Tag Archives: trends

5 Building Product Trends In the New Housing Market

18 Apr

Housing Market On The Up

The Housing Market is Evolving – Be Ready

As we move into 2013, I think everyone is in agreement, the housing market is recovering. In some places, it’s recovered, others sill have excess inventory or foreclosures, but overall – we are through the worst time our industry has ever seen (or wants to see).

So as we look forward to this ‘new’ normal what will the housing market look like? What trends do we think will occur or impact our business? the home buyer? the manufacturer? the lumberyards?

Heres my take on 5 things this ‘new’ normal means to our industry

  1. We all have to remember what we have gone through these past few years. It’s human nature to only remember the good things and let those bad memories fade away. We can’t let that happen this time. We need to manage inventories, not simply look for the quick buck and actually manage our businesses with the long-term in mind. Too many bad decisions combined with bad business practices left too many companies out of business.
  2. People will continue to stay in the homes longer. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like homeowners have also learned some hard lessons. Too many people bought a home they couldn’t afford and then wondered why they couldn’t make that huge payout after 2 years. There’s enough hedge funds buying up real estate. People need to buy a home they can afford.
  3. Universal design and aging in place will explode. As a component of #2, people are aging in their homes. Some because they love the house they have lived in, but for many, it’s a very easy financial decision. The cost to make your home more accessible and useable as you age far outweighs the cost to sell your home and move; especially to any assisted living facility. Manufacturers and pros need to look at this as a huge opportunity.
  4. Multi-generational living isn’t going away. While initially people saw this as the Millennial generation moving home after college, it’s much more than that. In a growing number of family’s, the older generation is moving in with their ‘kids’. These homes typically were the primary home and may have kids off in college and now the grandparent(s) are living with the family. Again this becomes a financial, but also a great emotional, challenge for the entire family. Creating homes and products that work, in some cases, for three generations will be key.
  5. Millennials are in no rush to buy a home. For most of us, buying a home was something you wanted to do. It meant you had arrived. You were an adult. We need to understand that’s not at all how the Millennial generation approaches home ownership. That’s part of their contentment with living at home into their mid 20s. As an industry we need to realize that constant stream of new buyers may take a hit for a few years. Although there are plenty of hard working, financially stable 26-32 year olds, they simply don’t feel the need to buy a home right away.

So the housing market is really coming back, but it will be different and we all must learn from the past, and be prepared for the future.

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.

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.

Houzz: A New Social Media Platform for Building Product Marketers

27 Sep

Houzz.com is a new building and design platform that offers users ideas for their home

Have you heard of Houzz.com? It is a new online platform that connects architects, designers, builders, and contractors with homeowners around the world who want to build or update their home. The platform is a mash-up of Angie’s List (reviews) and Pinterest (idea inspiration) and offers consumers design ideas, project advice, reviews, and product information.

Specifically for the building product industry, Houzz.com puts products at the fingertips of consumers to search and find your products. As a former building products CMO, I think it’s important to be aware of this new tool which could change the way people build and design their homes.

How It Works

Both homeowners and building products professionals can create accounts to browse ideas, information, and photos along with create an Ideabook. Much like Pinterest, an Ideabook makes it simple to click a button and add an inspirational design, remodeling, or building photo. Building product companies like architecture firms can use the Ideabook to display how the products can be used. In addition, homeowners can ask questions about specific projects to find out how they can utilize similar products for their projects.

Who Uses It

While the platform is used mainly by homeowners, architects, designers, and builders, several building product companies are taking advantage of the new marketing tool. Check out these building product manufacturer’s Houzz profiles.

Building Product Manufacturer Examples

Coronado Stone Products

  • Houzz: http://www.houzz.com/pro/coronado-stone/coronado-stone-products
  • As a stone products manufacturer with more than 50 styles of stone veneer, brick, and concrete floor tile products, Coronado Stone Products showcases internal and external projects on Houzz. They have an Ideabook with more than 20 different photos showcasing the versatility of their products.

E.T. Moore Manufacturing, Inc.

  • Houzz: http://www.houzz.com/pro/heartpine/e-t-moore-manufacturing-inc
  • E.T. Moore Manufacturing produces reclaimed heart pine products. Ideabooks have been created to show contractors, builders, and architects how the pine can be used for trusses along with other projects. In addition, the company includes a contact name, number, and a company address for quick reference if a customer were interested in purchasing their product.

While creating a profile on Houzz.com might not be right for your organization, being aware of this growing social media platform is. It’s a great tool for your high volume customers – builders, architects and remodelers and can provide both of you a great way to reach end users. For more information, visit www.houzz.com.

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.

QR Code Examples in the Building Products Industry

8 Dec

8 real-world examples of companies using them incorrectly, and one doing it right.

QR codes are scanned using mobile devices. This means the person will be viewing your content on a mobile device, so the page you send them to should be a mobile-optimized one. Clearly, there is still confusion within many companies in our industry. Based on what we’re seeing in trade advertising, QR code best practices are not being followed.

Flipping through the pages of LBM Journal and Qualified Remodeler, here’s my analysis of QR code usage in 8 building product advertisements.

  1. Chase: Of these 8, only Chase’s code led to a mobile-optimized page, which was also designed to detect the type of device you’re using and provide the appropriate link to download their app via the Apple App Store, Android Market or Blackberry App World. Perfect use of a QR code, and kudos to Chase for doing it right.
  2. Simpson Strong-Tie: Their ad had a good call-to-action: “scan this code with your smartphone to easily find the right fastener for your job” and their tool is a good one…but it isn’t easy to use on a mobile device. Perfect opportunity to develop an app or a true mobile site, but save the QR code until it’s ready.
  3. Acclimated Entry Systems: AES didn’t give a compelling reason to scan the code and sends you to their normal website – accomplishing the same thing as the website URL listed at the bottom.
    Acclimated Entry Systems
  4. ECi Advantage: ECi didn’t even bother to tell you why to scan the code; it’s just there on the page serving no real purpose and leading to their normal website.
  5. ODL Doorglass: ODL did the same as ECi – they simply added a QR code at the bottom without a specific purpose to it.
  6. Kilz: Kilz cleverly made the QR code look like part of a paintbrush, but missed on sending people to a mobile site.
  7. Geberit: Geberit made their QR code compelling by adding a good call to action – “…for immediate information on Geberit” – but they missed the follow through by simply taking you to their normal website.
  8. Capitol Lighting: Another ad with compelling reasons to visit their site – “$25 Starbucks gift card and a $100 initial discount” – but their program sign-up is not mobile-optimized and, as a result, not easy to use.

It’s not just QR codes – marketing departments are frequently guilty of using new technology for no good reason. Whether Facebook and Twitter over the past few years, Flash websites 10 years ago or QR codes today, make sure you are using new technologies for a purpose, not just to keep up with others or look like a trend-setter.

Sources and Additional Articles

Home Green Home: Green Building Product Trends

1 Dec

3 new improvements in the perception of green building.

The way the green industry is being viewed and implemented has evolved. 3 changes in perceptions that are shaping the green movement are: a more personal aesthetic, more recognition in the real estate industry, and a broader reach into the community. Being familiar with these factors can help you develop your company’s green messaging strategy.

1. Green is looking more natural.

Being on the cutting edge of green technology, doesn’t mean you have to live in a home that resembles a sci-fi set. Today’s green homes look like homes.
Take for example a renovation in Albany, California recently featured on Dwell magazine online and toured by Assistant Editor, Diana Budds. She writes,

“While every design gesture was carefully thought out to maximize its green potential, the home is remarkably comfortable and livable and it doesn’t feel like a theoretical or conceptual exercise—everything just makes sense.”

Marketing these products goes beyond features and benefits to show how the functionality of your building product can make a difference to your customer.

2. Green is getting MLS recognition.

Green features are now being listed on some Multiple Listing Service (MLS) sites. And organizations are dedicating themselves to push forward the trend. Sites such as greenthemls.org, provide resources for those interested in implementing a green initiative for their MLS. Their tool kit provides a recommended process to build a Green MLS, along with case studies and resources from MLS that have already gone green. CMOs should identify if these listings can be valuable to their business.

3. Green is for all.

As green projects continue to pop up in public domains, the benefits reach a wider market. In a recent online article from Metropolis magazine, Avinash Rajagopal covered the Top Ten Green projects of 2011 from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Rajagopal found a connection between new green builds and community focus in the designs.

He says, ”There is a clear message here: that sustainability is ultimately about people, and need not come at an exorbitant price tag.”

CMOs need to understand how green marketing fits into their overall strategy and what factors are changing the landscape.

Sources and Additional Articles