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5 Big Myths About Building Product Branding

16 May


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.

3 Keys for Using Social Media to Generate Leads in the Building Industry

7 Jun


05015%20Medium%20FunnelUse Social Media to Fill the Sales Funnel

At last week’s Business Marketing Association International GROW! Conference in Chicago, I heard from Kipp Bodnar, an inbound marketing strategist at HubSpot, and Jeffrey Cohen, a social strategist for Radian6. Over the course of an hour, these two showed us the value of social media in lead generation and provided three tips on how to make social media work for you. Many companies use social media to engage and entertain prospects and customers, but Kipp and Jeff have written a book, The B2B Social Media Book: Become a Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and More to teach marketers what social media can do for their B2B businesses.

They asserted that 60% of the sales cycle is over when the potential buyer talks to your salesperson, so we must make our presence known during that first part of the sales cycle. People buy from people that they know, like and trust and social media can provide those feelings. So now that you’re hooked, here are the three keys to social media lead-gen success for building product marketers:

  1. Build a network of strong ties
    • Strong ties online mean you are interacting, driving affection and doing both over a period of time (not just once)
    • The half life of a social media link is only 3 hours, so post often and use the 10-4-1 rule. For every 15 posts:
      • 10: Share 10 links
      • Create 4 original posts
      • Utilize 1 link to a company landing page
    • Publishing and sharing content online is best way to generate leads
  2. Influence connections for content sharing
    • Use SlideShare or Scribd to make sharing information easy
    • Encourage your followers to share what they find valuable and reward them for doing so
  3. Master social conversion
    • Make sure you are encouraging your ties to take action. Whether it’s downloading a white paper or calling a sales person, don’t make them guess what they’re supposed to do next
    • Know where your customers share – don’t use a ShareThis plug-in with unlimited options – simply show the networks where your customers already live and make it easy for them

Get into the social conversation today – create connections, make it easy to share and ensure there is always a call to action for your prospects and customers and you will be on the road to generating more leads.

A New Social Media Outlet for Building Product Marketers

19 Jan

New service can help you to use virtual pin boards to showcase your building product brand. can be used to build brand recognition, share ideas, research competition and make connections. Voted one of the 50 best websites of 2011 by Time Magazine, Pinterest is a social media site, still in beta development, based on ideas and images. While currently a mostly female demographic, it is gaining popularity among a broader audience.

For the building industry, Pinterest can be a resource for putting products in front of consumers, while they are actively seeking inspiration. Pinterest says, “With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.” And HOME DECOR is one of the top categories for pinboards, people are using this site to find ideas and improvements for their homes.

How it works

Anyone can view pin boards that have been posted to the site. A pin board is a collection of images that can link to source sites. You can view an individual’s board or search to view related images.

To create a pin board for others to view you can either request an invite at OR leave a comment with your email address and we will invite you.

Also featured is a “pin it” button you can add to your bookmarks bar, which according to Pinterest, “ lets you grab an image from any website and add it to one of your pinboards. When you pin from a website, we automatically grab the source link so we can credit the original creator.”

3 rules for marketers using Pinterest

  1. DO use other’s pin boards to research the market.
  2. DO use your pin board to show off projects you are proud of and share ideas.
  3. DON’T post ads or offers. Anything viewed as self promotion will turn off users and violates Pinterest’s rules of etiquette.

Marketers who are smart about using Pinterest can find it a valuable tool for building brand recognition, sharing ideas, and making connections.


Additional Articles:

3 Ways Building Product Marketers Should Rethink “What Do You Do?”

13 Jan

Now Is The Perfect Time To Re-evaluate Your “Elevator Speech.”

Once upon a time, it was enough to hear a job title to get a sense of what someone did for a living. But with a workforce filled with more and more artificially inflated, lateral-promotion-enriched job descriptions, helping others understand what we—as companies and individuals—bring to the table is vital in generating new business and managing customer relationships.

Now I’m not suggesting that anyone “fluff” their title or cram collateral with lots of marketing speak. But being able to quickly and concisely explain “what you do” is an important element in crafting your brand story and setting yourself apart from your competition.

To get started, here are 3 key points to consider when responding to “So, what is it that you do?”:

1. Something Bigger
You may have heard the story of a pope touring the construction of a massive church. Each tradesman explained their particular craft—until the pope asked a man sweeping a floor what he did: “I am helping to build a cathedral.” Explain your own role in the context of something bigger. “We manufacture [product] that helps [audience] to [benefit].” It doesn’t have to be especially lofty or inspirational, but by better understanding the role you play, others can better appreciate the value of what you do—and may even want to be a part of it.

2. Something Tangible
Rather than talking about what you do, talk instead about what happens when you do it. What is the thing or result that the customer enjoys because of your contribution? “We help building product manufacturers get into retailers like Home Depot” sounds much more fulfilling and accessible than “We provide marketing for a large two-step distributor in the building products channel.” Presume the other person is completely ignorant of your line of work; let them chime in with industry terms first to show they have a deeper understanding.

3. Something Special
The easiest way to establish credibility is to throw a superlative or unique fact into the statement: “We’re an agency for the oldest trade tool brand in North America” or “We work with the three largest residential construction companies.” The challenge here is to be relevant without coming off as bragging; keep it about the clients or customers you serve rather than yourself.

Remember: the idea isn’t to dazzle or impress—that should happen on its own. The real purpose is to provide relevance and context so that understanding can happen. Because that understanding can mean connection, leading to the those magical words we all love to hear: “I know someone you should talk to…”

Additional Articles:

Home Green Home: Green Building Product Trends

1 Dec

3 new improvements in the perception of green building.

The way the green industry is being viewed and implemented has evolved. 3 changes in perceptions that are shaping the green movement are: a more personal aesthetic, more recognition in the real estate industry, and a broader reach into the community. Being familiar with these factors can help you develop your company’s green messaging strategy.

1. Green is looking more natural.

Being on the cutting edge of green technology, doesn’t mean you have to live in a home that resembles a sci-fi set. Today’s green homes look like homes.
Take for example a renovation in Albany, California recently featured on Dwell magazine online and toured by Assistant Editor, Diana Budds. She writes,

“While every design gesture was carefully thought out to maximize its green potential, the home is remarkably comfortable and livable and it doesn’t feel like a theoretical or conceptual exercise—everything just makes sense.”

Marketing these products goes beyond features and benefits to show how the functionality of your building product can make a difference to your customer.

2. Green is getting MLS recognition.

Green features are now being listed on some Multiple Listing Service (MLS) sites. And organizations are dedicating themselves to push forward the trend. Sites such as, provide resources for those interested in implementing a green initiative for their MLS. Their tool kit provides a recommended process to build a Green MLS, along with case studies and resources from MLS that have already gone green. CMOs should identify if these listings can be valuable to their business.

3. Green is for all.

As green projects continue to pop up in public domains, the benefits reach a wider market. In a recent online article from Metropolis magazine, Avinash Rajagopal covered the Top Ten Green projects of 2011 from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Rajagopal found a connection between new green builds and community focus in the designs.

He says, ”There is a clear message here: that sustainability is ultimately about people, and need not come at an exorbitant price tag.”

CMOs need to understand how green marketing fits into their overall strategy and what factors are changing the landscape.

Sources and Additional Articles

Turns Out Building-Product Sales Really Are A Laughing Matter

17 Nov

Using comedy to sell can be good for business.

And as experience has shown, good presentations can lead to good business. That’s why the manager of the New York Comedy Club consults with companies looking to improve their technique.

April Joyner, in a recent article written for Inc. magazine, Why Learning to Tell Jokes is Good for Business,  noted:

“If you’re a good comedian, you’re probably a good presenter.”

Since comedians strive to make emotional connections with their audience, to draw them in and establish a rapport, learning the fundamentals of performing standup can be valuable training for individuals and groups who lead presentations. That’s because those connections can be the start of long-term customer relationships.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when introducing humor into your building products meetings and presentations:

1. Plan Your Spontaneity

Stand-alone humorous statements can appear like random accidents, so work on building a routine. And unless you’re Robin Williams, improvisation should only happen after you’ve scripted out everything else. Write down and memorize your jokes, leveraging what comics call “roll structure”—one joke followed by another in a series of related topics. In time it will become natural and adaptable to different situations.

2. Embrace Nerves

As the article points out, “Things that make you nervous are generally things you care about.” So take advantage of the extra energy and focus it on reinforcing weak sections until you feel confident you have them nailed down. Hands shake? Don’t hold paper and instead keep your hands in motion. Fidget too much? Try taking a couple small steps to one side of the room or the other. Rechanneling nerves can provide you with a boost in enthusiasm and make you more interesting.

3. Movements Are Messages

In presentations and meetings, we too often focus on what we’re saying and pay little attention to how we’re saying it. Watch someone perform standup, and you’ll quickly notice that their delivery is a vital component of their routine—if Steven Wright paced and waved his arms, his dry sardonic humor would fall flat. From where they walk (or if they walk at all) to the scale of gestures and expressions, the non-verbal speaks volumes.

4. Practice Makes Performance

Dolly Parton is known for saying, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.” Similarly, it takes a lot of practice to make comedy seem natural. Only when we make an action habitual through repetition can we truly master it. Practicing and rehearsing your delivery is critical to making it a natural component of your presentation. Fact is, good comedy is rarely an accident

5. Get Personal

The best material you have is likely from your own life and experiences in the building products industry. Learning to relate stories and anecdotes makes your presentation more interesting but also make you more likeable. It adds depth and dimension to your content, piquing the curiosity of your audience and making them more engaged.

Even if you don’t have access to a professional comedy club, making use of friends, coworkers, and those “funny people” we all know to critique your jokes and offer suggestions is a great way to get started.


Additional Articles

5 Types of PR Agencies Building Product Execs Must Avoid

4 Nov

What to Avoid When Searching a Good Public Relations Firm.

When it comes to leading your company’s marketing efforts, there’s a lot to handle and when your inbox is filling up and your desk is covered in to-do lists, it’s easy to hand off your responsibilities to your staff or an agency. But when it comes to hiring the right PR agency, you need to be careful to not fall for promises that seem too good to be true.

Babak Zafarnia, president of Praecere Public Relations, recently wrote an article for PR Daily, on the types of PR agencies that should be avoided. Here are the 5 types of agencies she identifies along with my thoughts as they relate to the building product industry.

1.“You, my client, are ALWAYS right, and I ALWAYS agree with everything you say.”

A good PR agency should question your goals, how you’re reaching them and provide intelligent background that you can’t offer yourself. Much like a good pro dealer helping their builder build an efficient home, it’s the dealers job to question the specs and make recommendations.

2. “Of course I can get your op-ed in The New York Times.”

No one should be making promises like this. Receiving coverage is a challenge that takes persistence, relationships and talent.

3. “Our logistical paradigm is to incentivize positive optics for your verticals.”

Avoid agencies that speak a language you don’t understand. If you aren’t comfortable with what their saying, chances are media reps aren’t either.

4. “We no teh powr oaf grate PEE r.”

In an industry where first impressions make a big difference, you need to be able to trust that your agency is going to represent you as smart and detail-oriented, not sloppy and rushed. Be sure to spell check, provide a consistent boiler plate, and represent your company well with every news release. Don’t pick a PR company who misspells things!

5. “Good news—I told that reporter to go #^&* himself.”

This is an obvious one, but your PR agency needs to go beyond being polite – they need the media and public to like and respect them, so it reflects well on your company. They also need to be careful to never lose their temper or act out of personal anguish; you must be able to trust them to keep a level-head, no matter the situation.

Sources and Additional Articles