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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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Don’t Be Too Cool for “Old School”

22 Oct

Building Products Marketers Should Remember Direct Mail

Mail

As B2B building products marketers, it’s hard to resist the allure of the new and shiny. After all, it’s our job to push the envelope, develop new and exciting creative, and experiment with marketing tactics that drive results. But it’s also our job to use tried and true tactics that are proven to still have relevance in today’s marketplace.

A lot of marketers will be quick to tell you that direct mail is not one of those tactics—that it’s “old school” and doesn’t have the impact that digital/social/email all do. But marketers in the building industry would do well to learn what those in the fashion industry have proven time and time again: that everything comes back in style.

A recent study commissioned by Canada Post reveals that direct mail is no exception to the rule. In fact, according to this article in Marketo’s blog, direct mail still proves effective for B2B marketers, even in a predominantly digital age. Here are a few of the statistics from the study that you can’t miss:

  • 70% of people are curious to find out what’s in their mailbox. I wonder if as many feel the same about their email inbox.
  • 64% visited a website in reaction to direct mail. And typing in a website takes a lot more effort than clicking a button…
  • 51% prefer a combination of both mail and email. You may think digital is cool, but your audience might be sick of it. Mix it up.

Marketers get excited about the many new and different tools, communications channels, etc. available to us. And that’s okay; we see some cool and useful technology in our line of work, and these tools can be both fun and effective at driving results for our sales. But sometimes “old school” thinking works—when it’s right for your audience.

Take, for example, one of our clients, a major building products distributor. Many would say that fax is “old school” and no longer an effective marketing technique in the modern age; however, we conducted a survey last year of this client’s 10,000+ marketing list and discovered that fax is the second most preferred communication tactic by the audience. Ignoring a clear referendum from our audience simply because it seems “old school” would be ridiculous. And the same is true of direct mail, which continues to be effective, as the study proves.

Don’t get stagnant or miss out on conversion opportunities because you think you’re too cool for “old school.” You’re not. In fact, no marketer is too cool for something that drives measurable results.

But don’t take my word for it—the proof is in the numbers. Check out the full article for more direct mail insights.

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B2B Marketers: It’s Okay to Be an Enabler. (Sometimes.)

15 Oct

New Findings Prove the Effectiveness of Sales Enablement

State-of-SE_Sales_Effectivness_600x

I’m an enabler.

No, not the kind you’re thinking—a different kind of enabler.

I’m referring, of course, to one of my favorite topics: sales enablement. I’m an enabler in that anyone who knows me knows that I talk about this topic a lot because I have seen the difference it can make. I’ve also written before about how important this is for B2B marketers, especially in an industry like building, where there’s no shortage of products and innovations that sales people need to be experts on at any given moment. (Refer to the end of this blog post for some other posts I’ve written about this topic.) And although I might talk and blog about it a lot, it’s for good reason—and some newly-released numbers prove just that.

A recent article from marketingland.com entitled “Don’t Waste Marketing Leads: Achieve Revenue Goals With Sales Enablement” discusses some new findings from a recent study that no B2B marketer should ignore. Most notably, that a recent survey of more than 400 B2B sales and marketing professionals found that 57% of respondents with a sales enablement function ranked their sales efforts as either “effective” or “very effective.” That’s a massive jump in effectiveness, and it’s all thanks to B2B marketers working with their sales teams to create the content and tools they need to be successful with today’s increasingly educated and empowered buyers.

That’s right—creating effective sales enablement tools requires a cohesive effort between sales and marketing, which is another topic that my business partner recently wrote about for the October 2015 edition of Dealer Digest, a digital publication from Huttig Building Products. (Read that article here.) It can be challenging, but results like these prove that the time, money, and effort is more than worth it. ROI like that is hard to ignore.

After all, if you could increase the perception of your marketing and sales effectiveness by more than 20%, wouldn’t you do everything you could to make that happen?

Well, now the numbers show that you can.

Here is a roundup of some of our more recent posts about sales enablement, an important topic that continues to impact the B2B world—particularly in building products:

 

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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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