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10 IBS Insights You Need to Know (Part 2/2)

28 Jan

Part Two: 5 Design Trends from IBS 2016

Indoor Outdoor Living

Every year, the International Builders’ Show (IBS) is the best place for marketers to keep a finger on the pulse of where the building products industry is going. The ER Marketing team and I attended this year, and we were able to learn everything from the latest marketing trends to a general economic housing outlook to the latest products that will impact everyone down the channel.

There’s no question that tech and high-performance homes are big, overarching trends to look for in 2016. But the show proved that neither of those trends can come at the expense of design, so the onus is on marketers at the higher end of the channel to educate their customers how these products can integrate into a home’s design beautifully and seamlessly.

Using our own team hashtag, #IBSDoubleTake, we captured the things that made us stop and take notice during IBS 2016. And they’re things you should take notice of, too—they’ll be impacting the way we market these products as we get deeper into 2016 and the coming years. Here are some of the design trends spotted at IBS 2016 by my team:

Top 5 Design Trends from IBS 2016:

  1. You are no longer in the building business. You are in the technology business. As customers at the end of the channel nutonebecome more and more tech-savvy (and tech-reliant), so too will their homes and the products they choose to build it with or put in it. Even down to seemingly simple products like this Nutone doorbell with 250 MB of space for custom doorbell rings/music, tech was the showstopper. Nutone did an excellent job of showing how a fun piece of technology can also inspire a clean and simple design aesthetic.
  2. Tech is big, but so is functionality. And new tech needs to integrate seamlessly into any design, including traditional, to be truly functional for customers. Wellborn Cabinets did that well with their remote control island—super functional, super classic, super innovative.Kohler Bath
  3. Lighting is big. Kohler highlighted the fact that whether in the home or in the booth, eye-catching lighting will be important for building products marketers to account for in 2016 and beyond. Consider how you might use unique lighting tactics to modernize your product photography as well.
  4. The style of the New American Home was “Rustic Modern.” What does that mean for building products marketers? Focus on a design that combines natural elements, textures, and colors with clean, simple, and crisp lines. In fact, the home executed this so effortlessly, it appeared to be a part of the natural landscape!New American Home 1
  5. Wondering how outdoor living plays in? Don’t worry—it hasn’t gotten away. In recent years, outdoor living has meant bringing amenities you would normally expect indoors (fireplaces/pits, speakers, covered seating) to the outdoors. Now it’s about bringing outdoor elements in with seamless, even tenuous, transitions from the indoors to the outdoors. This means floor to ceiling glass, pocket doors, cable or glass railing, clean lines, and corresponding design elements (like using recessed lighting and using the same flooring styles inside and outside, for example).

If you missed our post earlier in the week, make sure to read the Top 5 Marketing Trends building products marketers need to know from IBS 2016.

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10 IBS Insights You Need to Know (Part 1/2)

27 Jan

Part One: 5 Building Products Marketing Lessons from IBS 2016

This year, several members of the ER Marketing team and I attended the annual International Builders’ Show (IBS) and KBIS in Las Vegas, NV. As anyone who has ever attended can attest to, this is a big event that can be overwhelming. We’re not talking your average trade show. It’s one of the biggest—if not the single biggest—event of the year in the building products industry. While there, you see all the cutting edge technology that will be setting trends for the coming years….not to mention educational sessions, model home tours, and more. And hey—as a bonus, it’s in Vegas. Who can complain?

While there, the ER Marketing team was using #IBSDoubleTake to share all the things that made us do a double take at the event—the things that really caught our attention. Here is a quick list of the top 5 marketing lessons those in the building products industry need to know.

Top 5 Marketing Lessons from IBS 2016:

  1. When it’s not easy to explain your products or services in a booth, sometimes it’s a good strategy to go all in on your brand. ARCAT did that well with their booth.
  2. When you can manage it, taking your booth from product showplace to play place can work well. CertainTeed’s wall climbing demo and celebrity guest, Mike Holmes, proved it; they had high traffic and buzz throughout the event.
  3. If your product is easy to install, don’t just say it—show it. Plastpro doors drew a crowd with some fundamentals of door installation. It just goes to show that good lessons are always interesting to those in building.
  4. Speed is now a matter of trustworthiness. Whether in marketing or customer service (and some would argue those lines are getting blurry), responding quickly is proven to increase trust with your audience.
  5. Booth tech makes a difference, especially when prospects can engage with it. Johnsmanville had a spray foam simulator at the event that felt a little like a game. We competed, using the actual install gun, virtually pointed at a screen so users could spray the fill area with a virtual, 3-inch expanding insulation. What a smart way to showcase this product!

If you want a taste of what it’s like to experience the IBS show in person, we also put together a short walkthrough video. You can view that video here. (Dramamine recommended—we cover a lot of ground.)

Look out for part two of this blog series—coming this week. We’ll be discussing the Top 5 Design Trends from this year’s IBS that building products marketers need to be aware of in 2016 and beyond.

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10 Trade Show Tips That Speak for Themselves

22 Dec

Be in the Know Before the Show

Trade Show Gift

When you’ve been in the building products industry for long enough, you learn some valuable lessons about attending a trade show and making the most of your time there. That’s how I know that every year, January marks more than just the start of the new year—it’s also the start of what we in the building products industry call “trade show season.”

Trade shows are fun and an  teffective way to meet prospects; they’re also hectic and crazy. Over the years, I’ve lost count of all the trade shows I’ve attended, but the lessons learned have stuck with me.

I’ve compiled a quick list of tips for attending a trade show that need no further explanation:

  1. Follow all the handles/hashtags for the event to keep current—before, during, and after an event.
  2. Visit the website before the show to view the map against the schedule of speakers you’d like to attend. Don’t be that freshman who schedules back-to-back classes across campus.
  3. Download the app for the show beforehand (if they have one).
  4. Wear comfortable shoes—you’ll be walking. Hint: if your feet are hurting, seek out the booths that paid extra for carpet padding.
  5. Bring enough business cards.
  6. Have a plan for how you’re going to follow up with the prospects you meet. Then, follow through with it.
  7. Pack a backup phone battery and bring it with you. Thank me later.
  8. Don’t be that guy who eats your lunch at a table in a booth. Sit with prospects and meet new people.
  9. Know how long it takes to get to the nearest bathroom and back so you don’t miss something important.
  10. Wi-Fi isn’t always a given. Plan accordingly.

I’ve had to learn some of these lessons the hard way—but follow these tips and you won’t have to. Consider it my trade show season gift to you.

For more trade show tips and tricks, see my last roundup post here.

Bonus tip for those who made it to the bottom of this post: If you take nothing else away from this, remember that the Lowe’s booth always has fresh-baked cookies. Just be careful not to burn your mouth if they’re fresh out of the oven.

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What Comes After Sales Enablement?

29 Oct

Take B2B Marketing to the Next Step with In-Person Meetings

In-Person Meeting

As building products marketers, it’s amazing to think of the amount of time and energy we spend planning out the perfect marketing tools and strategies. Sales enablement is one such tool that is becoming increasingly prevalent and effective. Done right, sales enablement can provide your team with the tools needed to generate and nurture more qualified leads and close more deals. But what can often go overlooked is what comes after sales enablement—the real, human-to-human contact that finalizes a sale.

It’s not just sales enablement that can fall victim to this, either. A lot of marketers spend time creating highly detailed, specific marketing campaigns, lead scoring systems, special trade show events, and so on, but never develop follow-up plans to determine what will actually be done with the leads produced from their efforts. Put simply, you can collect all the form submissions you want on a landing page, but if you’re not doing anything with those submissions other than sending them more automated emails, you’re not accomplishing much.

And yet, it’s more common than you think. Marketers fail to turn over qualified leads to sales, and salespeople fail to pick up the phone and call the leads they do get from marketing. It’s an endless cycle of unproductivity if not addressed.

As B2B marketers, we cannot rely on digital-only tactics or even sales enablement alone. Face-to-face is still the best method of actually closing a sale. Just look at a few stats I found in a recent Marketing Daily article:

  • In-person meetings are 85% more effective than virtual meetings, and this is even true for existing customers (65%)
  • For complex products and services (AKA most B2B purchases), decisions are made more on the basis of organizational/personal relationships and trust than technical features and functions
  • Cognitive studies prove that, in B2B sales, there needs to be an emotional connection beyond analytics
  • Overall outcomes of group purchases are far superior when there are face-to-face meetings with vendors, leading to both better efficiency and long-term satisfaction

Just because face-to-face is important in the B2B world doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility to incorporate digital marketing and/or sales enablement. Instead, consider what your marketing can do to prime a prospect for a face-to-face meeting. And consider what sales enablement tools you can provide that will make the biggest impact for your sales team during a trade show or another face-to-face meeting with a buyer.

To read the full article from Marketing Daily, click here.

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Don’t Be Too Cool for “Old School”

22 Oct

Building Products Marketers Should Remember Direct Mail

Mail

As B2B building products marketers, it’s hard to resist the allure of the new and shiny. After all, it’s our job to push the envelope, develop new and exciting creative, and experiment with marketing tactics that drive results. But it’s also our job to use tried and true tactics that are proven to still have relevance in today’s marketplace.

A lot of marketers will be quick to tell you that direct mail is not one of those tactics—that it’s “old school” and doesn’t have the impact that digital/social/email all do. But marketers in the building industry would do well to learn what those in the fashion industry have proven time and time again: that everything comes back in style.

A recent study commissioned by Canada Post reveals that direct mail is no exception to the rule. In fact, according to this article in Marketo’s blog, direct mail still proves effective for B2B marketers, even in a predominantly digital age. Here are a few of the statistics from the study that you can’t miss:

  • 70% of people are curious to find out what’s in their mailbox. I wonder if as many feel the same about their email inbox.
  • 64% visited a website in reaction to direct mail. And typing in a website takes a lot more effort than clicking a button…
  • 51% prefer a combination of both mail and email. You may think digital is cool, but your audience might be sick of it. Mix it up.

Marketers get excited about the many new and different tools, communications channels, etc. available to us. And that’s okay; we see some cool and useful technology in our line of work, and these tools can be both fun and effective at driving results for our sales. But sometimes “old school” thinking works—when it’s right for your audience.

Take, for example, one of our clients, a major building products distributor. Many would say that fax is “old school” and no longer an effective marketing technique in the modern age; however, we conducted a survey last year of this client’s 10,000+ marketing list and discovered that fax is the second most preferred communication tactic by the audience. Ignoring a clear referendum from our audience simply because it seems “old school” would be ridiculous. And the same is true of direct mail, which continues to be effective, as the study proves.

Don’t get stagnant or miss out on conversion opportunities because you think you’re too cool for “old school.” You’re not. In fact, no marketer is too cool for something that drives measurable results.

But don’t take my word for it—the proof is in the numbers. Check out the full article for more direct mail insights.

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