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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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Say It With a Whisper

17 Dec

Color of the Year

What the 2016 Color Forecast Means for Building Industry Marketers

Stephanie Voss

Guest Contributor:
Stephanie Voss, Art Director

My favorite bedtime story to read to my daughter is about a whispering rabbit who has to make a very quiet noise to wake up a bumblebee. Because bumblebees, of course, are small creatures that do not pay attention to loud noises. The rabbit has to make softer and softer noises until the bumblebee will hear it. This is similar to the approach that Pantone has taken with their color choices this year. They are subtle—so subtle in fact, that they are causing people to take notice.

For the first time, Pantone has selected two colors: Serenity and Rose Quartz, which can most simply be described as baby pink and baby blue. If you are wondering if Pantone chose girl and boy colors intentionally, you are not alone; even The New York Times is calling out the move as a political statement about gender equality.

Pantone themselves stated they chose colors that fit what consumers are seeking: “Welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security.”

As marketers, we can follow Pantone’s lead when selecting colors. Sometimes being the one to whisper when everyone else is yelling is what draws attention.

And while thoughts of Barbie’s dream house or your grandmother’s powder room might come to mind when you think of these hues, they can actually create a sophisticated and modern pallet when used in the right way. Pink and blue will gain popularity in the building industry for the same reason they did in the ‘50s—they bring calmness and comfort to a home. Using these shades for the right reasons can be very effective in reaching your audience.

Here are a few tips on when to use these shades, as well as RGB (on screen) codes to try out:

Rose Quartz, Pantone 677Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 11.21.48 AM

  • r 235, g 209, b 214
  • Warm and soft are the words that come to mind when you see this color. Therefore, it will work well to market any product that delivers warmth and comfort to its user, like insulation, heating, or carpeting.

Serenity, Pantone 659Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 11.21.41 AM

  • r 120, g 150, b 207
  • You just can’t get a color that’s any cooler, calmer, or more collected than this one. It makes you want to take a deep breath. Use this in any communication intended to put your audience at ease. The tone for a warranty promotion or new customer service offering would be complemented nicely by this color.

Bring these hues into your marketing with purpose and you will be sure to stand out to your audience—not with a bang, but with a whisper.

References:

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6 of My Favorite Building Products Manufacturer Apps

10 Dec

Are You Using All the Sales Tools Available to You?

Unknown

As of July 2015, there are 1.6 million Google Play apps, 1.5 million Apple App Store apps, and 400,000 Amazon App Store apps*. The building products industry is beginning to take notice of this phenomenon with apps of their own—apps that can be used to visualize, quote, install, and educate customers about various products and services. These are apps that can make a huge difference when selling and marketing building products, and they should become a strong part of your strategy both in working with pros and consumers alike.

I’ve put together a list of some of the standout apps in the building industry. Of course, the apps most impactful to you will depend on inventory, product relevance, location, and so on. But these are a good sampling of the types of apps you should be looking to as standard-bearers within the building industry:

  • Sherwin Williams ColorSnap® Visualizer: This app goes above and beyond the call of duty for most visualizer tools—what you would expect from a household name. Not only can users see how colors will look in a space, but they can also match colors based on images, scan colors in-store, and view entire color schemes based on a single color number. This app considers how people live and allows them to design their home around it. Plus, by letting a user pull color matches from real photos in their camera roll, they add a certain playful element that makes a user want to spend time in the app.
  • AZEK® Deck Building Products iPad App: This app can be used as a 2D or 3D visualizer of the entire AZEK product line so customers can see how it looks before any purchase is made. Users can take notes on their creations, save, and share them when necessary. You can imagine a situation in which you or one of your pros could create a visualization of a buyer’s space, share it with them, and more easily close a sale. Not only that, but a buyer could use it with a pro or dealer so they could recommend the best product for them.
  • RDI® Railing Designer App: This one is especially useful for pros, who can access the SRP back-end of the application to create customer quotes. Meanwhile, all users have the ability to create a simulation of their railing configuration and then generate a materials list for shopping. Once the design is finished, it’s simple for customers to save and print out the materials list, which they can take to their local RDI dealer.
  • Therma-Tru® Doorways: Like the others, this is another mobile visualizer, but it works on all mobile devices and integrates with social media so users can post their creations and get input from others if they’re stuck between multiple options (mahogany and oak, for example). Product information is automatically stored in every design, and users have the ability to search for the nearest dealer of each product, bringing consumers and dealers closer together.
  • Ply Gem Designed Exterior Studio: While not a mobile app (must be accessed in a computer browser), Ply Gem has put together a great visualization tool for home exteriors. Users simply pick their home style, select an area of the home to change materials and colors, then select from stone, windows, siding, etc. Ply Gem recently added a new feature called MyHome, which allows a user to upload an image of his/her own house to modify.
  • Eldorado Outdoor™ Design Tool: I love this tool from Eldorado Stone. Like the Ply Gem one, this visualizer is for web browsers, but it is a seriously robust platform. You create your space based on layout size, then you can add in everything from cabinets to walls and fireplaces, appliances, etc. before you apply the Eldorado stone and brick of your choice. Like the others, it offers an easy way to save, print, share, and get quotes. With all of these features at your disposal, Eldorado Outdoor is not your average design tool.

A recurring theme of the blog lately has been a discussion of how the building industry will need to modernize in the coming years (see here and here for more). Integrating manufacturer apps into your sales and marketing efforts is a simple yet strategic way to meet the changing needs of today’s increasingly mobile/digital consumers. Whether you’re a manufacturer, a pro, a dealer, or you’re at some different point in the channel entirely, apps like these will be important parts of growing your business—in 2016 and beyond.

[*] http://www.statista.com/statistics/276623/number-of-apps-available-in-leading-app-stores/

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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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