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Building Products Trade Show Tips Roundup!

29 Sep

What You Need to Prepare for This Year’s Trade Shows

Tradeshow Floor

It’s official: trade show season is in full swing. As someone who attends his fair share of them, I can attest to it. This week, I will be attending the DeckExpo and Remodeling Show, where I will visit booths from many companies in the building industry. I already have an idea of which booths I want to visit and which products I want to learn more about. This isn’t uncommon in the building products industry—in fact, about 76% of attendees already have an agenda of which exhibitors they want to visit. So how can you, as a building products marketer, capitalize on an exhibit to get the best value out of your time there?

In the past, I have written several blog posts about trade shows and what building products marketers need to do—and avoid—to maximize their return on investment. Here is a quick roundup of those posts:

  • Bring Your “A” Game When You Exhibit: Many companies who exhibit at trade shows can spend thousands of dollars (or even millions) to draw in new customers and show off products. 67% of attendees represent a new prospect, and 81% of them have buying authority. Read this article for 5 tips and tricks to raise awareness and create memorable experiences for your building products trade show audience.
  • Is Your Brand Ready for the Big Show: There are a lot of questions that building products need to consider when planning their trade show exhibit or booth. This article isolates several of the most important questions you can ask yourself before attending the trade show to make sure that your booth represents your brand well during the “big show.”
  • The 5 Most Common Trade Show Mistakes (Part 1 & Part 2): After more than two decades in the building products industry, I’ve seen it all: the good, the bad, and the oh-so-ugly. In a two-part series of blog posts, I outlined the five biggest mistakes that building products marketers can make when planning their trade show exhibit.
  • WHITEPAPER: Killer Booths!: What can building products trade show marketers learn from horror movies? As it turns out, a lot. Download this free whitepaper if you’re afraid that your trade show marketing is falling victim to horror movie clichés—it just might help you live long enough to make it to the sequel.

Building products trade shows can be an enjoyable time and a great opportunity to produce qualified leads. But they also take a lot of planning, research, and hard work to make them successful. Any one of these articles are a good start for building products marketers who want to make sure their booth is up to snuff.

Read more of our recent posts at Navigate-the-Channel.

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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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Content Marketing No-No’s

1 Jul

Don’t Let Your Company Make These Content Marketing Mistakes!

Do vs. Don't

Content is easy, right? All you have to do is write a couple pages about a product you sell and people will want to read it, right?Because what you have to say is just so interesting, right? Anyone can do it, right? It’s so easy, right?

Not so fast. Those of us who do it often know that creating useful, interesting content that is relevant to your audience at the exact moment they need it is not as easy as it looks. I talked about that at length in my last blog post, focusing on the importance of bringing together Buyer Personas and the Buyer Journey for a complete 360° view of your audience before ever beginning to create content for them.

While it’s a common mistake not to look at your audience from both of those angles, there are other content marketing mistakes you can make just as easily. A recent articlefrom MarketingProfs highlighted a few:

  1. Not Knowing Your Audience: This one is similar to what I talked about in my last blog post. The biggest mistake a content marketer can make is creating content that doesn’t entertain, educate, or solve a problem for your customer. If you’re treating content like it’s all about you and your brand, it’s a surefire way to create disinterest in your audience—especially if they’re just beginning their Buyer Journey.
  2. Not Having a Brand Voice: Develop one, and keep it consistent. While you might make minor tweaks in tone depending on the tactic or type of content, all your content should ultimately sound like the same person is speaking. A good tip from this article is that you should even go as far as creating a style guide and performing “content audits” to see where inconsistencies occur.
  3. Not Enough Distribution: Blogs and social media aren’t the end-all be-all, especially in B2B content marketing. How you distribute your content marketing is just as important as the content you produce. Remember: if you write it, they will not necessarily come. Consider high-traffic areas of your website, industry association websites, and trusted industry publications.

Content marketing is tricky. As much as we want to simplify it into easily digestible steps that produce great leads and even greater sales, it doesn’t always work that way. It’s trial and error. It’s trying different distribution methods and different types of content. It’s testing and—well, more testing. But what it isn’t is “easy.” Regardless, that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain mistakes we can all avoid as marketers. For more about content marketing mistakes to avoid, read the full article or check out my last blog post.

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The Next Big Trend for Building Products Marketing

25 Mar

…And How It Can Boost Your Sales


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.


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?


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


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.


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

(2) Exhibitor Magazine

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