Tag Archives: Renae Gonner

6 Trends in 2013 for Building Product Marketers, Part 4

20 Dec

Navigate the channel with these 2013 trends

Empower Your Marketing Department

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

Trend 6 – Empower Your Marketing Department

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

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

Recap: 2013 Trends

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

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

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

6 Trends in 2013 for Building Product Marketers, Part 2

18 Dec

Tools for providing a better customer experience

Personalize Your Message and Create A Mobile-Friendly Experience

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

Trend 3 – Personalize Your Message

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

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

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

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

Trend 4 – Create a Mobile-Friendly Experience

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

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

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

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

6 Trends in 2013 for Building Product Marketers, Part I

17 Dec

2013 Marketing Trends - Data

Use Actionable Data and Listen To Your Customer

With 2013 approaching, it’s time to create marketing resolutions for the new year that make an impact. According to SilverPop, an email and digital marketing services company, at the start of the year businesses set out with goals to make their business more social, gain more leads, lower marketing costs, etc. In 2013, it’s important for building product marketers to understand what their prospects and customers want. This will shape the marketing strategy over the next five years with changing technology and new trends. In this post I will review the first 2 of 6 trends you should consider that include:

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

Trend 1 – Use Actionable Data

Big data is part of the past for businesses. Collecting data has become simple for even a small business to obtain from reporting sites that include:

Companies are able to view who is visiting their website, their social media pages, and who is engaging in emails by simply setting up their accounts on these sites and letting them automatically populate. It’s important to take time each month and analyze the data to provide insights to shape your marketing strategy. Consider what the data tells you about your customers like:

  • Purchasing habits
  • Social media interactions
  • Behavior when visiting your company website
  • Web behavior

Trend 2 – Listen to Your Customer

Messaging and content are evolving because your customer wants an enhanced buyer experience. With the rise in smart phone and tablet ownership, consumers can access information any time and anywhere they want. One consistent message for a group of consumers will no longer work because your customers are not all alike. Multiple data should be pulled before targeting a customer including:

  • Implicit data – your customers’ and prospects’ behavior (utilize tools listed above)
  • Explicit data – your customers’ and prospect’ preferences (web forums and surveys)

As a building products marketer, you understand each prospect and customer is different throughout the sales funnel. Provide your sales representatives the opportunity to assess their customers’ buying processes by tracking their journey with a scoring system. Moving forward, this helps your company and sales representatives:

  • Nurture leads
  • Understand your customers’ and prospects’ purchasing habits
  • Speak to your customers and prospects as individuals

What is your company doing to help prospects become customers or helping customers become more engaged? With new technology and tools available, understanding your customers and prospects is more important than ever. This will shape how your company does business in the future. Stay tuned to learn about the rest of the 6 marketing trends to take advantage of in 2013.

2013 Building Products Resolution: Hold Productive Meetings

13 Dec

Efficient meetings in 2013

Make better meetings a resolution for 2013

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

Everyone should have all of the information ahead of time

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

Meetings exist to make a decision

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

Brainstorming vs. meetings

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

Start on time

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

Only include the people who need to be there

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

Turn off all technology

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

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

Facebook Offers New Features for Building Product Marketers

4 Dec

Building product marketers: Measure Facebook ads

Facebook Now Offers Targeted Ads, ROI Tracking Tool, and CPM Bidding Tool

Last year Elton discussed why social media ads might be something to add to your mix. With high print advertising rates and smaller marketing budgets, it’s important for building product marketers to consider the new tools Facebook has to offer. It’s worth a look at these options to see if they fit into your marketing strategy. Recently Facebook added three new features including:

  • Targeted ads
  • A ROI tracking tool
  • An optimized CPM bidding tool

New – Facebook Targeted Ads

  • Targeted ads allow advertisers to target customers by uploading their emails, phone numbers, or Facebook user IDs. Building product companies can target their advertisements to the list of customers they have along with target prospects. This allows marketers to connect with contacts and build stronger customer relationships. Building product marketers are able to target segments with a personalized message based on whether they are a customer or prospect. In addition, this provides companies a new way to gain Facebook fans from current customers and gain leads from prospects.

New – ROI Tracking Tool

  • The tracking tool allows companies to track conversions to their external pages and measure results like sales, leads, and downloads. Marketers are able to see how ads perform after clicking on the ad and being driven to the company’s landing page. With the new tracking, marketers can monitor segments that positively respond to certain messaging to gauge future ad messaging. Building product marketers can track the results by adding the code on the post-click landing page like a thank-you page.

New – CPM Bidding Tool

  • Facebook allows marketers to manage their campaigns with CPM, cost per thousand impressions, bidding tool by setting an advertising goal. By entering whether your company wants more Facebook page likes, sales, leads, etc., Facebook will adjust the CPM ads to target those who are more likely to achieve this goal. If the goal were to gain more leads, Facebook would show the ad to your target audience of prospects rather than the audience that is likely to like your company page.

With the new features Facebook offers, it is simple to measure the campaign return on investment in one platform. By not taking advantage of the latest ad technology, you could be missing the chance to build a stronger relationship with customers or gain new prospects. As Elton mentioned in a post earlier this year about utilizing social media ads in the building products industry, it is a small risk to invest in Facebook ads since people everywhere are engaging with social media.

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.

Buyer Personas in the Building Products Industry

19 Oct

Buyer personas give your marketing direction and ensure your message is accurate

Whether or not you know it, you’re likely using buyer personas everyday – it’s just a matter of how accurate they are. Buyer personas are representations of customers that are used to better understand why they purchase what they do. As building product marketers, we all say things like “Contractors will like this product because it’s easier/cheaper/faster”, but what is it that really influences them to buy? Establishing the specifics allows you to craft a message that resonates with these buyers and beats out the competition.

So how do you establish an accurate buyer persona?

  • First off, you can just make it up. As building industry marketers it’s important to go deeper than a list of bullet points that describes our key buyers. We need to really spend time with these people and complete an in-depth analysis of their buying trends. According to Adele Revella, the founder and president of the Buyer Persona Institute, the Five Rings of Insight are the “most overlooked and essential aspect, simplifying decisions for persuasive messaging, content, launches, campaigns and sales enablement.”

Here are the “Five Rings of Insight” that will allow you to define your buyer persona:

  1. Determine the Priority Initiatives: Define the three-to-five problems or initiatives where this buyer persona is dedicating time, budget and political capital
  2. List Out Success Factors: Figure out the tangible or intangible rewards that your buyer persona wants to achieve as a result of buying your solution
  3. Recognize Perceived Barriers: List the reasons your buyer persona believes your solution won’t be the best way to achieve the Success Factors
  4. Chart Out the Buying Process: Include the resources and steps that your buyer persona relies upon to assess available options and make a final decision
  5. Figure Out the Decision Criteria: List the aspects of the product, service, solution or company that this buyer persona evaluates during the purchasing process

Accurately defining your Buyer Persona’s takes time, energy and effort, but once established can pay dividends in assuring your messaging is correct and sets you apart from your competitors.

We’ve used buyer personas for years. We actually have cardboard cut-outs of our “guys” – dealers, contractors, big box sales reps, deck builders, etc. When we have a meeting these guys often join us as a reminder of who we’re talking to. If they’re not in the room with you – it’s time you invite them!

For more information about buyer personas and the Buyer Persona Institute, click here.

Building Product Manufacturers & BIM

11 Oct

Kolbe Millwork’s New Collection of BIM files on Autodesk Seek

Are you prepared for the shift in technology to BIM?

For decades, blueprints have been the way houses are built. An architect or builder creates them. The future homeowner reviews and has changes. New blueprints are created again. Then, the trades all have their turn at reviewing, offering up suggestions and identifying conflicts as best as possible. As a manufacturer, you hope your products are specified by someone along the way, provided you have your products available in the right file format(s). By the time all the stakeholders have had their say, the blueprint can be, at worst, a confusing, conflicting mess and, at best, a huge time expense for the architect or builder.

Imagine this alternate scenario: an architect or builder creates the new home using 3D architectural software and outputs a single, simplified file. That file is sent to each of the trades and to the dealer for materials estimates. Using compatible software, each stakeholder identifies conflicts and offers their input in their area of expertise. All that input is utilized by the software and the architect or builder to get to a final, conflict-free design that is presented to the homeowner. Rather than having to imagine what their home will look like from 2D blueprints, the homeowner can virtually walk through the entire thing, offering their input and seeing their various options. The result: a single, simplified design file and a home built more efficiently, with less conflicts, less waste and on-the-job changes, and a happier homeowner.

That scenario may seem far off, but it’s not. It’s the way commercial buildings have been built for over a decade, and it’s finally starting to become reality for residential construction as well. It’s called Building Information Modeling (BIM), and here’s what you should be thinking about, as a manufacturer:

  • Make sure your products are BIM-ready: This means having your products available in Autodesk® format files. As the dominant platform for BIM, Autodesk’s file format (DWG) is the one everyone has to conform to. Autodesk has also built a web resource called Autodesk Seek (http://seek.autodesk.com/) that serves as a BIM product library for architects, engineers and builders. The majority of products are commercial-focused currently, but manufacturers like Marvin Windows have their products in place.
  • Make sure your customer service department is ready: You’ve got experienced customer service people on staff, but are they prepared to answer questions from architects about file formats and utilizing your products in BIM software?
  • Actively marketing to architects? Besides the obvious, manufacturers can gain a lot of credibility with architects by offering continuing education units (CEUs). All architects need to get these to maintain certification, and it’s a great way for manufacturers to get in front of them. Presentations can be online or in person, but must be completely brand-neutral. Therma-Tru is a great example of a manufacturer that’s done this for years.

As great as all of this sounds, there’s still a lot of adoption that needs to be done prior to BIM being commonplace. It won’t surprise you to know that many builders, architects and other stakeholders aren’t ready to spend the time and money learning a very different way to design homes. However, the benefits from adopting BIM as part of the process are too great to ignore, and the market will shift, though slower than some would like. When that shift finally happens, do you want to be the manufacturer playing catch-up, or the one that is trained and ready to take full advantage?

For more information on BIM, check out these resources:

5 Steps: Work with HR to Create More Engaged Building Product Employees

2 Oct

Working with HR can create more productive and engaged employees

As a building products CMO, you’ve no doubt crossed paths with HR, but how closely do you work with them on messaging to your employees? HR continues to evolve into a more strategic role as they focus on talent attraction, engagement and retention and they can be your greatest advocate and help create a stronger company built on a foundation of productive and engaged employees. How do you achieve this? The first step is to pair your strengths at brand messaging with HR’s perspective and expertise on your workforce. Here are 5 steps for working with HR to create a stronger workforce:

1. Gauge employee engagement

  • The first step in creating more engaged employees is to see where they stand now. Begin with research to get a pulse on your workforce. Send out an online survey to see where your employees stand and how they feel about your building products organization. Even this step shows your employees that your organization cares about them and is working to make improvements.

2. Create an employer brand

  • Use what you learn from the employee engagement survey to create a brand that your employees can connect to, while also furthering leadership’s vision for the future. A brand workshop using the data you receive and a few select executives is a great way to establish the right brand for your organization.

3. Work with HR to align employees with company goals

  • Create a plan to bring the brand to life. Host employee meetings, send out emails, hang break room posters, send a direct mail piece to your employees homes – whatever it takes to let them know that you are listening and value them.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate

  • Once the brand has been developed and communicated, develop a strategic communication plan to build employee engagement. This should include ongoing communication like newsletters, videos, emails and other consistent touchpoints.

5. Test your progress

  • In order to see if your efforts are paying off, send out an employee engagement survey each year. While a lot of factors play into employee satisfaction, a consistent communication campaign can make a big difference over time.

Committing to a plan to strengthen your workforce ultimately strengthens your company. Engaged employees are more productive, more efficient and more likely to bring fresh, new ideas to your organization. They are more likely to over-deliver and your customers are more likely to come back again. So, what are you waiting for?

Are you ready for the upcoming building products tradeshows?

28 Sep

How to prepare for the upcoming Remodeling Show and DeckExpo

As a building products CMO, you are well aware that tradeshows offer a huge opportunity to drive sales and gain leads. With the Remodeling Show and DeckExpo quickly approaching, it is important to ensure your business is ready to gain exposure and stand out among the other exhibitors. Make sure your tradeshow team is ready with pre-show, in-booth, and post-show tactics to support your marketing strategy.

Pre-Show Activities

  • Create a tradeshow campaign that drives traffic to your company’s booth to make the most of your investment. Make sure to include a payoff for visiting the booth when creating pre-show emails and direct mail promotions.
  • With current technology, it is possible to research press, prospects, and exhibitors attending the show and meet with them once the show starts. Social media is a great tool for engaging media and attendees before the show by simply using the tradeshow hashtag. In addition, social media can be a beneficial way to promote any in-booth promotions.

During the Show

  • Help your employees interact with booth attendees by providing talking points that keep everyone informed of relevant information. Building credible relationships with prospects can lead to sales and new leads. A register-to-win drawing is a great way to gather contact information to make it easy to follow up after the show.
  • At the show is the best time to connect with building product-specific media to discuss your business and products. Connect with media on social media and stay connected for opportunities in the future. Since it is more beneficial for your employees to concentrate on the booth visitors during the show, utilize a social posting tool like HootSuite or SocialOomph to plan company tweets and posts ahead of time.

 Post-Show Follow Up

  • After a tradeshow, it’s important to follow up with the leads and prospects you met in your booth. A post-show email campaign that highlights your value proposition and reminds prospects of key product points helps set you apart from your competitors and ensures your business is top-of-mind.

While the Remodeling Show and DeckExpo are quickly approaching, it’s important to keep these core tradeshow strategies in mind for future shows. Believe it or not, the International Builders Show will be here before we know it! It’s never too early to start preparing to ensure your optimal ROI.