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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.

What “The Ultimate Question 2.0” Means for Building Product Marketers

2 Jul

Image linked from – click to buy this book on

What a Net Promoter Score is and how it could be useful for you

I had the opportunity to attend the 2012 International Business Marketing Association Conference in Chicago early this month. One keynote speaker was Fred Reichheld with Bain & Company and the author of “ The Ultimate Question 2.0.”

The book title refers to a question of ultimate importance: ‘On a zero-to-ten scale, how likely is it that you would recommend us (or this product/service/brand) to a family member, friend or colleague?’

As Reichheld explains, the phrasing of that question is ‘a shorthand wording of a more basic question, which is, “Have we treated you right, in a manner that is worthy of your loyalty?” But the question really wasn’t [and isn’t] the heart of things. After all, no company can expect to increase its growth or profitability merely by conducting surveys, however the question or questions might be phrased.

He provides a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective management system that has three central components:

  1. Categorizing customers into one of three categories (i.e. Promoters, Passives, and Detractors) through a simply survey
  2. Create an easy-to-understand score based on that categorization
  3. Frame that for everyone in the organization so people can be accountable for change because measurement creates accountability.

With regard to the scores themselves, Promoters are those who provide a rating of 9 or 10, Passives 7 or 8, and Detractors 6 or less. An example, let’s say 100 customers respond: 35 Promoters, 45 Passives, and 20 Detractors. The net score is determined by subtracting the total number of Detractors (i.e. 20) from the total number of Promoters (i.e. 35) and that is 15. That is a baseline against which subsequent efforts to increase Promoters and decrease Detractors are measured. Reichheld calls it the Net Promoter Score (NPS).

In my opinion, with all due respect to the importance of the NPS metrics, the implications of the measurements are of far greater importance. Think of the measurements as a mirror, one that reflects multiple realities. Only by understanding those realities – and how to respond to each effectively – can appropriate change initiatives be initiated to achieve and then sustain a never-ending process of improvement. Flexible it may be, but without the following elements, NPS just won’t work. They are:

  1. Companies must systematically categorize Promoters and Detractors in a continuous, timely, and accurate manner. I think it is also important to note when Promoters become Passives and when Detractors become Passives. Most important might be to UNDERSTAND WHY.
  2. Companies must create closed-loop learning and improvement processes and build them into their daily operations. In other words, NPS is not, and must never be viewed as, a customer relations improvement initiative or even a program. It must become and then remain an “organic” system.
  3. CEOs and other leaders must treat creating more Promoters and fewer Detractors as mission critical. I’d say “mission imperative”. As Peter Drucker once observed, ‘Without customers, there is no business.’

The NPS approach is a business philosophy, a system of operational practices, and a leadership commitment, not just another way to measure customer satisfaction: that is the critical difference. The first half of the book explains the system; the second half shares stories of how different companies have embraced the idea. Check it out, it is definitely worth the read.

Phone Call Tracking for Building Product Marketers

14 Jun

Do you know how many phone calls your marketing is really driving?

In previous posts, I’ve talked about basic email analytics, as well as more advanced ones and, surely, your team is measuring the performance of your website and digital marketing efforts through Google Analytics, Omniture or another analytics solution. But there’s another area of measurement that is still ignored by a lot of marketers – the phone.

If you’re a larger company, you may have an inbound call center, either your own or through a 3rd party. They can take care of your customers and also provide you some great data. However, they can’t always tell you what campaigns drove those calls to help you better measure the return on your marketing efforts. Depending on what kind of product/service you sell, and the demographics of your customers, you might get a ton of phone calls, but it’s impossible for you to tell if it was the print ad you ran or the direct mail campaign you executed that actually drove the call.

Enter phone call tracking. There are a ton of options to choose from – just look at the long list of options for Google Analytics users. I don’t care which one you use, but it’s time you started. I’ve used Marchex Call Analytics and am happy with that solution, but they’re not the only game in town.

Through a web-based interface, you can purchase the numbers you need and forward them to your existing number(s) so there doesn’t need to be any extra work for whomever answers the phone. If you want to get more complex, some systems will let you identify what number is being called by “whispering” to your customer service person prior to them being connected to the caller.

For example, if you had a print ad offer of 20% off installation of your product, and someone called that number, your customer service person could know that offer triggered the call, and utilize a custom script for that offer.

Some systems will even let you record calls, which can help in analyzing customer service performance. Implementation is fast and easy, and most systems will provide data via their own web interface and also push data into your analytics solution, making it easier to incorporate into your existing reporting.

In terms of cost, each number you have generally costs around $10/month, and then you pay a per-minute rate for calls to those numbers. While that does add additional cost, you’ll now be able to measure the response your marketing drove, whether through the web or by phone. The power in that data can be tremendous, and is more than worth the incremental tracking cost. If you’re not tracking phone calls like this, it’s time to start.

The Shift in Technology Spending for Building Product Marketers

4 May

Dollars are being spent by the CMO, instead of the CIO – why?

Every day we are faced with more technology in marketing. Websites, text messaging, mobile apps, phone tracking, analytics dashboards, database marketing and the list goes on.  It seems everything we do as building material marketers involves some technology.

So who spends all this money on technology? It used to be the CIO spent money on workstations and mainframes and big IT networks.  But the technology we use and how we use it has changed.

In a study earlier this year, Gartner predicts that, by 2017, the CMO will be spending more on IT than the CIO.  Why do they predict this?

  • Technology is at the heart of marketing – and adoption is well underway
  • Marketing is already a major buyer & influencer of technology
  • Marketing is becoming more strategic & expanding its responsibilities
  • Marketing controls the budget for a third to a half of marketing software

So how does this compare to your organization? Are you (the marketer) working to align with your IT department?

Information Week recently did an article with a CIO survey and Fifteen New Rules for IT to Live by—one of those is to make the CMO the CIO’s new best friend.

IT leaders have a ways to go to win over their marketing peers: 27% say their relationship with the marketing team is poor or neutral, compared with 22% who say that about their relationship with the finance team, and 15% who say that about operations/manufacturing.

Data-driven marketing and social networking analytics are places where marketing and IT groups should have a natural bond, as well as in mobile apps and websites.

Bottom line—regardless of where you’re at in consumption of technology, as a building material marketer your role in the recommendation and purchase of your company’s technology will certainly increase. How prepared are you for the changing role?

Gartner study

Are 20% of Building Product Customers Getting Left Behind?

1 May

Image Source: Monrovia Weekly

A recent Pew Study shows 1 in 5 adults don’t use the Internet.

20% of U.S. adults think the Internet isn’t relevant for them, the majority of whom are retirees.

For anyone with an aging parent, it probably isn’t all that surprising. Those raised to search through phone books to find businesses, who eagerly await printed catalogs to arrive in the mail, who keep their mobile phone turned off until they leave the house, who watch The Weather Channel to get their forecast—in short, the “Boomers” and older who represent nearly 40 million Americans—they have been much slower to adopt the Internet…or to “see the point” in it.

It would easy to dismiss this, noting that many of them are retired and don’t work in the building industry, except for one problem: this audience is a massive portion of the end-step of the building supply channel.

Boomers are the core of the aging-in-place population, a group with billions in purchasing power and growing need for products and services that will ease them through their senior years.

And what we’re hearing is: they don’t use the Internet.

What does this mean for us as building product marketers? Simply put, it means we need to make sure we talk to our audiences—all of them—where they really are and not where we think they should be, or where we’d like them to be, or where it would be convenient for them to be.

Fact is, in the current environment, it’s our inboxes and not our mailboxes that are jammed full of junk, much of which we barely skim over to determine if it’s worth reading at all. As a result, some of the “old school” tactics that have fallen out of favor in the digital age are perfectly positioned to reach the “old school” audience.

So as it turns out, those print ads, direct mail, printed catalogs, prominent Yellow Pages listings, door hangers, and all the other tactics that have been shunned as too old-fashioned to reach the tablet-enabled are exactly the way to reach the non-Internet crowd.

That’s not to say that email campaigns and banner ads and SEO aren’t important ways to deliver your message and reach your audiences. But more than ever, we need to remember that an audience exists who isn’t reached through the Internet that now dominates much of our lives.

When speaking to those who choose to live comfortably off-the-grid, the tried-and-true tactics are still the way to get noticed and make a connection.

Deeper Email Analytics for Building Product Marketers

13 Mar

Better Email Intelligence…Beyond Open & Click-Through Rates

In an earlier post, I covered some of the basics of email marketing benchmarking, and now I’d like to share some other ways you can better measure & optimize your email marketing. With this information, you’ll be better equipped to evaluate both the messaging and creative strategy in your building products email marketing programs.


Most email marketing platforms offer building product marketers the same basic analytics data−open rate, click-through rate (CTR), unsubscribe rate and deliverability rate –and have for years.

Beyond that, most platforms also include a Forward to a Friend function, which is frequently implemented but rarely used by recipients. Why? Because it’s far quicker and easier to just use the Forward function in your email program.

However, one company has found a way to provide much, much deeper email analytics data. Litmus offers two different toolsets for marketers.

Their original tool allows building product marketers to test how your email messages (and webpages) will render in all the most common email programs, from all the different versions of Outlook to the most common mobile devices to Gmail in Internet Explorer vs. Gmail in Firefox. Testing like that can help a lot, as each program can display your identical HTML a little differently.

Litmus’s newest tool is for Email Analytics. By implementing their analytics tool in your emails via a snippet of code, you’ll have access to information like:

  • How many times your email was forwarded, using the Forward function (not the Forward to a Friend functionality)
  • How many times your email was printed
  • Engagement Report, which breaks down open rate into Read, Skim Read and Glanced/Deleted metrics, based on how long the recipient viewed the message.
    • Marketers can also see this report broken down by the type of device the reader was on in great detail.
    • Email Client report, which gives you excellent technical information to help decide what changes/enhancements can be made to your email coding, based on what readers use to read the emails.

With data like this, you will, as a building product marketer, be much better equipped to test the look & feel and content of your email marketing, knowing you’ll be able to more clearly measure the results. You’ll be able to more accurately measure the engagement of your readers with your content, and you’ll be able to provide designers/programmers with more definitive information to drive the creative of your messages.

All this is available for extremely reasonable annual costs. I’d highly recommend Litmus to anyone searching for deeper email marketing analytics. Check them out at

Note: I was not asked to post this by Litmus or compensated in any way. I like their product and haven’t seen a competitor with the depth of data available that they provide, which is why I wanted to share it with you.


Additional Articles:

Boosting Building Product Sales Performance

10 Jan

Improve sales by efficiency though instant web conferencing.

It is a difficult time for every salesperson, but there may not be a tougher industry for sales than the building product industry. It is a perfect storm: an economic downturn and tighter constraints in the banking industry have slowed new home starts to a crawl, placing more pressure on sales than ever to produce sales.

One possible enhancement for sales teams is instant web conferencing. This tool is a cost effective option to build relationships without the cost of being there.

Sales Challenges During an Economic Downturn

According to CSO Insights, a bad economy plus the following 3 conditions equals low sales:

  1. Buying decisions require multiple approvals
  2. Decision cycles are longer
  3. Businesses tend to work with known and trusted vendors

When considering these reasons, trying to make deals by phone (and let’s face it, voicemail) can make this tedious process even more sluggish for any building product sales team.

Reaching out and Touching More Prospects

Building product sales teams can fill funnels with more prospects to make up for the longer sales cycle, but using traditional communications could make this increase unfeasible due to  decreased travel and entertainment budgets matched with the loss of face-to-face interaction can detour the relationship building process. Web conferencing can be the perfect tool to overcome these challenges According to Citrix Online, “Instant web conferencing allows salespeople to quickly show anything on their screen to prospects located anywhere.” While it isn’t a replacement for face-to-face, it is a more engaging and personal option that simple phone calls or one way emails.

Benefits of Instant Web Conferencing for Building Product Sales Teams according to Citrix:

  • Transforms a prospecting call into a live demo
  • Decreases travel and extends sales territory and reach
  • Speeds the prospect qualification process
  • Improves the value of the sales effort
  • Provides a resource to up-sell and/or cross-sell
  • Improves engagement through technology
  • Creates a face-to-face meeting without travel and expense
  • Boosts productivity and decreases cost
  • Improves communication
  • Allows flexibility to prospective customer to involve additional members of their team
  • Assists in contract negotiations
  • Enables a group sales presentation

For building product sales, web conferencing provides a unique resource to include multiple touch points in a project into a meeting from multiple locations. The sales rep can include the General Contractor, Architect and Sub-Contractors in a time efficient meeting.


Additional Articles

Debt and Other Economic Factors Affecting the Building Product Industry

23 Dec

Keeping an eye on the recovery of the economy is important for building product CMOs to consider as they make long-term strategic marketing plans.

As you know, building products and the housing market have easily been the segment most effected by the economic problems of the past couple of years. Recently released statistics and news from across the industry show a promising yet realistic view of the slow recovery.

Consumer Debt Decreasing

Consumer debt is decreasing, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s article, Consumer Debt Falls in Third Quarter, “ household debt in the July to September period fell by .6% from the previous quarter to $11.66 trillion.” This is especially relevant for the building products industry as the main decrease was in mortgage balances, according to the article. Excluding mortgage balances, household debt actually increased by 1.3%. This means that households are decreasing their home-related debts and spending more as their finances stabilize. Home buyers enhanced caution to ensure they don’t go further in depth on their homes is an important factor to consider in your marketing plans. Making sure that your consumer-facing sales team is aware of this price and debt sensitivity can help them to understand the customers and how best to sell to them without pushing them further into debt.

New Mortgage Debt Decreasing

Also according to Consumer Debt Falls in Third Quarter, new mortgage debt is “…at it’s lowest level since [the year] 2000″ which is due to:

  • Depressed home values – Lower home values means consumers mortgage value is also lower
  • Tighter lending standards – As set by the major financial institutions
  • High unemployment and stagnant wages –  These reduce the level of home buyers

Home Equity Increasing

When looking at the history of home ownership and mortgages, it’s important to note that as the recent recession progressed, the average homeowner owned less and less of their house due to higher mortgages. As you can see from this chart, used in a speech by William C. Dudley, President and CEO of The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, equity levels have been starting to work their way back up from a low of below 40%.

As shown here, "the average homeowner still is substantially more leveraged than before the crisis and has lower net worth".


Additional Articles

Content Marketing and Database Marketing for Building Product Marketers

2 Dec

Steps to Prepare Your Building Product Organization for Content and Database Marketing.

Content and database marketing are two marketing tools recommended by Forrester Research, Inc. after they did an extensive study earlier this year. I’ve highlighted some of the key points from this article below.

Content Marketing

Content Marketing refers to creating more content than that used in your typical company and product brochures that go to all customers. B2B customers prefer to receive messages that apply to their needs. Therefore, creating custom content with messaging that applies to a specific customer segment increases the opportunity to convert the sale. Building product customers are no longer open to global messaging that is not specific to their needs.

To prepare for content-centric marketing messages CMO’s need to ensure the following:

  • Content must educate as well as sell: In many cases building product marketing must educate the buyer regarding features and benefits, as this is an important step in the process. The buyer must understand the features and benefits so they can communicate this to another audience, which makes the purchasing decision.
  • Content must fit the purchasing journey: As customers navigate the purchasing process, educational content must be engaging throughout the process. Many building product items are large ticket purchases; therefore, the buying life-cycle may be longer than other products. Content must continue to engage the customer throughout the process.
  • Customers want expert opinions: In many cases buyers want information that is deeper than marketing can create. Therefore, subject matter experts should be consulted to provide technical features and benefits for the customer.

Database Marketing

Part of the automation process is database marketing, which is a continuous process of maintaining marketing data. Sales force automation (SFA) can have full-time employees that manage the process, but database marketing is an after thought in many organizations.

To prepare for database marketing CMO’s need to:

  • Identify the relevant data mix: Building product marketers have data from multiple sources, but in most cases the data is fragmented and out of date. Each data source should be segmented based on importance, then audited to identify needs.

Once internal resources have exhausted their ability to update, an external resource may be required to fill additional data gaps.

  • Fill technical and business skills gaps: Marketers, public relations experts, web-based data analysts and operational experts all have a unique skill set, CMO’s must evaluate gaps in the process to close the loop.
  • Identify platform needs: Global marketers have a much different platform need compared to a regional building product marketer. Evaluating the marketing database needs of each is important.

Sources and Additional Articles

Lead Generation Important for Building Product CMOs

29 Nov

More than ever, marketers must track and cultivate leads to increase sales.

Recently BtoB Magazine wrote an article entitled, “Lead Generation Demands Grow,” that discussed the recent increase in tracking leads, measuring responses and utilizing analytics. This is my take on how this new demand has changed marketing’s role.
While marketing’s role has always been to create interest and provide leads for the sales department, today’s economy paired with new technology and tracking mechanisms, make it more important than ever to be able to show where leads come from. Building product CMOs must utilize their shrinking resources to ensure they can generate leads.

Strong Content Drives Engagement

  • Building product marketers should create their own content to encourage prospect engagement through education and entertainment.
  • CMOs must ensure any content published is high quality and provides tangible benefits to their customers throughout the channel – bad content will reflect poorly on the company.
  • Use good content to create and track leads and make sure none of them fall out of the pipeline – every lead is important.
  • Not only will good content make you valuable to your prospects, but they are more likely to share it with others.

Automate Your Existing Processes

  • Automation can help track and cultivate leads. Utilize tracking capabilities, lead scoring models and social sharing options to monitor your leads.
  • Building product companies can often capture leads by creating online forms, utilizing promotions where prospects must provide their information for a chance to win or through social media.

Utilize New Technology to Generate Leads

  • Think beyond the traditional means of communicating with your customers. Look at implementing a social media strategy that includes capturing and working leads.
  • While many building product companies are just starting to explore social media, it can be a great fit for reaching your targets. Explore what your competitors are doing and determine how social media can work with your overall strategy.

Give Prospects and Customers What they Want

  • Ensure your processes have a personal touch. You know your customers – make sure you talk to them in their language and customize content where possible.
  • Focus on inbound channels, rather than cold calling activity. Give your time and attention to warmer leads and those prospects who have shown interest in your product.

Foster Leads into Customers

  • Building product CMOs know better than anyone that sales and marketing must work together hand in hand. Marketing creates leads, but it’s up to their sales department to cultivate these leads and turn prospects into customers.



Additional Articles