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10 IBS Insights You Need to Know (Part 2/2)

28 Jan

Part Two: 5 Design Trends from IBS 2016

Indoor Outdoor Living

Every year, the International Builders’ Show (IBS) is the best place for marketers to keep a finger on the pulse of where the building products industry is going. The ER Marketing team and I attended this year, and we were able to learn everything from the latest marketing trends to a general economic housing outlook to the latest products that will impact everyone down the channel.

There’s no question that tech and high-performance homes are big, overarching trends to look for in 2016. But the show proved that neither of those trends can come at the expense of design, so the onus is on marketers at the higher end of the channel to educate their customers how these products can integrate into a home’s design beautifully and seamlessly.

Using our own team hashtag, #IBSDoubleTake, we captured the things that made us stop and take notice during IBS 2016. And they’re things you should take notice of, too—they’ll be impacting the way we market these products as we get deeper into 2016 and the coming years. Here are some of the design trends spotted at IBS 2016 by my team:

Top 5 Design Trends from IBS 2016:

  1. You are no longer in the building business. You are in the technology business. As customers at the end of the channel nutonebecome more and more tech-savvy (and tech-reliant), so too will their homes and the products they choose to build it with or put in it. Even down to seemingly simple products like this Nutone doorbell with 250 MB of space for custom doorbell rings/music, tech was the showstopper. Nutone did an excellent job of showing how a fun piece of technology can also inspire a clean and simple design aesthetic.
  2. Tech is big, but so is functionality. And new tech needs to integrate seamlessly into any design, including traditional, to be truly functional for customers. Wellborn Cabinets did that well with their remote control island—super functional, super classic, super innovative.Kohler Bath
  3. Lighting is big. Kohler highlighted the fact that whether in the home or in the booth, eye-catching lighting will be important for building products marketers to account for in 2016 and beyond. Consider how you might use unique lighting tactics to modernize your product photography as well.
  4. The style of the New American Home was “Rustic Modern.” What does that mean for building products marketers? Focus on a design that combines natural elements, textures, and colors with clean, simple, and crisp lines. In fact, the home executed this so effortlessly, it appeared to be a part of the natural landscape!New American Home 1
  5. Wondering how outdoor living plays in? Don’t worry—it hasn’t gotten away. In recent years, outdoor living has meant bringing amenities you would normally expect indoors (fireplaces/pits, speakers, covered seating) to the outdoors. Now it’s about bringing outdoor elements in with seamless, even tenuous, transitions from the indoors to the outdoors. This means floor to ceiling glass, pocket doors, cable or glass railing, clean lines, and corresponding design elements (like using recessed lighting and using the same flooring styles inside and outside, for example).

If you missed our post earlier in the week, make sure to read the Top 5 Marketing Trends building products marketers need to know from IBS 2016.

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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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2015’s Top 5 Building Product Dealers and Lumberyards to Follow on Pinterest

8 Oct

Stick a Pin in These Ones—You’ll Want to Come Back to Them Later

Pin

Just as social media has taken the B2C world by storm, it is already impacting the B2B world—especially in building products marketing, which offers countless content possibilities such as home renovation, inspiration pictures, DIY information, and more. In previous posts (here and here), we outlined 2015’s Top Building Products Dealers and Lumberyards to Follow on Twitter. But one of the best social media platforms to market building products might not be one that immediately comes to mind when you think of the biggest platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

The platform I’m talking about is Pinterest, which boasts a 38% adoption rate among B2B marketers, with 41% planning to increase their use.[1] As it will become even more important for B2B marketers to not only target the right audience, but to target them at the right point in their buyer journey, it is critical that building products marketers have content available on social networks like Pinterest. Here are the top five dealers and lumberyards paving the way on Pinterest:

  1. Lumber Liquidators: There’s a reason why Lumber Liquidator has almost 8,000 followers. With 4,000+ tweets spanning 40 boards, there are ideas broken down by budget, products, seasons, and even color. Plus, Lumber Liquidator even has a special board for current trends in the industry. This is a great way to use a visual platform to keep followers in the know when it comes to import design and product trends, rather than simply posting an article that they might not have time to read.
  2. Voyageur Lumber: Voyageur takes a smart approach with a couple of boards that focus on product and location-specific projects. For example, one of their boards features “AZEK® Projects,” which showcases the unique decking designs that can be completed with those specific products. But my favorite is a board featuring only homes by Ely contractors (the town where Voyageur is located). In this way, they combine the aspirational nature of Pinterest home improvement ideals with the realism of projects completed locally in their market.
  3. Advantage Lumber: If there’s one thing you come away with after spending a few minutes on the Advantage Lumber Pinterest, it’s that the outdoor living trend is alive and well. From fire pits to porches to decking galore, this Pinterest is cram-packed with ideas for those wanting to up their outdoors game. But the best touch is their customer submissions board, which features a gallery of project images taken by customers of the lumberyard.
  4. Cedar Creek Lumber: Most Pinterest accounts do a lot of re-pinning but fail to post their own content. What stands out about Cedar Creek’s Pinterest is their willingness to create their own content on the platform. From wood carving instructions to completed projects to a board in which they walk users through steps to create their own giant Jenga set, Cedar Creek isn’t just showcasing DIY—they’re leading by example.
  5. 84 Lumber: Although 84 Lumber has a more modest following than some of the other accounts, they do a great job of creating boards that reflect their specific business rather than industry trends that showcase larger scale projects their products have been used for—perfect for a B2B audience. That said, they also mix it up with some unique boards including throwback pictures from their business’s history and one featuring holiday décor ideas using building materials.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room. The building industry is often considered a male-dominated field (although hey, I’m writing this blog post); meanwhile, Pinterest is viewed as a female-dominated social network. But here’s the truth: so is almost every social media network in existence.[2] In the case of Pinterest, though, the only thing you need to know is that Pinterest doubled its number of male users in 2014, and a full 1/3 of all registrations now come from men.[3] And no surprises here—at the top of the most popular categories for men is DIY, home, and building.[4]

In an industry as visual as building, it’s important to find new ways to showcase your products and expertise. Pinterest is excellent at doing just that. And it’s only growing, offering even more opportunities for you to reach your audience. While these are just a few of the dealers and lumberyards out there using Pinterest, they set a strong example of what social media marketing can mean for building products.

 

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The Next Big Trend for Building Products Marketing

25 Mar

…And How It Can Boost Your Sales

ThinkstockPhotos-166154038

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.

LS004312_7

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?

ThinkstockPhotos-157033382

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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