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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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The Times, They Are A-Changin’

1 Dec

Keep Your Eyes on Generational Shifts in Key Decision Makers

Decision Makers

I was recently asked to offer some insights for “2016 Trends in B-to-B Marketing,” an article in Marketing Daily. As you might expect from the title, they wanted to know what trends marketers should be planning for in the coming year, and they asked several veteran B2B marketers for their insights.

I went ahead and took it as a compliment to be included in the group—being asked to participate in a trends article means I must be a trendy guy, right? But I also took some time to carefully consider my answer. After all, I’m constantly using Navigate-the-Channel to blog about the latest trends in B2B marketing—everything from sales enablement to content marketing to social listening. There’s no shortage of trends I could have chosen.

But the more I thought about it, one thing really stood out for me. The trend I’m constantly monitoring these days is the generational shift in the key decision/owner role within businesses—especially dealers and lumberyards. As many Baby Boomers worked longer than they had planned due to the recession, they are only just now leaving the workforce—but they are doing so in greater volume than ever before. The new leadership of 30-to-40 year olds is starting to impact their organizations’ view on technology and adoption of new business services. This single change will have major ripple effects that impact the building products industry for years to come.

It’s not just that marketing strategies that may have been previously disregarded will suddenly be back on the table; it’s that the people at the top of the food chain will be looking at new pages on the menu. Hell, they might throw out the menu entirely and ask for online delivery. B2B buying will change (e-commerce is going to be big, guys, I promise); human resources and hiring practices will change (meaning there will be new ways of thinking at all levels); and B2B marketing could very well become a lot less buttoned up and safe (think of how many trade show booths now offer beer compared to a decade ago).

But hey, that’s just my perspective. There are plenty of different ones for you to read from the other contributors, so give the full article a read.

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Palate Cleanser: Why Building Products Marketing Matters

24 Nov

Now More Than Ever, Marketing Still Matters to the Bottom Line

Bruce Case

Those of us who have been in the building products industry for many years know that when times get tough, marketing can be one of the first things to get cut. The simple, undeniable truth is that B2B marketing is often underrated, and sometimes under-appreciated—but still effective and important to sales strategy in 2016 and beyond.

I recently came across a video from the 2015 Remodeling Leadership Summit and Big50 Awards ceremony, in which Bruce Case, the President/CEO of Case Remodeling, discusses the importance of marketing to his business. It’s a simple little palate cleanser, but worth watching. Here are a few quotes I pulled if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing:

“The marketing plan is the lifeblood of the business…[yet] a lot of people are tempted to cut that expense. But then that begins the ‘death spiral’ because the calls stop. In today’s world of social and digital marketing, you can do it in creative and less expensive ways.”

  • On the importance of marketing.

“What we’re really trying to do is drive people to our website, use the website, get people educated, and then get them come to us.”

“We need to look to where we’re going to be in five years. With Houzz and Porch, things are going to be vastly different in five years. And it’s trying to figure out how we’re going to be in the wave, not in front of the wave so the wave crashes over. Look at other industries. Taxis were bowled over by Uber in a short time.”

  • On why the building industry needs to always look ahead and innovate. As marketers, we will get pushback on this, but he’s right—it’s not enough for us to address current challenges; we have to be that much smarter and look ahead to tomorrow’s challenges as well. Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

Those were just a few of my favorite quotes from the video, but check out the whole clip here. (Don’t worry—it’s only about two minutes.)

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Proving B2B ROI Is Hard, But You’re Still Responsible for It

19 Nov

Don’t Ditch Lead Generation—Do Lead Generation Better

Marketing Strategy

As B2B marketers, how do we quantify the results of our work? How do we prove the effectiveness? The ROI. That’s the constant challenge we face, especially when it comes to the building industry, where we have to be that much smarter. The numbers prove it: 32% of B2B marketers can’t even name the digital marketing tactic that generates the most revenue for their company. (Elton wrote an article about that here.)

Nonetheless, the challenge of quantifying B2B marketing results does not absolve B2B marketers of the responsibility to provide them. I came across an article earlier this week that argues too many people are placing lead generation as their #1 measure of effectiveness when it comes to their content marketing, but because sales teams often do not use marketing qualified leads effectively, that might not be the best option. Instead, according to the article, engagement should be the most important measure of success.

They’re talking about a lot of the same things Elton and I have been discussing on Navigate-the-Channel regarding the buyer journey and the tools prospects need as they self-educate their way through the sales funnel—basically, the idea that buyers need good content at various stops through the buyer journey. Their argument, therefore, is that engagement rather than lead gen is the most important metric.

I don’t know how much I agree. The article fails to mention how one measures “engagement” vs. “lead gen” (Do we just measure web traffic? Social?) and how you justify the effectiveness of those results as a marketer.

My take: if we’re saying we need a different measure of effectiveness because sales teams are no longer utilizing our MQLs from lead generation efforts, maybe the question needs to become not how else we can measure effectiveness, but rather, how we can better incorporate the sales team in the early stages by working with them to develop a follow-up plan for what happens after the lead is generated. I’ve blogged about the importance of that here.

As B2B marketers, we have a responsibility to provide results; vague metrics might work in the B2C world, but B2B can’t afford not to know specifically where the money is going and whether or not every dollar is being put to good use. The simple truth is that, in B2B, marketing is often the first expense that gets cut. Delivering to results that can be measured is the single best way to prevent that from happening.

But don’t let that influence you—read the article yourself and see what you think.

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