Kitchen Design Plugin for Sketchup, Sketchup training.

Google Apps with Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson FAIA from Masco Cabinetry did some great presentations on many different topics at this year's KBIS show and AIA show.  He has a very unique way of presenting.  Rather then getting up there and spewing facts out, or shouting and waving his arms about (like me) its more like a fireside chat with Mark.  Mark can take even dry subjects and make you feel all warm and fuzzy about them!

One presentation he did that I really enjoyed was called "Google Apps for Designers".  Mark went on to talk about all of the free Google applications that are available, and how to use them as designers to promote your business. I am sure we've all heard about GMail, Google Search (who hasn't these days, its a VERB now!), but there are several others that can be used for research and marketing your services.

I'd like to consider myself rather geeky, and I am definitely a heavy user of Google (who isn't?)  But I have never really paid Google Trends any attention until I saw Mark's presentation.

Google Trends is an application that allows you to see how popular a particular search topic is.  All you have to do is enter that topic into Google Trends and you can see how many times its been searched over a certain period of time.

Here we can see the comparison of Sketchup, AutoCAD and 20-20 Design.  You can see a nice spike in Sketchup when it was acquired by Google.  Its interesting to see that they all dip at about the same time...

This search for the word "Cabinetry" yields some interesting results.  Note how in the beginning of each year, it spikes, and then as the year progresses, it falls off...  Also note that year after year its trending down...  I'll bet this graph overlaid onto a graph of home sales would be rather interesting to see.  Google Trends can be a very interesting tool to see, well, trends.  Perhaps you want to see how many people are searching for a wood species, or a door style.  Think of Google Trends like that gossipy person in high school that seemed to always know what was going on.  The difference here though, is that Google Trends doesn't exaggerate, and its not biased!
Another topic that Mark talked about was social media.  This is a really hot thing going on in our world today, and I think he was right on with this point.  You can't go anywhere today without seeing "Find us on Facebook" or "Follow us on Twitter"  Just about every major company and brand has a presence in social media.  The great thing about this new wave of social media is that it's very accessible to anyone.  Whether you are a fortune 100 company, or just yourself, you can tweet, blog, and Facebook just like the big guys.
You may or may not know that KraftMaid and Merillat have recently launched a lot of their cabinetry in Google's 3D warehouse.  With inexpensive and free versions of Google Sketchup and these free models, you can draw KraftMaid and Merillat kitchens.  Mark shared how you can use Google Earth, Google Maps and 3D Warehouse in combination with kitchen models to promote your showroom location, how to get there, what it looks like in special glasses required!   
There is a new social media aspect of the 3D Warehouse that Mark showed us.  You can now share your models on the warehouse, and then link them to just about any social network that is out there.  This is great if you have a LinkedIn account, Facebook, Twitter, or any other network.  Masco even has a section of the 3D warehouse dedicated to designs by fans.  
The above is an example of how you can share a model even in a blog!
Mark also showed how KraftMaid is leveraging technology to make it easy for designers to promote themselves and their designs with portable devices like the iPod, iPhone, or Apple iPad.  Imagine being able to pull your phone out of your pocket and show off that latest design to your customer!

Lastly, Mark rounded out these presentations by showing how easy it is to use all of these services.  You don't need to be a geek to figure all of this stuff out.  If you can use email, you have the skill set to get out there and market yourself on the Internet!