6 Steps to Kick Start Your Building Product Content Marketing

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Smart building product marketers understand that rather than using outdated methods of outbound marketing, content marketing builds trust with and attracts buyers. 

Buyers have virtually shut off the traditional world of marketing and chosen messaging that makes them stop, think and behave differently. And with content marketing now a cornerstone of inbound marketing efforts in building product marketing, what do you need to get started? A carefully planned strategy and well-coordinated implementation.

In content efforts we manage for clients, we’ve discovered six steps that will kick your content plan into high gear.

Define your audience. If your plan is to talk to everyone, think again. That net is much too wide. Who is your target audience? Defining it is a key first step to take before one piece of content is created.

Build personas. This task is fairly simple. Identify the attributes needed for someone to be your buyer. The goal is to describe who you will attempt to write for or who might already be reading your content. This exercise will help personalize your writing, identify ways to connect with your buyer and create more practical content with their needs in mind.

Determine digital footprint. How will you distribute your building product content? Even before you create it, decide where it will be hosted and published. A website or microsite is one of the more common platforms because your content can be disseminated through a blog, webinars, photo gallery, videos, podcasts, Tweet Chats, etc. Let social media play the role of distributor, as it can extend the reach of your content and foster authentic conversations with your buyers.

Do your homework on keywords. Knowing what words users type when they are searching for building product information is of the utmost importance. Do the research and choose words with the highest number of monthly searches and the lowest competition.

Think like a building product publisher. Publishers use editorial calendars to monitor dates, track specifics of content ideas and keep content consistent and relevant. These tools also allow you to see connections within your content and identify ways to repurpose it.

Report, analyze and adjust. One of inbound marketing’s biggest benefits is the ability to track and measure the progress you are making to see what is and isn’t working. Then you can adapt to optimize results.

Photo credit: Flickr

5 Considerations for Building Product Marketers When Adopting a Housing Cause

JuneBlog2_pic1 thinkstockAdopting a housing cause can begin a partnership that creates a mutually beneficial relationship—if you make smart, strategic choices along the way. Not only will you burnish your image and brand, as well as boost sales, you’ll also do something for the greater good and uplift your community.

Assuming that you’re now convinced of the value of housing cause adoption, here are five (more) things to consider as you begin the adoption process.

  1. Choose carefully. When selecting a cause, make sure it’s both relevant to your business and something internal and external stakeholders will also want to get behind.
  2. Stay humble. As you begin to integrate the cause into your brand, focus on promoting the overall mission rather than on using the cause as a device to talk customers into actions that will benefit your business immediately or directly.
  3. Be inclusive. Provide your customers with opportunities to participate in the cause. Be clear about how their efforts can make a difference, then measure and report back to them on the impact of those efforts.
  4. Embrace Millennials. The Millennial demographic’s defacto expectation is that the building products industry will do their part to make the world a better place. Begin to engage these brand influencers now through social networking, such as Facebook or Instagram campaigns that promote your cause and whose low barrier to entry makes participation effortless, and they will reward you with their business later on.
  5. Go old school. Don’t ignore traditional marketing approaches such as messaging on packaging, media interviews promoting events related to the cause and print advertising, as they can add dimension as well as reach to your housing cause campaign.

Careful consideration and a strategic approach to adopting a housing cause will resonate with your customers and the community at large. This in turn creates a lasting impression and sparks a relationship, which garners loyalty. When done well, it raises your brand’s visibility and can provide the best opportunity for you to connect with your customers.

Photo credit:  thinkstock.com

Tips for Winning Big in Building Product Search Engine Marketing

Win-Win SituationSearch engines play a dominant role in the research phase of a building product buyers purchase cycle and leveraged properly, can increase online visibility and drive sales. 

Search engines play a leading role in making purchase decisions. Studies show that more than 90% of business buyers lookup information online prior to making a decision. Since buyers rely so heavily in the early and mid research stages of their buying cycle, shouldn’t your Search Engine Marketing (SEM) plan be primed and optimized?

The goal of SEM is to increase your website’s visibility on Google and other search engines. SEM can include:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • SERM (Search Engine Reputation Management)
  • PPC Advertising (Pay-Per-Click Advertising)

The most popular pay-per-click (PPC) program is Google AdWords, as it accounts for about 90% of PPC ad dollars. PPC advertising is a form of inbound marketing and offers the ability to capture leads fast and efficiently. Building product buyers who type in search keywords in Google or Bing are essentially raising their hands to say they’re interested in your building products.

But AdWords is becoming more competitive and costly, which reduces the return on every dollar you invest in it. Below, I’ll touch on tips that will help ensure you are maximizing your SEM efforts to achieve success.

Tip #1: Be specific. Due to the character limitations, there’s no room for fluffy marketing copy in your AdWords ad copy, so you’ll want to get right to the point. Don’t write generic ad copy. Be as specific as possible so that your ad delivers the right message to your buyers. You will want to create multiple ad groups for your different sets of keywords so that you can write specific copy for each ad group.

Tip #2: Use keywords. Traditional advertising copy is clever and creative, but when it comes to PPC, too much creativity can hurt you. Due to the nature of PPC ads, you need to grab a searcher’s attention right at the beginning. When you write ad copy for your building products, be sure to include your main keywords in your headline and description. Having your keyword in the ad copy also makes your ad more relevant and will give you a better quality score.

Tip #3: Feature your UVP. What makes your building products different from your competitors? When you write ad copy, you should include your differentiator.

Tip #4: Include a call-to-action. ALWAYS include a good call-to-action in order to increase your click-through-rates and your campaign’s effectiveness. Searchers need to know what’s in it for them if they click on the ad. Be sure your ad copy matches the landing page your searcher will be directed to when they click on your ads.

Tip #5: Stand out. Don’t believe the myth that by copying the ads of your competitors, you can make your PPC campaign successful. It confuses searchers when they see the same kind of ads lined up in a column. They will go for the one that stands out and is different than the rest of the group.

Tip #6: Format correctly. It is absolutely imperative that you format your ads properly, with correct casing, spelling and character count. The format for AdWords looks like this:

Headline: 25 characters

Description line 1: 25 characters

Description line 2: 25 characters

Display URL: 35 characters

Per Google’s advertising policies:

  • The display URL field can’t be used as another line of ad text
  • Your ad text can’t appear cut off or incomplete
  • The description lines can’t lead into the display URL [e.g. the second description line can’t say, “Learn more at…”]

For a step-by-step video on how to create an AdWords campaign, click here

If you violate these formatting rules, you risk having your ads disapproved, which means they won’t run until the violation is corrected and the ad is approved, or worse, your domain could be disabled until the problem is fixed.

Tip #7: Test. Then test again. Lastly, and most importantly, test your copy, landing pages and offers to see which will produce better results. You should have a couple of ads setup for each ad group and then let them run to see how they perform.

PHOTO CREDIT: garryknight via flickr

Mama was Right; First Impressions Matter in Building Product Marketing

4268291295_4a7755f533_zA well-executed building product website can do the job of 100 salespeople by helping to drive revenue. 

Just as our mamas told us when we were young, always make a good first impression. This is true with people and it’s especially true with brands. Increasingly, your customers’ first impressions are formed online and have a huge impact on what they decide to buy.

Today’s business marketing landscape of connected consumerism demands that your building product marketing strategically puts you at the right place, at the right time and with the right content. By paying attention to your customer’s experience, their buying journey and your relationship with them, you can recreate the experiences you want your customers to have and share.

Your building product website is your brand’s front door and is just as important, if not more so, than your company’s physical presence. 

When prospective customers land on the home page of your website and begin their journey of seeking information, what impression are you making? Is it clunky and slow? Can they find what they’re looking for? Is your information too restricted? Do they know what to click on next?

Your website is how your customers learn about your building products and where they go to stay connected with you. It needs to give them the information they come to your site for quickly and should lead them down their journey by always providing clear calls-to-action.

Fast and Furious.

I can’t remember a time when website speed didn’t matter–to users or to search engines. The accepted benchmark for page load time is three seconds or less. There are free tools that can show you how fast–or how slow–your website loads and can identify problematic areas.

Compatibility, Please. 

Avoid the risk of lost sales, damaged reputation and never having the opportunity to win back leads by optimizing your website for the devices customers are using. Smartphones and tablets may not be the go-to devices forever, but they are the preferred devices of choice for the time being.

Tell Me Where to Go. 

Your web users need help understanding where they should go, where they are in the hierarchy of the site and the most important feature on each page. Study your website analytics, including heatmaps, to know what your website visitors are looking at, what they are clicking on, downloading, etc. This will allow you to make adjustments to tailor content to suit your visitors’ interests.

Photo credit: Horia Varlan via flickr Create Commons license

The Importance of Branding in Building Product Marketing

shutterstock_1018067652_BrandingIn a sea of numbing sameness, noise, parity and dullness, branding can lift your building product marketing to a whole new level by creating a true, strategic competitive advantage.

As a manufacturer of building products, your company focuses on making your products smarter, smaller, more cost effective and reliable than your competition. Like many manufacturers, it is continually finding ways to improve and add services so it can provide your customers with satisfying experiences. In order to stay alive and even flourish in the highly competitive building-product segment, this is understandable.

But what is your company doing to truly differentiate your building products and be relevant to your customers and prospects? 

There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands… They are all about the same. The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit. – David Ogilvy, the “Father” of advertising

This is where brand comes in. And brands do matter in B2B marketing. Many owners and marketers in the building product manufacturing segment want to dismiss the notion of branding. I wholeheartedly believe it’s because they don’t understand what branding is at its essence. It may be due to the fact that “branding” has become one of the most misused, misunderstood buzzwords in marketing.

Ask 100 marketing professionals to define “branding” and you’ll get 101 different answers. Some believe its reputation. Others define it as what people think when they see your logo. These definitions aren’t wrong, they’re just too narrow and represent an external-only view.

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services and it differentiates your offering from your competitors.

Branding is a strategic tool that can help you cut through the chaos of the building products market, get noticed and connect with your customer and prospective customers in ways that matter.

When you have a strong brand, you help your customers make good choices in today’s confusing, complex and risky marketplace. 

By developing strong and consistent communication, your company’s brand has the ability to generate hidden assets that give them distinct advantages. This is what is referred to as brand equity and it is a form of wealth that is closely related to what your accounting department would call “goodwill.”

 Photo credit: Daniel Y. Go via Flickr

5 Dangers to Avoid in Marketing Building Products

iStock_000015878418_5_dangersBrand awareness can be achieved in your building product marketing but having a clear understanding of the nuances involved in communicating to your audience will set you up for success.

Reaching people is easy in today’s connected world. We no longer have technological barriers and geographical boundaries that we have to worry about, so creating brand awareness in your building product marketing is easy to achieve. Isn’t it?

Your customers may be easier to reach, but it doesn’t mean you’ll easily accomplish the feat of brand awareness in today’s noisy B2B world. There are many pitfalls in branding and marketing building products, but I’ve condensed the list to what I believe are the five biggest dangers in branding and marketing your building products:

  1. Not human enough. People want to do business with people, not things such as corporations. In their dealings with your building product business, they want to know there is a real, live person to interact with. Companies that strive to be human, that have personalities, values and real world attributes see success.
  2. Lack of voice. Voice is extremely important in branding and marketing your company’s building products. In fact, it may be one of the most valued thing it owns. In a nutshell, it’s the message–and the essence–of what you are doing.
  3. Too much “Sell.” Everyone needs to sell. That’s undeniable. Though in today’s chaotic B2B world, your building product customers need more than a salesperson; they need someone with whom they can engage. Consider the fact that customers are 60-70% through the sales cycle before a prospect wants to engage with one of your salespeople and be sure you are providing engagement in the early stages of their journey.
  4. Trying too hard. Whether it’s in courtship or business, the harder you vie for attention, the more likely you are not to receive it. In order to be human and resonate with your customers, you need to relax. You can be serious, just not too serious. Execute the work that goes into your branding in a relaxed manner.
  5. Too easy to forget. Attention is a valuable commodity today. When you get your customer’s attention, grab it and hold on to it by telling them a story that’s tough to ignore.

Please share your greatest brand challenges in the comment section below.

Photo Credit:  Istockphoto

4 Branding Mistakes to Avoid For Better Marketing of Building Products

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Branding for building products doesn’t have to be a crapshoot. 

Branding should precede and provide the foundation for your marketing efforts. A good number of small building product companies lack a strong brand foundation. Which leads me to provide this warning …

“He who wasn’t around at the finish, had a fatal flaw from the first.” – Unknown

Creating a strong brand will help you to build awareness for who you are and what you are selling much quicker and with less cost and waste of your marketing budget.  As your company grows your branding needs to grow with it. So, here are four branding mistakes I recommend that you avoid: 

One:  Unbiased Branding

Your personal view of your brand could be stunting the growth of your business.  It’s not unusual to have trouble being unbiased about your brand because your vantage point is too close.

Unbiased perspective reveals opportunity.

If you want to know how other’s see your business, find a third-party to conduct a brand audit for you. An audit will thoroughly assess your business, give you unbiased perspective, and will reveal a clear path for your brand. You’ll be amazed at what you can’t see that’s right in front of you.

Two:  Unfocused Branding

Unfocused branding causes doubt and confusion and delivers indecisive buyers. If you’re brand is too broad, rein it in and narrow your focus. Be clear about what your brand promise is, articulate it well, then follow through with that promise consistently.

What’s that old saying if you’re trying to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one.  Don’t be like the El Camino, the car of indecision – half truck and half car.

El Camino: Best example of a cruck; vehicle which doesn’t know if it wants to be a car or a truck

– Urban Dictionary

People don’t believe you can be great at everything, if your brand  unfocused and your promise is to broad, people assume what you’re delivering is mediocre.

Three:  Inconsistent Branding

What’s the cost of sending out mixed signals?  Well, every time your brand is not recognized, your message is unclear, you cause a consumer double take, or have even the tiniest hesitation, you’re just made and expensive mistake.

When marketing building products, be clean and clear, and brand consistent.  If your message is good but your brand is stagnate or declining, take the rose-colored glasses off and look for inconsistencies.

Four:  Fragmented Branding

Without a plan, your branding will be fragmented and will have a poor return on your marketing investment.  Make a plan for success by drafting a road map including;

  • Who is your customer?
  • What does your customer value?
  • When, and how frequently will you talk to your customer?
  • Where are they found?
  • Why will they buy your product?

Fragmented brands can also be a symptom of an underfunded budget. When you’re drafting your road map be sure to budget for success too. After all, marketing is a capital expense and should be part of your master plan.

Avoid temptation.  Underfunded budgets may tempt you to bid out work with several agencies on a project basis. This may save you money upfront but it will breed inconsistency and cause gaps in your brand, and, gaps cause missed opportunities.

photo credit: Kaptain Kobold via photopin cc

6 Tips to Improve Brand Awareness When Marketing Building Products

six tips marketing building products

Consistent, well positioned branding is like money in the bank.

Strong brands that are well positioned always perform better, generate more revenue, and efficiently reach buyers. Well positioned brands, like compounding interest on a bank account, have a cumulative effect on your brand equity. It doesn’t matter if your product is sophisticated or simple, the branding rules for marketing building products remain the same. Consistency and brand promises held true are the key to strong awareness and acceptance.

Brand awareness doesn’t happen instantly, it’s a cumulative impression that happens because of consistency and repetition. As a building product manufacturer, you may grow increasingly tired as your message is repeated but, as you’re tiring, your audience is likely just beginning to connect and become aware of your brand. Stay true because consistency builds value through strong brands and they become more profitable.

Here are 6 tips for improving your brand awareness:

First, define (or reaffirm) your target audience

Second, determine what your target audience values

Third, test your brand against what your target values. Gather your collateral materials in one place and sort them by target audience, putting like-type items together.

Fourth, out with the irrelevant, in with the well positioned. Create three piles (yes, it’s just like cleaning out your garage) and start sorting

  1. Keep (ideal example, good message and branding – answers target values)
  2. Recycle (good message – outdated, visually off-brand or poor execution)
  3. Trash (irrelevant message)

Fifth, merge the keep and recycle piles. Sort the combined piles putting like-type campaigns together and look for duplications. If you find multiple campaigns with the same message directed at the same audience, pick the strongest campaign and commit yourself and your budget to making this campaign relevant and consistent.

Sixth, repeat the campaign, reinforce your brand, and reassure your target. Repeat, reinforce and reassure your target again and again and again.

photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc