Big, Small Industry

April 9, 2024


I like to tell people the construction industry is a ‘big, small industry,’ meaning it is really a community of people that get to know one another directly or indirectly. It is in this spirit that I read the insights, thoughts, and information from many builders, architects, designers, manufacturers, and agencies in the industry.

Over the years, I have found it particularly interesting how some people voice their expertise in marketing to the varying construction audiences with a high level of confidence and direction. So much so that it sparked my interest in learning more about the people behind the voices and their experience in the construction industry.

A little digging finds most of the voices of authority from agencies working with clients in the construction industry do not have direct construction marketing experience; more specifically, they have ‘grown up’ in the confines of the agency office. There are a rare few like me that have started their careers as a building product marketer for leading manufacturers. I assure you there is a significant difference in learning about the industry and its players from the inside. Let me give you a few examples of how this insider experience makes a difference as an agency partner.

Real Time Product Development and Launch Experience


All agencies serving building products manufacturers are involved in new product launches. This is typically one of the most important events of any given year. As a result, having a full understanding of all that is required to bring a new product to market is a big advantage.

Throughout my career as a building products manufacturing marketer (BPMM, for short), I led interdisciplinary teams from research to design to purchasing and manufacturing to distribution, marketing, sales, training, and agency partners to develop and launch new product lines, sizes, and material types. The experience of working across disciplines starting with understanding the customers’ needs for the products, the implications of the competition in the market, and continuous moving, connected part of the process gives an agency partner both a respect for the effort and an appreciation for the importance of all the things they are to do to bring the products to markets. Further, you have insights and experiences of your own to contribute and assist in the effort to make it successful.

One of the best examples I can share of some of my personal experience is a product crisis management project. I lead a team of product designers, testing engineers, manufacturing, supply, accounting, pricing, service, sales, marketing to create solutions for an installed product failure of one million plus units. We were charged with identifying the locations of the failures, coordinating repairs with trained contractors and homeowners while maintaining a low public profile PLUS moving existing inventory to new markets while creating new products with new material types in the effected markets in only 6 months. Oh, and managing total cost and financial exposure. Can’t get this type of experience sitting in your agency cubicle.

Pricing Strategy Experience: A New Meaning to Plus One


During a show floor meeting with a prospective client at the International Builders Show, I was introduce to the VP of Product Development and a few other senior executives. We shared a few common experiences and relationship (remember, big, small industry) and pricing became a topic of conversation. I shared a simple pricing strategy that led to millions of dollars of direct profits.

I worked with a major window and door manufacturer with a strict pricing strategy and formula. While developing a new product line, we navigated the labyrinth of the pricing strategy to meet the financial goals. This is when I asked if we can simply add one dollar per unit? We forecast selling six million units a year. It was agreed that we could trial the “Plus One” strategy. The result was earning improved profitability for the product line and a new pricing strategy. I suggest you take a look at the potential impact of this strategy for your next product launch.

Marketing and Sales Partnership


My father was a professional salesperson. I witnessed firsthand the value of the support a salesperson received and its importance in closing a sale. As a result, I have a special appreciation for the work of the sales team and an affinity to working directly with them.

I have always found having a salesperson join in the development of products, pricing, promotions, communications, and service is critical to achieving success. I owe this experience to my time with Andersen Windows where working jointly with the sales team was fundamental to our work. I have carried this practice with me ever since. Since crossing over to the agency side of the industry, I have found direct sales participation in development is unusual. So, when we get involved, so does the sales team.

One of the most important places to engage the sales team is with the brand. My definition the brand is the reputation of the business as determined by the employees, vendors, competition, and customers. With this in mind, the sales team is one of your greatest brand ambassadors and need to be forefront in brand development, management, growth, and improvement. Only an experienced marketer and agency partners will understand the true value of this insight.

Customer Intimacy


When I started my career in building products, my employer had a practice of requiring the marketing team members travel with the salespeople to get in the field every quarter, if not more frequently. I love spending time on job site, so I made it a practice to visit them every month. I still do to this day, and it is the most rewarding thing I do. Spending time with building, project leader, installers, and team members provide context to all the work with do for them and the sales team. You learn the language of the customer and the local markets. We work with national building products manufacturers, so it is important to visit job sites across the country. I guarantee you there is a difference in building practices, language, and relationships in Boston versus Austin or Chicago or Portland. Know this will make you a better marketer and agency partner.

Working with a national building products manufacturer provides you with resources smaller companies may not have. I used the company’s membership with NAHB to build a personal relationship with the leaders of the remodeling industry. I did this as a part of my responsibility to build the remodeling business for my employer I quickly learn there are leaders in most markets that other businesses look to for guidance. I like to call them Pied Pipers. Developing a personal relationship with these pied pipers will open doors to insights and experiences that will echo throughout your career and help your clients as an agency partner.

I am sharing these experiences with you as examples of building the customer intimacy an agency partner with direct building products manufacturing experience may have to share with you.

Experience is a Superpower


Recently asked by a former client and current prospect, when are you going to retire? It was probably not a question I should have been asked but the answer was easy. I have a superpower most other agencies do not have – experience. I’m better prepared to make a difference for your business today than most agency people because of my experience. Why would I think about retirement when I’m stronger than ever?

Marketing is the art and science of modifying people’s behavior. Having the experiences with all the types of challenges and opportunities that present themselves across various products and services is a gift that is best shared with those smart enough to recognize its value. New product launches, crisis management, competitor challenges, budget constraints, you name it, we have likely experienced it and know how to best navigate our way to success.

Through our experience, we have direct and immediate access to leaders and influencers throughout the construction industry that our clients benefit from directly. I can pick up the phone and call someone for help, they will pick up the phone, and we will put a plan in action. The power of relationships that are developed over time to the benefit of our clients.

Our clients recognize the value of our superpower for all the reasons previously mentioned. They also know our experience does not cost more and likely saves them money due to the lack of wasted time, energy, and improved results. Experience is a superpower.

I decided to share my thoughts with the big, little industry as I see and hear other profess a point of view that is well articulated, likely practiced, and typically developed without the benefit of the experiences I have shared with you. This is a word to the wish there are agency partners available to you with real life experiences that will benefit you more than others. This experience tells me, you should qualify your agency partners based on their practice experiences as well as their tactical ones.


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