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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.

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.

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.

How building product brands can leverage Pinterest to achieve goals

10 Sep

Pinterest is an opportunity for you to gain fans, educate customers

At the beginning of this year Renae introduced you to Pinterest as a way to build brand recognition, share ideas, research competition and make connections. But now that Pinterest has been popular for over a year (and has nearly 15 million users), I think it’s time to take another look, and see what you should be doing with Pinterest to showcase your brand, your people, and your products.

  • Show your creativity. Pinterest is a great place to show how creative you can be. The use of infographics, videos, e-books, and humorous memes make it easier for people to consume information and more likely that they will share it. Considering 80% of pins are repins, this is essential to the success of your Pinterest efforts. GE does a great job of showing their creative side: http://pinterest.com/generalelectric/
  • Create a “company newsroom” and post all press releases there. In addition, place videos, interviews, and other interesting company information there to ensure it’s easy to find and easy to share.
  • Optimize your pins using SEO-friendly keywords. Because Pinterest is already established and has good SEO, adding the correct keywords will make it easier to find your brand on the web. Make sure you use the appropriate keywords in the title of your pinboard, in the description of each pin and add them as a hashtag. For help with this read this.
  • Create a “company culture” board. Even in our B2B industry, people still buy from people they like and showing your company culture can set you apart from your competitor. Feature photos of employees, activities, tradeshows and more.
  • Run a building products promotion. This can be used as a support tactic to a larger campaign or a separate social campaign to encourage social engagement. To check out some companies that have done this successfully, check out this case study.
  • Create a “company history” board. Especially if you’re company is more established, these nostalgia-based photos can evoke an emotional response to your brand. Show pictures of old offices, products or employees.

Some other basic Pinterest tips:

  • Optimize your Pinterest profile. Make sure your profile accurately and concisely describes what you do as this will help people find you. Ensure it includes keywords to make you more likely to show up in searches.
  • Pay attention to Pinterest’s term and conditions.
  • Do monthly reporting on your traffic and evaluate the leads you receive. This will help you prove ROI and determine whether Pinterest is an important part of your social strategy.

For more information on Pinterest, check out this overview.

Signs of Life for Building Products Marketers

19 Apr

We are constantly adapting to the ebbs and flow of the housing and building industry.  DIY customers are reportedly buying more and remodelers are getting their hands dirty again. As a CMO, we need to consider how these changes affect our marketing strategy and spending.

Strong spending on gardening equipment, furniture, and building materials in March could mean homeowners are busily preparing to make their homes more attractive to buyers. Retail and food service sales rose 0.8% from February to a seasonally adjusted $411.07 billion, the Commerce Department reported. But while overall sales were up 6.5% year-over-year, building material and garden equipment jumped over 14%. That bodes well for the housing market, says Susan M. Wachter, professor of real estate and finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania on a recent SmartMoney post. “These retail sales are another an indicator of better home sales ahead,” she says.

Lowe’s recently announced a 13% spike in sales to $11.63 billion helped by an unusually mild winter and better cost control, while Home Depot’s fourth-quarter earnings rose 32% to $774 million. Wachter says the double-digit sales increase in Lowe’s other items like kitchen and bathroom cabinets – typically a big consideration for house-hunters — and new flooring further shows that homeowners may be preparing to increase the appeal of their homes.

Others say home improvers may be biding their time. From the same mentioned SmartMoney post mentioned above, “Lawn care and showcasing nice furniture are always an important aspect of trying to sell a home,” says David Abuaf, chief investment officer at Hefty Wealth Partners in Auburn, Ind. “But I think the March retail figures are driven more by maintenance and upkeep rather than a desire to sell immediately.”

But there have been several other encouraging signs that the housing market may be regaining its pep. Existing home sales recorded the strongest February in five years, according to the National Association of Realtors and, according to the most recent Commerce Department figures, the number of new single-unit houses authorized for construction rose nearly 5% in February. “We expect to see gains through the all-important summer months,” he says. And for homeowners, Wachter says, “It’s better to fluff now to attract buyers.”

Our industry is contingent on the economy and the fickle supply and demand of our customers. We have to make sure we are prepared from season to season, and with the increase of sales at two of the largest building product retailers in our country, we can expect demand to rise as well.

Sources:

Curb Appeal Splurging

Increased Potential of the Green Building Products Market

3 Apr

The Green Home Market Is Expected To Increase Five-Fold by 2016

It seems now more than ever, going green is important to consumers, which makes the building products industry a prime market to target. As a building products CMO, you are likely focused on this growing trend, but the key statistics from McGraw-Hill Construction give us even more of a reason to strive to reach the next level of eco-friendly products.

Going Green

The study showed much anticipation for green building products over the next few years.  It seems, homebuyers are going green for not only higher quality products, but also reduced energy costs. With the price to ‘go green’ declining, it is predicted the green home market is expected to grow from 17% in 2011 up to 38% in 2016 – a 21% increase in five years.

With homebuyers and homeowners wanting what’s best for the environment, it’s no surprise that a lot of builders and remodelers are starting to gear products towards green marketing, but should we all jump on the green building products’ bandwagon?

I think green marketing is the way to go with the green home market increasing and the benefits of going green being positive. 46% of builders and remodelers are finding it a competitive advantage to market themselves as green while 71% of green building firms report it easier to market in a down economy.

McGraw-Hill Construction Statistics

In addition, I think builders, and us alike, know consumers will pay more for green homes. The study shows by 2016 green builders and remodelers show much anticipation:

  • Builders expect to be dedicated to more than 90% of green building projects
  • 33% of builders predict to be dedicated to green work
  • 22% of remodelers speculate to be dedicated to green work, triple the 8% in 2011

With the green home market expected to increase five fold in the next few years, it’s essential to look into your strategic initiatives and ensure ‘green’ is a part of your plan.

To read more: Green Homes to Grow Five Fold

7 Ways Building Product CMOs Increase Financial Fluency

9 Nov

Learn how increasing your marketing department’s financial capacity can make a big difference in your business.

Especially in the building products industry, it’s more important than ever to closely monitor the dollars going into your marketing efforts. It’s no longer about the next big idea and pushing out pretty creative, today’s CMO has to focus on how their programs will affect the bottom line – and be able to prove its success with data. CMO.comtook a deeper look into how CMOs can boost their financial comprehension. Here’s our take and how it relates to the building products industry:

1. Master the ROI Calculation

  • Among the many financial concepts building products marketers should adopt, Return On Investment (ROI) calculation is key.
  • It’s important to focus on business results like customer loyalty, price premiums, growth in market share, as well as ad spend, reach and engagement.

2. Hire Outside the Box

  • Look beyond your typical agency marketers’ resumes to engineers, accountants and mathematicians.
  • Marketing can be taught and these skills are invaluable to a marketing department looking to build up their financial acumen.

3. Get Serious about Data Analytics

  • Marketers need to be especially careful when analyzing data and be sure its consistent and structured.
  • The ability to take a hard look at data analysis allows CMOs to identify the best opportunities, set priorities, execute plans and gain sales.

4. Adopt Corporate Metrics

  • To make a real financial impact on the company, the CMO must understand the ins and outs of the finances of the company, especially in the building products industry when the smallest details make a big difference.
  • Get comfortable with the profit and loss, balance sheets – anything that can make you a smarter businessperson.
  • Another way to educate yourself and your team? Have senior finance leaders host lunch-and-learn sessions to review the basics.

5. Steal from Finance

  • Borrow accounting concepts to develop new marketing analytics and track marketing and sales activities.

6. Get to Know the CFO

  • A Forrester Research/Heidrick & Struggles survey found that 69% of CMOS said their relationship with the CFO was the most important in the organization. However, natural tensions exist between these two departments (especially during tough times in the building products industry), as money spent on marketing is a line on the expense report that takes away from the company’s earnings. If the CMO and CFO understand each other, they can work together to track the metrics of success.

7. Focus on Process

  • Process leads to measurable results, a must when you sit at the executive leadership table. Just like sales reps must do when selling building products, having the marketing team focus on process over marketing tools ensures you produce results for your organization.

Sources and Additional Articles