Archive | Trade Shows RSS feed for this section

International Builders’ Show 2013: A Reminder to Get Real

21 Jan

International Builder's Show

Relationships Define the Building Products Industry

As we travel to see the latest and greatest things the building industry has to offer, I am reminded that what we are really seeing is the people. It’s a face-to-face interaction with someone in a booth, at an event, or in a room with the keynote speaker.

Don’t get me wrong, we will blog and tweet and post on Facebook, but what we really go to the Builders Show for is the real interaction that occurs. I will see people I only see once a year, but we will discuss how our families are, how business has been, what we think 2013 will bring for all of us and of course, talk about how time has flown by and how we have survived what many would say the worst time to be in this industry.

Since beginning my career in this industry over two decades ago, I have come to appreciate it and the people more and more. The genuine nature of most everyone was that way then and it is still there today.

We might have a lot of new technology and ways to help us do our jobs more efficiently, but in the end, its about that couple buying their first home, remodeling for their newborn, or now remodeling for our parents to live in their home more comfortably.

Either way, it’s about the home that we all share with our loved ones, our pets and of course, our stuff. But the stuff we have can never replace the people we know and work with. Whether we see each other every day or once a year, my best friends have almost all come out of this industry.

Maybe it’s my small town background or growing up on a farm, but the incredible men and women that work in this industry have always made me feel at home. From the job site to the showroom and the corporate offices that make up this industry, the people always have been and always will be real.

So whether your at IBS or not, remember to keep it real; your message, your products, your interactions with co-workers or clients, but most importantly yourself.

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.

Observations From The Remodeling Show/DeckExpo

17 Oct

Energy was up, attendees were excited and exhibitors were benefiting

Last week I spent several days in Baltimore attending the Remodeling Show and DeckExpo with one of our employees. Since 2009, Hanley Wood has co-located the Deck Expo with the Remodeling Show and this has proven successful for both parties. The shows represents all parts of the remodeling community and focuses on education. I’ve been to this show many times and and was impressed this year by the overall energy and buzz from the show. Here are my takeaways:

  • The DeckExpo is where it’s at: We spent significant time on both sides of the convention center and could always feels a boost of energy when we crossed over to the DeckExpo side. Not only were there great conversations during the show, but people had to be asked to leave after the show closed.
  • All the major players are there: Even though IBS is the big building-product industry show, all of the major industry players also attend this show. Remodelers and deck builders are there looking for companies that support their business, and if you aren’t there, they take note.
  • Interactive sponsorships get a big draw: In our social, on-demand world, you can start to wonder if people will check their watch and make it to a specific location on time for an on-floor demonstration, but the DeckExpo proved they will. Simpson Strong-Tie sponsored the Live Deck Collapse (click here for video) which always got a big draw and lots of pictures.
  • The basics still work: While we all spend time thinking, re-thinking and over-thinking our tradeshow strategy, the basics still prove to work. TimberTech put out free beer and pretzels at the end of the day – something deck contractors have a hard time turning down!
  • This is a great industry: I’ve been in this industry for over 20 years and attending tradeshows is always refreshing and energizing. We work with some great people that are dedicated to the industry and improving how people live. Plus, our industry knows how to have fun at the end of the day!

Although many of you are looking towards IBS in January, mark your calendar for October 15 – October 18, 2013 when the Remodeling Show and DeckExpo head to Chicago. You won’t want to miss it!

The Building Products Tablet Revolution

16 Oct

Masonite’s homepage, as seen on an Apple® iPad®

Are Your Dealers There Yet?

In the marketing world, we’re consistently early adopters of new technology, from social networks (anybody remember Gowalla, Brightkite or Whrrl?) to devices like tablets. By now, if you’re like many of us, you may have already gotten rid of your first or second tablet and upgraded. With normalcy like that, it’s easy to forget that in our industry, technology isn’t always adopted so quickly. This is especially true at lumber and building material dealers. To help, we’ve put together a quick list of ways dealers should be thinking about tablets as a marketing tool, written for them:

Websites

  • Is your website built to work correctly on tablet devices? Some websites require little or no change here, unlike mobile devices (smartphones). But if your website utilizes Adobe® Flash® technology, it’s time to budget for some website upgrades. Talk with whomever manages your website about updating anything created in Flash to work using JavaScript® or HTML5, both of which are as close to universally acceptable programming languages as you can get, and can duplicate a lot of what Flash offered.
  • Resource – a short guide to the differences between traditional desktops/laptops and tablets when designing: http://venturebeat.com/2012/05/12/how-to-design-web-sites-for-tablets/

Showroom

  • Looking for a relatively inexpensive way to incorporate displays into your showroom? Tablets can be a perfect way to showcase video of a specific product, offer a way to view your entire product offering, handle special orders, contest entries and more. And thanks to other companies using them in showrooms, as well as tradeshows, there’s a wide selection of applications to utilize, as well as lots of different mounts, podiums, frames and other ways to securely utilize your tablet in a showroom.
  • Resource – how a remodeling company uses tablets as a mobile showroom: http://www.daily5remodel.com/index.php?action=article&rowid=1018

Salespeople

  • If your organization has outside salespeople, tablets can be a huge time and money-saver. If you utilize one of the major CRMs, such as SalesForce®, Sugar CRM® or Microsoft® Dynamics®, there’s an app designed that your salespeople can use to manage the sales process while they’re traveling. If you’ve ever had issues getting salespeople to fill out activity reports, giving them the ability to do it via a tablet could be the answer.
  • Even if you’re not ready for CRM management via tablet, they can still prove useful for a salesperson in the field. Instead of lugging around order forms, brochures, catalogs and more, you could equip your salespeople with a tablet, loaded with all the product catalogs in PDF form, which can easily be reviewed with a customer/prospect and emailed right to that person if needed. Those catalogs could be supplemented with video or a photo gallery showing your company’s work in that product category. Once a quote is needed or a sale ready to submit, the entire thing could be done right there on the tablet. Orders can be submitted faster and you should be able to eliminate the need for someone back at the office to enter orders that were written down or submitted by fax.
  • You can even collect payments from customers via credit card, securely & instantly, using a tablet!
  • Resource – here’s how a Midwestern builder revamped their production process using tablets: http://www.prosalesmagazine.com/technology/ipad-invasion.aspx
  • Resource – here’s how an Arizona independent car dealer remade its sales process around tablets: http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/profiles/rcauto/

The possibilities of what can be done with a tablet continue to grow; remember, we’re only in the 3rd year of them reaching the critical mass stage! Beyond the flashy, “cool” factor of using one, there are true, tangible cost savings that can be realized by incorporating them into your business in places that make the most sense. Ready to get started but not sure how? Check out Apple’s guide to using tablets for business: http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/

Are you ready for the upcoming building products tradeshows?

28 Sep

How to prepare for the upcoming Remodeling Show and DeckExpo

As a building products CMO, you are well aware that tradeshows offer a huge opportunity to drive sales and gain leads. With the Remodeling Show and DeckExpo quickly approaching, it is important to ensure your business is ready to gain exposure and stand out among the other exhibitors. Make sure your tradeshow team is ready with pre-show, in-booth, and post-show tactics to support your marketing strategy.

Pre-Show Activities

  • Create a tradeshow campaign that drives traffic to your company’s booth to make the most of your investment. Make sure to include a payoff for visiting the booth when creating pre-show emails and direct mail promotions.
  • With current technology, it is possible to research press, prospects, and exhibitors attending the show and meet with them once the show starts. Social media is a great tool for engaging media and attendees before the show by simply using the tradeshow hashtag. In addition, social media can be a beneficial way to promote any in-booth promotions.

During the Show

  • Help your employees interact with booth attendees by providing talking points that keep everyone informed of relevant information. Building credible relationships with prospects can lead to sales and new leads. A register-to-win drawing is a great way to gather contact information to make it easy to follow up after the show.
  • At the show is the best time to connect with building product-specific media to discuss your business and products. Connect with media on social media and stay connected for opportunities in the future. Since it is more beneficial for your employees to concentrate on the booth visitors during the show, utilize a social posting tool like HootSuite or SocialOomph to plan company tweets and posts ahead of time.

 Post-Show Follow Up

  • After a tradeshow, it’s important to follow up with the leads and prospects you met in your booth. A post-show email campaign that highlights your value proposition and reminds prospects of key product points helps set you apart from your competitors and ensures your business is top-of-mind.

While the Remodeling Show and DeckExpo are quickly approaching, it’s important to keep these core tradeshow strategies in mind for future shows. Believe it or not, the International Builders Show will be here before we know it! It’s never too early to start preparing to ensure your optimal ROI.

The Top 10 Facebook Building Product Pages to Check Out, Part II

20 Sep

These building product companies show what it takes to run a successful Facebook page

Earlier this week I talked about the decision to create a company Facebook page and offered 5 companies to check out – here are the final 5 companies that are doing a great job managing their Facebook pages.

CertainTeed

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CertainTeed

As a manufacturer of exterior and interior building products, CertainTeed is a prime example of how to interact with your fans and customers. They showcase their customer’s content and feature what those customers are doing with their product to promote their brand.

BlueLinx

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bluelinx

As a distributor of building products, providing service and distribution options, BlueLinx is a solid example of what distributors and dealers who work with many brands can do to showcase their business and their manufacturers. Plus, they feature fun content to get their fans engaged with their brand on a personal level.

Clopay Garage Doors

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ClopayGarageDoors

As a manufacturer of residential garage doors, entry doors and commercial garage doors, Clopay does a standout job of showcasing their social media finesse into their Facebook Page. With links to Pinterest, Twitter and their blog, plus an app that allows users to “Try on a door” – they make it fun to interact with their brand.

Ply Gem

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PlyGem

Ply Gem is a manufacturer of exterior building products for the residential construction market and their Facebook page shows why they’re one of the leaders. With over 14,000 likes and over 500 people talking about their page, they get their fans engaged while showing off their product.

Allied Building Product Corporation

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AlliedBuildingProducts

Allied Building Product Corporation is a dealer of building products and millwork. Their Facebook page does a good job of showcasing events – Facebook can be a great tool for letting customers know what is happening with your brand.

Ready to make your brand more social? Check out https://www.facebook.com/business for more information and to get started today.

The Top 10 Facebook Building Product Pages to Check Out, Part I

18 Sep

These building product companies show what it takes to run a successful Facebook page

Many companies struggle with the decision to go social, or not. Especially in our industry, it’s hard to know whether the return is worth the investment. Are our customers and prospects on social media? And if so, are they engaging with brands they do business with? The way I see it, social is here to stay and it’s better to be on the cutting-edge than to be left behind. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, check out the first 5 in my list of 10 building product company’s Facebook pages to see what they’re doing to engage their audience.

84 Lumber

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/84lumber

84 Lumber Company is a privately held building materials and services supplier to professional contractors. Their Facebook page reflects why they’ve earned their status as a top dealer – in addition to company news, they feature interesting tips for the home to ensure their brand is always top-of-mind.

Azek Building Products

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/azekbuildingproducts

AZEK Building Products manufactures exterior building products and they use Facebook to make the most of the media coverage they receive by posting radio and magazine features – this ensures their PR efforts go the extra mile.

Royal Building Products

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RoyalBuildingProducts

Royal Building Products is a manufacturer of building materials in Canada and they do a great job showing their community involvement – from sponsorships to donations to Habitat for Humanity, they display the human side of their brand.

Firestone Building Products

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FirestoneBuildingProducts

As a source for roofing and Building Envelope systems for over 30 years, Firestone Building Products shows that featuring interesting projects can get the interaction you desire for your brand.

Wimsatt Building Materials

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wimsattdirect

Wimsatt Building Materials is a dealer of building products and millwork. As a regional dealer in Michigan, Wimsatt shows that it doesn’t take unlimited resources to have a great social presence. With regular updates, they keep their fans informed while also providing unobtrusive product info.

Check back later this week for 5 additional building product companies that manage their Facebook pages well. And if you’re curious about what it takes to create a company Facebook page, visit https://www.facebook.com/business.

Social Media Isn’t Going Anywhere for Building Products Marketers

5 Jun

Action at the BMA National GROW Conference

Learnings from the BMA International Conference

While a lot of arguments were made at last week’s Business Marketing Association International GROW! Conference in Chicago – one thing was clear and repeated often: social media is here to stay. It was something nearly every speaker hit on and the keynote speaker, Guy Kawasaki, proclaimed that all marketers should stake their future in social media. While many building product marketers are tweeting regularly, updating their company blogs and creating apps, some of us are lucky just to be regularly using email communication with some customers.

If you are having a hard time getting started or looking for some fresh inspiration, here are just a few of the things I heard about social media this week:

  1. Things you put on the Internet will be there forever, but that doesn’t mean they’re relevant for long. In fact, the half life of a social media link is just 3 hours.
  2. Use the 10-4-1 rule. When posting content, share 10 links from other sources, create 4 original posts and use 1 link to a company landing page to promote your building products company.
  3. Provide value with your social media. Provide information that your customers and others in the industry want to learn about
  4. Remove the speed bumps. Make it easy to share things – whether it’s retweeting a post, liking a blog post or sharing a promotion – make sure it’s seamless for your customers.
  5. Engage. This may seem obvious, but in this age of sharing many companies simply bombard their customers with company information. Now, more that ever, it’s important to engage in meaningful conversations. Like many things, you get out what you put in.
  6. Be consistent. Like I said earlier, the half life of a social media link is 3 hours, so if you’re not posting with frequency, you’ll be left behind. Customers might not seek you out, but they’ll notice you if you consistently provide valuable information.
  7. Have a purpose. Your social media efforts should support your general marketing efforts. Don’t just share cute pictures and funny sayings, make it count.
  8. Keep it personal. People want to connect with other people, not companies.

Keep an eye out for more posts from the BMA International Conference.

IBS Buzz – Social Media in the Building Product Industry

21 Feb

Social Media Can Provide Builders Results

We all know the story, in fact many of us have seen the movie, Facebook is the biggest social media site with over 800 million users.  However, why is this important to the building product industry and more specifically how does this impact homebuilders?

Last week during IBS several homebuilders shared their successes during a morning educational session.  Claire Easley, Senior Editor at Builder, recapped many of the topics, which included Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging.

Here are some of the ideas shared by builders during the session.

Facebook

  • Make it Public:  At Southern Homes the sales reps are encouraged to “friend” prospects to aid in the prospecting process.
  • Incentives:  Provide buyer incentive by hosting giveaways on the builder’s Facebook page.
  • Philanthropy:  Use this social media tool to promote charity on behalf of the builder.

Twitter

  • Dialogue with potential buyers:  Many homebuilders use Twitter to “chat” with potential buyers.

Blogs

  • Heartland Homes in Pittsburgh, PA, partners with suppliers to provide homebuyers details on manufacturer features and benefits.

YouTube

  • While not identified in the session, YouTube can be used to provide potential buyers tours of their dream home.  YoutTube is the 2nd largest search engine, behind Google.

Lets face it, social media is established, it isn’t going anywhere soon.  Therefore, the building product industry along with homebuilders are embracing it as a valuable communication tool with their prospects.

Sources:

References: