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4 Essential Elements to Effectively Market Building Materials

25 Jan

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Marketing is an important element of selling products and is very visible for things like consumer goods. Well-known marketing examples for items like toothpaste, refrigerators, and clothing abound. It isn’t a significant leap to apply those elements to drive sales for products in different industries. Indeed, building a brand around building materials utilizes many of the same tools, techniques, and resources.

  1. The Brand Matters Everywhere

Building a brand across multiple channels widens its reach. Instead of focusing solely on establishing a brand within the B2C space, it’s essential to extend that it to other audiences like those in the B2B environment. Establishing a presence within the B2B space can build partnerships, connections, and loyalty.

  1. Cultivate Influencers

The influencers within the building materials industry make a difference when it comes to the products that are chosen by consumers. This is true whether these consumers are homeowners or other businesses. So who are these influencers that need to be cultivated? Think about the engineers, builders, architects, and contractors that are important in the sector that you’re targeting. Those are your influencers.

  1. Don’t Dismiss Word-of-Mouth

Word-of-mouth advertising is what traditional marketing was built on. Instead of this factor being unimportant in the digital age, it simply must be adapted so that it works for the changing times. It’s important to harness the right tools and techniques to take advantage of word-of-mouth marketing in a way that presents your company in a favorable light.

  1. Identify Relevant Online Social Platforms

Though it’s likely that there will be some overlap within your target audiences when it comes to the online social platforms they use, some will be more specific to certain segments than others. LinkedIn, for example, is often where you can find influencers. Facebook and Twitter are used by both consumers and influencers. YouTube has traditionally been where many consumers get their information.

Does the marketing strategy you have in place for your building materials company contain the four essential elements outlined above? If not, can you envision a clear methodology to implement any that are missing?

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Key Digital Branding Tips to Dominate Your Online Presence

9 Jan

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In a competitive marketplace where analytics and conversion rates rank high among digital marketing tools, many businesses put the idea of branding on the back burner. Because it’s a relatively slow process, traditional branding is often overlooked in favor of the instant-gratification of PPC campaigns, Facebook ads, and AdWords. Establishing a brand can sometimes be accomplished in just months…but in many cases, an effective brand can take years to develop.

As a critical marketing strategy that creates measurable results over time, downplaying the importance of your business’s brand is a big mistake. Take a look at our most valuable tips to help establish, expand, and empower your digital brand’s presence:

Leverage content to develop authority in your industry

These days, it’s no secret that content is crucial to any digital marketing strategy worth its salt. Video has risen to the top as a content leader, and blog posts are still the method of choice when it comes to establishing your brand’s voice through writing: the key is to keep the content high-quality, engaging, and authoritative.

Another great way to define your brand and establish authority is to publish free informational content designed to educate and assist your customers without directly selling to them. This type of content can have a positive effect on your SEO efforts by increasing page views, links, and long-term visibility.

Use social media to promote your content

No matter how much amazing content you publish on your website—it won’t do you any good if no one can find it. Utilizing social media ad campaigns can help with promotional efforts by streamlining your target audience and expanding your content’s reach. For example, Facebook allows you to aim for groups who “like” companies and products similar to yours, and Twitter offers the option to target a specific brand or influencer’s followers.

Maintain content that resonates with your brand voice

Effective branding relies on consistency, and keeping your content in line with your brand image is a critical step toward forging a meaningful connection with your audience. Focus on publishing content that’s consistent with your brand’s subject matter, image, and tone of voice.

Concentrate your efforts on branding over conversion rates

With the massive amount of fast-acting digital marketing tools available today, it may be tempting to focus on short-term metrics rather than long-term effectiveness in evaluating your branding campaign’s ROI. Many businesses make the mistake of initially strategizing with the intention of strengthening their brand—only to compromise those efforts by redirecting the campaign strictly on boosting conversion rates and return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) metrics.

Rather than trying to push a product or conversion in the effort to strengthen your brand, focus instead on associating the brand with a specific feeling, a sense of nostalgia, or reliable solution. This isn’t to say that those digital marketing metrics should be ignored—but they should be evaluated separately from your branding strategy. After all, branding’s real value and ROI can only be accurately measured over the long term.

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Tactical Tips to Maximize Your Trade Show Presence in 2018

12 Dec

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Trade show planning for 2018 is in full swing. With budgets and strategy considerations on the table, we’re offering our take on tips to maximize your trade show ROI for the upcoming year.

1.  Technology is (still) king.

It goes without question that technology is a major player when it comes to trade show success. In 2018, trade show technology will continue to try to out-perform itself from years past, as attendees expect information to be displayed in innovative, interactive, and increasingly engaging ways.

Visitors want to be impressed and involved when they visit your display—and you’ll want to continue the engagement long after the event closes its doors. Consider incorporating touch screens, Bluetooth beacons, and artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning Software as a Software (SaaS) to further enhance the customer experience while delivering your brand’s message both during and after the show.

2. Human interaction is critical to success.

While it is true that trade show tech is necessary for ultimate event success, human engagement is just as important, if not more so. There is no better way to reach your customers than through a good old-fashioned dialogue that allows them to communicate their pain points—to which you respond with your compelling solution. By properly staffing your exhibit with compassionate professionals who are well-versed in your brand story, you’ll facilitate the kinds of relationships that no amount of artificial intelligence can compete with.

The key here is to use technology to augment—not replace—you professional, human presence.

3. Incorporate the sentiment behind your unique selling proposition in your exhibit.

We all want to stand apart from the competition. Your customers have made the trek to the trade show and your exhibit likely because they are looking for a solution to a particular problem, or perhaps they’re looking for your business in particular. By focusing on consistency in your unique selling proposition (USP)—for example, creating a custom exhibit based on your brand’s unique voice and culture along with the environment you want to cultivate—you’ll have a chance to resonate with your customers at a level that increases their engagement, inspires brand loyalty, and encourages them to stay connected long after the event wraps up.

4. Keep your brand consistent across all business environments.

Consumers these days are bombarded with product information nearly everywhere they turn—and much of that information is regarded by the embattled consumer as outright noise.  By focusing on refining your brand messaging for consistency across all spaces, you’ll cultivate a rapport with your customer that allows them to feel comfortable and familiar with your solution. Think in terms of providing a cohesive brand experience by way of incorporating a recognizable color palette, familiar logos, and consistent graphics.

When your business—and thus your brand—is “on the road,” you’ll want to rely even more heavily on familiar visuals to reinforce your presence in an unfamiliar place. After all, a trade show exhibit is a mini-representation of your business as a whole—and you want your customers to feel at home regardless of the venue.

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The 7 Deadly Sins of Branding

5 Dec

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hillmanGuest Contributor: Matt Hillman, Creative Director

You have a great product, great service, great people, great materials—and your brand still sucks. Competitors in the building products marketplace keep racking up sales while you struggle to get by. It feels like you’re trying to scramble up a muddy hill, expending time and resources with little-to-nothing to show for it. How does this happen?

Over the years, despite the emergence of game-changers like mobile devices, social media, and other innovations, most of the issues around branding still seem to fall into seven distinct areas—consider them the 7 Deadly Sins of Branding, and any one of them can sink your brand.

Wrong Message

Too many marketers rely on what they already know to build their messages. This echo-chamber effect reinforces what’s familiar and “safe” and can actually keep you from gaining the ah-ha moments you need. Think of it as trying to steer your car down the highway while looking only in the rear view mirror, more about where you’ve been than where you’re headed. Instead, you need to be continually surveying your customers—and your prospects!—for the fresh insights needed to build a message that’s relevant today, not just yesterday.

Wrong Audience

This might seem like a near-impossibility, but it can happen. Marketing your brand to the wrong audience is most often the result of marketing and sales teams not communicating effectively, with marketing working toward where sales should happen and sales focused on where they can happen. Having a clear, agreed-upon marketing plan is essential to having your brand pointed in the right direction. Yes, these are fundamentals that should be self-evident, but all it takes is for your brand to be strong with architects but being marketed to builders instead, and your brand isn’t going anywhere.

Wrong Tactics

One of the best cautionary tales comes from experience marketing to building products dealers. When offered the option to select their preferred method of receiving marketing communications, what do you think topped the list? Email? Direct? Text? How about…fax. That’s right, in our world of high-speed connectivity and mobile devices, the lowly fax was the leading way dealers wanted to receive information. Why? Because it fits how most small- to mid-sized dealers operate, with the fax machine right next to the main bulletin board. Again, surveying your audience will provide the insights to get the right tactics in play and to avoid wasting effort on the wrong ones.

Wrong Voice

If you’ve followed social media the past few years, you’ve probably heard of (or witnessed) the notorious sass of Wendy’s social media accounts. While some might think this was a bold or daring move, it’s actually highly calculated, the result of Wendy’s assessment of what brand voice would resonate best with their target. Where other fast food companies played the usual safe game, Wendy’s connected with their audience with a salty dialogue that not only aligned with the brand but helped share it more broadly online. Again, research was the key to cracking the code and connecting with customers.

Inconsistency

One way to think of branding is simply a single message delivered consistently and aligned with customer experience. And yet, time and again we see brands shift their message as if chasing sales trends, or worse, repeatedly reinventing the message to push an idea that doesn’t match the customer experience. If your name is One Day Printing and service takes two days, that’s a brand problem. Similarly, if you say your customer service is superior and then leave customers on hold for minutes at a time, that’s a brand problem. Determining what your brand is—and isn’t!—and sticking to that is critical to developing a strong brand over time, and over time is exactly how brands happen.

All About The Product

The brands that see the greatest strength in the marketplace are the ones that offer more than just a product or service—they build relationships with those who select and purchase them. Through content offerings, customer experience design, website functionality, social media strategies, sponsorships, and other interaction-based methods, the strongest brands take on a personality well beyond something being sold to buyers. These brands can have conversations with the public, growing and evolving through the choices made in messaging and positioning—all without changing what’s being produced or delivered.

No Differentiator

In the film Field of Dreams, we hear the iconic line: “Build it and they will come.” Unfortunately, all too many companies have followed this same advice when developing their brand—and have paid a heavy price for it. It is not enough to simply be available for purchase, there has to be a reason your target would take notice, have interest, and be willing to abandon their current relationship to gain one with your brand. And just as it is with products or services, your brand needs a unique selling proposition, too, something to make it different from the others. Is it more innovative, less complicated, focused on quality, easier to do business with? Identifying what sets your brand apart—and staying true to that differentiation—is critical to finding an audience that appreciates it. Trying to be all things to all audiences or simply showing up isn’t enough to get noticed.

Name + Logo = Brand

“We have a brand,” the marketing manager will say, pointing at a logo. “It’s right there.” Actually, no. The worn-down vehicle with your logo on it: that’s your brand. The customer left waiting hours for a delivery with no updates: that’s your brand. The defensive response to a highly critical customer review on Yelp: that’s your brand. The product that arrived dented: that’s your brand. Identity is all about a name and logo; brand, however, is about expectations and experiences. The strongest brands find success in designing and crafting the brand experience for customers, both new and current, and making sure everything aligns with that design. If it doesn’t align, it’s analyzed, adjusted or removed—why spend time and effort on something that only undermines your long-term efforts?

If you recognize any of these 7 Deadly Sins associated with your brand, have hope: Every one of them is escapable and repairable with honesty and effort. The common element to all of these brand issues is to take nothing for granted: conduct research and be willing to accept that your buyer isn’t who you think and may not think of your brand the way you do. But with focus and time, virtually any brand can find its own salvation.

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5 Things The MBTI Can Tell Us About Brand Personalities

2 Feb

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Guest Contributor: Matt Hillman
Creative Director

 

If I said that Apple was an INTJ personality or that Ben & Jerry’s was an ENFP, would you know what I mean?

Brand personalities are a common element in better identifying, understanding, and developing established brands. Through founded Mission/Vision/Values, Positioning Statements, and Brand Guidelines, the framework is laid for the brand to present itself in a regular, consistent manner. In short, it develops both a personality profile and “true to type” behavior that—like its human counterparts—are foreseeable. So what can the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the world’s leading personality tool, tell us about brand personalities?

The first real application of the idea of “brand personality” dates back more than 60 years to a 1955 article in the Harvard Business Review  entitled “The Product and the Brand.” In it, the authors suggest that brands can feature some of the same attributes of human personality such as reason, motive, and “complex systems of values and judgements.” Today, brand personality is a core element of how products, services, and organizations are marketed and understood.

Meanwhile, the MBTI is a personality assessment developed by a mother-daughter team who were students of psychologist Carl Jung. It’s based on the ideas of archetypes—fundamental characteristics common to everyone—narrowed down to preferences of how we process information, make decisions, and gather mental energy.

The result is a four-letter combination for each of 16 different “types.” And while it has plenty of detractors, the 60+ year old “Myers-Briggs” is the most utilized personality assessment tool among companies, organizations, and government agencies.

When combined, these two theories can bring about some interesting observations about what it is that makes individual brands tick.

1. Brands can be introverted or extraverted

In the Myers-Briggs, Introversion (I) and Extraversion (E) isn’t about sociability or shyness, but instead how personalities derive their energy—Introverts recharge through solitude, Extraverts through interaction. Similarly, Introverted personalities focus on depth where Extraverts focus on breadth. An introverted brand is likely one that has a singular focus with great depth of understanding; an extraverted brand likely has a shallower approach but with a broad offering. The majority of powerful B2C brands could be characterized as Extraverted, where highly specialized B2B brands would be more Introverted.

2. Brands have value systems

The Myers-Briggs calls the axis of Thinking (T) and Feeling (F) the “judging function” because of its use in decision making. The Thinking preference is rooted in linear logic, in true and false; the Feeling preference makes decisions based on the people involved, in a sense of right and wrong. Thinking brands value facts and efficiency, where Feeling brands value compassion and connection. Thinking brands tend to be operationally and even fiscally successful; Feeling brands tend to have highly loyal, even fanatical, customers.

3. Brands process information in different ways

When it comes to information, how personality types process, or perceive, it falls into two categories: Sensing (S), taking in very detailed, specific data through the senses, and iNtuition (N) where data is processed broadly as symbols or metaphors. A brand with a Sensing preference is likely to be highly detailed and practical—probably a manufacturer or working with data. An iNtuitive brand is focused on “the big picture” and more apt to be a service provider or in product development.

4. Different brands react differently

You probably have seen brands that have it all buttoned up with a plan for everything; you’ve probably also seen brands that seem to roll with the punches, adapting as they go. This is what the Myers-Briggs calls Judging (J) and Perceiving (P). Those with the J preference are those who plan ahead and seek order, where those preferring P are improvisers who are more spontaneous. Brands in the Perceiving camp tend to develop (or fail) in leaps & bounds, where Judging brands are more likely to have a long-term approach that’s slower but steady.

5. There is no right or wrong type

Mostly importantly, just as with people, there is no right type or wrong type. Each type has a list of great and unique strengths, balanced by a list of weaknesses and blind spots. It’s less about being the “best type” and more about understanding the amazing superpowers each type possesses. And while certain types are better suited for certain tasks—types with the SJ combination are remarkable administrators, NT types natural innovators, etc.—there are always surprising and successful exceptions. Just as in life, the right type in the right situation at the right time can be an unstoppable brand.

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