Tag Archives: Elton Mayfield

Not Ready to Speak? Try Listening.

25 Aug

With Building Products Social Media Marketing, Start by Listening

Stock Photo for Blog 8:24

I hear constantly from building product marketers that social media doesn’t apply to their business—that it’s “a B2C thing” or that it’s “for Millennials” and has no use when it comes to generating marketing qualified leads and closing sales. But when someone says this, what they’re really telling me is they’re not ready to use social as a platform to talk. My suggestion is this: if you’re hesitant about incorporating social media into your marketing plan, start instead with listening.

Quick story. I was at a trade show two years ago when a UPS delivery truck left behind a package containing my client’s pop-up booth. While an account coordinator at my agency tried frantically to get through to someone to talk to on the phone, I tweeted at UPS for help.

In the time the UPS social team responded to me, contacted the nearest store manager, and had the truck re-route to come and pick up the package, the account coordinator still hadn’t even reached an actual person on the phone.

These are the kinds of opportunities companies miss when they don’t at least listen to what’s happening in the social space. But there are many more benefits to social listening beyond just customer service. A recent article I read outlined a few that GE Lifesciences experienced when they began using social listening tools to monitor their industry:

  • Understanding language and terminology prospects were using
  • Learning the topics their audience was most interested in and creating content based on this information
  • Creating keyword search repositories for SEO and website taxonomy

Not every building products company is ready for a full social media marketing plan. I get it. 68% of CMOs openly admit their companies aren’t ready to fully incorporate social media into their strategies. But just because you’re not ready to use social as a platform to market your products doesn’t give you a free pass when it comes to listening to what your audience is saying.

At its heart, the building products industry is still about people. And as generational dynamics shift (hint: they’re already shifting), you can bet that those people are going to be on social media. One day social media won’t be optional—start listening now so that when that day comes, your company is prepared to speak.

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I Want B2B Marketers to Talk Dirty

13 Aug

Why Now Is the Time for B2B E-Commerce

notebook with shopping items on online shopping concept

There’s a dirty word in the world of B2B marketing. A word that strikes fear in the hearts of B2B marketers and sales people everywhere. It’s a word many are afraid to say, but not me.

I’m talking about e-commerce. (See? Told you—not afraid.)

Many B2B companies—and marketers, for that matter—are hesitant about e-commerce. How will it impact my business? How do I implement it? Whose feathers will I ruffle in the process? What will be the repercussions if I spend money on an expensive system and it fails?

These are important questions, and yes, there are a lot of those complications to consider. But this article makes a compelling case for B2B e-commerce by talking about how a luxury sunglass maker deployed an e-commerce portal for their 2,000+ wholesale clients and saw sales increase by 35%.

And guess what? It’s not just sunglasses; it’s building products, too. I can go to BuildDirect.com and order a pallet of vinyl siding right now. On the industrial side, Grainger is closing in on about 40% online sales—and with Grainger, we’re talking billions of dollars. Whatever your industry, you can no longer say e-commerce has nothing to do with you.

As more and more Millennials move into B2B buyer roles in the next 5 years or so (and yes, there are many who already are in buyer roles—my business partner Renae wrote about that here) it will be important for B2B companies to have some sort of e-commerce system in place. The companies above are proof that there is not only customer demand for these systems, but lucrative and untapped sales opportunities to be had by adopting them.

And for B2B companies hesitant and worried about the complications surrounding a B2B e-commerce portal, perhaps now is the time to work out those kinks. Because this issue is not going away, and I predict it will very quickly change from “something to do tomorrow” to “something that should have been done yesterday.”

Granted, I’m not a fortune teller. I don’t read palms, tea leaves, or crystal balls. But this is less an act of looking through the fog to predict a far-away future than it is looking both ways before you cross the street—it’s not down the line; it’s right in front of us.

So say that “dirty word” and say it often. I promise no one will tell your mom.

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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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Google Glass – Did We Forget to Look at the Channel?

26 May

glass2 glass1

How Google Glass Could Change the Face of the Building Industry

With all the chatter surrounding Google Glass, I’ve often found myself wondering how such a unique piece of technology could become integrated into real world, practical situations. Most of what we hear about Google Glass—whether good or bad—involves its use as a consumer product. But what about its capabilities for users in business settings? Have we been forgetting to look at the Channel in all our talk of Google Glass? A recent New York Times article seeks to address this issue by pointing out that a much more likely use for Google Glass will be professional settings: medical, technical support, and yes, maybe even the building products industry.

To recap the article, just a few of the many industries the New York Times outlines as having the potential to be impacted by Google Glass:

  • Engineering
  • Car repair
  • Architecture
  • Lumberjacking
  • Construction

What does a builder in the Channel do when he or she runs into an issue while installing a product? Today, he might make a call, consult a handbook or even search for a solution on a mobile device. But with wearable devices like Google Glass, new solutions are right in front of our eyes…literally. Imagine a builder being able to watch an instructional clip as they attempt to troubleshoot a tricky product or installation – or better yet, imagine that same builder is able to use his Google Glass to video conference with a room of experts who can offer their assistance. Is it as flashy as getting walking directions to the nearest Starbucks? Probably not, but it seems a much more likely scenario to me.

While it’s impossible to look into a crystal ball and see the future of this technology for consumers (though that might be a good idea for an app in the Google Play store), one thing is clear for Google Glass: it has the capability to change the way we look at the building industry.

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How B2B Building Product Marketers Use Twitter

25 Oct

Wireless Mouse and Keyboard

Learn about the top content sources, handles and apps

I recently read an interesting article in Marketing Profs, “How B2B Marketers Use Twitter: Top Content Sources, Most Retweeted Handles,” and wanted to share some stats about how B2B marketers are using Twitter.

Most shared content:

  1. Industry media sites: 62% of Twitter shares
  2. Mainstream media sites: 25% of Twitter shares
  3. Social media sites: 11% of Twitter shares
  4. E-Commerce: 1% of Twitter shares

Most shared industry media sources:

  1. Mashable
  2. Business Insider
  3. Business 2 Community
  4. Other notable sources: Hubspot, MarketingProfs, Tech Crunch, Venture Beat

Most retweeted people:

  1. @ValaAfshar
  2. @jaybaer
  3. @BrennerMichael
  4. @jeffbullas

Most retweeted vendors:

  1. @HubSpot
  2. @salesforce
  3. @Eloqua
  4. @marketo

How B2B marketers share:

  1. Twitter.com
  2. Tweet button
  3. Twitter for iPhone
  4. Other notable apps: Instagram, foursquare

While it’s beneficial for building product marketers like yourself to know the trends in B2B marketing, it’s even more important to use the content, sources and apps that make sense for your business. Does your Twitter strategy reflect the trends of the B2B masses or have you found solutions that work even better?

Want to know the full findings? Read the article here.

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