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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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Building Products Marketers Need Sales to Survive

15 Sep

Sales and Strategy Go Hand In Hand

Business people meeting

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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Is Your Sales Promotion Failing? Or Are You Just Failing Your Sales Team?

31 Jul

Drive Sales Promotion Results by Marketing to Your Sales Team

Sales Team

Here’s something you might not expect a veteran B2B marketer to say: The success of a B2B sales promotion does not hinge on the prizes, nor does it hinge on the theme. It’s not only about the bells and whistles. It’s not even only about the messaging.

A promotion is, however, dependent on buy-in from your sales team. So what would make a long-time B2B marketer and veteran of countless sales promotions say such a thing? Simple: experience. I’ve seen some of the best promotions with the biggest prizes falter—even the longest-running, most historically successful of promotions—without support from internal sales teams.

As a marketer, the ultimate goal is that your work drives sales, and often, a sales promotion might be one of the biggest projects of your year. Consider these tips to ensure your success with the support of your sales team:

  1. Tap Your Sales Team
    Sales teams are important in almost any B2B marketing effort, but they’re especially important in promotions that push a specific product (whether it’s more educated or sales-focused). The first step is to recognize the value your sales team brings to the table, and to make them feel valued. Your internal sales team should receive their own communications throughout the promotion—a “promotion within a promotion,” that will ultimately encourage them to drive a lot of its success. Send them results and updates throughout the promotion, not only to encourage their competitive spirit, but also to remind them what sales goals they’re working towards.
  2. Enable Your Sales Team
    We’ve discussed the importance of sales enablement in the past. With that in mind, just as you might send out weekly or bi-weekly emails to remind dealers to participate in the promotion, you should also send out weekly or bi-weekly emails to remind your internal sales team to encourage sign-ups and participation from the people they talk to every day. But don’t stop there—give them tips and tricks like scripts to use at the end of every sales call. Create unique product flyers and hotsheets that help them sell the product and push it that much harder during the promotion. You might even consider how a concurrent customer rebate could drive sales down the channel.
  3. Incent Your Sales Team
    Okay, I take back what I said earlier—prizes do matter. But they don’t matter to only the participants of the promotion. They also matter to your sales team, who must use hard-earned political capital with their customers to push a new promotion on top of their normal, day-to-day sales. Asking for the help of your sales team is great, but be ready to put your money where your mouth is and offer them the incentives they need to push that much harder. Consider that being able to offer huge prizes for participants of the promotion is only as useful as the participation it garners, the leads it generates, and the sales it closes.

Despite the changes in technology, B2B is still about personal interactions and relationship-building. If you’re not engaging the people on the ground to leverage their relationship, your promotion isn’t failing you—you are failing your promotion. Create a “promotion within a promotion” to encourage your sales team to get in on the action.

One guess what’ll happen…

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The Customer Journey: The Future of B2B Marketing?

5 Mar

It’s Not Just a Buzzword—It’s a Requirement

AA029354

When examining the future of B2B marketing, it’s impossible not to think about the impact of the customer journey on marketing strategy. It’s not just B2C companies that are making it a priority; it’s a frequent discussion with B2B clients I deal with every day. A recent whitepaper by LinkedIn® and Salesforce, “The State of Marketing Leadership: How Senior-Level Marketers are Redefining Succcess and Integrating the Customer Journey,” addresses this issue with details about the current state of the customer journey and where companies and marketing agencies should focus their efforts to be successful.

What I’ve seen with my clients is the same as what the whitepaper says—that the customer journey isn’t just a buzzword, it’s actually a requirement for companies who want to succeed. It’s more important than ever to deliver very personalized brand experiences to customers if you want to get true engagement out of them. But when push comes to shove, it’s easier for many B2B marketers to maintain the status quo than to meet this new challenge. My favorite part of the whitepaper that proves that—and this is a classic marketing mistake—is that despite the widespread agreement among B2B marketers that the concept of the customer journey is important, only 37% of B2B marketers surveyed have adopted the term into their business strategy. Huh?

So why is that? Because it’s a challenge and clear roadmaps aren’t necessarily laid out for adopters of the customer journey. The whitepaper goes on to say that marketers who integrated the customer journey into their strategy found the most effective tactics for success were tools like marketing analytics, CRM tools, and content management. Nonetheless, one of the largest obstacles expressed by them was that these tools and data systems were not always integrated with each other.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 10.42.06 AM

There are a few things that B2B marketers will need to do to enhance the customer journey experience:

  • Better integration and analysis of data systems
  • Faster and more thorough adoption of mobile marketing
  • Mapping the customer journey by designating important touchpoints
  • Testing new tools like marketing automation, videos, content marketing, guided selling, and landing pages

For more insights from the whitepaper, click here to download.

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