10 Apps Building Product Marketers Should Utilize, Part 2

4 Feb

Stay connected with your marketing channel with these apps

Earlier I provided 5 apps you should utilize as a building product marketer, here are an additional 5 apps that are great for making the most of your time.

6. Houzz

  • Houzz is a platform that connects architects, designers, builders, and contractors with homeowners around the world. The app allows you to access the same features as the online version by searching a database of more than 900,000 high resolution photos. Your company can search, save, and share images along with participate in online conversations.

7. Housing Zone

  • Housing Zone enables you to stay up to date with building products news, blogs, and articles. It provides information about the residential construction industry to better understand the people in your communication channel like builders, remodelers, architects, and contractors.

8. SproutSocial

  • Publish, schedule, and monitor the activity on your personal and company Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts from one app. It allows you to manage teams by assigning tasks and provides reporting and analytics.

9. Google Analytics App

  • Google Analytics app has the same features as the online version, but you’re able to access reports easily from your phone or tablet to show effectiveness of a building product campaign on the spot. It also allows multiple logins and provides a date range feature to show results of a campaign between certain dates like the online version.

10. Imo.im

  • Allowing you to stay in touch with your marketing team and others in the company is important when traveling. Imo.im provides you an outlet to use your phone as a walkie talkie by creating voice messaging. It also integrates various social communication into one device by supporting communication like Facebook Chat, GoogleTalk, Skype, MSN, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, and Jabber.

Utilize these apps to stay in touch with the latest trends in the marketing channel, manage your social media accounts, provide results from a building products campaign, and stay in touch with your marketing team no matter where you are. If you didn’t catch the first 5 apps you should utilize as a building products marketer, check them out here.

10 Apps Building Product Marketers Should Utilize, Part 1

31 Jan

Streamline the communication within your company with these apps

With thousands of apps available for mobile devices and tablets, it’s hard to know what apps are the best. As a building products marketer, it’s important to understand what apps will strengthen your communication within your company. Check out these apps to simplify your day-to-day business efforts.

1. Evernote Business

  • Take notes and organize lists by capturing data like research, presentations, and documents. The data is stored on your phone, tablet, computer, etc. and can be accessed from anywhere. This tool also allows you to connect and share data like notes and documents with your marketing team members via the Business Library.

2. InTooch

  • InTooch tracks new connections by a simple call and saves the information to your phone. Track everything from common interests to when and where you first met the contact. Later you can search the data by relatable criteria. It’s a great tool for making an impression at a networking event, tradeshow, or meeting.

3. Dropbox

  • This app allows you to drop all your documents, presentations, notes, and photos in one place and share them when you need to. You’ll never have to email yourself a presentation or document again with this app. It provides you simple access from any of your devices.

4. CloudOn

  • When you’re traveling and need to view or edit a presentation at the last minute, this app allows you to do just that from your phone or tablet. The app supports Microsoft Office and links Dropbox and Google Drive so you can view or edit any file. It provides access to Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.

5. Vignature

  • Vignature app eliminates the paper process when it comes to signing and returning a document. Simply sign the document, snap a photo with your phone, and send via your phone or computer. It saves time, money, and provides a legal and verifiable signature.

Try these apps when you’re on the go and need to share notes or documents, edit a presentation, access a past presentation or report, or fax signed paperwork. Check out Part 2 for an additional 5 apps you should utilize as a building products marketer.

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.

5 Builders Using Pinterest in the Building Products Industry

15 Jan

These builders know that homeowners are searching on Pinterest

 A few weeks ago we profiled 10 building product companies that were utilizing Pinterest. Now we want to focus on that final step in the channel – the homebuilder. As a building products CMO, it’s critical to understand how this tool is being utilized by all of your channel partners. If you’re interested in creating a Pinterest account for your company and need an example of how builders are utilizing Pinterest, check out these 5 home builder’s Pinterest accounts.

1. Beazer Homes

  • Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/beazerhomes/
  • As one of the largest builders in America, Beazer utilizes most communication channels. They approach this visual medium by creating boards that are focused on the stage or life situation the homeowner has in their home; from empty nest to growing by 2 Feet (baby), Beazer does an excellent job of showcasing visually how they deliver for a homeowner.

2. Lennar Homes

  • Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/lennarhomes/
  • Another large national builder with many boards on their Pinterest page. Lennar creates boards on the markets they serve as well as company information/history. Lennar utilizes many social channels, but typically have accounts by market, except here on Pinterest, where you can search all the markets on one site.

3. Highland Homes

  • Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/highlandhomes/
  • A builder out of Lakeland, Florida, Highland utilizes Pinterest by using images to showcase the floor plans of their homes as well as boards dedicated to key rooms in the homes like kitchens or master bedrooms. Majority of the pictures come from their homes or the markets they serve.

4. Toll Brothers

  • Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/tollbrothers/
  • As the current homebuilder of the year from Professional Builder Magazine, Toll Brothers is yet another national builder with a presence on Pinterest. Toll Brothers has created a number of boards based on seasonal applications around the home as well as the organizing their homes by their geographical region. As with most builders, they also have a green board.

5. Brookfield Homes

  • Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/brookfieldsd/
  • Brookfield Homes is a San Diego based builder that utilizes Pinterest as more as a consumer. Many of their boards are titled something ‘we love’. Could be landscaping or lighting or color schemes. Different approach than the others we’ve listed, but very well organized.

There are many other builders, both national and local with Pinterest pages. I’ve just highlighted some different approaches to this highly visual social channel. If you have yet created your business then visit this page to get started: http://business.pinterest.com

6 Trends in 2013 for Building Product Marketers, Part 4

20 Dec

Navigate the channel with these 2013 trends

Empower Your Marketing Department

Throughout the week I’ve discussed 6 Trends to look for in 2013 (read trends 1 and 2, trends 3 and 4, trend 5 here) and I’m here to discuss trend 6 – empowering your marketing department in the new year. Investing time and money into employee training allows your marketing team to take the knowledge and apply it to their work and your business.

Trend 6 – Empower Your Marketing Department

Marketing budgets in the past have been focused on understanding the target audience rather than each individual in the segment. In 2013, it is predicted more time will be spent on understanding each customer in order to provide a personalized message like mentioned in Part 2. It’s important for you and your staff as building product marketers to take advantage of the new technologies available from analytics to social media to utilizing new trends like mobile marketing. Consider the following marketing roles to incorporate into your marketing strategy in 2013:

  • Educate the buyer in every step of the buying process – Create messaging for each step in the sales funnel and develop a strategy to reach prospects and customers.
  • Create a social strategy – Utilizing a social strategy that connects your customers and you’re your brand message to help build your social audience.
  • Invest time and money for training and knowledge – Allow your employees the opportunity to learn about the latest technology via webinars, podcasts, networking events, and conferences.

Recap: 2013 Trends

With the new year approaching, it’s important to make marketing resolutions that will make an impact in 2013. I will review the 6 trends you should consider:

  • Trend 1 – Use actionable data
  • Trend 2 – Listen to your customer
  • Trend 3 – Personalize your message
  • Trend 4 – Create a mobile-friendly experience
  • Trend 5 – Join the social conversation
  • Trend 6 – Empower your marketing department

While not all six trends may be possible for your company to implement at this time, try to incorporate each tactic, over the next year. If you have a larger marketing department, consider splitting roles between different positions. Buyer preferences have been changing and that will be evident in 2013. It is time to update your marketing strategy to fit with the social channel as discussed in Part 3, rise in mobile devices and tablets, and your customer as an individual.

6 Trends in 2013 for Building Product Marketers, Part 3

19 Dec

Join the Social Conversation

In Part 1 and Part 2 of the series, I’ve discussed 4 trends that you will see in 2013 and what you should utilize to strengthen your business today. Marketing and design departments need to work as a team to provide prospects and customers a better buying experience with a personalized message. With departments working as a cohesive whole, goals and maximum ROI can be achieved in the approaching year.

Trend 5 – Join the Social Conversation

At this point, social media should play a significant role in your building product company’s marketing strategy. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Houzz create unique interaction and engagement between your company and consumers.

Search – The decision-making process starts by researching products reviews, information, pricing, etc. via search engines. Use SEO-friendly keywords on your social media posts to strengthen your company’s SEO rank. Search engines factor everything from your social page names to the content posted on your social sites to your content that’s retweeted.

Websites – Customers value peer recommendations over a corporate message when making a purchasing decision. Allow customers to rate your products and highlight this on your website and share with their social sites. This provides your visitors a voice from real customers.

Email – Social media and email should be incorporated while using a more relatable voice. Make sure content released has a human voice that customers can relate to. Try incorporating the use of social and peer content by linking your product reviews to the email.

Content – Sharing content is important and a tactic your company can utilize. Consider including social sharing links in emails, product guides and other marketing collateral.

Data – The social login is becoming popular when registering on a website because it allows customers to easily connect with their social media account, eliminating long registration forms. You can use this social data by utilizing birthdays and having sales representatives reach out to their customers to create a personalized experience.

Social media provides new opportunities in 2013, and it’s important to utilize the tools that are provided like personalized Facebook advertisements and new sites that could benefit the building products industry like Houzz. Check back to learn about empowering your employees in the marketing department. Investing time and money connects employees plus educates your employees on new tactics and technology to utilize in your business.

6 Trends in 2013 for Building Product Marketers, Part 2

18 Dec

Tools for providing a better customer experience

Personalize Your Message and Create A Mobile-Friendly Experience

Earlier this week, I discussed 2 of the 6 trends to look for in 2013 by SilverPop, and I’m here to discuss 2 more trends to consider in the new year. With technology changing, it’s important for the building products industry to jump on board before being left behind.

Trend 3 – Personalize Your Message

With mobile devices and smart phones readily available, consumers are utilizing social networks, forums, and online reviews to make buying decisions.

  • Before a customer reaches out to your company: The customer has researched your company and product online.
  • When a customer reaches out to your company for the first time: The customer is already more than half way through the purchasing process.

Since customers are making purchasing decisions before ever reaching out to your company, it’s important to make your content more personalized. Utilizing data and information on where your customer or prospect stands in the buying process can help your company create messaging and dialogue. As a building products marketer, take advantage of the prospects or customers status in the buying process to create messaging for communication like emails that focus on their stage:

  • Prospect – Provide your product details and offer an incentive to transform the prospect into a customer.
  • Recently Made a Purchase – Send accessory recommendations or How-To videos for utilizing the product.
  • Post-Purchase – Update the customer with product information, updates, and new models plus invite them to follow you on your company’s social networks.

Trend 4 – Create a Mobile-Friendly Experience

Consumers can access information about your company easily on their phones. It is estimated in the United States there are approximately 120 million people who own smartphones. By 2016, smartphone ownership is projected to increase to approximately 200 million users, and by 2015, tablet ownership is projected to increase to 133 million.

With more and more people using mobile devices each year, it’s crucial to align your company and brand with these devices. Involve your interactive and design teams in the marketing process. Utilize these tactics to optimize your company communication for mobile devices:

  • Easily Scan Emails and Website – Make your content easily scannable by highlighting main points and adding a call-to-action on the first screen.
  • Utilize Tap Instead of Click – Provide a user-friendly experience by increasing font size, adding spaces between links, and adding buttons for tapping.
  • Provide Call-To-Action Buttons – Add a call-to-action button to simplify tapping for more information and make sure it is prominent on the page so it’s easily spotted when scanning.
  • Simplify Your Conversions – Track one conversion as opposed to three or four conversions. Try tracking the number of people who click on the call-to-action button for more information.

Investing time to create a positive customer experience will change your business in the long run. Check out my next blog post, to learn how social media is now affecting every channel of communication and how marketing departments must change to better deliver increased buyer results. If you missed Part 1, don’t forget to review how you can use actionable data and better listen to your customer to increase your customer’s experience in 2013.

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.

2013 Building Products Resolution: Hold Productive Meetings

13 Dec

Efficient meetings in 2013

Make better meetings a resolution for 2013

I recently read an article about hosting better meetings and it got me thinking about the building products industry. Our industry is full of ambitious, talented people, but that doesn’t mean we always host productive meetings. For 2013, make it your mission to have better, more productive meetings. Here’s a few tips on how to do that:

Everyone should have all of the information ahead of time

  • Don’t use meetings as a place to drop loads of information on your employees. Everyone should have all of the information up front, so the meetings can be productive and action items can be determined.

Meetings exist to make a decision

  • Meetings are not a time to deliberate and discuss, they are a time to come in and make a decision. If you’ve followed the rule above, then everyone should know all information when they walk into a meeting and a decision can be made on the task at hand.

Brainstorming vs. meetings

  • If you really do need to get a group of great minds together to deliberate on an idea, make sure you treat your brainstorming sessions different than your meetings. While meetings exist to make a decision, brainstorming sessions exist to come up with great ideas. Foster great ideas, a feeling of collaboration and inspire creativity by mixing it up. Try having fun props to play with, light music in the background or do something different with the space or lighting to show people that brainstorming is different than meetings.

Start on time

  • And set a time limit. Meetings that take longer than they should not only waste time, but they get people distracted and push them farther off the tasks at hand. Show people that you respect their time by honoring the time limit you’ve set.

Only include the people who need to be there

  • Deciding who should be in a meeting can prove to be harder than it looks, but a good rule of thumb is to only include the people that need to be there.

Turn off all technology

  • Nothing kills a meeting more than someone checking their phone or tablet for email. Make sure everyone understands the importance of focusing on the task at hand to make the most efficient use of time for all parties involved.

Meetings can be productive and efficient if done correctly. Start 2013 off on the right foot by keeping these things in mind. For more information on how to have better meetings, check out Seth Godin’s blog post: Getting serious about your meeting problem.

The New Building Products Lumberyard

11 Dec

The new lumberyard

Marketers need to understand how lumberyards have changed and adjust to new needs

The past few years have been more than brutal for everyone up and down the building materials channel. We’ve all seen businesses close, friends out of work and everyone wondering when does this end?

For those fortunate to have survived it has required some changes. As a B2B marketer you’ve seen the skills needed change at a pace never seen in our careers. Tools that weren’t in existence 10 years ago are now key to our jobs.

So what about the local lumberyard? That staple of every town for the past 150 years has had to reinvent themselves. Gone is the typical “yard” that sells bunks and bunks of lumber only. Or the total house order. While those still occur, the progressive LBM dealers are evolving to add new product categories and have completely blown up the “showroom” concept.

Pick up a copy of ProSales magazine and half the stories are about an LBM dealer that is doing something unheard of 5 years ago. Recently the cover story was about Ganahl Lumber; they purchased an auto dealership in Pasadena, CA. Right there on the route of the Rose Bowl parade is a lumberyard. But not an old lumberyard. A true homeowner showroom with kitchen cabinets, flooring, and many other homeowner focused products.

  • Are you taking advantage of this dramatic change to the LBM?
  • Have you thought about your displays to ensure they will work in today’s LBM showroom?
  • What about retail packaging? Many LBMs are adding traditional retail racks with product sets just like a home center or local hardware store.

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the awesome folks at Gilcrest/Jewitt in Des Moines at one of their larger locations. This wasn’t an LBM – it was a full fledged home center. Not only do they have a full kitchen design center but many other products including an impressive Windsor Windows and Doors display. They have worked directly with Windsor to make their LBM showroom a destination and showcase the products for everyone involved in home construction.

G-J is a sixth generation lumberyard in the middle of Iowa. They’ve been through devastating fires and floods and are now at the forefront of a modern LBM with multiple locations across Iowa.

If you’re still thinking lumberyards are simply a pro lumberyard you’re missing a huge opportunity to drive your product positioning and merchandising with a key part of the channel. If you’ve not been in a modern LBM get out of the office and visit one now. You’ll be a better marketer for it.