Tag Archives: LBM industry

10 Building Product Lumberyards You Should Follow on Twitter – Part 1

8 Apr

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 2.38.10 PM

Even the local lumberyard is on Twitter

While most of the ‘big companies’ are on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, etc. you may be surprised to find many of the local lumberyards are on Twitter; and quite active as well.

For many Twitter users, the hardest part is knowing who to follow – with over 500 million people on the platform, cutting through the clutter is a challenge, so I’ve created a list: the Top 10 Lumberyard Follows Worth Your Time, and here are the first 5:

1. Dunn Lumber – @DunnLumber

With over 8,000 followers and over 15,000 tweets, this Washington lumberyard is very active on Twitter with tips, product updates, promotions, and more. Most importantly they are very responsive on Twitter. They get it and use it.

2. Parr Lumber – @parrlumber

This Pacific Northwest family-run chain of yards is an industry leader in its marketing efforts. Parr has been active for many years on Twitter. They use it well to update their followers on products and relevant news.

3. National Lumber – @NationalLumber

With nearly 3,000 followers and over 1,500 tweets, this large NE group of yards have been very active in social media well beyond Twitter – utilizing Google+, Facebook and more. They use Twitter for customer events and updates on everything from products to training.

4. Turkstra Lumber – @TurkstraLumber

This Canadian lumberyard and manufacturer uses updates and hashtag (#) contests to engage and inform their customers.

5. J & W Lumber – @JWLumber

You can find weekly specials, product introductions and more at this Southern California lumberyard Twitter account. They have nearly 800 followers and have had several hundred updates over the past couple of years.

Be sure to check out Part 2 of the list for the rest of my 10 lumberyards you should follow on Twitter.

Share via email

Top 8 Ways to Onboard Rookies to the Building Products Industry

30 May

Businesspeople looking out of window

Last week, I talked about the aging workforce of the building products industry and the personality differences of the milennial generation that is the future of our business. Beyond those things, however, there’s another fundamental challenge: getting to know the ins and outs of this business.

They’re a generation that does less work with their hands than their parents or grandparents did so, overall, there’s going to be a fundamental challenge of understanding the tools and processes that go into building and remodeling. Then, there’s the dynamics of a a multi-channel business like ours: the manufacturer>distributor>dealer>pro>homeowner sales process isn’t the same as the manufacturer>retailer>consumer one most of them may have an understanding of.

With all that in mind, I came up with this list of the Top 8 Ways to Onboard Rookies to the Building Products Industry. This list may not apply for all businesses, but I’ve focused on manufacturers in creating it:

  1. Send them to the International Builders’ Show (IBS), and not just for the exhibits. Send them for 3-4 days and get them to attend a variety of seminars, like this one I attended on panelized homes, for example.
  2. Ensure they’re subscribed to a range of publications. By that, I mean they should be reading a dealer-focused one (ProSales or LBM Journal), as well as at least one publication each targeted to builders, remodelers, architects and consumers.
  3. Put them in the passenger seat with one of your territory sales reps. Let them see the dynamics of a sales rep’s daily interactions, and see what a sales rep does each day.
  4. Put them behind the counter. Whether you sell through a distributor or not, your product is almost certainly being sold behind the counter of a lumberyard, big box or hardware store. Get your rookie there for a day to see what that’s like.
  5. Go build a house with Habitat for Humanity. What better way to understand how a house gets built then to do it yourself?
  6. Let them own a topic. Milennials love to “own” something at work, so give them the chance to dive it and get smart about a topic your team might be lacking for knowledge in.
  7. Put them on a committee. If there’s an opportunity for them to interact with people outside their department via an internal committee, let them try that.
  8. Put them on the line. Rookies should know how your product is made – the best way to learn that is to go to the plant and even work somewhere on the line if possible.

While it probably isn’t possible to invest in all these things for each new employee, keep them in mind as you bring on people new to the building industry. Just being able to do a few of them might make the difference in your employee embracing this industry and becoming a future star, and that employee moving on to greener pastures.

Share via email

Theodore Roosevelt & the Building Products Industry – Great Quotes Series

8 May

Image source:Wikipedia

What can one of the 4 Mount Rushmore presidents teach us about marketing?

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

- Theodore Roosevelt

We’re all guilty of it as building product industry marketers. I’ve heard it countless times myself. I’m talking about making excuses for why we can’t do something.

We have a small staff. We can’t get that information. We have a limited budget. Our budget got reduced by 20%. The head of sales won’t work with us. Those are the kinds of statements I thought of when I read this quote from President Theodore Roosevelt. And I don’t think he was saying to be complacent or accept the status quo; that was never an option for TR and it shouldn’t be one for you, the building product marketer. So what can we do, as marketers?

  • Don’t spend time on it if it’s not aligned with the business goals: quite often, an organization has a long-standing commitment to something that doesn’t make sense with the business today. It might be a tradeshow that used to be the industry event, a publication that you’re always advertised in or a customer event you’ve always supported. There should be no sacred cows in your marketing.
  • Make sure you’re collecting usable data: for too long, we had to frequently justify mass media as being solely a branding effort. After all, how could we tie it directly to results? Now, with the ability to create and track unique URLs, use tracking phone numbers and create QR codes, it’s possible to tie results back to every single piece of communication possible. Start doing that, and it becomes a lot easier to decide where your dollars should best be spent – no more sacred cows in the media plan either.
  • Automate It: technology has made it easier for us to automate so many things that used to require time from internal staff. Want to trigger reminder campaigns? Tie your sales data into your email marketing platform, set the business rules and let the system run. Tired of creating custom spreadsheets with pivot tables and other data visualizations? Look at marketing automation/analytics platforms, of which there are many.
  • Bring in strategic partners: we’re all being asked to do more with less, but we can’t all be experts at everything. Maybe you can’t afford a full-time website designer and developer, but hiring a website development firm to build a site with a content management system (CMS) that your staff can use to update the site might be just the ticket.

It’s easy to say something can’t be done, but it’s an incredible experience to overcome all those obstacles and achieve the goals in place for the business. I think that’s what TR had in mind, and the organization he was leading had more problems than we’ve ever had to consider, as marketers.

Share via email

Are 20% of Building Product Customers Getting Left Behind?

1 May

Image Source: Monrovia Weekly

A recent Pew Study shows 1 in 5 adults don’t use the Internet.

20% of U.S. adults think the Internet isn’t relevant for them, the majority of whom are retirees.

For anyone with an aging parent, it probably isn’t all that surprising. Those raised to search through phone books to find businesses, who eagerly await printed catalogs to arrive in the mail, who keep their mobile phone turned off until they leave the house, who watch The Weather Channel to get their forecast—in short, the “Boomers” and older who represent nearly 40 million Americans—they have been much slower to adopt the Internet…or to “see the point” in it.

It would easy to dismiss this, noting that many of them are retired and don’t work in the building industry, except for one problem: this audience is a massive portion of the end-step of the building supply channel.

Boomers are the core of the aging-in-place population, a group with billions in purchasing power and growing need for products and services that will ease them through their senior years.

And what we’re hearing is: they don’t use the Internet.

What does this mean for us as building product marketers? Simply put, it means we need to make sure we talk to our audiences—all of them—where they really are and not where we think they should be, or where we’d like them to be, or where it would be convenient for them to be.

Fact is, in the current environment, it’s our inboxes and not our mailboxes that are jammed full of junk, much of which we barely skim over to determine if it’s worth reading at all. As a result, some of the “old school” tactics that have fallen out of favor in the digital age are perfectly positioned to reach the “old school” audience.

So as it turns out, those print ads, direct mail, printed catalogs, prominent Yellow Pages listings, door hangers, and all the other tactics that have been shunned as too old-fashioned to reach the tablet-enabled are exactly the way to reach the non-Internet crowd.

That’s not to say that email campaigns and banner ads and SEO aren’t important ways to deliver your message and reach your audiences. But more than ever, we need to remember that an audience exists who isn’t reached through the Internet that now dominates much of our lives.

When speaking to those who choose to live comfortably off-the-grid, the tried-and-true tactics are still the way to get noticed and make a connection.

Share via email