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10 Building Product Lumberyards You Should Follow on Twitter – Part 2

10 Apr

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 2.47.29 PM

Even more local lumberyards on Twitter 

Like I mentioned in Part I of my Top 10 Building Product Lumberyards You Should Follow on Twitter list, for many Twitter users, the hardest part is knowing who to follow so I’ve created a list. Here are the rest of my Top 10:

 6. Luedtke Lumber – @LuedtkeLumber

This Wisconsin-based lumberyard and hardware store not only has nearly 900 tweets, but utilizes text-based offers as well. While definitely more DIY than some, this lumberyard has grown to add more products and services beyond the traditional yard.

7. Bliffert Lumber – @BliffertLumber

Bliffert Lumber is another Wisconsin lumberyard that has millwork, hardware, decking as well as K&B. With over 800 followers and nearly 2,000 tweets, this company has integrated Facebook and Twitter to help promote specials and other customer information.

8. Mobile Lumber – @MobileLumber

While many yards are using Twitter for promotions and products, this Mobile, AL-based yard also utilizes it to recruit employees for all their locations in the Gulf Coast area. They have over 700 followers and are growing.

9. Star Lumber & Supply – @StarLumber

Closing in on 1,000 followers, this Wichita-based family owned yard utilizes many of its tweets to help educate and promote product knowledge and availability. In addition, they utilize their blog (blog.starlumber.com) for more in-depth product information.

10. Issaquah Lumber – @CedarExpert

As their Twitter handle implies, this Issaquah, WA yard focuses on cedar. As a family-owned Cedar Mill, they have nearly 2,000 followers looking for their insights on cedar products from decking to fencing and everything in between.

For even more lumberyards, check out my Twitter list at https://twitter.com/EltonMayfield/lumberyards. For a daily update from this list of lumberyards, subscribe to my daily paper: http://paper.li/EltonMayfield/1335936730.

3 Things Building Materials Marketers Should Take Away From Super Bowl Ads

5 Feb

So God Made a Farmer - Dodge

Besides the fact that Super Bowl is a trademarked NFL name

Like millions of people around the world, I watched Super Bowl 47 and was amazed at the resiliency of the 49ers, but also how regardless of the fact you can plan for every possible contingency, sometimes things go wrong and the lights go out.

As a lifelong football fan and career marketer, the Super Bowl represents the Holy Grail. No it’s not saving anyone’s life, but if you look back at the greatest campaigns or ads, the Super Bowl is where they were born. From the Macintosh 1984 ad, to the e-trade baby, to the Bud Light “Waasssup” guys, we always seem to remember one or two of the ads. But after the millions of dollars and the endless lists of top ads, do they really work?

As most people saw, there were some really well done mini-films like the Dodge ad with the Paul Harvey voice over, but there were also offensive ads like the Go Daddy kiss ad. So which was more effective? Time can only tell, but from a brand perspective, I’d bet Dodge faired better.

The 3 things I try to think about when watching the ads are:

1. Does this ad connect me to the brand?

  • Several of the ads connected with me. The Dodge farmer spot, the Clydesdale ‘remember’ spot and the Audi prom spot all made an emotional connection with me and their brand. Not because I grew up on a farm, or because I love my animals, nor because I got to take my brother’s brand new Corvette to senior prom. They connected with me by telling a story.

2. Does this ad make me want to buy their product?

  • Somebody asked me via Twitter about the call-to-action on a spot and my comment was, hardly any of these ads had a true call-to-action. They’re brand awareness building. But I will say as a GoDaddy customer after sitting on the couch with my 7-year-old daughter, I really don’t want to give Bob Parson any more money.

3. Would I share this message?

  • In today’s social world, this is a big one. Used to be that you had to watch the Super Bowl to see the ads. Now they’re ‘leaked’ early or they’re on YouTube. But as I watched the game on the TV screen and interacted with Twitter on my iPad screen, I realized the purpose is as much to inform, as it is to create evangelists; people that will talk about your brand, your product, and your message.

So how do we as building material marketers use this annual ritual of advertising and branding excess? We remember to tell our story, to connect to our audience, to not offend our customers, and most importantly we produce messages that our customers want to share. Learn more about understanding your customer.

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.

MarCom Portals Meet Building Product Customers Needs

26 Oct

Catering to the channel shows loyalty to your customers

In an earlier post I shared with you all the reasons a MarCom Portal can make an impact on your business. It provides brand control, allows you to control costs, rewards your customers, makes your life easier and is scalable. Today I want to talk about what your MarCom Portal should feature. If you’re considering implementing your own MarCom Portal, here are some items I would recommend adding to the system:

  • Promotional items: Whether it’s to be used as part of a promotion, for a holiday or as part of a rebate program, promotional items like shirts, hats, pens and coffee mugs can be important to your channel partner. Providing an easy way for them to order them makes your life easier and gives them access to multiple items with the click of a button.
  • Customizable ads: The further you get down the channel, the harder it is to execute simple marketing collaterial like newspaper and publication ads. Providing multiple sizes of these templates with a customizable area for your customer’s information makes their life easier and ensures your brand is portrayed correctly.
  •  An email system: While many contractors and dealers send emails directly from their email system, not a lot of them have professional email service providers that can send mass, HTML-developed emails. Professionally sent emails make you and your customer look good.
  • Customizable postcards: Some systems will allow users to upload their own mailing lists and customize postcards specific to those lists. This makes it easy for a contractor or builder to target a neighborhood, MSA or past clients.
  • Tradeshow support: Local and regional shows can make a big impact for your customers. Help them out by creating an easy-to-order and easy-to-customize tradeshow system. You can design the panels to meet your needs – whether it’s multiple brands under your master brand or specific product lines, you become the hero to your channel partner while ensuring your brand is portrayed accurately.
  • Sample ordering systems: Samples are a staple of a manufacturer’s business and ensuring they go out in a timely and professional manner is key to showcasing your brand and allowing your customers to trust you. Creating a simple online form in your MarCom portal will make it easy for your customers to order the samples they need and shows them how easy you are to work with.

While a MarCom Portal is not inexpensive, it is a great investment that will pay dividends for your brand and customers.

MarCom Portals Make Big Impact in Building Products Industry

25 Oct

Catering to the channel shows your loyalty to customers

As a building products industry CMO you know the importance of supporting the channel. It doesn’t matter if you’re a manufacturer, a distributor or a dealer – you need your customers (or your customer’s customers!) to help carry your message down and get your products sold.

While co-op programs can go a long way, a marketing portal can make an even bigger impact. They allow you to control your brand while giving your customers the power to easily carry it down the channel for you. MarCom Portals can feature anything from posters and postcards to emails and brochures. I have been a proponent of MarCom Portals for a while – here’s why.

Advantages of a MarCom Portal

  • Complete brand control: You provide the marketing templates in accordance with your brand guidelines. Customers can customize what you want them to be able to, but items like your logo, tagline and images remain intact ensuring brand consistency.
  • Control costs: Instead of guessing at the inventory you’re going to need, a MarCom Portal lets your customers print on-demand. Whether its 1 postcard or 500 – the cost remains the same and you can choose to pay for it or have your customers pay for it.
  • Reward your customers: What better way to promote your business than to make it seamless for your customers? Put money into their account, so they can use your tools for free.
  • Let someone else do the heavy lifting: Once the templates are created, the system can customize what is needed, so your team only has to create each file once. No more one-off requests and no more adjusting file sizes. A MarCom Portal provides maximum efficiency.
  • Flexible and scalable: A MarCom Portal can be built to fit your needs. Whether you want to offer a few tools or a wide-range of customizable options, it can fit your needs and budget. Plus, it can grow with you and your budget.
  • Security and peace of mind: A third party system can even be used to ensure absolute privacy for your channel partners.

Not convinced you need this solution? Stay tuned – in a future post I’ll share some key elements to consider adding to your portal.

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.

Using Social Media Ads in Building Products Marketing

21 Aug

How targeted are your current marketing strategies?

Why social media ads might be something to add to your mix

Marketing budgets have been slashed over the last few years and for many of us, the days of spending money on advertising went with those budgets. So how can we reach potential customers without breaking the bank? I’ve found that social advertising is a good option, at least worth a test as part of your overall marketing strategy to determine if it provides the leads you need.

With social advertising, like Google AdWords, you set a bid amount and a budget and the network uses an algorithm to determine when your ads are shown. You also have the freedom to select the type of people you want to reach and customize your message to reach them. Both LinkedIn and Facebook provide a range of options for building product marketers looking to reach prospects.

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn ads give you access to 175 million people worldwide, including 40 million U.S.-based professionals. You can target a specific audience and with a controlled spend to ensure the investment is worth the return.

Target Audience Parameters

  • Location
  • Company>Industry: Including construction jobs, architecture and planning, building materials and more
  • Job Title: Including Operations and Purchasing
  • School
  • Skills
  • Groups: Including NAHB, NARI, AIA, Builder and others
  • Gender
  • Age

Another great thing about LinkedIn ads is that you can create up to 15 variable ads per campaign to test the response.

Facebook Ads

Although Facebook has over 900 million users, Facebook ads are great for targeting smaller, more specific groups of users with select campaigns. Much like LinkedIn, you can target a specific audience utilizing criteria that works for you.

Audience Options

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Precise Interests: Including building, remodeling, design
  • Broad categories/interests
  • Connection and friends of connections (determines who all can see the ad – great for targeting like-minded people)

Facebook gives you the option to pay per click or pay per impression which gives you flexibility to choose what works best for your campaign.

Ads such as these have been a hotly-debated subject in the marketing world, especially after GM’s very public decision to pull their $10 million Facebook ad budget due to a lack of results. On the other hand, video game giant EA announced a major shift in dollars towards Facebook on August 20. While you may be skeptical, remember that social network ads are targeted, precise, allow for specific lead tracking and can be set so you pay only when the ads actually work (someone clicks). You’re taking very little risk in trying out a variety of tactics on these networks to test engagement from your targets.

Saying your building product target customers don’t engage in these networks is too easy; people everywhere are engaging, so take a small risk and consider testing these tactics as part of your long-term prospecting strategy. Combine them with the plans you should already have in place for utilizing your company’s Facebook page and other digital initiatives to achieve the maximum ROI from these networks. For more information visit www.facebook.com/ads or www.linkedin.com/ads.

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 Baby Boomer Opportunity: What Building Product Marketers Can Do

9 Aug

NAHB’s CAPS program can be valuable for building product marketers

We all know the marketplace is constantly evolving. Our “Gray Hairs are Everywhere” blog post from earlier this year introduced us to the Millenial generation which is a term used to describe those born between 1980 and 2000. Also known as “Generation Y”, Millennials are the children of the Baby Boomer generation. We’ve discussed what these Millennials mean to your business, but what about their parents?

 Baby Boomers make up 42% of the adult population and according to the AARP this segment can make quite an impact on our companies:

  • Boomers buy 45% of all consumer goods
  • Boomers have 75% of the discretionary wealth in America
  • 68% of them even give money to their adult children

And they’re not going anywhere. The Boomer population is growing 7x faster than the 18-49 segment and they will be the dominant demographic for the next 40 years.

We already know that older homeowners overwhelmingly prefer to age in place, 84% of them according to the AARP, which means they want to live in their homes safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of their age or ability level. This goal aligns with the building products industry perfectly. Boomers want to upgrade their homes to ensure they are accessible, safe and comfortable and we have the products to help them.

But what can you do to ensure you are positioning your products to appeal to this market? One way to do this is to check out your local NAHB chapter and see if they offer the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) program which is designed to address the growing needs of homeowners looking to stay in their homes longer. While most CAPS professionals are remodelers, even building product marketers can benefit from seeking this certification. By achieving your CAPS designation you will learn:

  • The unique needs of the older adult population
  • Aging-in-place home modifications
  • Common remodeling projects
  • Solutions to common barriers

Beyond that, you will network at the CAPS course with the people you try to reach everyday – potential customers that are self-seeking to learn more about this important market.

Baby Boomers: The Facts

  • Today and every day for the next 18 years, another 10,000 people will turn age 65
  • By 2050, the population of Americans aged 65 or older will be 88.5 million—more than double what it is now
  • Americans aged 85 years or older will reach 19 million—triple what it is now
  • 84% of Boomers are already 50+

To read more about CAPS and to find your local NAHB chapter, visit www.nahb.com.