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

Why Your Building Product Content Needs Social Media (and Vice Versa)

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Building product content and social media go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Having your building product social media and content strategy efforts work in tandem will support business objectives, engage audiences and produce more meaningful results. 

According to Content Marketing Institute’s latest research, business marketers are working on an average of 13 content marketing initiatives and 69% are producing more engaging content. It seems there’s no slowing down the content marketing train anytime soon!

In a recent webinar I attended, How to Integrate Social Media and Content Strategy, moderator Jay Baer posed the question, “Which comes first, content or social media strategy?” As content production continues to increase, more and more marketers struggle with this question.

Content is fire, social media is the gasoline. –Jay Baer

When working together, content marketing and social media are a powerful duo. With an understanding of how and where to share information, content can be distributed strategically to drive action. Also, content created with an understanding of the strengths of specific social networks gives you the ability to drive conversations around relevant topics.

Social media needs content strategy. 

Social media is a prolific medium that moves–and fades–fast. It happens quickly whether it’s organic content or a paid media promotion.

Content strategy needs social media. 

Content needs social media in order to validate the strategy, tie it back to objectives, establish meaningful connections and produce desired outcomes.

Use social media to promote great content first and company selling messages second. The social medium was never intended to be the world’s shortest press release. Think value and customer-centric content over hype. Understand what your building product audience needs from you and deliver it.

Addressing your building product customers’ needs and pain points will pay off in content quality, site performance, social engagement and conversions. 

To answer Jay’s question: you can’t succeed in social media if you don’t have something interesting to say. Social media needs content strategy.

View the entire Content Marketing Institute survey: New B2B Content Marketing Research: Focus on Documenting Your Strategy

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/54740306@N08/10058843203

The Do’s and Don’ts of Marketing Green Building Products

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The key to success in marketing green building products is gaining trust and keeping mind share with building decision makers. 

No matter how great your product is it’s the marketing that determines the sale. To build a successful company, you need a great building product. But having a great product doesn’t lead to success by itself. You can have the right product for the right market and still fail because no one knows you exist. You have to stay focused on marketing at every stage of your business.

Below I’ve assembled a list of do’s, and don’ts, to help reach your audience and gain trust with them.

Don’t Do This. 

Green promotion requires companies to be honest with buyers and not mislead them by over promising. An important piece of advice I’d like to share with you pertains to “greenwashing.” In this industry, the potential to confuse consumers of your products with misleading green claims is high. Green issues are highly technical, fast moving and complex. If your claims are unclear, then you risk being labeled a greenwasher, which can seriously damage your company’s credibility.

To avoid making misleading environmental claims, make a commitment to abide by the FTC’s Green Guides. Also, make sure the claims you make about your building products’ benefits are backed by third party testing. While the energy efficiency of a product is dependent on a building’s climate, size, location, construction, and other factors, make sure you do the legwork to provide an accurate estimate.

There are quite a few recent cases where the FTC fined business owners for making “deceptive and unsubstantiated” claims about the energy and cost efficiency of their products. The fines associated with these cases range from $150,000 to $350,000.

Do This. 

Since you know who is most likely to buy green building products, then you know where they go online, where they assemble in groups, etc. Below are what I consider to be basic prerequisites for marketing green building products.

Promote on Your Website.

Since so many buyers are self educating on the web, it’s important that your LEED certification information is easily accessible–by this I mean easy to find–on your website. You might consider producing a downloadable PDF that explains which LEED prerequisites and/or credits your product may be able to earn. This information needs to be clear and state why your building product is LEED-appropriate.

Participate in Green Building Conferences and Expos. 

Greenbuild International Conference and Expo is the largest green building conference in the world. It features three days of speakers, industry showcases, networking opportunities, LEED workshops and tours of the city’s green buildings. The tens of thousands of attendees include architects, builders/contractors, building owners, code officials, developers, engineers and other groups.

BuildingEnergy is a cross-disciplinary conference and trade show in the northeastern U.S. put on by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. It presents 10 to 12 areas of focus on renewables and high-performance building to thousands of attendees, including engineers, builders, developers, policymakers, building managers, manufacturers, installers and others.

For a complete listing of green building events, visit GreenBiz.com or BuildingGreen.com.

Get Listed in Products Databases for Green Building.

EcoScorecard is a web-based tool that helps architects and designers measure the environmental impact of products and materials against LEED, CHPS, REGREEN, Green Globes and the Green Guide for Healthcare on a credit-by-credit basis. The goal of EcoScorecard is to make the search for green products easier and more efficient for the consumer. It’s also free for users since manufacturers pay for EcoScorecard.

GreenSpec is BuildingGreen’s online guide that lists over 2,200 green building products that meet the guidelines described in Environmental Building News (BuildingGreen.com’s publication). The difference between GreenSpec and EcoScorecard is that product manufacturers can’t pay to list their green building products. GreenSpec editors select products to feature in the guide. You can submit a product suggestion, but there is no guarantee that your product will be listed.

Learn more about the FTC’s Green Guides here.

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/86530412@N02/8233501246

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

Five Steps to Effective Building Product Email Marketing

Fine-tuning your building product email marketing campaigns will increase deliverability and return on investment. 

Aug 4 5_steps Effective emailIt’s the biggest driver of new leads and has the highest return on investment of any marketing medium. If email marketing isn’t one of your marketing team’s top priorities, it should be.

Statistics continue to show that email is the preferred mode of communication for the majority of consumers. How successful are your email marketing efforts compared to your other building product marketing activities? Being able to create, deploy and track email campaigns that work takes a lot of practice. I’ve assembled five steps to help you get the most out of your email marketing efforts.

Step 1: Have a robust online presence. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? You’d be surprised the number of building product organizations that still have a ho-hum web presence. Make the most out of your website because a great one can do the job of 100 salespeople. While you’re at it, add an email submission form on your home page to help build your list.

Step 2: Maintain a clean and current email list. Create a list based on people who’ve already expressed an interest in hearing about your building products. In order to keep your list clean of bounces and unsubscribes, you need to routinely remove the people on your prospect list who no longer read your emails. The quality of your list is more important than the quantity of prospects on it.

It’s also important to keep lists current. People’s addresses change, as do their interests. If you aren’t sending to your list at least quarterly, then you may be at risk of getting blacklisted or blocked. Once that happens it’s very hard to get your emails delivered. Sites like Barracuda, Spamhaus, Spamcop, Spamcannibal or Lashback can be searched using your domain and IP address to see if you may be blacklisted.

Step 3: Engage your audience with content. To really connect with your building product customers and prospects, provide them with insight that they can turn into action. How do you do this? By publishing research and engaging external experts to validate those ideas are great ways to engage with prospects.

If you’re needing help assembling a content strategy, you may want to check out What’s the One Key Ingredient Your Building Product Content Marketing Needs?

Step 4: Test your campaigns. Divide your lists and test campaign content using A/B or split-test functions to get a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

Step 5: Track campaign performance. Use data such as open rates and click-through rates to track growth and success. It will provide insights into the type of content and subject lines that are resonating with your building product audience and can help improve your approach.

Photo credit: Donald Judge 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

Five Ways to Take Charge of Your Reputation in Building Product Marketing

Reputation_4365875125_e0dfbbb87f_zYou can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do. – Henry Ford

In any industry, personal reputation matters. In building product manufacturing, it’s important because to close the deal and get the order, your customer has to have confidence that you can deliver.

Great reputations don’t just happen. They result from deliberate actions. They are built over months to years, based largely on your actions but sometimes on your words as well. Once an opinion has been formed, it is very difficult to change that perception. Below are five things you can consistently do to build a great reputation for your building product company.

Online Monitoring.

Monitoring your brand-related conversations can help you identify the places your customers and prospects are talking about you. It will also make you aware of brand sentiment. If it seems you need to improve your building product brand’s reputation, there are lots of tools available that make this an easy task.

Ask for Feedback.

Reviews play a significant role in the online space. Since users trust other users more than businesses, reviews can provide credibility to your building product business and help move your prospects down the path to purchase. Users have become accustomed to giving reviews on all sorts of products and services, and although you can’t force someone to leave one, you can ask them politely.

Be Nice.

Getting back to the basics of simply being nice does wonders when it comes to everyday reputation management. Needless to say, it goes a long way both online and offline. No matter how well your company is managed, there will always be a customer who is irritated by an experience. In cases such as these, keep “the customer is always right” top of mind by acknowledging the customer, apologizing and taking steps to make it right.

Be Helpful. 

A great way to build your building product brand’s reputation and authority is to provide genuine value to online conversations with your customers and prospects. Luckily there are many opportunities in the online space in which to do this such as your company blog, Q & A sites and social networks.

Engage in the blogosphere. 

Maintaining a good business blog can help you manage your online reputation better because, basically, a blog is a reflection of your building product brand. It therefore gives readers the opportunity to learn more about it by telling them who your company is and what you have to offer, among other things. In many cases a blog gives your customers a chance to express their thoughts about your building products as well as your business in general.

Photo credit: F Delventhal via flickr

The Power of Being a Social Building Product Marketer

The_power_of_beingBuilding product marketers who want to help drive the social media conversation and turn customers into evangelists will need to truly understand the nuances and landscape of this medium. 

Look up a definition for social media and you’ll get a hundred different answers. Ask a group of marketing professionals and you’ll get a range of responses, from it being an advertising and marketing tool and others that tout its ability to position brands.

The one definition that I prefer to use is; social media is an online platform for interaction, relationships and networking. I believe this is social media in its purest and simplest form and, therefore, it’s very important to remember when developing strategies to engage your building product customers.

Effective social media is by, for and about your customer. And it cannot be delved into lightly. It demands a deep understanding of the cultural and social dynamics that drive this media form.

Social media shouldn’t be thought of as another channel to complement traditional media. It should be thought of as a platform for your entire customer experience, and in turn your entire marketing mix. More and more so it is becoming the primary way your customers experience your building product brand.

As a marketer of building products, it’s up to you to lead the organization in creating your brand’s social experience that delivers twofold: value to your customers and helps meet business goals.

Being social can serve a variety of purposes:

  • Distributing content and building reputation (Lowest engagement)
  • Customer service and support (More engagement)
  • Managing influencers who are driving conversation around your brand (High engagement)
  • Turning customers into brand evangelists (Deepest engagement)

In order to get the most out of your social platforms, you first have to understand how your customers will benefit from participating in your social conversations. And in order to understand this, you need to know what the primary drivers are for people to use social media:

  1. Self-expression and sharing (B2B translation: Exchange of information and expertise)
  2. Making and connecting with friends (B2B translation: Professional networking)
  3. Getting attention (B2B translation: Improve standing with management and colleagues)

Your social media program needs one, two or all three of these benefits to truly be successful. The more you are able to connect with your customer emotionally, the more time he or she will spend with your building product company and connect more deeply with your brand. If you are not providing at least one of these, you aren’t harnessing the true power of this medium.

PHOTO CREDIT: photo by Gellscom on flickr

Why Building Product Marketers Should Be Using Instagram

7910370882_39d180fb66_z instagramWhat was once dominated by B2C brands, Instagram is a marketing channel where building product marketers can find plenty of success. 

If I told you there was a magical place where brands can engage with more than 150 million consumers to promote their community and culture, would you believe me? The enchanted cyber-wonderland to which I am referring is Instagram.  And it has become a viable, scalable marketing channel for B2B companies to find success.

Instagram launched in October 2010 as an iOS app. By February 2011, the company was valued at around $25 million. By April 2012, an Android version of the app was released and downloaded more than one million times in less than a day. In the same month, Facebook made an offer to purchase the company for approximately $1billion in cash and stock.

B2C brands have dominated the space, but business-oriented companies are finding plenty of success as well. Oracle, GE and Cisco are just a few of the B2B brands that use Instagram to create community and culture channels to promote their corporate social responsibility programs and volunteer work in their communities.

Not only can your building products company use Instagram as a hub for culture and recruiting, but you can also use it for general brand marketing, from raising awareness to engaging prospects and leads. It offers a number of effective B2B marketing tactics that marketers of building products can leverage.

Curate your customers work. Whether you are on Instagram or not, your customers are. In today’s world, people document their lives by taking photos. Leverage this opportunity to curate, promote and engage your customers.

Be fanatical about hashtagging. Understand that Instagram is a social platform and users are constantly searching for new content. If you don’t tag your content, it won’t be found.

Include a gaming component. Host a contest by asking your building products customers to upload photos of your products and offer prizes as a reward.

Incorporate your events. People use Instagram to capture events, so why not leverage the opportunity by encouraging attendees to capture their experience? Be sure to provide a hashtag in order to compile the digital assets.

There’s a reason Facebook paid $1 billion dollars for a company that has gone from a trendy app to a massive social network. If you aren’t up-to-speed on this photo-sharing social network, then read on for the latest stats, courtesy of the DMR Digital and Social Media Directory.

  • 13% of internet users use Instagram
  • 150 million active monthly users
  • More than 16 billion photos have been shared since its launch in October 2010
  • 7.3 million daily users
  • 55 million photos posted daily
  • Users spend on average 257 minutes per month on Instagram
  • 25% of Fortune 500 companies use Instagram
  • 9 our of 10 Instagram video shares occur on Facebook
  • Mercedes-Benz is the top brand on Instagram with 425,000 followers and 9 million engaged users

View the entire DMR Digital and Social Media Directory here.

Photo Credit:  Jason A. Howie via Flickr.com