Tag Archives: digital

3 Things Building Materials Marketers Should Take Away From Super Bowl Ads

5 Feb

So God Made a Farmer - Dodge

Besides the fact that Super Bowl is a trademarked NFL name

Like millions of people around the world, I watched Super Bowl 47 and was amazed at the resiliency of the 49ers, but also how regardless of the fact you can plan for every possible contingency, sometimes things go wrong and the lights go out.

As a lifelong football fan and career marketer, the Super Bowl represents the Holy Grail. No it’s not saving anyone’s life, but if you look back at the greatest campaigns or ads, the Super Bowl is where they were born. From the Macintosh 1984 ad, to the e-trade baby, to the Bud Light “Waasssup” guys, we always seem to remember one or two of the ads. But after the millions of dollars and the endless lists of top ads, do they really work?

As most people saw, there were some really well done mini-films like the Dodge ad with the Paul Harvey voice over, but there were also offensive ads like the Go Daddy kiss ad. So which was more effective? Time can only tell, but from a brand perspective, I’d bet Dodge faired better.

The 3 things I try to think about when watching the ads are:

1. Does this ad connect me to the brand?

  • Several of the ads connected with me. The Dodge farmer spot, the Clydesdale ‘remember’ spot and the Audi prom spot all made an emotional connection with me and their brand. Not because I grew up on a farm, or because I love my animals, nor because I got to take my brother’s brand new Corvette to senior prom. They connected with me by telling a story.

2. Does this ad make me want to buy their product?

  • Somebody asked me via Twitter about the call-to-action on a spot and my comment was, hardly any of these ads had a true call-to-action. They’re brand awareness building. But I will say as a GoDaddy customer after sitting on the couch with my 7-year-old daughter, I really don’t want to give Bob Parson any more money.

3. Would I share this message?

  • In today’s social world, this is a big one. Used to be that you had to watch the Super Bowl to see the ads. Now they’re ‘leaked’ early or they’re on YouTube. But as I watched the game on the TV screen and interacted with Twitter on my iPad screen, I realized the purpose is as much to inform, as it is to create evangelists; people that will talk about your brand, your product, and your message.

So how do we as building material marketers use this annual ritual of advertising and branding excess? We remember to tell our story, to connect to our audience, to not offend our customers, and most importantly we produce messages that our customers want to share. Learn more about understanding your customer.

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.

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 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.

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.

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:


  • 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/


  • 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


  • 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/

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.

Using Social Media Ads in Building Products Marketing

21 Aug

How targeted are your current marketing strategies?

Why social media ads might be something to add to your mix

Marketing budgets have been slashed over the last few years and for many of us, the days of spending money on advertising went with those budgets. So how can we reach potential customers without breaking the bank? I’ve found that social advertising is a good option, at least worth a test as part of your overall marketing strategy to determine if it provides the leads you need.

With social advertising, like Google AdWords, you set a bid amount and a budget and the network uses an algorithm to determine when your ads are shown. You also have the freedom to select the type of people you want to reach and customize your message to reach them. Both LinkedIn and Facebook provide a range of options for building product marketers looking to reach prospects.

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn ads give you access to 175 million people worldwide, including 40 million U.S.-based professionals. You can target a specific audience and with a controlled spend to ensure the investment is worth the return.

Target Audience Parameters

  • Location
  • Company>Industry: Including construction jobs, architecture and planning, building materials and more
  • Job Title: Including Operations and Purchasing
  • School
  • Skills
  • Groups: Including NAHB, NARI, AIA, Builder and others
  • Gender
  • Age

Another great thing about LinkedIn ads is that you can create up to 15 variable ads per campaign to test the response.

Facebook Ads

Although Facebook has over 900 million users, Facebook ads are great for targeting smaller, more specific groups of users with select campaigns. Much like LinkedIn, you can target a specific audience utilizing criteria that works for you.

Audience Options

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Precise Interests: Including building, remodeling, design
  • Broad categories/interests
  • Connection and friends of connections (determines who all can see the ad – great for targeting like-minded people)

Facebook gives you the option to pay per click or pay per impression which gives you flexibility to choose what works best for your campaign.

Ads such as these have been a hotly-debated subject in the marketing world, especially after GM’s very public decision to pull their $10 million Facebook ad budget due to a lack of results. On the other hand, video game giant EA announced a major shift in dollars towards Facebook on August 20. While you may be skeptical, remember that social network ads are targeted, precise, allow for specific lead tracking and can be set so you pay only when the ads actually work (someone clicks). You’re taking very little risk in trying out a variety of tactics on these networks to test engagement from your targets.

Saying your building product target customers don’t engage in these networks is too easy; people everywhere are engaging, so take a small risk and consider testing these tactics as part of your long-term prospecting strategy. Combine them with the plans you should already have in place for utilizing your company’s Facebook page and other digital initiatives to achieve the maximum ROI from these networks. For more information visit www.facebook.com/ads or www.linkedin.com/ads.

Mobile Apps versus Mobile Websites—Which is More Worthwhile in the Building Product Market?

5 Apr

Smartphone users want more out of their searches.

In a previous post I mentioned a few statistics of mobile shopping and the relentless reliance on our smartphones and devices.

As smartphone owners, we are increasingly using our devices as retail outlets. From researching products and reviews, to comparing prices, finding retail locations and redeeming coupons, we are constantly deferring to our phones for immediate inquiries.

How many times have your potential customers walked into a building products store and searched for an apron-donned assistant to answer a question about a specific product? I, for one, am guilty of that. Imagine having an app where your customers can simply scan a QR code into their smartphone and instantly appears your webpage with all the information about that particular product, where it comes from and how to order. A perfect opportunity to upsell and cross-sell, and all of sudden your customer is leaving with a cart full instead of a basket full of your products!

Your website provides vital information on products, warranties and special offers. Having that information accessible online and in-hand is crucial to the comparison shopper.

Mobile shopping has reached scale and is only going to grow as smartphone penetration continues to rise. Neilsen’s metering of 5,000 US volunteers participating in Nielsen’s mobile research shows that during the 2011 holiday season, the top retail apps and websites combined—Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, Target and Walmart—reached nearly 60 percent of smartphone owners.

Smartphone owners of both genders prefer mobile websites over mobile apps when it comes to retail, with men slightly more likely to try retailers’ mobile apps than women. Research has shown that consumers who use retailer mobile apps tend to spend more time on them. Home Depot’s mobile website, for example, is efficiently organized to guide the user directly to the specific product they are needing. Target’s mobile site will even tell you the aisle in the store where the product appears! That’s the kind of tool consumers love.

As building product marketers, you (hopefully) already have an information-packed website; do you really need an app to repeat what is already provided on your website? The answer is no. Mobilizing your website to make it easy for consumers to navigate is what you really need to get ahead of the curve.

“Retailers need to think of their business as a multi-channel environment that can potentially include mobile, online and brick and mortar stores,” says John Burbank, President of Strategic Initiatives at Nielsen. “Winning with shoppers requires a consistent experience across channels that reinforces the value you represent as a retail brand, whether it be price, service, selection, style or other key attributes.”

Our industry consists of dealers, retailers, manufacturers and lumberyards; nowhere does it say we have to have a mobile app to thrive within. What is important, however, is that we stay abreast of the mobile trends and adapt as necessary. As I stated in my previous post, we have to be aware that the world we’ve lived in has changed and we need to ensure our companies and brands are ready.

A Store In Your Pocket

Building Product Marketing Icons – Old vs. New

19 Oct

Steve Jobs, the king of digital, taught us that “Traditional Media” is not dead.

It seems everyday in the building product industry, we are being told traditional marketing methods are dead and digital only is the way. With continued sluggish sales and knowing the building product industry is going to stay compressed for the foreseeable future, we are all pressured to prove the return on every marketing dollar spent. As a result, traditional advertising has been analyzed more than ever.

Michael Learmonth, digital editor for AdAge, recently wrote an interesting article of how Steve Jobs embraced traditional advertising and branding strategies throughout the evolution of Apple.  Here is my summary of some points that I think are worth sharing and remembering for the building industry.

It’s hard to believe that an icon in the marketing industry with a brand that enticed us to move into the mobile and digital world was a traditional marketer at heart. At a time when marketers obsess over the virtues of targeting, “likes,” dashboards, platforms of all kinds for social-media-monitoring schemes, Mr. Jobs kept it simple: tell the story of how an amazing product can change your life in the best environment possible.

According to published reports, Apple’s media spend was estimated at $420 million in 2010, dominated by network TV, newspapers, magazines, circulars, and billboards. Less than 10% of total spend went to anything digital. A bit ironic that the one company that made us “go digital” didn’t only use digital for their branding initiatives.

“Even a great brand needs investment and caring if it is going to retain its relevance and vitality,” Mr. Jobs said to staff in 1997. He believed advertising was a core part of building a brand, selling products and creating an entire customer experience. He also saw the advertising as inextricable from the product. That’s because the product wasn’t an iMac, iPod or iPhone, it was the brand itself and how a well-designed product—any product—can make life better.

As marketers serving the building product industry trying to re-invent itself after the worse decline in decades, we are overwhelmed with all the different marketing/communication options available to us. But in the end, the brand stories we deliver are the most important part of the equation, not the latest technology or metric we are intrigued with.

Sources and Additional Articles