The 411 on LEED in Green Building Product Marketing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMarketers seeking to have building products applied to the LEED® Rating System need to have a thorough understanding of the system, the credits that apply to their products and the certification process as a whole. 

The green building industry continues to grow because of environmental concerns, tax subsidies, savings in operational costs and the rising popularity of LEED.

According to Environmental Leader/Environment & Energy Management News, there are 17,434 certified commercial and institutional projects, representing 2.3 billion square feet. There are also another 29,599 registered (pursuing LEED but not yet certified) projects, representing 4.4 billion square feet.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is a set of building rating systems for buildings of all types – commercial, residential and neighborhood communities. It works throughout the building lifecycle–design and construction, operations and maintenance, tenant fitout and significant retrofit.

The five rating systems address multiple project types, such as:

  • Building design and construction
  • Interior design and construction
  • Building operations and maintenance
  • Neighborhood development
  • Homes

LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and is intended to help building owners use resources more efficiently when compared to conventional buildings. LEED certification provides third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in:

  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Innovation

Although building materials play a fairly substantial role within the LEED Rating System, LEED does not certify green building products. It certifies buildings. To receive certification, building projects must satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve one of the four levels of certification–certified, silver, gold and platinum.

The majority of building products will contribute to achieving LEED points through performance-based requirements. Some points will necessitate assessing the aggregate environmental or health value of a set of products and other points will require that certain limits or minimums be met.

In November 2013, the most recent update to the rating systems launched, LEED v4. This version allows for a wider range of building types and manufacturing industries. It also encourages optimization of energy and water use and furthers environmental issues like climate change.

Category5 CEO and owner Lori Malone is a LEED® Green Associate. The GBCI (Green Building Certification Institute) awards these nationally recognized certifications to confirm that an individual demonstrates knowledge and understanding of green building practices and principles needed to support the use of the LEED® Green Building Rating System.

Photo credit: Daniel Lobo via flickr

View the complete LEED Rating System.

View the entire list of credit categories.

The Four P’s in Building Product Marketing

4Ps_handsThe four P’s have served building product marketers well for half a century but the product-focused strategies are increasingly at odds with how business is done today.

The marketing mix, otherwise known as the 4 P’s of marketing, dates back to the 1940s and was developed to help companies gain advantage within the marketplace by determining a specific marketing mix that would satisfy both the needs of the customer and the retailer’s needs.

The growing influence of the internet has changed the relationship building products manufacturers have with their customers. The truth is, the 4 P’s aren’t irrelevant, they just need to be reinterpreted to serve marketers of building products. Three ways in which they don’t deliver include:

  1.  Stressing product technology and quality, even though these no longer provide differentiation but are simply the cost of entry
  2. Distracting marketers from leveraging their company’s expertise as a trusted source of problem solving, advice and diagnostics
  3. Under emphasizing the value of their company’s solutions

The time has come to rethink marketing’s P’s.

Place.

Due to today’s physical and digital worlds coming together, place is irrelevant. Customers expect access to your information. They need to be able to research, buy and advocate anytime and anywhere. They are no longer confined to the traditional channels and therefore, it’s no longer about place, it’s about any place.

Promotion.

Building product manufacturers no longer control what is said and read about them and are therefore susceptible to market transparency. Consumers can find anything that has been said or written about a company and no amount of marketing can cover it up. Instead of pushing a message out into the marketplace, today’s successful companies get consumers to promote it for them. But in order to accomplish this, you have to deliver great customer experiences and encourage your customers to talk about them. When it comes to promotion, think in terms of conversations.

Price.

Customers have more choice than they’ve ever had before. Falling short on products that don’t fully meet their needs just isn’t good enough. Price is not a differentiator, but the experience and value created by your brand is and companies who accomplish this can charge a premium.

Product.

As previously mentioned, the idea of promoting product features and quality is outdated. It’s not about features, it’s about how you can help solve your customers problems.

People.

Due to the important role people play in today’s marketing mix, I’ve added a fifth P: People. They are your customers who help spread the word about your company and they are your staff who help make your customers’ experiences great ones. Building strong and engaging relationships with both of these groups is the key to communicating your messaging successfully.

Photo credit: Jukka Zitting via Flickr.com

 

9 Green Actions (Under $500) with the Fastest ROI in Building Product Marketing

The 2013 Small Business Sustainability Report

In building products marketing, green behavior is one positioning strategy that will provide you a strong competitive advantage and greater potential for growth.

There are many reasons for a manufacturer of building products to become environmentally friendly. The environment is one aspect, but it’s also just good business. Growth in the green segment market share is proving that sustainable products are no longer just fringe alternatives. 

“Consumer demand is the primary driver of investment in sustainable initiatives today… and companies [we surveyed] reported that they can charge an average 19 percent premium for sustainable products and services.” (Accenture, “Long-Term Growth, Short-Term Differentiation and Profits from Sustainable Products and Services)

 The 2013 Small Business Sustainability Report is a study of more than 1,300 U.S. business owners’ green-related behaviors and beliefs. It’s the first major study to look at the green economy from the perspective of small business owners. It’s also the first to consolidate market data on the growth of green segments across a range of industries – green building, renewable energy, hybrid vehicles, fair trade food, etc.

One of the more revealing results of the report a list of green “best bets” that require little capital. These may not be your best operational efficiency investment, so for a more thorough look at actions with the best ROI (but may not be the cheapest to implement), I urge you to download the report.

Here are nine green actions you can take – WITH AN INITIAL INVESTMENT OF LESS THAN $500 – that will provide the fastest return on investment:

  1. Train staff to conserve energy
  2. Enable energy-saving settings on computers
  3. Install programmable thermostats
  4. Train staff to conserve water
  5. Reduce paper use (double-sided printing)
  6. Shift from paper to electronic communication and filing
  7. Decrease packaging on products
  8. Install more efficient lighting
  9. Recycle and/or reuse in-house plastics, paper, metals, glass, and/or organics

By implementing green changes in your building products manufacturing organization, you will gain customers who support green businesses. You’ll also save money, reduce waste and have a healthier work environment for your employees.

The 2013 Small Business Sustainability Report was produced by Green America, EcoVentures International and The Association for Enterprise Opportunity.

Marketing Building Products: Women represent half the customer base of Home Depot and Lowes

women marketing building productsWith women spending 85 cents of every dollar in the marketplace, building product manufacturers cannot ignore the new realities of marketing to “her.”

It’s long been known that women serve as Chief Purchasing Officers when it comes to their households, whether it’s related to healthcare, the next family automobile or home improvement products.

91% of the women purchasing new homes do not feel that advertisers don’t understand them. – Greenfield Online for Arnold’s Women’s Insight Team,

In order to harness women’s spending power, you have to understand their values and motives. A Wharton study, Men Buy, Women Shop, found that women are more invested in the shopping experience on many dimensions while men’s concerns are more utilitarian, such as the availability of parking. The companies who are creating rich brand experiences based on an understanding of how they can improve women’s lives will be the ones expanding their loyal following and increasing market share.

Home Depot and Lowe’s both recognize that women represent half of their customer base and a recent Lowe’s study found that women initiate 80% of all home improvement projects.

I’ve distilled some of the pitfalls many marketers make when trying to tailor their marketing to women into five salient points:

  1.  Communicating features instead of value. Do you know what features your female customers think are most important and why they think it? Gaining this type of insight from your female customers can lead to product improvements that will result in gained allegiances from this powerful demographic.
  2. Thinking women are a “niche” market. Women are now the primary consumer, accounting for 85% of all consumer purchases. Enough said.
  3. Creating his and her versions of your brand. Many companies confuse marketing to women with thinking they need to create a softer version of their brand – or by making it pink. The reality is that you don’t have to feminize your brand in order to appeal to women.
  4. Segmenting women by their age. In today’s world, women are not so linearly focused as they’ve been in the past. They move through their lives in terms of stages. As a marketer, you need to understand that for women, age is more a mindset than a demographic.
  5. Failing to recognize that women think differently than men. Women are  programmed to gather information. They are also hardwired into the right side of their brain where emotional memory, experience and intuition live. What does this mean to you? You need to emotionally connect with her heart, which is smack dab in the middle of her brain.

photo credit: La Shola y EL Gringo? via photopin cc

Building Products: The Ten Commandments of Email Marketing

email marketing  building products

Email marketing can still be an incredibly effective tactic for driving sales, even in the wake of social media’s rise in popularity.

Email consumption and delivery is not what it used to be. The world of email marketing is evolving which means marketers must adapt and meet the demands of today’s buyers.

Here are my 10 Commandments of email marketing:

1. Be brief, be brilliant, be gone

Let’s face it. Buyers are on information overload these days, particularly in their work lives. And they aren’t sitting at their desk waiting your next email. How can you avoid the delete button? Be relevant. Speak to their pain points. You won’t provide pain relief by hammering them with your key product features. Understand your buyer in order to connect with him.

2. It’s not all about you

Leave the praise and chest beating for your website. Your email newsletter content should follow the 80/20 rule: 80% should be about the industry, white papers, reports and studies and 20% can be about you.

3. Words are worth a thousand pictures

What I mean is that B2B is still dominated by written content, but keep a balance between it and nicely designed HTML graphics for your email. Tell your story through copywriting and don’t use too many pictures. Email targets readers, not viewers, so speak to them from  a human, to a human.

4. Inform with expertise

Building products professionals are info-junkies. Help them feed their craving for content and do their jobs better by positioning yourself as an integral source of information on the industry.

5. Be human

Email needs to come from a person. Use personal addresses for your communications and if you’re trying to connect with an executive audience, the email needs to come from your CEO or someone who could be considered a peer.

6. Don’t get caught with tunnel vision

Too many times it seems email marketing is done without awareness of the outside world and its goings-on. If you can weave current events, rumors, fads, etc. into your content, you will seem less like a machine and more like someone a buyer wants to do business with.

7. Be truthful

Talk to your buyers in language they understand and that doesn’t sound like every other organization in your industry. Not every company can be a leader in their industry and buyers get tired of hearing this over and over. You can be more powerful speaking in a personal way when portraying your company and its product offerings by being real.

8. Don’t bury the good stuff

If you have a white paper, make it known immediately.  Don’t make your readers search for what you are offering. Put it in your subject line and add an obvious link to it.

9. Get to the point

Don’t put your hook at the bottom of your email. Lead with the crux of your message so you grab their attention first and not lose them. Your buyers will immediately know whether they’re interested in reading more and will appreciate you not wasting their time.

10. Be useful

Your audience is too busy to burden them with emails that don’t help them solve their business problems. Most organizations make their communications all about them, instead of their buyers. Focus on your buyer and provide value to them.

photo credit: WireLizard via photopin cc

Content Marketing Leads to the Purchase of Building Products

content marketing building products

Publishing and sharing useful content related to building products can help move your buyers down the sales channel more quickly.

In fact, 58% of B2B decision makers say that content plays a role in purchasing decisions. Another 38% say content that introduces fresh thought leadership around business challenges affect what they buy for their company, according to CMO Council survey of B2B decision-makers.

In the B2B environment, in-depth content that aligns with what your customer wants to know will prove more valuable to your audience. Ideally, you will have a customer-centric content plan in place that targets what your customer needs or wants to know at each stage in the decision process.

What type of content are we talking about? In addition to Interviews, lists and comparisons, other types include:

  • White papers
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • How-to guides
  • Video
  • Surveys

Once you have digital assets, the most important part of any content marketing strategy is to make it sharable and push it across all of your media channels.

The following four tips below will ensure a good start:

  1. Target the right audience. The more engaging your content is to your target audience, the more sharable it will become and the more links it will acquire, which will help in search engine optimization efforts.
  2. Correctly publish your content. Including social functionality on the content page, hyperlinking your website as the source and pushing it out to your blog are all ways to increase social shares and link backs to your site.
  3. Promote through your social media channels. Use the obvious channels such as Google +, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to start a dialogue or debate that relates to your content.
  4. Reach out to key influencers and ask them to share. Leverage established online communities by identifying who the influencers are, whether it’s an individual or a website, and asking them to share your content in order to reach a much wider audience.

Lastly, one other issue to consider is how to format digital content. Therefore, keep in mind how the target audience will access the material. Referring back to the CMO Council survey, the office desktop computer is the more popular device, but 41% of respondents consume content using smartphones and 30% use tablets.

photo credit: Zane Selvans via photopin cc

7 Content Marketing Tips to Generate Leads for Building Products

Spend any time online conducting competitive research and you’ll realize that content marketing is becoming an increasingly effective strategy for lead generation even for B2B companies.

If you spend any time on social channels, you know that good content boosts loyalty and trust among customers. Along that line of thinking, I recently attended a MarketingProfs conference on content marketing. Here are some of my “takeaways”:

 Seven Tips on how to market our content:

  1. Determine what action you want your customer to take and define the objectives – sales, warm bodies in seats (if attendance is the objective), etc.
  2. Determine what potential buyers need to know. Stop talking and listen. Take time to identify prospects’ pain and pleasure points.
  3. Create a content plan. Create what our audience wants and deliver it based on where they are in the process of buying – even if they don’t have their wallet with them. Things we need to ask are – where are they when they are researching and how do they consume media?
  4. Put a content creation team together. In other words, we need to put our money where our media is. The obvious place to start is a blog, which is the cornerstone of a good content plan. It all comes down to writing and good writing is where you need to invest your money.
  5. Get our digital ducks in a row. Establish our digital outlets and platforms and get to know this stuff. Become familiar with the various platforms, such as WordPress and Content Management Systems, that allow us to a lot with our digital game.
  6. Promote what we publish. Word of mouth is the easiest way to do this. You don’t have to master the exhaustive list of channels so pick a few and go.
  7. Measure. To make your content marketing work, you have to know what is and isn’t working. The truth may hurt, but to achieve success, we need to monitor and constantly make adjustments along the way.

The type of content that generates leads includes:

  • How-to’s, tips
  • Production applications
  • Shortcuts
  • Secrets
  • Tutorials
  • Stories
  • Case studies
  • Comparisons
  • Demonstrations
  • Pros and cons
  • Dangers
  • Myths
  • Pitfalls
  • Mistakes
  • Lies
  • Interviews
  • Roundups
  • Q&As

We need to be sure to connect the dots for our audience. Using a mix of media will create more touch points. By linking everything to our site or blog (for more info go here, for the whole interview go here, etc.) we will help our rankings in organic search.

Here’s the video of the MarketingProfs the conference session with Barry Freedman, “Transforming Your Website into a Customer Attraction Force Field”. 

A note about MarketingProfs: It is the largest community of marketers in the world, providing the latest marketing know-how and best practices in marketing with unparalleled depth and breadth. I am an avid consumer of their content and I recommend adding this to your arsenal of marketing resources!

Building Products: Content Marketing Tactics That Won’t Break The Bank

content marketing for building products

With today’s tight marketing budgets, building product marketers should leverage content marketing to grow sales.

According to AOL & Neilson, people spend more than 50% of their time online with content and an additional 30% of their time on social media channels where content can be shared. Building product manufacturers need to be leveraging digital channels to grow our brands.

Here are some interesting content marketing statistics:

  • 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing, as opposed to 86% of B2C marketers (*eMarketer)
  • Per dollar spent, content marketing generates approximately 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing (*Demand metric)
  • Companies that blog 15+ times per month get 5x more traffic than companies that don’t blog and 92% of companies who blog multiple times a day acquire customers through their blog (*Hubspot)
  • Companies with an active blog report 97% more leads (*Content+)
  • Call to actions promoting ebooks get almost twice the click-through rate as emails promoting webinars. (HubSpot)
  • 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles over ads (*Content+)
  • 60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site (*Content+)
  • Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing (*Demand metric)

Content marketing can be an efficient way to build loyalty and trust among consumers.

  • Blogs: With the number of companies using blogs as part of their online strategy, something is obviously working. A blog can give your company a voice and the ability to have a one-on-one conversation with potential customers. It also can establish your company as a thought leader in the building products industry.
  • eBooks: A great way to provide valuable knowledge to your customers and prospects. They are also a good way to generate leads because with each download you can ask for an email address and follow-up with your products.
  • Presentations: Educational content, sales and conference presentations are easy-to-read content that can be published on your website and shared on social media channels such as SlideShare, YouTube, Vimeo and others.
  • Press Releases: Press releases can be used to spread information about new products, company growth and announcements, all while boosting SEO. When a press release is posted on a newswire, you can invite journalists and bloggers to share the story. It’s a good idea to establish relationships with journalists from our industry’s trade publications so you can be included in stories about industry news. They can also be repurposed as content to be shared throughout your social media channels.

photo credit: kenteegardin via photopin cc

Content the New Creative for Marketing Building Products

content marketing building products

Marketers of building products should be showing up with pertinent, relevant content at each stage in the buying cycle.

Business marketers need to understand that the business channel as we’ve known it no longer exists. 

On average buyers will have completed 60% of the purchasing decision process before they contact a sales rep, according to CEB Marketing Leadership Council

Consumers have become empowered as technology has evolved. Buyers are accustomed to being as engaged in their decision-making as they want to be, which includes the notion of anytime and anywhere. They want information when they want it and they want to be able to access it on the device of their choice.

Prospective customers are turning to information that is publicly available as well as their personal networks to research their problems and form opinions about how to solve them. Companies without a strong online presence or strategy for content are risking losing sales opportunities.

The not-so-old saying in the online space deems that content is king. Today, content such as white papers, webinars, newsletters, blog posts, isn’t just king, it can be considered the new creative and it is what’s creating awareness.

In order to execute a successful content plan, three objectives must be met:

  1. It has to get noticed
  2. It has to satisfy your target’s information needs
  3. It must be credible

Content is the key to unlocking the door to consumer engagement. It helps you build a strong connection with consumers, creates more impact and influences purchasing decisions.

photo credit: 14clicksNick via photopin cc

Building Products: Increasing C-suite Social Media Marketing Engagement

social ceo building product manufacturers

Many company leaders are now aware of the power of social media marketing and are using it to engage with their employees and consumers.  

Companies that are truly social and engage their employees and customers in genuine conversation will be recognized as the new corporate leaders. CEOs who are social will be the next new thing. – Leslie Gaines-Ross, Chief Reputation Strategist, Weber Shandwick

According to data from a Weber Shandwick survey, social media engagement by CEOs has doubled in one year. In the survey more than 600 professionals – managers on up to the C-suite, excluding CEOs – revealed insights and habits of the world’s most effective and engaging CEOs.

In organization’s with a social CEO, 46% of executives admit that the participation of their CEOs makes them feel technologically advanced, while 52% feel inspired.

This study was conducted to develop a profile of the most Highly Social CEOs. Some of the common activities among this group include:

  • Using an expansive set of social tools. Highly Social CEOs realize that true engagement is more than dropping a few words in a Twitter feed and understand the benefits of driving content across several social channels.
  • Having their own blog. Highly Social CEOs don’t just blog, they have their own blog because they see the value in long-form, original content that gives their perspectives meaning and depth.
  • Leveraging the company website. More than 90% of Highly Social CEOs surveyed post to their organization’s website. They realize that the website is the hub of all information and is a platform for content to be delivered in various formats such as videos and photos.
  • Self-authoring. Highly Social CEOs write their own posts, which is encouraged by most social media experts.
  • Looking forward. Although not all executives believe their CEOs look beyond the next quarter, Highly Social CEOs are more likely to be perceived as forward-looking.
  • Are spontaneous but not too informal. Highly Social CEOs exhibit the ability to react quickly but don’t lose the formality of their role
  • Engaging a wide variety of stakeholders. Highly Social CEOs are aware of the value in using sociability to their companies’ advantages and are able to target industry peers, investors, media and prospective employees with their activities.

The Social CEO: Executives Tell All defined social media participation as “posting messages, videos, pictures, etc. on a social media site.”  In this Weber Shandwick study, executives are described as having a social CEO — those with CEOs who participate in social media — or an unsocial CEO.  Having a better portrait from executives on how CEOs are engaging socially, we can better measure how far CEOs have come and how far they have to go.

Download the entire Social CEO Study or click here to view an accompanying infographic.