Tag Archives: innovation

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.

Creativity in the Building Products Industry

22 Mar

Practice Creativity to Get the Best Results

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“To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.”

Creativity is a funny thing. People often label themselves as creative, or more likely they say, “Oh, I’m not the creative type.” If you’re in the former category, its time to rethink your creative position.

Especially in the building products industry, creativity is more than designing a great product, putting together a fabulous sales presentation or making your meetings exciting.

Creativity sparks innovation. Have you heard of the artist Henri Matisse? Old age and illness made using his hands more difficult and he became bedridden, but he didn’t let it be a hindrance. In fact, he made a breakthrough in his final years with a new form of art. He found that he could still hold and use scissors, so he cut out colored paper to form beautiful work. He made creativity a choice. He opened his mind to being creative and reached outside of his comfort zone. Are you doing the same thing? Here are some tips to add creativity to your life:

  1. Stretch yourself. Be like Matisse and don’t accept limitations. Set a goal that makes you make choices that you haven’t had to make before. This could be as simple as going for a walk over lunch, meeting in a new spot or rearranging the furniture in your office.
  2. Choose to connect with life and other people. Start a creative network of people that you can share ideas with and provide support to each other. This could be a professional organization in your area, a handful of like-minded people in the office or a new group waiting to be formed.
  3. Change. Think about the rules in your life… Do they need to change? Change can be scary, but it can also be powerful. The building products industry has been doing a lot of things because ‘it’s the way its been done’ but our industry is changing and now is the time to make changes to thrive in the future.

Bottom line – choose to be the best you. Take the best ideas around you and improve on them and don’t hold back for the risk of failing.

For more information, check out Sam Harrison of Zing Zone, a creative author and speaker.

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 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.

Where does Innovation come from for Building Product Industry Marketers?

15 May

Linked from InnovationPOV.com

How can you drive creative thinking, which leads to innovation, in your organization?

As building product marketers, most of us are hard-core product marketers that have seen flashes of innovation over the years either in products, service offerings or unique marketing programs. But, how do you translate innovation and innovative thinking into everything?

First off, creative thinking drives innovation, but at this point, it’s important to define creativity. According to Dictionary.com, it’s “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.” According to a study by Adobe, a vast majority of people around the world know creativity is crucial to economic expansion, the development of society, and their personal growth. Yet, only 1 in 4 actually feel they are living up to their creative potential. What’s the cause of this “creativity gap”? Let’s explore the key findings.

  1. Creativity is important: 80% of the people surveyed believe creativity is key to economic growth and 64% believe it is valuable to society. And 75% feel that being creative enables them to make a difference in their own lives, while another two-third believe it helps them make a difference in the lives of others. In a world in which innovation drives the economy and in which more people than ever have the opportunity to be creative, this is not surprising. And it’s good news. But here’s the rub.
  2. Creativity is not happening as often as it could or should: While 80% of respondents felt we all have the potential to be creative, they also stated that they spend only a third of their time being creative and only 25% felt they were living up to their creative potential. So what are the inhibitors to creativity?
  3. Organizational behavior is one key constraint: 2 institutions, schools and businesses, both have a tendency to inhibit creativity. Almost 60% felt creativity was stifled in our educational systems. And while a slight majority of people felt companies were demanding more creativity, 75% felt pressure to be productive was limiting creative potential in the workplace.
  4. Daily pressures and habits are the other limiting factor – by this I mean a lack of time and money. 1 contributing factor to lack of “creative” time is the increase in the amount of time we spend online. So what can be done?
  5. Provide the time, training, tools, and environment to enable creativity: these were the items the study found as most helpful towards increasing creativity. For those of us in leadership roles at business, if we truly demand creativity, we must empower our people to be creative by ensuring they have the means and permission to actually do so.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we, as individuals, must not use the limits of organizations as an excuse to not be creative. It is up to each of us to get inspired, make the time, equip ourselves with the means and provide an environment to allow our creativity to flourish. It’s crucial to our own well being and the well being of the building materials industry in the next decade. Creativity that leads to innovation will be what creates the new norm for our industry and maybe help us all stop talking about the “old days” before the recession.

Further Reading

Monitoring Your Competitors in the Building Products Industry – Great Quotes Series

24 Apr

Henry Ford in 1919. Linked from Wikipedia Commons

“The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.”

– Henry Ford

This is the first in an ongoing series of posts using great quotes and applying them to the building products industry. We hope you enjoy the series!

As marketers, no doubt you’ve talked with the CEO or other leader of your organization and been told, “Competitor X is doing Action Y; why aren’t we doing that yet?”

In recent years, those conversations many times are related to technology like mobile websites/apps or social media. All too often, companies in all segments of business fall into the “me too” trap of simply copying what their competitors are doing, rather than examining their business and developing product or service solutions that truly move the customer forward.

Developing those solutions is the theme for blogs, conferences and books all over the world because it’s such a critical need for all organizations, but it’s incredibly hard to do at the same time because there are so many factors involved. However, I don’t think any single factor is more important in the building products industry than engaging the people out in the field (field reps, territory sales reps, territory managers, etc).

Why?

  • They’re with your customers every day.
  • They’re frequently younger and closer to the technology that drives so much innovation today.
  • Because they’re out in the field and younger, they’re less likely to be bogged down by organizational structure and history, which can both be barriers to innovation.

So what’s the best way to engage them? Here’s five ways to start:

  1. Take the focus off sales (momentarily). While those field people are many times salespeople, they need to understand what a difference they can make for the organization, beyond just hitting their quotas.
  2. Shut Up and Listen. Building off #1 – by understanding & engaging with a customer’s business, they can understand what a customer means, not just hear what they say – your field people need to embrace that.
  3. Get them together. How often do your field teams have the chance to get together and figure out how to move the customer forward? You’ve probably got sales meetings, but do those meetings include time to brainstorm and discuss ways to improve the overall business?
  4. Empower them. As the CMO, people in the field may not be direct reports for you, and it’s easy for great ideas to get lost in the chain of command. Empower those people to contact you directly or develop a system to bring ideas to the forefront, such as a forum/message board on your company Intranet.
  5. Reward them. It doesn’t have to just be cold hard cash, though that’s great too. People need to feel valued and appreciated, especially if their idea is the big one.

Further Reading:

Blog Recommendations for Building Product Marketers

24 Jan

Innovation Blogs Help Building Product CMOs Innovate.

As a marketer and someone that likes to follow innovation and new tech gadgets, I’m always on the lookout for the next big thing – or for those in the know. I came across this article, Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2011 and I had to share. Innovation exists all around us and although the building product industry has seen better days, companies are still innovating and making their products better, faster, stronger and especially now – more efficient.

Here are a few of my favorite innovation blogs from the full list and why I think you should follow them:

  1. Brainzooming, Mike Brown: Mike is a personal friend, full of information on how you can start ‘brainzooming,’ his term for the starting point for implementing strategic change in your business.
  2. The Heart of Innovation, Mitch Ditkoff: Mitch focuses on innovation and improving your business and your self. He speaks to our intuition and our crazy ideas and encourages us to think outside of the box. In today’s market – blogs like this inspire us to innovate when the odds are stacked against us.
  3. Innovator Mindset, Dennis Stauffer: Dennis focuses on the more practical side of innovation. Sometimes its hard to get out of an ‘operations’ mindset and rethink the possible, but Dennis provides real advice with blog posts like: “Creating an Innovation Mindset – It’s All About the Assumptions”. As the CMO you need to think innovative to deliver creative solutions that work for your team and your company.
  4. Innovanomics, Deborah Mills-Scofield: Deborah takes a real look at innovation with posts like, “Is Innovation Now Status Quo?” Her blog posts provide insight on the future of innovation.

As we move in our daily lives, innovation helps us push forward– improving and evolving. As the CMO of a building products company, innovation never dies; even when budgets are slashed and departments cut back, the expectation for the new and exciting remains. Luckily, we live in a world where inspiration is not only out our front door, but is also at our fingertips.

So next time you are stuck in a rut, browse one of these blogs and get the creative juices flowing! Or check out the nifty Unstuck app for Ipad, which offers “personalized digital tools and community to help you get from stuck to unstuck.”

Sources:

Additional Articles: