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From Home Furnishing Business

AHFA Sets Agenda for Marketing Meeting

The industry’s only education event targeting marketing executives returns to the Washington, D.C., area in 2015 for a program that will touch on housing trends, social media marketing, and the marketing department’s expanding role in regulatory compliance issues. 

Presented by the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA), the 2015 Marketing Meeting is titled “Upfront Marketing: Staying Ahead – Not Just on Top – of Your Game.” The event is open to all segments of the industry, including manufacturers, retailers and suppliers. The June 24-26 event will be held at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City in Arlington, Va.

Headlining the program is David Crowe, chief economist and senior vice president, economics and housing policy, for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).  Crowe is responsible for NAHB’s forecast of housing and economic trends. His presentation will cover recent developments in home design, including how home sizes and room allocations have changed and what home buyers are looking for in 2015. He’ll pay particular attention to newly formed households for a window into how Millennials are entering the housing market.

For a look at how social media is impacting product safety issues, executives will hear from Scott Wolfson, communications director and senior advisor to the chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Wolfson has served in his current capacity since 2009 and previously was deputy director of the CPSC’s Office of Information and Public Affairs for four years. As a veteran spokesperson for the CPSC, he has been responsible for developing and supervising strategic communications plans and comprehensive information programs designed to promote product safety. 

In his presentation, Wolfson will describe the CPSC’s challenge of improving consumer response rates to product recalls. Proposed changes to the voluntary recall process would require companies to directly notify consumers of recalls when purchaser information is available and to use social media for recall notices.

“In the last year, there have been 16 recalls involving residential furniture, and many more consumer complaints involving furniture on the CPSC’s website,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, AHFA’s vice president of public relations and marketing. “Scott will help companies better understand what a proper product safety communications program looks like and how the changes that have been proposed may require greater involvement of industry marketing professionals. This is a presentation every company needs to hear.”

Also confirmed for the June agenda is Adam Japko, CEO of Esteem Media, which publishes Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles and New England Home magazines, and which recently acquired the fast-growing Design Bloggers Conference, an event attended by more than 400 interior and garden design bloggers in 2015. 

Japko has more than three decades of media expertise, including serving from 2005 through mid-2014 as president of Network Communications Inc.’s Luxury Home Design Division and DigitalSherpa, a leading provider of content marketing and social media management for small businesses nationwide. His session at the AHFA marketing meeting will detail how manufacturers can work with bloggers and how blogging can work into manufacturer marketing plans. 

To complement Japko’s presentation, AHFA is assembling a panel of premier design bloggers, which Japko will moderate as they describe how they’ve generated loyal readers and customers, built their own brands and helped build manufacturers’ brands through the business of blogging.

For another timely presentation, AHFA has invited Claudia Mejia, sales and marketing coordinator for outdoor furniture manufacturer Kannoa, to discuss the crisis planning that helped her company manage in the hours and days following a devastating fire that destroyed the company’s Florida warehouse in March. Mejia’s presentation, “Up in Smoke: A Study in Crisis Management,” will include how the company’s plan helped it manage media attention and get back on its feet quickly, despite losing its entire inventory. 

Rooms at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City are available to marketing executives at a discounted group rate of $259 per night. The meeting will open with a reception and dinner on Wednesday, June 24, followed by a full-day program on Thursday, June 25, and a half-day program on Friday, June 26. Rooms in the group block are limited, so executives are urged to make their reservations as soon as possible.

Registration for the meeting is $700 for executives from AHFA member companies and $1,500 for those from non-member companies. The fee includes the reception and dinner June 24, breakfast and lunch on June 25, and breakfast on June 26. Attendees are invited to join in an optional group Dutch dinner on the evening of June 25.      

Registration is available online


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