Tag Archives: building products

What the Pro Should Want From a Building Materials Manufacturer

23 Apr

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Know the pro and separate yourself from the competition

As a manufacturer of building products you provide solutions for the home owner that get delivered, installed, and most importantly sold by someone you don’t know.

Oh sure, you ‘know’ who the builder or remodelers are. You read the trade publications, you go to conferences, you subscribe to newsletters, heck you even have an analyst in the marketing department. But do you really know what that person needs from your company?

While you have spent all that money on your brand, your website, your amazing new iPad app, does it mean anything to the person down the channel? This person may be sitting across the dining room table, on the job-site or in the model home making purchasing decisions with the homeowner. What does it mean to them?

Many times, the professional builder or remodeler has the ultimate power over the homeowner and what are they armed with? Their own marketing materials. Maybe they use your brochure, but in the end people buy from people they know, like and trust. No one trusts a brochure or an iPad app.

As budgets become available now that the recovery is here, be sure to include all the stops on your sales channel. Remember to equip everyone with what they need to help the next stop on the channel. What your one-step distributer/dealer needs is very different from a two-step wholesale selling to lumberyards selling to the pro.

Make the effort to understand that pro. Research them. Sit with them at the table with the homeowner. Put the time in to see how they use your cool new gadgets vs what they are comfortable using. You might be surprised at the wide range of options you need to provide.

You also have to think about how your brand message is delivered. It is the last stop in the funnel. Think about how you enable the sales process to occur as easily as possible. Are you making it easy for the pro to sell your products?

Some thoughts to ponder as you really look at the customer that sells your products for you. Always keep them in mind. While not directly your customer, they are often not given the full access to the manufacturer to help them. Those that have figured it out, and there are many, are separating themselves from the competition.

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5 Building Product Trends In the New Housing Market

18 Apr

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The Housing Market is Evolving – Be Ready

As we move into 2013, I think everyone is in agreement, the housing market is recovering. In some places, it’s recovered, others sill have excess inventory or foreclosures, but overall – we are through the worst time our industry has ever seen (or wants to see).

So as we look forward to this ‘new’ normal what will the housing market look like? What trends do we think will occur or impact our business? the home buyer? the manufacturer? the lumberyards?

Heres my take on 5 things this ‘new’ normal means to our industry

  1. We all have to remember what we have gone through these past few years. It’s human nature to only remember the good things and let those bad memories fade away. We can’t let that happen this time. We need to manage inventories, not simply look for the quick buck and actually manage our businesses with the long-term in mind. Too many bad decisions combined with bad business practices left too many companies out of business.
  2. People will continue to stay in the homes longer. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like homeowners have also learned some hard lessons. Too many people bought a home they couldn’t afford and then wondered why they couldn’t make that huge payout after 2 years. There’s enough hedge funds buying up real estate. People need to buy a home they can afford.
  3. Universal design and aging in place will explode. As a component of #2, people are aging in their homes. Some because they love the house they have lived in, but for many, it’s a very easy financial decision. The cost to make your home more accessible and useable as you age far outweighs the cost to sell your home and move; especially to any assisted living facility. Manufacturers and pros need to look at this as a huge opportunity.
  4. Multi-generational living isn’t going away. While initially people saw this as the Millennial generation moving home after college, it’s much more than that. In a growing number of family’s, the older generation is moving in with their ‘kids’. These homes typically were the primary home and may have kids off in college and now the grandparent(s) are living with the family. Again this becomes a financial, but also a great emotional, challenge for the entire family. Creating homes and products that work, in some cases, for three generations will be key.
  5. Millennials are in no rush to buy a home. For most of us, buying a home was something you wanted to do. It meant you had arrived. You were an adult. We need to understand that’s not at all how the Millennial generation approaches home ownership. That’s part of their contentment with living at home into their mid 20s. As an industry we need to realize that constant stream of new buyers may take a hit for a few years. Although there are plenty of hard working, financially stable 26-32 year olds, they simply don’t feel the need to buy a home right away.

So the housing market is really coming back, but it will be different and we all must learn from the past, and be prepared for the future.

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10 Building Product Lumberyards You Should Follow on Twitter – Part 2

10 Apr

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Even more local lumberyards on Twitter 

Like I mentioned in Part I of my Top 10 Building Product Lumberyards You Should Follow on Twitter list, for many Twitter users, the hardest part is knowing who to follow so I’ve created a list. Here are the rest of my Top 10:

 6. Luedtke Lumber – @LuedtkeLumber

This Wisconsin-based lumberyard and hardware store not only has nearly 900 tweets, but utilizes text-based offers as well. While definitely more DIY than some, this lumberyard has grown to add more products and services beyond the traditional yard.

7. Bliffert Lumber – @BliffertLumber

Bliffert Lumber is another Wisconsin lumberyard that has millwork, hardware, decking as well as K&B. With over 800 followers and nearly 2,000 tweets, this company has integrated Facebook and Twitter to help promote specials and other customer information.

8. Mobile Lumber – @MobileLumber

While many yards are using Twitter for promotions and products, this Mobile, AL-based yard also utilizes it to recruit employees for all their locations in the Gulf Coast area. They have over 700 followers and are growing.

9. Star Lumber & Supply – @StarLumber

Closing in on 1,000 followers, this Wichita-based family owned yard utilizes many of its tweets to help educate and promote product knowledge and availability. In addition, they utilize their blog (blog.starlumber.com) for more in-depth product information.

10. Issaquah Lumber – @CedarExpert

As their Twitter handle implies, this Issaquah, WA yard focuses on cedar. As a family-owned Cedar Mill, they have nearly 2,000 followers looking for their insights on cedar products from decking to fencing and everything in between.

For even more lumberyards, check out my Twitter list at https://twitter.com/EltonMayfield/lumberyards. For a daily update from this list of lumberyards, subscribe to my daily paper: http://paper.li/EltonMayfield/1335936730.

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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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