Performance Matters: 4 Ways To Leverage Net Zero Energy In Building Products Marketing

6406908728162_72baae17b8_z

Name one of the key aspects of sustainability that’s most appealing to a broad audience. Give up? It’s simple: Performance. And let’s be honest—this is what customers really want. So it’s up to you to find ways to leverage your products’ performance features because ultimately this translates to customer value.

A core piece of the sustainability puzzle is energy efficiency—and the multitude of ways you can maximize it. Important sought-after performance metrics include reductions in energy costs and carbon footprints of buildings—for both new and retrofit projects.

Ironically, you make the most impact when you make zero impact on the environment. One way to make a greater impact with your customers is to show them how your products help their end users achieve a zero sum where energy is concerned.

Focus on net zero
A growing trend in the building industry is zero energy building, or ZEB, solutions. A Navigant Research report anticipates worldwide revenue from ZEBs will increase exponentially from $629 million a year in 2014 to more than $1.4 trillion by 2035.

These solutions, including everything from photovoltaic cells to sustainable landscaping, gather up existing energy technologies to produce a high-performance building that uses the same amount of energy it produces in a year’s time.

In addition to the potential for energy savings, government regulations are also helping to fuel this growth. In California, for example, amendments to Title 24 mandate that by 2020 all residential buildings must be zero net energy (ZNE) and all commercial buildings must be ZNE by 2030. This also applies to retrofit projects.

Find your niche

Despite its potential for growth, challenges still remain. The definition of what exactly constitutes a ZEB remains elusive, and getting the word out about how accessible these solutions are continues to be slow going.

So how do you plan to take part in the net zero energy revolution and become a net zero energy hero? Here are four ways to promote your company’s role in net zero building:

1. Get definitive.
Since the definition of net zero varies as well as the types of ZEBs, it’s important to identify what types of zero energy buildings your products support. You’ll offer your customers a clearer picture of your value offering. However, remember to stay loose because the definitions surrounding net zero continue to evolve.

2. Join forces.
Partner and collaborate with organizations that share your same philosophy about net zero energy. Identify companies you’ve worked on projects with—and continue to work with—that are just as committed to energy efficiency in the built environment. You’ll expand your organization’s capabilities and offerings plus demonstrate great environmental stewardship.

3. Share best practices.
Develop case studies that show successful implementation of your products—particularly those that highlight partnerships and share them with your customers. They love it when your products play well with others and can get a good idea of how they’ll perform.

4. Educate inside and out.
Make sure both your internal and external customers are well informed. Continually keep your internal customers up to speed on new developments in ZEB solutions so your offerings stay relevant. Work to ensure that your external customers are regularly updated on your ZEB technology offerings. Staying current and helping your customers do the same increases the likelihood that you become the go-to source for knowledge—and repeat business.

Let your customers know exactly how your building products lend themselves to net zero energy savings. You’ll be poised to be a part of exponential growth and to offer exceptional value and performance to your customers.

 

Photo credit: via photopin photo credit:”http://www.flickr.com/photos/80824546@N00/6908728162

#AreHashtagsUseful In Marketing Building Products

# Hashtag Pound Sign hash tag cloud number words text

Feeling weighted down by the ton of hashtags online? #JoinTheClub.

A hashtag is a word or an unspaced phrase prefixed with the hash character. Until six years ago, to most of us, the symbol # denoted “number” or “pound.” In 2009 the hashtag entered widespread use first on Twitter as a way to identify and group messages on a certain topic. Its use quickly spread across other social media platforms.  Hashtag overload was #inevitable.

So, do we give it any weight as a tool in marketing building products? Yes.

Used well, a hashtag is a great tool to get your message to more prospects, customers, media, influencers and peers. How? The symbol places your message in a communication topic channel making it easier for others to find and share.  r

What’s a good place to start?  Use hashtags to brand your company and boost the reach of your Internet content.

For branding purposes, your company tag can be as simple as your name, #HomeDepot.  Encourage your followers to use it when writing about you.  Beyond branding, hashtags may also be used for a campaign (Budweiser used #BestBuds in conjunction with its Super Bowl commercial), project, contest or cause (#FeedingAmerica). Yet another use is to designate a content category; consider #DIYRemodeling.

Think of hashtags as keywords. Just as you would for search engine optimization, choose targeted words that align with your company, industry, product and customer in creating hashtags. To uncover additional, new possibilities, we suggest loading you key word list into Wordle.net to create a word cloud.

Details to think about:

Be specific but not verbose.   #Sustainability is general enough to encompass travel adventures, fuel efficient cars, green eyeglass wear, environmental regulations and … yes, building materials and practices. On the other hand, #workandliveinenviromentalfriendlyconstruction will stall at the starting line.

Make it memorable. Creative and catchy word combinations can be memorable but get too clever and you lose people.  Always be sure spelling is simple and use a combination of upper and lower case letters to make the hashtag more readable.

Don’t overdo it. Hashtags don’t belong in each post.  Put them to use to organize and share quality, relevant information with targeted, interested audiences.  Limit yourself to one to three hashtags per post. Use more and it begins to look like SPAM. It’s not difficult to tell which of the following we consider a good example.  Pro Skill Construction also get points for using a hashtag in a sentence:  “One of the most important rooms to prepare for #AgingInPlace…”
Good example Bad example
If you follow these tips will your content go viral?  Most likely not. Trending topics are generally about news or celebrities but if you monitor them you might catch a wave and watch your reach swell using the popular hashtag in your content. Before you dive in, however, look beyond the tag itself; research the actual content. Baked goods giant, Entenmann’s used #notguilty to talk of sinful desserts only later to find the #notguilty conversation thread about a murder trail verdict.

Useful sites to view what’s trending, how tags rate and how to optimize posts are RiteTag.com WhatTHeTrend.com.

We’ve touched on a few good tips to for using hashtags. Now #GetStarted!

Images: DollarPhotoClub. Facebook.

The Gut Response: Building Product Marketing Using Visuals, Part 2

If you want your marketing message to get more than three seconds of a customer’s attention, you must know how the human brain works.

That may sound daunting but stay with us. The good news is it isn’t rocket science and is much easier than it may sound.  In Part 1 we gave you some simple ways to use numbers to engage the brain’s gatekeeper, the primal brain.  Now let’s give you some examples that are easy on the eyes.  We are going to delve into imagery with some ideas sure to fuel creativity and be easy to implement.

The primal brain controls our first response to input.  It makes that “flight or fight” decision.  If concerned with safety, which would make you more comfortable – a wide expansive of an appealing landscape or a tight shot of a product?  A colleague in automotive retail took this question to heart and changed Facebook cover images.

Before:
before

After:
After

Ah, breathing room! For our primal brain the more expansive view makes an easy task of surveying the situation for threats, finding a calming landscape, allowing us to then take a more lingering glance and appreciate the Porsche Cayenne.

The primal brain predictably also takes many clues from faces and responds strongly to people images.  The gaze of a person appearing in an advertisement can even cause a viewer to LOOK the same direction… imagine a digital clothing ad featuring a model with downcast eyes directed toward the SHOP NOW button. Test these ideas when you are viewing messages you receive and respond to each day.  If you are drawn in, chances are good you’ll easy now see the thoughtful message craftsmanship at work.

And when it comes to faces, love sonnets may be written about the charm of a lopsided smile but a symmetrical face (a rarity) is found to be most appealing. Remember what we shared about the primal brain in Part 1; it likes order.

How can we immediately apply these observations in marketing building materials?  You have probably already thought of it!

Show homes and buildings in their environment. Provide that wider perspective. Share more about the setting, the lifestyle.
And speaking of lifestyle, use images of people – people in the spaces created using your products – working in a relaxed setting, gathering with friends in an inviting kitchen.

Rain shower style bathroom fixtures give us that gorgeous feeling of walking in the rain.
Which image conveys that delight?

Rain 1

Rains 2

SEE. It’s not rocket science.

We promised to bring into this dialogue Susan Phasiss, Neurodevelopmental Specialist. And we will. We are expanding our conversation on gut responses to one more segment… Part 3: The Primal Brain and Color!

Image Sources:
Before: Automobilemagazine.com
After: http://shoutmycar.com/
Rainshower 1: http://savaryislandresort.ca/gallery/
Rain shower 2: FaucuetSuperDeal.com

The Gut Response: Building Product Marketing Using Numbers

COLOR-BRAINYou may not think of yourself as a “numbers person,” but you are. Learning a few tips about using them will add up to more successful marketing.

Our so-called gut reactions, the first hurdle of engagement in marketing, occur in the primal area of the brain, also known as the reptilian brain. It is the gatekeeper. Before you can make a case to appeal to a consumer’s emotional or rational thinking, you have about three seconds on the clock to unlock the primal area where order and imagery is key.

In this blog entry, we focus on appealing to a human being’s desire for order and how to provide it using numbers. In part two we’ll delve into imagery.

Why are numbers important?

The primal brain likes storytelling, but it is also very spatially oriented. Quantifying content makes it more inviting – or potentially less, if you are too ambitious. “Steps” suggest a finite message. Think back to signing on to the Internet as your first morning alarm sounds on your smart phone or later as you slip your coffee standing at the kitchen counter. You are most likely to first open your email –the number one online activity for 94% of Internet users. And what do you find? Odds are an abundance of subject lines such as:

– 7 Ways To A Slimmer Waistline
– 10 Habits of Highly Productive People
– 19 Ways To Save On Your Next Car Purchase
– 3 Date Nights with Tulsa Ballet for $99!

Assuming all these topics are of equal interest, which do you suppose the primal brain will pick to read first? Our guess is date night and a slim waistline. The primal brain is a very active gatekeeper; it’s considered selfish and wants to keep things simple.

Numbers can also be used in marketing messages to establish value and create a sense of urgency. In this recent offer on Groupon.com look at how many ways numbers are used:

Groupon Screen CaptureGroupon.com:

• Quantifies the discount, establishing value (hey, at 51% off it’s “more than half off”),
• Establishes credibility at a glance because it is both popular with other consumers (89% thumbs up), and others are acting on the offer (more than 70 bought).

A reader reaching this point in the message is likely to be propelled to action when next the motion of the clock ticking down the minutes before the offer expires catches the eye or shall we say, “registers with the primal brain!”

This Groupon.com example doesn’t stop at numbers. In Part 2, we will visit with Brain Fitness Strategies Neurodevelopmental Specialist Susan Phariss to learn how the primal brain responds to imagery and colors.

(Image sources: WallPaperHere.com and Groupon.com)

Decide If Adding Marketing Automation Into the Building Products Marketing Mix Makes Sense

Jan2015_Blog2

If managing your customer relationships has become a bit unwieldy, consider adding marketing automation to the mix. For the uninitiated, marketing automation is a software system or online service that streamlines and automates marketing processes to improve performance and helps grow revenue.

In addition to more efficiencies, marketing automation is a much more strategic way to give your customers more personalized attention and be taken care of all along the sales funnel journey—and beyond. In fact, according to a MarketingSherpa study on B2B best practices, by using marketing automation software, companies realize a 96 percent higher ROI on lead generation.

Some aspects of the business that marketing automation manages include:

• Email marketing
• Central marketing database
• Landing pages
• Lead management (lead capture, lead scoring, lead nurturing)
• Social marketing
• Web forms
• Website visitor tracking

The shift toward marketing automation did not happen overnight. Three key factors have been identified:

1. Buying behaviors are changing, forcing companies to adapt the way they market and sell their products

2. How companies approached revenue generation and measurement fundamentally shifted after the 2008 recession

3. The delivery model changed making the technology broadly available to more companies

If it sounds like a welcome improvement but the thought of how to choose the best platform overwhelms you, follow these steps when considering a marketing automation platform:

Determine if you really need one. Perform a comprehensive assessment of your organization’s business goals, capabilities of internal staff, management support and overall cost.
Find vendors that meet your criteria and are aligned with your goals. Identify your must-haves as well as your pie-in-the-sky wants to see which vendor fits best.
Set up a demonstration to make comparisons and ask questions. Consider such factors as ease of use, implementation time and training and support offered. Make sure that those who will be using the platform are invited to the table to participate.
Check references, then negotiate the contract. Talk to other customers, particularly those in a similar industry to see how the software or service performs. Take this opportunity to ask questions not thought of during the demo. Also, ask the vendor about any additional costs and get them in writing.

Finding success with a software automation platform is possible as long as you don’t rush implementation and expect this to serve as a simple, quick fix. Change is not easy for everyone. There will need to be a cultural shift, which means you’ll need to clearly state the benefits and make it as simple as possible for those users who will be in the driver seat. The overall advantages that marketing automation will offer your organization, however, far outweigh the potential bumps in the road on the way to implementation.

Is your future foggy?

foggy stairsCategory5 can help you focus. We provide clients with the clarity and perspective they need to propel their business to the next level. Using our signature C5 Process, we can help set your company apart from the competition and ultimately, make you money. And the best news of all: We’re interviewing clients.

Our Process:

1. Discovery
A careful study of your building product is made, with the express goal of uncovering the total value it offers to its buyers — your customers and consumers.

In this phase, C5 also explores how it plays with the 5 Forces: cost, health, eco, codes and credits (tax, energy and LEED).

2. Analysis
Taking what we’ve learned, we apply The 5Forces™ process for determining the building product’s true value, presenting it in a new light.

We review our findings with you and help you see the product the way we do, including all of the possibilities for leveraging this new point of view for growth.

3. Strategy
Next, we create a marketing strategy and plan that reflects the best paths for your business, including the best use of your marketing budget.

With the information discovered in the previous steps of our proprietary process, we tap our deep knowledge of the building products industry and the building product buying audience to identify the right marketing strategy and plan. The final suggested plan will not only maximize the impact of marketing resources and budgets, but also ensure that what’s done is what’s best for the business.

4. Application
Plan set, it’s time to apply. Bonus: When you engage our sister company Malone Group Design to execute on tactics, C5 will oversee the process.

At this point you will have a plan in hand and are ready to start implementation. Category5 can help with all aspects, from branding, design and packaging to direct marketing, advertising and public relations — whatever is needed to ensure that the true value of your product is being represented and communicated to buyers in a way they can’t resist.

5. Rediscovery
Knowing your product line and your manufacturing capability, we can continue to add value through new product design, product development and more.

C5 can continue to provide value by helping you expand product lines with new product design and design development or extend your reach even further through additional innovative marketing approaches.

Book an interview today. We may not  be a good fit, but schedule an interview now to learn if you are. Email at info@category5-inc.com or call: 918.745.2201.

ABOUT CATEGORY5
We are a business consultancy for building products manufacturers, with emphasis in advertising and marketing. We help you make money and grow your business. Check us out.

5 Elements Building Products Marketers Need To Tell Their Brand Story

Jan2015_Blog1

Everyone loves a good story. There’s the character you root for, the thorny situation, and in the end, most importantly, the resolution to the problem. These elements draw us into each story and make us come back for more. Similar relationships are what drive business. Without a compelling brand story, you’re missing an opportunity to connect with your customers. So what’s your story?

Who’s your protagonist? Every great story needs a hero. Powerful storytelling lets your customers know they play the role of hero. Your role is the trusted advisor or guide. You ensure that your heroes’ voices are heard and help them overcome specific obstacles so that they become transformed in some way.

Who’s the antagonist? Heroes always have an anti-hero. What problem are you trying to solve? Align yourself with your customers by identifying their antagonist as yours as well. Your story serves as the bridge that moves your heroes from where they are now to beyond their obstacles. When you bond over troublemakers in an effort to overcome them, your mission is the same and your customers’ connection—and loyalty—to you only deepens.

How will you connect emotionally? Facts can only do so much. Find ways to tap into your customers’ emotions. Weaving facts into the emotional fabric of your story creates meaning for your customers. Consider sharing their experiences and what role your brand plays in their stories. Let your customers do the telling.

What’s your value offering? This is why your customers seek you out in the first place. It sets you apart from your competitors so this will be a key component of your brand story. It is your brand’s foundation and helps you stay in lockstep with your customers as well as grow your brand in the future. Be clear and direct about what this offering is. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope and ask how you can offer your customers more value.

Define who you are, whether it’s the industry thought leader or the one-stop solution center. And make your voice authentic. Authenticity pays; PR stunts don’t. Customers are less likely to be resistant to stories—as long as they are genuine. People know when they’re being served a marketing spiel. Tell your story in a way that’s relatable, honest, simple and sharable. Your customers will reward you for it.

Storytelling does not have to be difficult. There are no set rules. The medium doesn’t even matter. Stories can be told using infographics, a blog post, a video or web content. It is, however, a skill that requires a careful blend of art plus science. Providing honest answers to these questions enables your brand to begin crafting a compelling story that makes a connection, reinforces your brand’s value and empowers your customers to achieve a happy ending.

Why Locally Sourced Building Products Make a Difference to Customers

5046595262_63441f95f1_oYour customers now live in a society where people’s relationship to their environment truly matters. This means a growing number of people are paying more attention to how everything impacts their communities. By promoting your locally sourced building products and materials, you show your company’s commitment to community investments in the future and the active role you’ll take.

Sustainable buildings and spaces factor in the entire life cycle of the construction process. The amount of energy it takes to make and transport materials is almost as critical as the selection of materials and the building process itself. Materials and products vary in the amount of energy they require for production, as do various transportation modes. For example, ocean and rail shipping are the least energy-intensive while aircraft is the most.

When transportation contributes to pollution, it affects public health. When you reduce transportation and lower energy use, emissions that cause climate change are also lowered. Building materials sourced locally mean shorter trips to haul, lower diesel fuel consumption and less greenhouse gas emissions. This presents an important marketing opportunity for you as a building products manufacturer.

Point out to customers that often times local materials and products can be less expensive, “greener,” very unique aesthetically and help keep the local economy afloat. Let’s also not forget that locally sourced products and materials are excellent for retrofit projects as well. These materials can easily be used in more traditional construction.

Here are four more reasons why locally sourced building products matter:

Transparency pays and consumers want the truth. With questionable ethics rampant in food production and mass production in general, consumers are rightfully concerned about what not only goes into their bodies, but the health of their living spaces. With that comes the desire to know where the products they’re living with come from. Having traceable products that boost the local economy engenders trust. Trust engenders loyalty.

Solid community bonds are forged. Making your community’s needs a priority with locally sourced product and materials ties you more closely to the community. Local material use can support the economy and foster connections with the community. The community then recognizes that you share its vision for sustainability and builds a deeper connection with your brand.

You are perceived as a responsible corporate citizen. When you share that you use locally sourced materials and products, it shows the community that you care about the health, quality and safety standards of your products, the surrounding environment where these materials are used and those who use your products. You’re now viewed as “one of the good guys.”

It’s a hallmark of quality. Consumers are seeking out that “made in the USA” label in hopes of finding quality. Use of local materials celebrates tradition and a simpler time when “homegrown” was preferred. It lets people know your company is authentic, and authenticity ups your street cred.

By educating your customers on your locally sourced offerings, you integrate community engagement into your brand’s identity while demonstrating the value of sustainability.

Photo credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/54359128@N00/5046595262

5 Tips to Rehabilitate Your Building Product Social Media and Email Marketing

8684494364_48504dc7f2_oAligning and integrating your building product email and social media marketing efforts will extend the reach of your email by increasing opens, clicks and conversions. 

Social media and email marketing are much more effective when they work together as part of an integrated building product campaign.  The smart way to integrate them is from a business strategy. Since each of these channels is complex in their own right, it’s best to plan their integration from a high level.

Getting started includes going back to your business model and business plan and asking:

What’s your strategy for reaching customers?

What’s your strategy for keeping them?

What’s your strategy for getting them to spend more time with you?

Before you get lost in the weeds of email and social technology and individual campaigns, think long-term and high-level strategy and consider these five pieces of advice:

Create cross channel social media and email marketing campaigns that feed back into each other. Social is perfect for extending the reach of your email campaigns. Likewise, good email campaigns can deepen your relationship with social media contacts, thereby turning those followers into buyers. Think about occasionally pitching your newsletter through your company’s social media channels.

Leverage the power of each channel to map opportunities along your building product customer’s path to purchase. Find opportunities to send behavioral or triggered emails such as welcome emails to new customers by encouraging them to share your content, check out a demo video on your YouTube channel, retweet one of your Tweets, etc. Email gives you ample opportunity to cross promote your building product content.

Let email and social media marketing work together to meet your marketing objectives as well as your building product customer’s needs. Be sure to promote your newsletter signup prominently within your social channels and your social channels in emails. You’ll also want to track new email subscribes and give social the proper attribution when appropriate. Whether it’s a Facebook tab or a Twitter lead generation card, use your social media platforms to build your email list.

Make it easy for your email subscribers to share your content. In addition to including social sharing buttons in your emails, use tools like Click to Tweet to make tweeting key points very simple. This tool allows your readers to click a link within an email and a pre-composed Tweet pops up for them to share. The easier you make it to share, the more people will do it.

Ensure you have clear calls to action when sending emails. You’ll also want to make sure each call to action stands out. Consider mentioning it more than once and don’t just put it at the end of your email. Think about where to position it within the body of your email. And, as I mentioned before, if you’re trying to encourage people to share via social channels, make it as easy as possible for them.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/33006820@N00/8684494364

Visual Content Amplifies Your Building Products Marketing Message

Nov 3 Visual content amplifiesWhen it comes to effective building products marketing, the creation and dissemination of relevant and compelling content continues to reign supreme.

What makes content relevant and compelling hinges on the quality of the marketing message. That message can be communicated in any number of ways.

The way most of your industry (heck, most of the business world) is communicating their message is with words. The problem with this is that it creates a literal information traffic jam for your buyers.

The good news is that there is another way, which is to deliver that message or amplify it with visual content.

Visual content could well be the secret sauce you’ve been seeking to juice up your marketing plan. Research has shown that our brains process visual images much faster and more easily than words – written or spoken. And reportedly, most of the information received by our brains (90 percent) actually is visual.

In addition to faster, easier processing (or perhaps because of it) visual content is also more shareable. Visual building products marketing content such as photos, videos, infographics and even visual “memes” may prove effective within a campaign, on your social media platforms, and on your website.

Here’s how to best leverage four types of visual content for building product marketing:

Photos. Pictures stir emotions, and one image can convey an entire story. Photos engage customers right away. They establish a connection, which makes your brand personal and (hopefully) beautifully capture the essence of your offering.

Videos. Videos are generally the most preferred form of visual content. People love them. In fact, according to EyeView Digital, videos that appear on landing pages increase average page conversion rates by 86 percent. Videos quickly tell your story and can offer instruction, a bit of play for viewers or a little of both.

Infographics. A relatively new form of visual content, infographics are among the most shareable. Statistics show that businesses that use infographics in marketing gain an increase of 12 percent on average in the traffic to their sites. To create them you can contract with a freelancer or use use free online resources such as Canva.com, or paid sites such as KISSmetrics.com, both of which allow you to create them fairly easily.

Memes. Those hilarious pictures or images with clever text (some of which immediately go viral) can provide humor along with value to customers. They’re easily shareable, easy to create, generate traffic and visibility, plus they’re highly engaging. (Just make sure your audience will understand the meme and think it’s funny.) Consider trying Memegen.com or Imgflip.com.

Words might dominate building products marketing at present, but now you know another, faster and more powerful way to connect with your buyers. Photos, videos, infographics, memes, or simply adding clarifying visual elements to existing text can amplify the effectiveness of your building products marketing and enable buyers to more quickly and deeply grasp how your offering can enhance the quality of their homes and ultimately, their lives.

Photo credit:  thinkstock.com