Tag Archives: B2B

5 Big Myths About Building Product Branding

16 May

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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.

10 Building Product Lumberyards You Should Follow on Twitter – Part 1

8 Apr

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Even the local lumberyard is on Twitter

While most of the ‘big companies’ are on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, etc. you may be surprised to find many of the local lumberyards are on Twitter; and quite active as well.

For many Twitter users, the hardest part is knowing who to follow – with over 500 million people on the platform, cutting through the clutter is a challenge, so I’ve created a list: the Top 10 Lumberyard Follows Worth Your Time, and here are the first 5:

1. Dunn Lumber – @DunnLumber

With over 8,000 followers and over 15,000 tweets, this Washington lumberyard is very active on Twitter with tips, product updates, promotions, and more. Most importantly they are very responsive on Twitter. They get it and use it.

2. Parr Lumber – @parrlumber

This Pacific Northwest family-run chain of yards is an industry leader in its marketing efforts. Parr has been active for many years on Twitter. They use it well to update their followers on products and relevant news.

3. National Lumber – @NationalLumber

With nearly 3,000 followers and over 1,500 tweets, this large NE group of yards have been very active in social media well beyond Twitter – utilizing Google+, Facebook and more. They use Twitter for customer events and updates on everything from products to training.

4. Turkstra Lumber – @TurkstraLumber

This Canadian lumberyard and manufacturer uses updates and hashtag (#) contests to engage and inform their customers.

5. J & W Lumber – @JWLumber

You can find weekly specials, product introductions and more at this Southern California lumberyard Twitter account. They have nearly 800 followers and have had several hundred updates over the past couple of years.

Be sure to check out Part 2 of the list for the rest of my 10 lumberyards you should follow on Twitter.

Find time for what matters in the building products industry

19 Mar

Why We Need to Focus on Purpose in Building Products Marketing

Focus on your business, your customers, and yourself

Too often we spend time figuring out how to be more efficient, effective, or impactful in what we do in our lives without determining if what we are doing really matters.

In the rush to check it off the list, or show the boss how great our PowerPoint looks, we don’t ask the really tough question – Does this really matter?

I’m not recommending we all move to Tibet and commune in silence for the next 6 months, but what I am advocating is that as a marketing leader in this industry you need to know how to prioritize what’s key to the business.

You have to answer these 3 questions about your brand/company –

  1. Who you are
  2. What you do
  3. Why it matters

Too often companies have lost sight of these 3 salient points. These 3 answers form the foundation of your brand experience, but more importantly they provide you with the answer to the questions – Is this important? Does it matter? Should I be spending time on this?

Because if what you’re doing doesn’t help support at least the answer to one of these 3 questions, you probably should move on. I’m not encouraging you to tell the board at the next quarterly meeting that you’re not doing something, but I am encouraging you to know why it matters, it at all.

It seems so simple, right? If it were there wouldn’t be thousands of business books written every year. Many of them with titles about Getting More Done, First Things First, What Should I Do With My Life, and many, many more.

A quick Google search of the term ‘What’s Important’ returned 1,130,000,000 results. Yes, there are over 1.1 billion results when Google is asked ‘What’s Important’. No wonder we all are tired or overwhelmed or confused or simply ready to move to that Tibetan monastery.

So stop solving every issue. Focus on those 3 fundamental questions and get the important things done (and hurry because you’re late on everything else).

Is your building product marketing ready for the R & R market?

15 Mar

Marketing business sales

How to support the R & R market

The professional contractor, especially in the R & R market, is the final person who can decide, or strongly influence, what products a homeowner uses. Many times the homeowner knows what they want done, but not how or with what product. This is a powerful position for the contractor and one that all manufacturers understand.

As a manufacturer, are you and your marketing efforts addressing this situation? Have you thought through what this all-important part of the sales process can utilize or leverage to fully enable the sales process?

Here are 3 reasons many companies have yet to figure this out.

  1. Sometimes it’s just a matter of budget. [harder to fix]
  2. Sometimes it’s not understanding who really sells your product. [Basics of your job and your team]
  3. And all too often, it’s the view that you can’t develop programs that ‘this guy’ will get or even utilize – they just don’t see the importance this guy has at the winning the kitchen table. [Your viewpoint has gotten askew of who matters]

But it isn’t simply a fancy new iPad app, it can be other support that makes the difference. It takes time to understand how your products are actually sold. Too often, the brand manager hasn’t taken the time to understand who is involved in the sales channel and how the sale occurs, especially to the homeowner.

At that moment, all the branding and marketing really don’t have any value beyond making the homeowner familiar. Most homeowners are buying the pro, not the product. People buy from people they know, like and trust.

While there are examples of brand awareness driving the consumer decision, those companies have spent years and thousands, maybe millions, of dollars to build that brand. Unless you’re one of those companies, and even they sometimes forget, you need to look at what you’re doing to support the channel, all the way to the kitchen table.

So what can you do right now? Here are 3 things you should be doing:

  1. Review technologies that you are proving down the channel.
  2. Develop a strategy to reach out to your channel partners to gain insight on what tools they want and need.
  3. Set up a plan to enable the sales process at the kitchen table to benefit your company’s products.

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.

Pinterest: 10 Building Product Companies You Should Follow, Part II

2 Nov

5 more brands to check out for examples of successful Pinterest pages

Earlier I shared 5 building product companies you should follow on Pinterest. Here are the final 5 companies that are a great example of running a successful Pinterest account.

6. Fiberon

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/fiberondecking/

  • As a manufacturer of composite decking, deck railing, and fencing products, Fiberon utilizes Pinterest to show DIY videos and infographics for maintaining a deck, preventing stains, and installing a deck.

7. Andersen Windows

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/andersenwindows/

  • Andersen has manufactured dependable windows and doors for more than 100 years. Pinterest displays the Andersen window product line by featuring them in a variety of different homes. In addition, a pinboard is dedicated to recycling doors and how to use the doors for decorations.

8. GAF

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/gafroofing/

  • A manufacturer of commercial and residential roofing, GAF utilizes Pinterest to showcase the different product lines. Other boards have been added to show unique roofs from around the world.

9. Trex

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/trexcompany/

  • Trex manufactures wood-alternative decking and railing products, and uses Pinterest as a tool for helping inform builders, contractors, and homeowners of product uses. Pinboards also display events like Earth Day with Trex’s recycling and sustainability videos.

10. Pella Windows

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/pellawindows/

  • Pella has been providing doors and windows for more than 85 years. Pinterest is an outlet for sharing tips for homeowners like saving energy, washing windows, and DIY projects.

Ready to make your company part of Pinterest? Get started today by visiting www.pinterest.com or learn how you can utilize Pinterest.

Pinterest: 10 Building Product Companies You Should Follow, Part I

31 Oct

These brands show what it takes to run a successful Pinterest page

Earlier this year we discussed how you can utilize Pinterest–with 4 million unique visitors daily– to help your company gain and educate customers. As a building products CMO, it’s beneficial to understand how this tool can work with your broader outreach strategy. If you’re interested in creating a Pinterest account for your company and need an example of how others in your industry are using it, check out these 5 building product company’s Pinterest accounts.

1. Owens Corning

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/owenscorning/ 

  • A manufacturer of insulation and roofing materials since 1938, Owens Corning utilizes Pinterest by using images and videos to showcase the products and how contractors and builders can use the materials. To support the brand’s sustainable products campaign, a Pinterest board is dedicated to energy saving technology that features videos and information about their energy impact.

2. TimberTech

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/timbertechdeck/

  • TimberTech manufactures low maintenance, safe, and durable decking and railing products. Pinterest is used as a way to display different deck builds for builders, contractors, and homeowners. A board is dedicated to cookout recipes that can be used with a homeowner’s deck to show a fun side to the company.

3. Masonite Doors

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/masonitedoors/

  • As a source for manufactured doors for more than 80 years, Masonite Doors showcases its company history with a pinboard that features notable company events. Pinboards are also used to inspire builders, remodelers and consumers with ideas how to use the products including ways to decorate front doors.

4. Deckorators

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/deckorators/

  • As a manufacturer of deck railings and accessories, Deckorators uses Pinterset as a tool to show homeowners what they can do to personalize their deck railings. In addition, Deckorators utilizes Pinterest as an outlet to display promotions like the company deck photo contest.

5. Marvin Windows

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/marvinwindows

  • Marvin Widows has manufactured made-to-order windows and doors since 1912 and established a reputation for energy efficiency. Pinterest is used as a way to explain their energy efficiency and product line from a pinboard with history of the company to ways to make homes more energy efficient and ways to use their products when remodeling or building a home.

Check back later for an even bigger list of building product companies to follow on Pinterest. To learn more, visit www.pinterest.com.

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.