Tag Archives: building products

Are the 4P’s relevant anymore in building products marketing?

26 Mar

Internet Being Left Behind

B2B has changed – the 4P’s don’t apply

Most marketers today know or knew of the 4Ps. They are the traditional marketing mix–product, place, price, and promotion. But these narrow views are increasingly battling with the essential need to deliver solutions.

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Richard Ettenson, Eduardo Conrado, and Jonathan Knowles outline how B2B marketers need to adopt a new framework focused on solutions, access, value, and education–SAVE.

Having heard Eduardo, the SVP of Marketing and IT for Motorola Solutions, present how they transformed their marketing and in turn their company by utilizing the SAVE method, I wanted to share some of the key points from their article.

In a five-year study involving more than 500 managers and customers in multiple countries and across a wide range of B2B industries, they found that the 4P’s model undercuts B2B marketers in three important ways:

  1. It leads their marketing and sales teams to stress product technology and quality even though these are no longer differentiators but are simply the cost of entry.
  2. It underemphasizes the need to build a robust case for the superior value of their solutions.
  3. It distracts them from leveraging their advantage as a trusted source of diagnostics, advice, and problem solving.

Eduardo explained how Motorola Solutions used SAVE to guide the restructuring of its marketing organization and its go-to-market strategies in the government and enterprise sectors. Along the way the firm identified three requirements for successfully making the shift from 4 P’s thinking to SAVE.

  1. Management must encourage a solutions mind-set throughout the organization.
  2. Management needs to ensure that the design of the marketing organization reflects and reinforces the customer-centric focus.
  3. Management must create collaboration between the marketing and sales organizations and with the development and delivery teams.

Notice how all three of his points begin with Management. This type of fundamental shift must be embraced at the highest levels. Eduardo contributes a lot of success to the fact his CEO fully endorsed and supported this new way of thinking.

It also won’t happen overnight, but as marketers its our job, now more than ever, to help drive the company in new directions and to shape our message both internally and externally.

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Is your building product marketing ready for the R & R market?

15 Mar

Marketing business sales

How to support the R & R market

The professional contractor, especially in the R & R market, is the final person who can decide, or strongly influence, what products a homeowner uses. Many times the homeowner knows what they want done, but not how or with what product. This is a powerful position for the contractor and one that all manufacturers understand.

As a manufacturer, are you and your marketing efforts addressing this situation? Have you thought through what this all-important part of the sales process can utilize or leverage to fully enable the sales process?

Here are 3 reasons many companies have yet to figure this out.

  1. Sometimes it’s just a matter of budget. [harder to fix]
  2. Sometimes it’s not understanding who really sells your product. [Basics of your job and your team]
  3. And all too often, it’s the view that you can’t develop programs that ‘this guy’ will get or even utilize – they just don’t see the importance this guy has at the winning the kitchen table. [Your viewpoint has gotten askew of who matters]

But it isn’t simply a fancy new iPad app, it can be other support that makes the difference. It takes time to understand how your products are actually sold. Too often, the brand manager hasn’t taken the time to understand who is involved in the sales channel and how the sale occurs, especially to the homeowner.

At that moment, all the branding and marketing really don’t have any value beyond making the homeowner familiar. Most homeowners are buying the pro, not the product. People buy from people they know, like and trust.

While there are examples of brand awareness driving the consumer decision, those companies have spent years and thousands, maybe millions, of dollars to build that brand. Unless you’re one of those companies, and even they sometimes forget, you need to look at what you’re doing to support the channel, all the way to the kitchen table.

So what can you do right now? Here are 3 things you should be doing:

  1. Review technologies that you are proving down the channel.
  2. Develop a strategy to reach out to your channel partners to gain insight on what tools they want and need.
  3. Set up a plan to enable the sales process at the kitchen table to benefit your company’s products.
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International Builders’ Show 2013: A Reminder to Get Real

21 Jan

International Builder's Show

Relationships Define the Building Products Industry

As we travel to see the latest and greatest things the building industry has to offer, I am reminded that what we are really seeing is the people. It’s a face-to-face interaction with someone in a booth, at an event, or in a room with the keynote speaker.

Don’t get me wrong, we will blog and tweet and post on Facebook, but what we really go to the Builders Show for is the real interaction that occurs. I will see people I only see once a year, but we will discuss how our families are, how business has been, what we think 2013 will bring for all of us and of course, talk about how time has flown by and how we have survived what many would say the worst time to be in this industry.

Since beginning my career in this industry over two decades ago, I have come to appreciate it and the people more and more. The genuine nature of most everyone was that way then and it is still there today.

We might have a lot of new technology and ways to help us do our jobs more efficiently, but in the end, its about that couple buying their first home, remodeling for their newborn, or now remodeling for our parents to live in their home more comfortably.

Either way, it’s about the home that we all share with our loved ones, our pets and of course, our stuff. But the stuff we have can never replace the people we know and work with. Whether we see each other every day or once a year, my best friends have almost all come out of this industry.

Maybe it’s my small town background or growing up on a farm, but the incredible men and women that work in this industry have always made me feel at home. From the job site to the showroom and the corporate offices that make up this industry, the people always have been and always will be real.

So whether your at IBS or not, remember to keep it real; your message, your products, your interactions with co-workers or clients, but most importantly yourself.

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2013 Building Products Resolution: Hold Productive Meetings

13 Dec

Efficient meetings in 2013

Make better meetings a resolution for 2013

I recently read an article about hosting better meetings and it got me thinking about the building products industry. Our industry is full of ambitious, talented people, but that doesn’t mean we always host productive meetings. For 2013, make it your mission to have better, more productive meetings. Here’s a few tips on how to do that:

Everyone should have all of the information ahead of time

  • Don’t use meetings as a place to drop loads of information on your employees. Everyone should have all of the information up front, so the meetings can be productive and action items can be determined.

Meetings exist to make a decision

  • Meetings are not a time to deliberate and discuss, they are a time to come in and make a decision. If you’ve followed the rule above, then everyone should know all information when they walk into a meeting and a decision can be made on the task at hand.

Brainstorming vs. meetings

  • If you really do need to get a group of great minds together to deliberate on an idea, make sure you treat your brainstorming sessions different than your meetings. While meetings exist to make a decision, brainstorming sessions exist to come up with great ideas. Foster great ideas, a feeling of collaboration and inspire creativity by mixing it up. Try having fun props to play with, light music in the background or do something different with the space or lighting to show people that brainstorming is different than meetings.

Start on time

  • And set a time limit. Meetings that take longer than they should not only waste time, but they get people distracted and push them farther off the tasks at hand. Show people that you respect their time by honoring the time limit you’ve set.

Only include the people who need to be there

  • Deciding who should be in a meeting can prove to be harder than it looks, but a good rule of thumb is to only include the people that need to be there.

Turn off all technology

  • Nothing kills a meeting more than someone checking their phone or tablet for email. Make sure everyone understands the importance of focusing on the task at hand to make the most efficient use of time for all parties involved.

Meetings can be productive and efficient if done correctly. Start 2013 off on the right foot by keeping these things in mind. For more information on how to have better meetings, check out Seth Godin’s blog post: Getting serious about your meeting problem.

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The New Building Products Lumberyard

11 Dec

The new lumberyard

Marketers need to understand how lumberyards have changed and adjust to new needs

The past few years have been more than brutal for everyone up and down the building materials channel. We’ve all seen businesses close, friends out of work and everyone wondering when does this end?

For those fortunate to have survived it has required some changes. As a B2B marketer you’ve seen the skills needed change at a pace never seen in our careers. Tools that weren’t in existence 10 years ago are now key to our jobs.

So what about the local lumberyard? That staple of every town for the past 150 years has had to reinvent themselves. Gone is the typical “yard” that sells bunks and bunks of lumber only. Or the total house order. While those still occur, the progressive LBM dealers are evolving to add new product categories and have completely blown up the “showroom” concept.

Pick up a copy of ProSales magazine and half the stories are about an LBM dealer that is doing something unheard of 5 years ago. Recently the cover story was about Ganahl Lumber; they purchased an auto dealership in Pasadena, CA. Right there on the route of the Rose Bowl parade is a lumberyard. But not an old lumberyard. A true homeowner showroom with kitchen cabinets, flooring, and many other homeowner focused products.

  • Are you taking advantage of this dramatic change to the LBM?
  • Have you thought about your displays to ensure they will work in today’s LBM showroom?
  • What about retail packaging? Many LBMs are adding traditional retail racks with product sets just like a home center or local hardware store.

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the awesome folks at Gilcrest/Jewitt in Des Moines at one of their larger locations. This wasn’t an LBM – it was a full fledged home center. Not only do they have a full kitchen design center but many other products including an impressive Windsor Windows and Doors display. They have worked directly with Windsor to make their LBM showroom a destination and showcase the products for everyone involved in home construction.

G-J is a sixth generation lumberyard in the middle of Iowa. They’ve been through devastating fires and floods and are now at the forefront of a modern LBM with multiple locations across Iowa.

If you’re still thinking lumberyards are simply a pro lumberyard you’re missing a huge opportunity to drive your product positioning and merchandising with a key part of the channel. If you’ve not been in a modern LBM get out of the office and visit one now. You’ll be a better marketer for it.

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