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5 Big Myths About Building Product Branding

16 May

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What you don’t know could be hurting yours

Brand is a fun topic and lots of people have opinions about it. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad information out there and that makes it more complicated than it should be, not to mention the fact that many people throw the term “brand” around without really understanding it. So here’s a short list of five simple myths about brand that every building products marketer should know:

#1 – Brand is a name or logo

Well, kinda. Those are certainly things a brand is associated with, basically the trigger for a brand, what identifies one brand from another. But to understand brand, we need to go deeper. My favorite explanation of brand comes from Marty Neumeier, who suggests brand is “a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization.” And that’s an important distinction to make, especially when we consider Myth #2…

#2 – You own a brand

Nope…and that is completely counter-intuitive. You see, you might own a name or logo, plus a tagline, website content, etc., but those “gut feelings” people have are uniquely theirs. You can’t own that, and yet that is the essence of a brand. So what you CAN own is the elements that impact the experience people have with your product or service—and you should, because it’s exactly what everyone else is using to develop their perception of your brand. From obvious things like quality and innovation to subtler items like website design and on-hold wait times, the elements that impact your brand are all around you.

#3 – Branding is putting our name or logo on things

It’s certainly a part of it, but only a small one. Want to know the biggest, baddest, most impactful way to build a successful brand? Here it is, free of charge: Make the experience match the expectation. There it is, the Golden Ticket to developing your very own Google or Apple (or Therma Tru or Masonite, for that matter). Of course, knowing it and doing it are completely different challenges. But the fact is Apple is known for innovation, Google is associated with results, and Amazon is trusted, not by accident, but because way more often than not, those brands have delighted people by delivering beyond expectation. That’s a positive experience consistently delivered, which builds trust, which builds brand.

#4 – Branding is the same as marketing

They are certainly related, but definitely not the same. Think of it this way: marketing is about delivering the message to your audience; branding is about delivering TO the message FOR your audience. In fact, an effective way to think about branding is “experience control”—all the work, effort, and strategy to ensure that what people experience is on target. That can be everything from how CSRs answer the phone to the quality of paper used in sales collateral. Consider that no matter how slick and new an airliner may be, the company logo sparkling on the bulkhead, that isn’t the airline’s brand; the surly flight attendant who snaps at you and screws up your drink order, for you, THAT is the brand. Ultimately, everything in the brand experience needs to deliver to a single message to build trust and preference.

#5 – There’s no such thing as bad press

This lazy approach to branding has seen some impressive names disappear over the years, even more so with the emergence of social media and the easy sharing of experiences. Today, unrestricted by any professional oversight, every blogger, every Yelp star, every Google “+1” is all potentially a part of what people think (and feel!) about your brand. And the worst thing to do when something negative is shared is to do nothing at all, hoping the problem will go away. It won’t. So it’s important to keep the experiences and the conversations focused on the positive.

So what does this mean for you and your brand? Well, awareness is the first (and biggest) step. Always consider your brand from the audience perspective; not by what you’re doing, but by what they are experiencing. Knowing and understanding that perspective is critical to building a brand experience that can meet the expectations of those who will build—and talk about—your brand.

Creativity in the Building Products Industry

22 Mar

Practice Creativity to Get the Best Results

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“To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.”

Creativity is a funny thing. People often label themselves as creative, or more likely they say, “Oh, I’m not the creative type.” If you’re in the former category, its time to rethink your creative position.

Especially in the building products industry, creativity is more than designing a great product, putting together a fabulous sales presentation or making your meetings exciting.

Creativity sparks innovation. Have you heard of the artist Henri Matisse? Old age and illness made using his hands more difficult and he became bedridden, but he didn’t let it be a hindrance. In fact, he made a breakthrough in his final years with a new form of art. He found that he could still hold and use scissors, so he cut out colored paper to form beautiful work. He made creativity a choice. He opened his mind to being creative and reached outside of his comfort zone. Are you doing the same thing? Here are some tips to add creativity to your life:

  1. Stretch yourself. Be like Matisse and don’t accept limitations. Set a goal that makes you make choices that you haven’t had to make before. This could be as simple as going for a walk over lunch, meeting in a new spot or rearranging the furniture in your office.
  2. Choose to connect with life and other people. Start a creative network of people that you can share ideas with and provide support to each other. This could be a professional organization in your area, a handful of like-minded people in the office or a new group waiting to be formed.
  3. Change. Think about the rules in your life… Do they need to change? Change can be scary, but it can also be powerful. The building products industry has been doing a lot of things because ‘it’s the way its been done’ but our industry is changing and now is the time to make changes to thrive in the future.

Bottom line – choose to be the best you. Take the best ideas around you and improve on them and don’t hold back for the risk of failing.

For more information, check out Sam Harrison of Zing Zone, a creative author and speaker.

6 Trends in 2013 for Building Product Marketers, Part 4

20 Dec

Navigate the channel with these 2013 trends

Empower Your Marketing Department

Throughout the week I’ve discussed 6 Trends to look for in 2013 (read trends 1 and 2, trends 3 and 4, trend 5 here) and I’m here to discuss trend 6 – empowering your marketing department in the new year. Investing time and money into employee training allows your marketing team to take the knowledge and apply it to their work and your business.

Trend 6 – Empower Your Marketing Department

Marketing budgets in the past have been focused on understanding the target audience rather than each individual in the segment. In 2013, it is predicted more time will be spent on understanding each customer in order to provide a personalized message like mentioned in Part 2. It’s important for you and your staff as building product marketers to take advantage of the new technologies available from analytics to social media to utilizing new trends like mobile marketing. Consider the following marketing roles to incorporate into your marketing strategy in 2013:

  • Educate the buyer in every step of the buying process – Create messaging for each step in the sales funnel and develop a strategy to reach prospects and customers.
  • Create a social strategy – Utilizing a social strategy that connects your customers and you’re your brand message to help build your social audience.
  • Invest time and money for training and knowledge – Allow your employees the opportunity to learn about the latest technology via webinars, podcasts, networking events, and conferences.

Recap: 2013 Trends

With the new year approaching, it’s important to make marketing resolutions that will make an impact in 2013. I will review the 6 trends you should consider:

  • Trend 1 – Use actionable data
  • Trend 2 – Listen to your customer
  • Trend 3 – Personalize your message
  • Trend 4 – Create a mobile-friendly experience
  • Trend 5 – Join the social conversation
  • Trend 6 – Empower your marketing department

While not all six trends may be possible for your company to implement at this time, try to incorporate each tactic, over the next year. If you have a larger marketing department, consider splitting roles between different positions. Buyer preferences have been changing and that will be evident in 2013. It is time to update your marketing strategy to fit with the social channel as discussed in Part 3, rise in mobile devices and tablets, and your customer as an individual.

6 Trends in 2013 for Building Product Marketers, Part 3

19 Dec

Join the Social Conversation

In Part 1 and Part 2 of the series, I’ve discussed 4 trends that you will see in 2013 and what you should utilize to strengthen your business today. Marketing and design departments need to work as a team to provide prospects and customers a better buying experience with a personalized message. With departments working as a cohesive whole, goals and maximum ROI can be achieved in the approaching year.

Trend 5 – Join the Social Conversation

At this point, social media should play a significant role in your building product company’s marketing strategy. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Houzz create unique interaction and engagement between your company and consumers.

Search – The decision-making process starts by researching products reviews, information, pricing, etc. via search engines. Use SEO-friendly keywords on your social media posts to strengthen your company’s SEO rank. Search engines factor everything from your social page names to the content posted on your social sites to your content that’s retweeted.

Websites – Customers value peer recommendations over a corporate message when making a purchasing decision. Allow customers to rate your products and highlight this on your website and share with their social sites. This provides your visitors a voice from real customers.

Email – Social media and email should be incorporated while using a more relatable voice. Make sure content released has a human voice that customers can relate to. Try incorporating the use of social and peer content by linking your product reviews to the email.

Content – Sharing content is important and a tactic your company can utilize. Consider including social sharing links in emails, product guides and other marketing collateral.

Data – The social login is becoming popular when registering on a website because it allows customers to easily connect with their social media account, eliminating long registration forms. You can use this social data by utilizing birthdays and having sales representatives reach out to their customers to create a personalized experience.

Social media provides new opportunities in 2013, and it’s important to utilize the tools that are provided like personalized Facebook advertisements and new sites that could benefit the building products industry like Houzz. Check back to learn about empowering your employees in the marketing department. Investing time and money connects employees plus educates your employees on new tactics and technology to utilize in your business.

6 Trends in 2013 for Building Product Marketers, Part 2

18 Dec

Tools for providing a better customer experience

Personalize Your Message and Create A Mobile-Friendly Experience

Earlier this week, I discussed 2 of the 6 trends to look for in 2013 by SilverPop, and I’m here to discuss 2 more trends to consider in the new year. With technology changing, it’s important for the building products industry to jump on board before being left behind.

Trend 3 – Personalize Your Message

With mobile devices and smart phones readily available, consumers are utilizing social networks, forums, and online reviews to make buying decisions.

  • Before a customer reaches out to your company: The customer has researched your company and product online.
  • When a customer reaches out to your company for the first time: The customer is already more than half way through the purchasing process.

Since customers are making purchasing decisions before ever reaching out to your company, it’s important to make your content more personalized. Utilizing data and information on where your customer or prospect stands in the buying process can help your company create messaging and dialogue. As a building products marketer, take advantage of the prospects or customers status in the buying process to create messaging for communication like emails that focus on their stage:

  • Prospect – Provide your product details and offer an incentive to transform the prospect into a customer.
  • Recently Made a Purchase – Send accessory recommendations or How-To videos for utilizing the product.
  • Post-Purchase – Update the customer with product information, updates, and new models plus invite them to follow you on your company’s social networks.

Trend 4 – Create a Mobile-Friendly Experience

Consumers can access information about your company easily on their phones. It is estimated in the United States there are approximately 120 million people who own smartphones. By 2016, smartphone ownership is projected to increase to approximately 200 million users, and by 2015, tablet ownership is projected to increase to 133 million.

With more and more people using mobile devices each year, it’s crucial to align your company and brand with these devices. Involve your interactive and design teams in the marketing process. Utilize these tactics to optimize your company communication for mobile devices:

  • Easily Scan Emails and Website – Make your content easily scannable by highlighting main points and adding a call-to-action on the first screen.
  • Utilize Tap Instead of Click – Provide a user-friendly experience by increasing font size, adding spaces between links, and adding buttons for tapping.
  • Provide Call-To-Action Buttons – Add a call-to-action button to simplify tapping for more information and make sure it is prominent on the page so it’s easily spotted when scanning.
  • Simplify Your Conversions – Track one conversion as opposed to three or four conversions. Try tracking the number of people who click on the call-to-action button for more information.

Investing time to create a positive customer experience will change your business in the long run. Check out my next blog post, to learn how social media is now affecting every channel of communication and how marketing departments must change to better deliver increased buyer results. If you missed Part 1, don’t forget to review how you can use actionable data and better listen to your customer to increase your customer’s experience in 2013.

6 Trends in 2013 for Building Product Marketers, Part I

17 Dec

2013 Marketing Trends - Data

Use Actionable Data and Listen To Your Customer

With 2013 approaching, it’s time to create marketing resolutions for the new year that make an impact. According to SilverPop, an email and digital marketing services company, at the start of the year businesses set out with goals to make their business more social, gain more leads, lower marketing costs, etc. In 2013, it’s important for building product marketers to understand what their prospects and customers want. This will shape the marketing strategy over the next five years with changing technology and new trends. In this post I will review the first 2 of 6 trends you should consider that include:

  1. Use actionable data
  2. Listen to your customers
  3. Personalize your message
  4. Create a mobile-friendly experience
  5. Join the social conversation
  6. Empower your marketing department

Trend 1 – Use Actionable Data

Big data is part of the past for businesses. Collecting data has become simple for even a small business to obtain from reporting sites that include:

Companies are able to view who is visiting their website, their social media pages, and who is engaging in emails by simply setting up their accounts on these sites and letting them automatically populate. It’s important to take time each month and analyze the data to provide insights to shape your marketing strategy. Consider what the data tells you about your customers like:

  • Purchasing habits
  • Social media interactions
  • Behavior when visiting your company website
  • Web behavior

Trend 2 – Listen to Your Customer

Messaging and content are evolving because your customer wants an enhanced buyer experience. With the rise in smart phone and tablet ownership, consumers can access information any time and anywhere they want. One consistent message for a group of consumers will no longer work because your customers are not all alike. Multiple data should be pulled before targeting a customer including:

  • Implicit data – your customers’ and prospects’ behavior (utilize tools listed above)
  • Explicit data – your customers’ and prospect’ preferences (web forums and surveys)

As a building products marketer, you understand each prospect and customer is different throughout the sales funnel. Provide your sales representatives the opportunity to assess their customers’ buying processes by tracking their journey with a scoring system. Moving forward, this helps your company and sales representatives:

  • Nurture leads
  • Understand your customers’ and prospects’ purchasing habits
  • Speak to your customers and prospects as individuals

What is your company doing to help prospects become customers or helping customers become more engaged? With new technology and tools available, understanding your customers and prospects is more important than ever. This will shape how your company does business in the future. Stay tuned to learn about the rest of the 6 marketing trends to take advantage of in 2013.

2013 Building Products Resolution: Hold Productive Meetings

13 Dec

Efficient meetings in 2013

Make better meetings a resolution for 2013

I recently read an article about hosting better meetings and it got me thinking about the building products industry. Our industry is full of ambitious, talented people, but that doesn’t mean we always host productive meetings. For 2013, make it your mission to have better, more productive meetings. Here’s a few tips on how to do that:

Everyone should have all of the information ahead of time

  • Don’t use meetings as a place to drop loads of information on your employees. Everyone should have all of the information up front, so the meetings can be productive and action items can be determined.

Meetings exist to make a decision

  • Meetings are not a time to deliberate and discuss, they are a time to come in and make a decision. If you’ve followed the rule above, then everyone should know all information when they walk into a meeting and a decision can be made on the task at hand.

Brainstorming vs. meetings

  • If you really do need to get a group of great minds together to deliberate on an idea, make sure you treat your brainstorming sessions different than your meetings. While meetings exist to make a decision, brainstorming sessions exist to come up with great ideas. Foster great ideas, a feeling of collaboration and inspire creativity by mixing it up. Try having fun props to play with, light music in the background or do something different with the space or lighting to show people that brainstorming is different than meetings.

Start on time

  • And set a time limit. Meetings that take longer than they should not only waste time, but they get people distracted and push them farther off the tasks at hand. Show people that you respect their time by honoring the time limit you’ve set.

Only include the people who need to be there

  • Deciding who should be in a meeting can prove to be harder than it looks, but a good rule of thumb is to only include the people that need to be there.

Turn off all technology

  • Nothing kills a meeting more than someone checking their phone or tablet for email. Make sure everyone understands the importance of focusing on the task at hand to make the most efficient use of time for all parties involved.

Meetings can be productive and efficient if done correctly. Start 2013 off on the right foot by keeping these things in mind. For more information on how to have better meetings, check out Seth Godin’s blog post: Getting serious about your meeting problem.

Facebook Offers New Features for Building Product Marketers

4 Dec

Building product marketers: Measure Facebook ads

Facebook Now Offers Targeted Ads, ROI Tracking Tool, and CPM Bidding Tool

Last year Elton discussed why social media ads might be something to add to your mix. With high print advertising rates and smaller marketing budgets, it’s important for building product marketers to consider the new tools Facebook has to offer. It’s worth a look at these options to see if they fit into your marketing strategy. Recently Facebook added three new features including:

  • Targeted ads
  • A ROI tracking tool
  • An optimized CPM bidding tool

New – Facebook Targeted Ads

  • Targeted ads allow advertisers to target customers by uploading their emails, phone numbers, or Facebook user IDs. Building product companies can target their advertisements to the list of customers they have along with target prospects. This allows marketers to connect with contacts and build stronger customer relationships. Building product marketers are able to target segments with a personalized message based on whether they are a customer or prospect. In addition, this provides companies a new way to gain Facebook fans from current customers and gain leads from prospects.

New – ROI Tracking Tool

  • The tracking tool allows companies to track conversions to their external pages and measure results like sales, leads, and downloads. Marketers are able to see how ads perform after clicking on the ad and being driven to the company’s landing page. With the new tracking, marketers can monitor segments that positively respond to certain messaging to gauge future ad messaging. Building product marketers can track the results by adding the code on the post-click landing page like a thank-you page.

New – CPM Bidding Tool

  • Facebook allows marketers to manage their campaigns with CPM, cost per thousand impressions, bidding tool by setting an advertising goal. By entering whether your company wants more Facebook page likes, sales, leads, etc., Facebook will adjust the CPM ads to target those who are more likely to achieve this goal. If the goal were to gain more leads, Facebook would show the ad to your target audience of prospects rather than the audience that is likely to like your company page.

With the new features Facebook offers, it is simple to measure the campaign return on investment in one platform. By not taking advantage of the latest ad technology, you could be missing the chance to build a stronger relationship with customers or gain new prospects. As Elton mentioned in a post earlier this year about utilizing social media ads in the building products industry, it is a small risk to invest in Facebook ads since people everywhere are engaging with social media.

How To Create a Building Products Facebook Contest

16 Nov

5 Ways to boost fan engagement and gain leads

Earlier this year Elton discussed the new Facebook timeline and if it matters for the building products industry. With more than a billion people subscribed to Facebook, it is an important social media tool to use and a simple way to host a promotional contest. Check out these five tips to create a Facebook contest to boost fan engagement, gain new leads, and receive feedback from customers.

1. Keep it Simple

  • It’s important to keep the entrants on the Facebook page by not asking too much information. An entrant should be able to fill out the required fields within a minute to keep them engaged.

2. Sweepstakes or Contest

  • Choose whether you would like to host a sweepstakes or a contest. A sweepstakes makes it simple for entrants to easily fill out their contact information and enter with the click of a button. A contest could be created to vote on a new product color by having the entrant choose their top choice or submit a photo of your product in application in order to enter to win.

3. Gain and Nurture Leads

  • Capture leads by requiring the entrants to enter their email address so you can utilize the contact for email marketing. If you add them to your distribution list, make sure to state in the rules that by entering the contest they will receive updates and emails from your company. In addition, make sure you give the entrants an option to opt-out of future communication to remain email compliant. When the contest has concluded, email the entrants who didn’t win by offering them a discount on a product or a sneak peek of a new product. This ensures the entrants feel included even though they didn’t win the contest in order to keep them engaged in your efforts.

4. Choose a Prize for Your Audience

  • Offer your company’s target audience something that not only draws them into entering the promotion, but something that makes them want to do business with you. Try giving away a product credit to have your customers or prospects to later invest in your products. This provides current customers a reward and helps influence leads to purchase from your company. If the prize is more promotional, think about the things your target industry is drawn to like sports, outdoor activities, or grilling.

5. Advertise Your Promotion with Facebook Ads

  • If your page has fewer fans, try promoting the sweepstakes or contest with a Facebook ad. This helps you target the demographic you want to enter in your promotion. To learn more about Facebook ads and targeting, check out the Facebook ads blog post from earlier this year.

As a building products CMO, it’s important to understand how Facebook works and its potential for reaching down the channel. While a promotion via Facebook might not be the best option for you, it’s a valuable tactic to consider to gain prospects and achieve maximum ROI. For more information about what other building products companies are doing in the industry, check out the Top 10 Facebook Building Products Pages from earlier this year.

The 4 Commandments of SEO for Building Product Marketers

14 Nov

What Building Product Companies Need to Know about SEO

Search Engine Marketing, or SEO, gets a lot of attention these days. We all strive to make our websites as SEO-friendly as possible, to ensure our blog posts are filled with SEO-rich keywords and that we are doing everything we can to increase our organic search traffic through SEO, rather than paid ads.

To help in your quest for better SEO, I wanted to share the 4 Commandments of SEO according to Marketing Profs. While a lot more goes into SEO than these 4 things, they are valid points to consider:

  • Thou Shalt Reciprocate Link Love. One way to increase your SEO is to have links pointing back to your site. While your team can do several things to ensure your company has optimal inbounds links (like ensure links are posted on everything that leaves your office, that your blog links to your company site and encourage employees to link back to your site on social media), a big way to boost your SEO is to have other high-quality websites link back to your site. However, be sure you are paying back the favor – if another company features a link to your site, make sure you link back to their site.
  • Thou Shalt Not Beg for Links. While you don’t want to be the one asking everyone you know to create a link to your site, it’s OK to provide value to another company and then request a link. Consider having an employee spend time each week commenting on other industry blogs with valuable comments and insight and then requesting a link back to your site. Think of adding links as just another extension of business – its similar to the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” policy.
  • Thou Shalt Find the Best Keywords. This means doing research and paying attention to what your best customers are searching for. This doesn’t mean featuring the keywords that everyone searches for, but rather the ones that will convert searchers into paying customers.
  • Thou Shalt Not Write for Search Engines. While it’s tempting to write your homepage specifically so Google will pick it up and give you a good page rank, Google is not your customer. A human being is your customer and they don’t want to be talked to the same way Google does.

SEO can be a powerful tool for your overall lead strategy and can make a big difference in your web and blog traffic. Make sure to abide by these 4 commandments to ensure you are always meeting best practices. For more information on the Commandments of SEO, check out this link.