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Pinterest: 10 Building Product Companies You Should Follow, Part II

2 Nov

5 more brands to check out for examples of successful Pinterest pages

Earlier I shared 5 building product companies you should follow on Pinterest. Here are the final 5 companies that are a great example of running a successful Pinterest account.

6. Fiberon

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/fiberondecking/

  • As a manufacturer of composite decking, deck railing, and fencing products, Fiberon utilizes Pinterest to show DIY videos and infographics for maintaining a deck, preventing stains, and installing a deck.

7. Andersen Windows

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/andersenwindows/

  • Andersen has manufactured dependable windows and doors for more than 100 years. Pinterest displays the Andersen window product line by featuring them in a variety of different homes. In addition, a pinboard is dedicated to recycling doors and how to use the doors for decorations.

8. GAF

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/gafroofing/

  • A manufacturer of commercial and residential roofing, GAF utilizes Pinterest to showcase the different product lines. Other boards have been added to show unique roofs from around the world.

9. Trex

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/trexcompany/

  • Trex manufactures wood-alternative decking and railing products, and uses Pinterest as a tool for helping inform builders, contractors, and homeowners of product uses. Pinboards also display events like Earth Day with Trex’s recycling and sustainability videos.

10. Pella Windows

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/pellawindows/

  • Pella has been providing doors and windows for more than 85 years. Pinterest is an outlet for sharing tips for homeowners like saving energy, washing windows, and DIY projects.

Ready to make your company part of Pinterest? Get started today by visiting www.pinterest.com or learn how you can utilize Pinterest.

Pinterest: 10 Building Product Companies You Should Follow, Part I

31 Oct

These brands show what it takes to run a successful Pinterest page

Earlier this year we discussed how you can utilize Pinterest–with 4 million unique visitors daily– to help your company gain and educate customers. As a building products CMO, it’s beneficial to understand how this tool can work with your broader outreach strategy. If you’re interested in creating a Pinterest account for your company and need an example of how others in your industry are using it, check out these 5 building product company’s Pinterest accounts.

1. Owens Corning

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/owenscorning/ 

  • A manufacturer of insulation and roofing materials since 1938, Owens Corning utilizes Pinterest by using images and videos to showcase the products and how contractors and builders can use the materials. To support the brand’s sustainable products campaign, a Pinterest board is dedicated to energy saving technology that features videos and information about their energy impact.

2. TimberTech

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/timbertechdeck/

  • TimberTech manufactures low maintenance, safe, and durable decking and railing products. Pinterest is used as a way to display different deck builds for builders, contractors, and homeowners. A board is dedicated to cookout recipes that can be used with a homeowner’s deck to show a fun side to the company.

3. Masonite Doors

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/masonitedoors/

  • As a source for manufactured doors for more than 80 years, Masonite Doors showcases its company history with a pinboard that features notable company events. Pinboards are also used to inspire builders, remodelers and consumers with ideas how to use the products including ways to decorate front doors.

4. Deckorators

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/deckorators/

  • As a manufacturer of deck railings and accessories, Deckorators uses Pinterset as a tool to show homeowners what they can do to personalize their deck railings. In addition, Deckorators utilizes Pinterest as an outlet to display promotions like the company deck photo contest.

5. Marvin Windows

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/marvinwindows

  • Marvin Widows has manufactured made-to-order windows and doors since 1912 and established a reputation for energy efficiency. Pinterest is used as a way to explain their energy efficiency and product line from a pinboard with history of the company to ways to make homes more energy efficient and ways to use their products when remodeling or building a home.

Check back later for an even bigger list of building product companies to follow on Pinterest. To learn more, visit www.pinterest.com.

Buyer Personas in the Building Products Industry

19 Oct

Buyer personas give your marketing direction and ensure your message is accurate

Whether or not you know it, you’re likely using buyer personas everyday – it’s just a matter of how accurate they are. Buyer personas are representations of customers that are used to better understand why they purchase what they do. As building product marketers, we all say things like “Contractors will like this product because it’s easier/cheaper/faster”, but what is it that really influences them to buy? Establishing the specifics allows you to craft a message that resonates with these buyers and beats out the competition.

So how do you establish an accurate buyer persona?

  • First off, you can just make it up. As building industry marketers it’s important to go deeper than a list of bullet points that describes our key buyers. We need to really spend time with these people and complete an in-depth analysis of their buying trends. According to Adele Revella, the founder and president of the Buyer Persona Institute, the Five Rings of Insight are the “most overlooked and essential aspect, simplifying decisions for persuasive messaging, content, launches, campaigns and sales enablement.”

Here are the “Five Rings of Insight” that will allow you to define your buyer persona:

  1. Determine the Priority Initiatives: Define the three-to-five problems or initiatives where this buyer persona is dedicating time, budget and political capital
  2. List Out Success Factors: Figure out the tangible or intangible rewards that your buyer persona wants to achieve as a result of buying your solution
  3. Recognize Perceived Barriers: List the reasons your buyer persona believes your solution won’t be the best way to achieve the Success Factors
  4. Chart Out the Buying Process: Include the resources and steps that your buyer persona relies upon to assess available options and make a final decision
  5. Figure Out the Decision Criteria: List the aspects of the product, service, solution or company that this buyer persona evaluates during the purchasing process

Accurately defining your Buyer Persona’s takes time, energy and effort, but once established can pay dividends in assuring your messaging is correct and sets you apart from your competitors.

We’ve used buyer personas for years. We actually have cardboard cut-outs of our “guys” – dealers, contractors, big box sales reps, deck builders, etc. When we have a meeting these guys often join us as a reminder of who we’re talking to. If they’re not in the room with you – it’s time you invite them!

For more information about buyer personas and the Buyer Persona Institute, click here.

Building Product Manufacturers & BIM

11 Oct

Kolbe Millwork’s New Collection of BIM files on Autodesk Seek

Are you prepared for the shift in technology to BIM?

For decades, blueprints have been the way houses are built. An architect or builder creates them. The future homeowner reviews and has changes. New blueprints are created again. Then, the trades all have their turn at reviewing, offering up suggestions and identifying conflicts as best as possible. As a manufacturer, you hope your products are specified by someone along the way, provided you have your products available in the right file format(s). By the time all the stakeholders have had their say, the blueprint can be, at worst, a confusing, conflicting mess and, at best, a huge time expense for the architect or builder.

Imagine this alternate scenario: an architect or builder creates the new home using 3D architectural software and outputs a single, simplified file. That file is sent to each of the trades and to the dealer for materials estimates. Using compatible software, each stakeholder identifies conflicts and offers their input in their area of expertise. All that input is utilized by the software and the architect or builder to get to a final, conflict-free design that is presented to the homeowner. Rather than having to imagine what their home will look like from 2D blueprints, the homeowner can virtually walk through the entire thing, offering their input and seeing their various options. The result: a single, simplified design file and a home built more efficiently, with less conflicts, less waste and on-the-job changes, and a happier homeowner.

That scenario may seem far off, but it’s not. It’s the way commercial buildings have been built for over a decade, and it’s finally starting to become reality for residential construction as well. It’s called Building Information Modeling (BIM), and here’s what you should be thinking about, as a manufacturer:

  • Make sure your products are BIM-ready: This means having your products available in Autodesk® format files. As the dominant platform for BIM, Autodesk’s file format (DWG) is the one everyone has to conform to. Autodesk has also built a web resource called Autodesk Seek (http://seek.autodesk.com/) that serves as a BIM product library for architects, engineers and builders. The majority of products are commercial-focused currently, but manufacturers like Marvin Windows have their products in place.
  • Make sure your customer service department is ready: You’ve got experienced customer service people on staff, but are they prepared to answer questions from architects about file formats and utilizing your products in BIM software?
  • Actively marketing to architects? Besides the obvious, manufacturers can gain a lot of credibility with architects by offering continuing education units (CEUs). All architects need to get these to maintain certification, and it’s a great way for manufacturers to get in front of them. Presentations can be online or in person, but must be completely brand-neutral. Therma-Tru is a great example of a manufacturer that’s done this for years.

As great as all of this sounds, there’s still a lot of adoption that needs to be done prior to BIM being commonplace. It won’t surprise you to know that many builders, architects and other stakeholders aren’t ready to spend the time and money learning a very different way to design homes. However, the benefits from adopting BIM as part of the process are too great to ignore, and the market will shift, though slower than some would like. When that shift finally happens, do you want to be the manufacturer playing catch-up, or the one that is trained and ready to take full advantage?

For more information on BIM, check out these resources:

5 Steps: Work with HR to Create More Engaged Building Product Employees

2 Oct

Working with HR can create more productive and engaged employees

As a building products CMO, you’ve no doubt crossed paths with HR, but how closely do you work with them on messaging to your employees? HR continues to evolve into a more strategic role as they focus on talent attraction, engagement and retention and they can be your greatest advocate and help create a stronger company built on a foundation of productive and engaged employees. How do you achieve this? The first step is to pair your strengths at brand messaging with HR’s perspective and expertise on your workforce. Here are 5 steps for working with HR to create a stronger workforce:

1. Gauge employee engagement

  • The first step in creating more engaged employees is to see where they stand now. Begin with research to get a pulse on your workforce. Send out an online survey to see where your employees stand and how they feel about your building products organization. Even this step shows your employees that your organization cares about them and is working to make improvements.

2. Create an employer brand

  • Use what you learn from the employee engagement survey to create a brand that your employees can connect to, while also furthering leadership’s vision for the future. A brand workshop using the data you receive and a few select executives is a great way to establish the right brand for your organization.

3. Work with HR to align employees with company goals

  • Create a plan to bring the brand to life. Host employee meetings, send out emails, hang break room posters, send a direct mail piece to your employees homes – whatever it takes to let them know that you are listening and value them.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate

  • Once the brand has been developed and communicated, develop a strategic communication plan to build employee engagement. This should include ongoing communication like newsletters, videos, emails and other consistent touchpoints.

5. Test your progress

  • In order to see if your efforts are paying off, send out an employee engagement survey each year. While a lot of factors play into employee satisfaction, a consistent communication campaign can make a big difference over time.

Committing to a plan to strengthen your workforce ultimately strengthens your company. Engaged employees are more productive, more efficient and more likely to bring fresh, new ideas to your organization. They are more likely to over-deliver and your customers are more likely to come back again. So, what are you waiting for?

Are you ready for the upcoming building products tradeshows?

28 Sep

How to prepare for the upcoming Remodeling Show and DeckExpo

As a building products CMO, you are well aware that tradeshows offer a huge opportunity to drive sales and gain leads. With the Remodeling Show and DeckExpo quickly approaching, it is important to ensure your business is ready to gain exposure and stand out among the other exhibitors. Make sure your tradeshow team is ready with pre-show, in-booth, and post-show tactics to support your marketing strategy.

Pre-Show Activities

  • Create a tradeshow campaign that drives traffic to your company’s booth to make the most of your investment. Make sure to include a payoff for visiting the booth when creating pre-show emails and direct mail promotions.
  • With current technology, it is possible to research press, prospects, and exhibitors attending the show and meet with them once the show starts. Social media is a great tool for engaging media and attendees before the show by simply using the tradeshow hashtag. In addition, social media can be a beneficial way to promote any in-booth promotions.

During the Show

  • Help your employees interact with booth attendees by providing talking points that keep everyone informed of relevant information. Building credible relationships with prospects can lead to sales and new leads. A register-to-win drawing is a great way to gather contact information to make it easy to follow up after the show.
  • At the show is the best time to connect with building product-specific media to discuss your business and products. Connect with media on social media and stay connected for opportunities in the future. Since it is more beneficial for your employees to concentrate on the booth visitors during the show, utilize a social posting tool like HootSuite or SocialOomph to plan company tweets and posts ahead of time.

 Post-Show Follow Up

  • After a tradeshow, it’s important to follow up with the leads and prospects you met in your booth. A post-show email campaign that highlights your value proposition and reminds prospects of key product points helps set you apart from your competitors and ensures your business is top-of-mind.

While the Remodeling Show and DeckExpo are quickly approaching, it’s important to keep these core tradeshow strategies in mind for future shows. Believe it or not, the International Builders Show will be here before we know it! It’s never too early to start preparing to ensure your optimal ROI.

The 2013 Color Trends: What Building Product Marketers Need to Know

28 Aug

Last year we brought you the color trends for 2012 and continue to hear positive feedback, so this year we are providing our insights again. There are several big trends happening in 2013. Much of this is inspired by a post-recession optimism, people’s desire to reconnect with nature and their new view on their homes in this staycation-era. The color forecast webinar, sponsored by Pantone, that I recently watched focused on the combination of trends as well as the colors themselves. Here’s what to expect in 2013 and how you can work these popular colors into your products and marketing efforts for the building industry:

  1. The new substitutes: reconsider your “go to” primary shades for these less expected standouts and watch your marketing get noticed. Instead of a basic blue, try a shade a bit deeper and with more vibrance, like PMS 2935. This shade can also be used instead of black. Red is always a classic, but upping the ante with a deep magenta like PMS 233 is courageous and modern. Beware when using this color to avoid patterns. Too much can be overwhelming with this strong color. Speaking of strong – say hello to the new yellow, this season it’s brighter, fresher, and looks great when paired with a lot of white space. Try PMS 3955.

 

  1. Not-so-soft pastels: romantic hues from the Art Deco era are making a resurgence. But you don’t have to go girly to take advantage of the prestige and maturity these colors bring. Try a neutral with a hint of pink, like PMS 4755, or a bluish grey like PMS 5507 as a background color to add a regal, yet trustworthy look.

  1. The beauty of nature: for pops of color that still feel grounded, pick a color from the garden, like a lettuce green (PMS 370), cranberry red (PMS194), or pumpkin orange (PMS 152).

  1. Embrace Neon: there is no doubt that neon is back! Take advantage of an attention getter like PMS 396 in a headline or color block. Use in small doses for maximum impact. Try pairing with a neutral like PMS 466 to bring this spacey tone more down to earth.

  1. Putting it all together: using great color in your marketing is about more than selection, its about how they are used. Two techniques to try that will be hot this year are color blocking, especially with neutrals, and translucent layers.

Want to read more? Check out Behr’s Trends – 2013 A Portrait of Color, to see their take on the trends. And check out Pantone’s report for fall.

Do Building Product Companies Have to Spend Money on Marketing to Grow?

15 Aug

 

Reviewing Marketing budgets for 2013

It is that time of year when many of us in the building material industry are trying to figure out how much to spend on marketing next year.  With 2013 being a year where things should finally be on the rebound in most of our market segments – how should we plan for growth?  We all know that saving your way to increased market share and growth is nearly impossible, even though a lot of that has gone on the last few years.  Beyond answering the question of more or less than last year, there are many other things to review and decide on.

It is always a good idea to complete a competitive review of marketing spend.  However, those numbers are difficult to find unless your competitors are all publicly traded and report all the specifics.  So, what do you do when your CFO wants you to justify spend on the overall % of your marketing budget?

A general “rule of thumb” that has been used for years across many industries netted these simple guidelines:

  • Total Revenue x 5% = Marketing budget required to maintain current awareness and visibility
  • Total Revenue x 10% = Marketing budget required to grow and gain market share

I was curious to see if there was deeper research that helped answer this question more completely; here’s what I found.

According to the 2011 CMO survey that was conducted in August of 2011, companies on average spend about 10% of their overall budgets on marketing.  Digging deeper into that number, they looked at how different kinds of companies spend and found the following:

  • B2B-services (11.1%)
  • B2C-product (11.6%)
  • B2C-services (12.1%)
  • B2B-products (7.0%)

The next thing to think about is size of company.  This survey found that companies with $500M or more in sales are spending less on marketing (5.3%) compared to companies with less than $500M in sales who are spending 11.7%.

When thinking about growth strategies for 2013, survey results found that companies using a market penetration strategy (focusing on current offerings and current customers) have the smallest marketing budgets compared to companies using market development (new offerings to current customers), or diversification (new offerings and new customers).  Marketing budgets follow growth.  In addition, marketing budgets are higher in companies that are planning to grow through partnerships but not through acquisitions or licensing agreements.

As you budget for 2013, keep these notes in mind; it’s data right from fellow CMO’s and it could be a great piece of your budget presentation for next year.

Click here to read more about CMO

The Top Ten Ways Building Product Marketers Can Achieve Enchantment, Part 2

26 Jul

Guy Kawasaki’s 10 Keys to Enchantment, Success

In a recent post, I introduced you to Guy Kawasaki and his first 3 pillars for achieving enchantment. As promised, here are steps 4-10 on how to influence your people and make a difference for your entire company:

 4. Launch – tell a story, a personal story

    • Once your product or service is perfected, you need to launch (or re-launch) that product with a personal story. We’ve heard it a hundred times, but people do business with people they like and they need to hear their personal story to make a connection. Here are some tips for doing that:
      • Plant many seeds. Don’t just focus on one part of the story and sharing it on one medium, put your story out there and make it easy to know, learn and love.
      • Use salient points. Don’t tell people what you want them to know – tell them what makes sense for them. Guy used a great example for this – it would be much more efficient if a bag of chips listed the miles you have to run to burn off those chips, rather than the number of calories it contains – that is what we all want to know!

 5. Overcome resistance

    • To do this, you need to provide social proof. First, use a dataset to change a mindset (check out gapminder.org) and second – enchant all of your influencers. For a real life example of this type of enchantment, Guy recommended that every marketer watch Justin Bieber’s movie, Never Say Never.

6. Endure

    • To endure, you must build an ecosystem. Build a network of people that you help, and in turn help you back. Evoke reciprocation and once you’ve done a favor, enable people to help you next time you’re in need. Most of all, don’t rely on money to enchant people.

 7. Present

    • Great presenters are great enchanters. There are several key points to being a great presenter. First, customize the introduction to your audience. Second, sell your dream. Finally, use a visual presentation that drives the point home. If you are using PowerPoint, follow these guidelines: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point font.

 8. Use technology

    • Whether it’s email, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, provide value to others through your engagement. And don’t just engage when you feel like it – use the three f’s: fast, flat and frequent.

 9. Enchant up

    • Drop everything for your boss. If they ask you to do something, do it right away. And, if you have bad news, deliver it early.

10. Enchant down

    • You must engage your employees. Provide them with a MAP (mastery, autonomously, purpose). Empower them to take action and trust them to make good decisions. And when it comes down to it – suck it up, get in the trenches and help with the dirty work.
    • If you are more interested in this topic, check out Drive by Daniel Pink which does a great job explaining what motivates us.

Guy is a fascinating marketer and I would highly recommend his new book Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions if you are interested in learning more on how to make your brand enchanting.

The Top Ten Ways Building Product Marketers Can Achieve Enchantment, Part 1

24 Jul

Guy Kawasaki’s 10 Keys to Enchantment, Success

I recently had the opportunity to hear Guy Kawasaki speak. If you haven’t heard of Guy, you need to look him up. He is known as the former chief evangelist of Apple and is the author of ten books, including Reality CheckThe Art of the Start and the new Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. His recent speech covered his latest book and he focused on the 10 ways marketers can achieve enchantment. As a building product CMO, this book will teach you how to influence your people and make a difference for your entire company. Here is his list:

  1. Achieve likability
    • According to Guy, likability is the key to being enchanting. While it’s not always easy, the way to do this is pretty simple.
      • You need a great smile – smile at others – genuinely and often
      • Accept others – don’t judge the people around you, accept them as they are
      • Default to yes – while many of us look for excuses to get out of things, Guy encourages us to always respond with a yes
  2. Achieve trustworthiness
    • To achieve trustworthiness, you must do 3 key things:
      • You must trust others. Give people your trust until they do something to lose it.
      • Bake, don’t eat. Don’t be the one always taking from others, provide something tangible to help the team to show you are there to help.
      • Agree on something. Find something (anything!) that you have in common with other people and use that to bond and create a relationship.
  3. Perfect your product or service
    • This is key in our paired-down industry. If your company has survived the recession, now is the time to perfect that product and make sure it is exactly what your key audience is looking for. This will ensure your audience has no reason to leave you for a competitor. In order to do this, Guy recommends creating something DICEE:
      • Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Empowering, Elegant

These are the 3 pillars to achieving enchantment. Stay tuned for an additional post that introduces steps 4-10 including launching your product with a personal story, overcoming resistance, enduring for the long haul and other great tips.