Tag Archives: marketing

5 Big Myths About Building Product Branding

16 May

PAF193000060

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.