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

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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

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

LEED Professionals Add Value to Building Products Marketing

101HIf IKEA’s chief sustainability officer Steve Howard is to be believed, we need to “go all-in on selling sustainability.” It’s not enough to just talk the talk—being knowledgeable about sustainability and selling this to your customers. It’s also about walking the walk—making it an intrinsic part of your organization by ensuring that credentialed LEED professionals are key members of the team.

Green or sustainable design has become the standard in building, and its growth will only continue. Reports from the McGraw-Hill Construction’s Outlook 2014 Executive Conference reveal that in 2013, 44 percent of all U.S. non-residential projects were green. In 2014, it’s projected that nearly 50 percent will be green building projects.

Projects aiming for LEED certification require a certain level of expertise, particularly when it comes to materials and products used, which means the demand for LEED professionals will grow along with it. To stay competitive—and relevant—to the building products industry, it’s now more important than ever to have LEED accredited professionals in your organization.

LEED expertise as a credentialed professional is one of the most sought after skills. The U.S. Green Building Council reports that in a study of U.S. job postings, the demand for LEED accredited professional (LEED AP) and LEED Green Associate credentials grew 46 percent over a one-year period. Since LEED is quickly becoming the gold standard, these are the leaders in your organization who will help advance the industry, continue educating customers and keep your business and brand relevant.

Here are the top five ways having LEED credentialed professionals in your organization benefits the business:

Business growth. Having this knowledge base within your manufacturing business adds to the bottom line. According to the 2013 Dodge Construction Green Outlook, nearly 70 percent of firm execs said having a green credentialed workforce enabled them to grow their green business.

Relevancy and competitiveness are baked in. These professionals help drive business value. With required continuing education and staying current on the latest in sustainability, LEED professionals have a greater understanding of customers’ needs and are better able to help your organization address them over time. They also serve as sustainability ambassadors who can relay the importance of this concept to internal clients and stakeholders.

Credibility increases. By having LEED credentialed professionals in your organization, you will be seen as a go-to source for LEED knowledge and expertise.

Transparency and authenticity demonstrated. Organizations that invest in their employees by supporting them as LEED credentialed professionals or work closely with marketing professionals who have these credentials show a commitment to sustainability as a companywide priority and to well-trained employees to meet the changing needs of the marketplace.

Expertise is proven. The LEED program is standards-based. Having access to a demonstrated knowledge of the LEED rating system and green building practices means your organization can help customers achieve their LEED goals. These credentialed professionals can offer suggestions on ways your customers can earn credits without incurring additional costs and identify opportunities for savings in other areas.

Consider credentialed LEED professionals in your organization as key value-added components of your business and a smart investment in the future of your enterprise.

Photo credit:  http://www.gratisography.com/

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.

Think Your Building Product Content Is Being Read? Think Again

Sept 3 think_your_contentWriting less and styling text so it’s easy to read are two ways to attract and hold the attention of your building product customers and prospects. 

Thanks to Jakob Nielson and his web usability studies, we’ve known for a long time that web users scan content rather than read it. We also know, thanks to real-time analytics, that there’s a pretty good chance you won’t finish this article. As a matter of fact, for every 161 people who landed on this page, 61 of you are already gone. In web traffic jargon, you “bounced” and spent no time engaging with this page.

But that’s okay. Losing 38 percent of you is the nature of the online beast. Good riddance, I say, because now we have a friendly, intimate crowd–just me and those of you who want to be here. I still have to accept the fact though, that you would rather scan web pages than read them in detail.

Therefore, there are some things I learned in English composition class I need to forget in order to keep my building product marketing readers tuned in.  I also like to incorporate some easy design techniques that make my content more reader-friendly.

Break up copy. 

To cover complex topics, I like to break up the subject matter into a series of posts. It’s a good way to keep your readers coming back and they’ll find it easier to digest your content if it’s in smaller, snackable pieces.

Write compelling subheads. 

Strong headlines get readers attention. Solid subheads keep readers engaged and help move them through the rest of your content. Compose subheads that are intriguing and informative.

Use bullets. 

Bullet lists provide an easy, scannable way to present multiple points in your content. I recommend using them as much as possible due to the fact it provides a break for the reader’s eye.

Format strategically. 

Emphasize important concepts in your web copy by bolding them. You want your reader to be able to scan and take away the most important points at a glance. Highlight only the main points so your reader can quickly pick them out.

Use odd numbered lists. 

Numbers are an effective way to capture attention and keep your reader interested. Large chunks of information broken up into odd-numbered facts, as research shows, helps the brain process information in manageable pieces.

While content is important, if it isn’t commanding attention, your building product prospects won’t stick around to hear what you have to say.  Incorporate these tips into your writing to attract and hold attention.

Photo credit: Moyan Brenn via flickr

3 Ways Building Products Marketers Can Turn Customers Into Brand Advocates

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Before making a purchase, you want to be sure you’re making the right decision. The same rings true for your customers. Oftentimes that means seeking out the advice of people who already made the purchase and can offer some perspective and insights. These are individuals who are familiar with a product, can speak about it thoroughly—and champion the company as well. Enter brand advocates.

Start with knowledgeable customers who are thoroughly satisfied, essentially brand loyalists, and you have brand advocates in the making. Brand advocates can be cultivated—if you know the right way to do it.

Here are three ways to convert your brand loyalists into brand advocates:

Find out where they’re hiding
Monitor your social platforms to find those customers who are truly engaged with your brand and follow them. Look for customers who constantly have good things to say about your brand. Seek out brand enthusiasts who consistently take to social media to mention your name, say positive things about your products, and share content from your social media sites with their network.

Another possible source of brand advocates are self-appointed power users who love to teach others how to best use your products and offer guidance. These are  people who help others with technical challenges or explain how they can maximize the value of your product offerings. Power users tend to congregate in online communities and user meetups where they can have more direct, and lengthier, on-topic conversations.

Reach out to these sources and find out if they’d be willing to take on the role of brand advocate by burnishing your brand via social media or even heading up and moderating brand-sponsored user groups. Start the relationship by asking for a follow on Twitter or participating in blog comments. Once you’ve established a rapport (and assessed their interest) you can expand the conversation and explore additional possibilities.

Give them a platform
The value of brand advocates is that they are out there freely endorsing your brand. Their actions enable you to gain credibility, garner loyalty and grow your customer base. Why not make it even easier for brand advocates to propel your brand forward by giving them a proper forum.

Designate a space for them to share their voice and their experiences with your product. Make them a contributor to your blog, recruit them to answer questions during a Twitter chat, or moderate a Google+ Hangout. Provide them with ways  to deeply engage with your community and gain their acceptance.

Make it worth their while
To properly reward your brand advocates, you’ll need to think beyond a gift card or product discount. A better way to acknowledge their efforts is to offer an exclusive experience or an opportunity that will help them build their profile.

This could be a speaking opportunity at an upcoming conference, a chance for a sneak peak at a soon-to-be-released product, or an invitation to meet with your chief executive officer or product managers and contribute insights and feedback.

Brand advocates want everyone they meet to experience the value your brand has provided to them. The presence of brand advocates means your brand is doing it right. Maximize the benefits of your success by cultivating those customers who can’t wait to tell others just how right you are—for them.

Photo credit:  Flickr

What Transparency in LEED v4 Means for Building Products Marketing

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Processed foods and beauty products have long had their ingredients scrutinized and made public through appropriate labeling. Now it’s the building, construction and design industry’s turn.

The fourth iteration of the LEED ratings system, v4, launched in November 2013, focuses largely on transparency, particularly when it comes to material credits. Points will be awarded for companies’ disclosure to the public about what materials their products are comprised of and how their products are made. It’s sort of like nutrition labeling for building products.

Although some may feel this creates undue stress on certain players in the industry, it actually can serve as a wealth of opportunity for consumers. The more consumers understand about a product, its origins and how it can potentially impact them directly, the more likely they will be inclined to purchase that product. Knowledge, for consumers, is power.

Full disclosure
To leverage your product’s position within the LEED v4 rating system, it’s important to disclose three key things:

How your product is made, which includes base materials and/or ingredients used

Extraction point of the raw material

Location of manufacturing

Many opportunities exist for building products companies to be transparent about their product offerings. However, the building products and design industry is not totally in agreement about the best ways to convey that transparency.

Some believe environmental product declarations are the best way to go while others opt for health product declarations, which are similar to safety data sheets, and then there’s the product transparency declaration. Each of these has its limitations, but all strive to give a more comprehensive understanding of the product.

Whatever method you choose for disclosure, ensure that you don’t oversimplify any challenges and continue to perform best practices and ongoing education to give consumers the proper tools they need to select the appropriate building products for their needs.

The industry will soon accept LEED v4 as the standard. When that happens, building products marketers who have invested time and resources in educating buyers about their brand’s own green conscience through product transparency will be well prepared. In fact, they may find that they have blazed a clear path to success.

Photo credit: Unsplash.com

Two Simple, But Critical, Types of Website Content in Building Product Marketing

medium_2807150797Building product marketers need to make sure even the simplest website content is accessible because it can play a huge role in whether buyers move forward with your company. 

In a recently released web usability report, B2B buyers were asked what factors would cause them to leave a website. Respondents reported across the board that a lack of contact information was so annoying, it caused them to leave a website.

  • 55% answered that “no contact information/phone number” reduces the company’s credibility
  • 37% said a lack of contact information wastes their time

With statistics like these, be sure you’re making it easy for your prospective customers to contact you. Don’t bury your contact information and make them hunt for it, because most won’t go to those lengths to find it.

68 percent of survey respondents say that they consider “Company Address and Contact Information” to be “Critically Important” with regard to moving forward with a vendor.

Another mistake many companies make is leaving off their physical address. As research shows, not having complete contact information will lower your credibility in the eyes of your buyers. Avoid having your website visitors thinking you are hiding something or that you may be operating out of a garage.

More than likely, your buyers are sourcing their vendors online. If you are on the short list of suppliers, they’ll send your name to a purchasing agent, or will send an RFQ. If your information isn’t readily available to include in the RFQ, then you are out of the running. Building product buyers use website content they find to pre-qualify vendors and suppliers.

Lastly, make sure the “About” page on your website is being fully  utilized by featuring your company history, team bios, press rooms, etc. “About” pages are one of the first interactions a website visitor makes when visiting a website, after viewing “Products and Services” pages.

View the entire Web Usability Report here.

Photo credit: Chelsea Gomez on flickr

Ten Top Best Email Practices for Building Product Marketing

12196229744_b32db1c881_zEmail marketing continues to be a vital component of the building product marketing mix, but in order to succeed, you need to follow best practices to optimize email deliverability. 

If you are like a majority of business marketers (68%), email marketing is core to your marketing efforts. According to Madison Logic, more than 122 billion emails are sent every hour.

By using the analytics built into most email marketing software, you can thoroughly test and analyze results. The most common metrics you should look at are open, click-through and unsubscribe rates.

The industry standards for B2B email:

  • Open rate: 11-15%
  • Click-through rate: 2.1-5%
  • Unsubscribe: .11-.2%

Given the fact that email marketing is such an important part of your building product marketing effort, follow these top ten best practices to help boost the overall results of your email campaigns.

  1. Use capital letters to lift engagement.
  2. Punctuation is unnecessary.
  3. Increase open rates using personalization: Users are 22% more likely to open when addressed by their first name. 
  4. Keep character count to 50 or less (according to MailChimp).
  5. Don’t use salesy words – be clear.
  6. Focus your messaging on the promise of the subject line.
  7. Pose a question to increase interest and the call-to-action of the viewer and to encourage click-through.
  8. Use color! Orange and red are optimal choices for the color of your call-to-action button.
  9. Test! Test! Test! Improve your campaign’s performance metrics by conducting A/B testing. Test with a sizable audience to ensure statistical significance.
  10. Optimize your site for mobile.

Designing for today’s devices is becoming more important as mobile adoption rates continue to increase at a rapid rate. Be sure to design your message using basic HTML that will adapt easily to a diverse range of email clients.

Also make sure your main messages are in the email text, not just in graphics. The first line of your email should be plain text with a link to a landing page that works well for web and mobile browsers.

PHOTO CREDIT: Per Chris via Flickr

Advantages of Online Surveys in Building Product Marketing

2566730276_61b8a53363_zOnline surveys provide building product marketers more reliable data faster and at less cost than the manual methods of telephone and print surveys. 

One of the most important aspects for planning building product marketing campaigns is the ability to understand the needs and pain points of customers and prospects. Before the proliferation of online automated systems, marketers would use telephone and print surveys to capture valuable marketing data. They were dependent upon researchers to gather, input, compile and error check results. Many times this led to higher costs and missed marketing opportunities due to the turnaround time involved.

Today, the web provides flexible options for conducting surveys. Although ones conducted online are not as scientific as in-person or phone surveys that use a random sampling of the population, they are a low-cost way to do market research about whether an idea or product will appeal to your customers. One word of caution though; when using the free survey tools available online, be sure to design yours to produce the most valuable data.

Considering the needs of building product marketers, see how the advantages of online surveys compare to the traditional options:

Reduction in human error. As with anything done manually, there is always a risk of errors, particularly with manual insertion of data from traditional surveys. This risk is now minimized, which ensures more reliable results and improved statistics.

Simplified revisions. Online surveys allow for revisions to be made within hours, or even minutes, of being deployed. The convenience and ease allows more surveys to be created, updated and in use in less time, which leads to improved efficiency.

Data captured in real-time. This is a huge benefit for building product marketers. Having this type of data instantly provides the information marketers need, when they need it. No longer do you have to use survey results that are months old. With instant access to online survey results, you can strategically plan effective, timely campaigns.

Automated reporting. Waiting on reports to be generated on survey feedback is a thing of the past. Today’s automated reporting systems not only help with real-time statistics, but also the ability to perform detailed reporting from anywhere, at any time.

Photo credit: Todd via flickr