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2015’s Top 10 Building Product Dealers and Lumberyards to Follow on Twitter (Part 1)

24 Sep

Prepare to Click Follow—A Lot.

Click Follow

You’ll hear a lot of people in the building products industry make the claim that social media isn’t important to their marketing strategies. But the truth is that generational dynamics are shifting, putting Millennials and other social media users in new buying positions. It’s not something that’s coming down the line—it’s something that’s already happening. For many building products marketers, however, the bigger issue is simply knowing where to begin when trying to incorporate social media into their strategies.

To that end, I’ve rounded up a list of the top building products dealers on Twitter. If you’re in the building products industry, go ahead and click the “follow” button on these accounts—they’re getting it right.

  1. Lumber Liquidators (@hardwoodforless): Lumber Liquidators regularly posts information and images about the latest trends in the building products industry including flooring and more. Plus, they post images of customer home transformations that jog the inspiration of pros and homeowners alike.
  2. Moore Lumber (@moorelumber): With daily tweets and informative industry article, Moore Lumber has a lot to offer their almost 1,000 followers. Not only do they share company information and sales, but they also feature supplies that can be used for DIY Pinterest projects.
  3. Sherwood Lumber (@sherwoodlumber): Taking a slightly different approach to some other lumberyards, Sherwood Lumber tweets about wood and forest science as well as industry news that building products marketers need to keep abreast of.
  4. Ro-Mac Lumber (@lumber_romac): This account smartly utilizes expert insight by incorporating company interviews, blog posts, relevant articles, and excellent video content that sets them apart from many of the other lumberyards on Twitter.
  5. Fingerle Lumber Co. (@fingerlelumber): What Fingerle gets about social is something that can’t be taught—it’s about being a part of a larger community and finding posts that people can relate to. Although relatively new to Twitter, they post regularly about their culture, Ann Arbor community events, and their lumber products.

That concludes the first half of our list, and if you’re looking for even more accounts to follow, look at our previous lists here and here.

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Building Products Marketers Need Sales to Survive

15 Sep

Sales and Strategy Go Hand In Hand

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What if I told you that all the effort you put into marketing your building products was absolutely useless? What if I told you that no matter how great the creative, how brilliant the strategy, and how alluring the incentive, your approach was doomed to fail?

Because they are—if you fail to incorporate your sales team into your efforts. I’ve written before about how no building products promotion can be effective without buy-in from the sales team. But this applies to more than promotions—it’s your entire marketing strategy and beyond.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review takes that idea to the next level, making an argument I agree with: that sales should be part of every conversation about strategy. All too often, marching orders come down from on high with no real understanding of what is happening to those on the ground pushing the product or services. And the further away the “powers that be” get from customer contact, the more obsolete their strategies can often become.

Here are a few of my favorite takeaways from the article:

  • Communication is key: “People can’t implement what they don’t understand.”
  • It doesn’t matter how many emails you send if you don’t engage your sales team as partners: “The process for introducing and reviewing plans often exacerbates the separation of the strategists from the doers. It typically involves a kickoff sales meeting followed by a string of emails from headquarters and periodic reports back on results. There are too few communications, and most are one-way.”
  • If you don’t explain the big picture, they won’t be able to create it: “Even when sales teams are trained in negotiation and selling tactics, the larger strategic context—especially the implications for target priorities—is often left out.”
  • Whose job it is to partner with sales: “Clarifying strategy is a leadership responsibility.”

Click here to read the full article—it’s full of important information that building products marketers should really take into consideration, especially as many of us start to work out the final details of our 2016 planning.

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The Next Big Trend for Building Products Marketing

25 Mar

…And How It Can Boost Your Sales

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Having worked in building products marketing for close to 30 years, I’ve seen firsthand how changes in the economy and homeowner mentality can affect trends in the building industry, design, and more. As the economy bounces back and a new generation of homeowners enters the market (and others find new ways to turn their current home into their dream home), one of the biggest trends in building will be exciting, beautiful outdoor living spaces that bring the inside out. A recent article from Hardware and Building Supply all but confirmed the impact this trend will have on the industry.

So as building products marketers, how does this trend affect us? It means we need to adapt. According to the article, “today’s homeowners are coming into the deck planning and building process more informed than ever before.” In other words, thanks to Pinterest, Houzz, and the rise of good content marketing, they’re able to travel incredibly far down the sales funnel before ever making contact with dealers. This heightens the need for more content and an increased push to social—despite the argument I often hear from those in the building industry, which is that social doesn’t apply to their audience.

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But it also means we will need to change the way we market these products. It will no longer be enough to show pictures of a nice pergola with some clever copy and expect to make a sale. It’s important to depict what that pergola can do for a buyer—that it can be wired for speakers, that it is a great place for a fire pit where homeowners can gather for late night drinks with friends, or a table for outdoor dining. And the copy needs to match the image, highlighting all the ways that these products contribute to an overall lifestyle that frees homeowners from the confines of their living or dining room. It’s a fundamental messaging shift that can’t be ignored.

Another standout fact is that regardless of their size and budget, homeowners want more than the traditional square space for decks and patios. That means that even if we are marketing a decking product, for example, the images we use should feature not only multi-level decks, curves, and cantilevers, but also accessories (chairs, grills, fire pits, dining sets) that define different functions and align with consumer interest. Ask yourself: how will they use this product in day-to-day life?

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Homeowners are now looking at their outdoor living space as an extension of their indoor living space, and have proven they’re more than willing to invest in high-quality building products to make that extension a reality. Homeowners want to spend money on these kinds of building products. So what are you doing as a marketer to capitalize on this trend?

To get all the insights from the article, click here. (Note: You will have to register to read it in full.)

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5 Things To Do for Your Post Show Wrap-Up

30 Jan

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The months of planning for your biggest trade show of the year are behind you. You have nursed your sore feet and turned in your expenses from the big show. Now comes the real work of closing business, nurturing leads and following up with those leads.

Having a key post show plan is as important as getting ready to go to the show. I have seen client’s exhibit and materials return only to find the fish bowl full of business cards or the lead machine printouts. You might not know who your team was talking to when they visited your exhibit. Luckily, most lead machines are now sending these leads to the cloud for you to pull down later.

Consider this: 46% of tradeshow attendees are in executive or upper management positions (1). And 49% of trade show visitors plan to buy exhibited products or services within 12 months (2). Will this be your product or your competitor’s products?

Post show planning comes into play 6 – 10 months prior to exhibiting at your event. This typically includes review of goals for pre show, at show and post show.

Here is a checklist to consider when developing your post show strategy:

  • Follow up with a thank you email: Make this personalized to each contact. Send them to a specific landing page with pictures from show, product, and social media connections. Have an email ready to go out thanking people for visiting your booth. This should be written, designed and ready to go once you upload your show list. This simple step can convince a prospect to call you. Make sure the information is relevant and helpful.
  • Content Experts: Develop content in conjunction with your trade show efforts. This will help with other marketing campaigns, build thought leadership, and create leads that are further along the sales funnel. Along with building credibility, quality content also improves search engine optimization. This content should be developed well before you attend the trade show.
  • Segment your leads and have a key plan for these contacts: Make sure contacts get the information they requested. Remember, your competition is also sending them information. Segments can include: hot leads, normal leads, information follow up, or disqualified.
  • Continue with social media: At a minimum, industry news media is following you, so keep social media posting active and develop stories through each of your channels that include images, video and written content. Not only do your followers appreciate this, your sales team can utilize the constant stream of content.
  • Post show team survey: Send out a survey to your team to determine what went well, what was missing, and what should be done next year. Do this early while it is still fresh. If you work with an agency or exhibit house, include them in this survey. The survey can include questions like:
    • What “crisis” items did we experience?
    • Can they be avoided?
    • Did we meet the right people?
    • Could we have met more of the right people?
    • Where did the right people go in the exhibit?
    • What did we learn about our competitors?
    • What were the top three benefits of the trade show?
    • What were the disadvantages?

Don’t be the company that gets back from a week in Las Vegas and suddenly becomes too busy to follow up with leads or do a post show review. These tips will help your trade show and event efforts be more successful.

Sources:

(1) CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face

(2) Exhibitor Magazine

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Is Your Brand Ready for the Big Show?

5 Dec

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Although you have invested hours, days, or even weeks (not to mention your money) in planning your trade show booth, you have just seconds to engage potential customers and get them to remember your brand, products, and services.

Ask yourself a few questions, as you get prepare:

  • Are you ready? Have you put together a sales and marketing strategy?
  • Is your team ready? Do they know their roles at the trade show?
  • Does your booth represent your brand? Is it outdated?

Now consider these key points as you implement your plan to showcase your brand at your next trade show or event.

Marketing for trade show success.
Consider these exhibition industry facts*:

  • The average trade show attendee will visit approximately 26 exhibitors.
  • 76% of attendees arrive with an agenda of exhibitors they plan to visit.
  • Less than 20% of exhibitors utilize targeted pre-show marketing campaigns.

Put together a pre-show marketing campaign to reach out to prospects, customers, and journalists. This can include direct mail, email, and updates to your website. At the same time, have your post-show marketing ready. Don’t wait until after the show to finalize post-show messaging and offers.
ER Marketing Tip: Have a plan to help your brand grow from your trade show efforts.

Do you know your 3, 10, 15, 30-second pitch?
Trade shows and events are some of the best places to share your company’s story face to face. Practice your pitch and make sure you have a short version to grab an attendee’s short attention span.
ER Marketing Tip: Practice your pitch on employees before the show.

Be ready for industry journalists.
Industry journalists are key to getting your message out to the masses. Make this message creative and memorable. Summarize key points of your brand story that will make any journalist want to feature your company.
ER Marketing Tip: Have social media quotes in your press kit for journalists to use.

Dress for your brand’s success.
This is one of those exercises that you can practice with your team and see what responses come back. If your brand were to dress up and go to a meeting, what would that brand wear? Would it be in a suit and tie, would it be in branded golf shirts or would everyone be wearing branded fedoras?

ER Marketing Tip: Don’t be sloppy and unprofessional—dress for success.

Update your exhibit
Are your products and services ready for the modern world, but your exhibit is outdated in both appearance and messaging? Does your booth represent your brand? Is it updated?

It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to update your exhibit. There are many cost-effective options to make this happen. Take a look at this catalog for ideas to update and add new elements such as iPad stands, new lighting or a new graphic backdrop.

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ER Marketing Tip: Make your exhibit relevant to your brand.

Consider these key points when exhibiting your brand at a trade show. Having a well-thought-out strategy and an updated exhibit can drive more leads and revenue.

*Source

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