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Theodore Roosevelt & the Building Products Industry – Great Quotes Series

8 May

Image source:Wikipedia

What can one of the 4 Mount Rushmore presidents teach us about marketing?

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

We’re all guilty of it as building product industry marketers. I’ve heard it countless times myself. I’m talking about making excuses for why we can’t do something.

We have a small staff. We can’t get that information. We have a limited budget. Our budget got reduced by 20%. The head of sales won’t work with us. Those are the kinds of statements I thought of when I read this quote from President Theodore Roosevelt. And I don’t think he was saying to be complacent or accept the status quo; that was never an option for TR and it shouldn’t be one for you, the building product marketer. So what can we do, as marketers?

  • Don’t spend time on it if it’s not aligned with the business goals: quite often, an organization has a long-standing commitment to something that doesn’t make sense with the business today. It might be a tradeshow that used to be the industry event, a publication that you’re always advertised in or a customer event you’ve always supported. There should be no sacred cows in your marketing.
  • Make sure you’re collecting usable data: for too long, we had to frequently justify mass media as being solely a branding effort. After all, how could we tie it directly to results? Now, with the ability to create and track unique URLs, use tracking phone numbers and create QR codes, it’s possible to tie results back to every single piece of communication possible. Start doing that, and it becomes a lot easier to decide where your dollars should best be spent – no more sacred cows in the media plan either.
  • Automate It: technology has made it easier for us to automate so many things that used to require time from internal staff. Want to trigger reminder campaigns? Tie your sales data into your email marketing platform, set the business rules and let the system run. Tired of creating custom spreadsheets with pivot tables and other data visualizations? Look at marketing automation/analytics platforms, of which there are many.
  • Bring in strategic partners: we’re all being asked to do more with less, but we can’t all be experts at everything. Maybe you can’t afford a full-time website designer and developer, but hiring a website development firm to build a site with a content management system (CMS) that your staff can use to update the site might be just the ticket.

It’s easy to say something can’t be done, but it’s an incredible experience to overcome all those obstacles and achieve the goals in place for the business. I think that’s what TR had in mind, and the organization he was leading had more problems than we’ve ever had to consider, as marketers.

Monitoring Your Competitors in the Building Products Industry – Great Quotes Series

24 Apr

Henry Ford in 1919. Linked from Wikipedia Commons

“The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.”

– Henry Ford

This is the first in an ongoing series of posts using great quotes and applying them to the building products industry. We hope you enjoy the series!

As marketers, no doubt you’ve talked with the CEO or other leader of your organization and been told, “Competitor X is doing Action Y; why aren’t we doing that yet?”

In recent years, those conversations many times are related to technology like mobile websites/apps or social media. All too often, companies in all segments of business fall into the “me too” trap of simply copying what their competitors are doing, rather than examining their business and developing product or service solutions that truly move the customer forward.

Developing those solutions is the theme for blogs, conferences and books all over the world because it’s such a critical need for all organizations, but it’s incredibly hard to do at the same time because there are so many factors involved. However, I don’t think any single factor is more important in the building products industry than engaging the people out in the field (field reps, territory sales reps, territory managers, etc).

Why?

  • They’re with your customers every day.
  • They’re frequently younger and closer to the technology that drives so much innovation today.
  • Because they’re out in the field and younger, they’re less likely to be bogged down by organizational structure and history, which can both be barriers to innovation.

So what’s the best way to engage them? Here’s five ways to start:

  1. Take the focus off sales (momentarily). While those field people are many times salespeople, they need to understand what a difference they can make for the organization, beyond just hitting their quotas.
  2. Shut Up and Listen. Building off #1 – by understanding & engaging with a customer’s business, they can understand what a customer means, not just hear what they say – your field people need to embrace that.
  3. Get them together. How often do your field teams have the chance to get together and figure out how to move the customer forward? You’ve probably got sales meetings, but do those meetings include time to brainstorm and discuss ways to improve the overall business?
  4. Empower them. As the CMO, people in the field may not be direct reports for you, and it’s easy for great ideas to get lost in the chain of command. Empower those people to contact you directly or develop a system to bring ideas to the forefront, such as a forum/message board on your company Intranet.
  5. Reward them. It doesn’t have to just be cold hard cash, though that’s great too. People need to feel valued and appreciated, especially if their idea is the big one.

Further Reading: