Tag Archives: building products

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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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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Is Housing Really Back?

3 Sep

Why That Question Might Be More Complicated Than You Think

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As anyone who works in building products can attest, this is not an industry for the weak of heart. The last few years have required everyone—from the manufacturers to the distributors to the dealers to the pros—to weather a lot of ups and downs. As we all know, the economy is now recovering from those difficult times, and so is the building products industry. But the real question on everyone’s minds is simple: is housing really back?

It may seem like a simple question, but the answer is far from it; in fact, the July 2015 Building Products & Construction Industry report from Piper Jaffray offers some important information on this topic:

  • Residential product manufacturers are up 19.4% over last year
  • Lumber/wood product manufacturers are down by 11.5% from 2014
  • Homebuilders have experienced modest growth over last year’s numbers—about 2.8%
  • Builder confidence and remodeling spending remain positive as of July 2015—an exceptionally good sign for residential product manufacturers

As most in the building products industry can agree, the big number will always be starts. In its heyday, the building products industry was at around 1.5 million starts. As of July 2015, housing starts in the US are up to 1,206,000—the highest since October of 2007.

So the question remains—is housing really back? You’re not likely to find a single answer on this, because a simple, universally agreed upon answer doesn’t exist. There are glimpses of great happenings in the industry including multi-family growth and remodeling growth, but most of us in the building industry agree that getting back to 1.5 million starts isn’t going to happen. Ever. Those times are gone—and maybe that is a good thing. We are back to numbers that are reasonable and—dare I say it—sustainable. The trick is now, as building product marketers, to capitalize on these upward trends to promote further growth.

Here’s a quick digest of relevant articles about the state of housing. Give them a read!

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Plan Towards Innovation

3 Jun

 Stand out from the crowd

Create a New Future with Innovation-Focused Strategy

As most marketers navigating the building supply channel know, strategy and innovation go hand in hand. I’ve discussed in past articles how creativity can play an important role in innovation, but often overlooked is the strategy that goes into actually implementing the changes necessary to make a creative innovation a reality.

A recent article by Vijay Govindarajan describes this dynamic between innovation and strategy – specifically, how innovation should always inform strategy-making.

Govindarajan suggests that there are four key factors to consider with innovative strategy-making:

  • Know Your Industry – It’s not enough to assume that the same strategies that innovated faster-paced, larger industry will work in a smaller, slower one. Some innovations can take a decade, while others can take ten decades. Don’t confuse the two.
  • Innovation Is Complex – Innovation can be linear or non-linear, which is to say: in line with current business practices or deviating slightly from current business practices. But as Govindarajan points out, these linear or non-linear business practices can also unfold into even more complex layers with incremental or radical innovation: happening over time or overhauling a pre-established system in a sudden, disruptive manner. Whatever the innovation you’re considering, make sure to know the implications.
  • Just Do It – If an idea gets pushed down the table time and time again, it’s a money drain. Plus, the more times it gets pushed down the table, the greater the likelihood that it will eventually fall off the table entirely. You can talk about an idea or even set strategy all you want, but there’s something to be said for actually making it happen.
  • Innovation Isn’t Top Down – Folks at the bottom tend to know customers better – use their knowledge to set strategy that disrupts the status quo. In fact, Govindarajan argues that senior-level employees have often played such a key role in the setting status quo, which makes it difficult for them to consider an innovation that could disrupt past ways of doing things.

For more information, give Govindarajan’s article a read.

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What You Need to Know about Google in the Building Products Industry – Part 1

8 Oct

G+

Google Goes Beyond Search: AdWords, Analytics and Google Apps

We all know Google’s awesome search functionality, but do you know everything else it has to offer? This 2-post series will teach you about:

  • Part 1: Google AdWords, Analytics and Google Apps for business
  • Part 2: Google+

Let’s start with the basics – by now you should be familiar with Google AdWords and Google Analytics:

  • Google AdWords: AdWords (commonly referred to as Pay-Per-Click or PPC) is easy to set up for your building products business and allows you to target specific search terms, manage your budget and see what is working and what isn’t.
  • Google Analytics: Google Analytics allows you to track visitors, and their activity, on your website. If you’re ready to take it to the next level, consider upgrading to Google Analytics Premium which provides even greater insights.

Google has also developed several apps that your building products industry company may want to use. Google Apps is a full suite of cloud-based productivity tools that let you (and your team!) connect from any device. They are simple to set-up, use and manage. Here is an overview of some of my favorites:

  • Gmail: Provides unique functionality like ‘labels’ that allow you to store emails in multiple folders. Also provides 30GB of free storage.
  • Drive: A place to easily organize all of your files on the Google cloud.
  • Docs: Perfect for creating and sharing documents in real-time with your team.
  • Sheets: Spreadsheet functionality with discussion style comments.
  • Slides: Work on presentations with your team in real time.

A couple other notable Google products:

  • Google+ Hangouts: An easy (and free) way for up to 10 people to have a live video call.
  • Google Wallet: Not only does it allow users to purchase products with 2 clicks, it now features a loyalty program component.

Look for my second post on Google coming shortly to determine what your company needs to do to stay relevant in search listings and beyond.

 

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