re inspiring small format examples and many have price points included – https://www.epicmonday.com

    Good luck,

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