Planning season is here, so we have put together our annual recommendations for building products manufacturers marketers to be successful in the new year. The pandemic has accelerated several of the items we previously forecast as future state changes to current state requirements. Paramount to all our recommendations is the need for improved communications between all parties involved in the building process including the manufacturers, distributors, builders, and project owners. The demand for materials is high, but the satisfaction with manufacturers is low. This creates an opportunity for you to differentiate yourself. Here is our marketing must do for 2022.
#1 – Update website to include ordering, tracking, history, customer service
Your customers expect you to communicate with them in an open and timely fashion. The best way to accomplish this is to update your website to include online ordering, order tracking, order history, and customer service. This may seem like a big change for building products manufacturers, but this is the norm for most other facets of a consumer’s life. Think Amazon. Your customers expect to be in communication with you at their convenience and to get answers. The lack of communication by most manufacturers during this past year when demand was high, and supply was low, makes the point for the need and opportunity for you.
#2 – Passive to active social – targeting and commerce
Let’s face it. Social media is a force to be reckoned with in the building industry. No longer is it a fluffy PR and marketing communications exercise of sharing pretty pictures and publishing promotional claims. Social media platforms are powerful influencers that allow you to directly target your customers and prospects in a highly efficient and effective way that is measured and reported. Further, social media is quickly becoming the preferred method of purchasing. Do not be fooled. Social media commerce is here, and it is a meaningful business tool that will affect your businesses success. Not certain what this means then ask someone who does, because to miss this important purchasing channel is to leave money, lots of money, on the table.
#3 – Relationships – online and personal
If we’ve learned one thing these past eighteen months, it is how to video conference from home. We have learned to build relationships during these meetings (even though the online happy hour seems weak). So many of the video meetings are running long because people need to share personal insights, comments, and experiences with one another. This is good for relationship building. In many ways, we have gained more personal relationships with one another because of the video meetings.
The challenge moving into 2022 is two-fold. First, answer the age-old question of how we can make meetings more productive (AKA shorter) and, possibly, less frequent. We know this is a big ask. The second challenge is to learn how to best prospect and sell through relationships online. We recommend making this a practiced skill of all your people as the likelihood of needing it seems high. Remember, selling is still personal, even online.
#4 – Time to reassert the brand with its benefits to the customers
Building products manufacturers brands are taking a beating and it is time to reassert its importance to your customers. Builders and owners are being forced to trade brands for product availability and pricing. Big brands are unapologetically foregoing communications with all their customers because of record demand and low supply. They are increasing pricing with extended lead times and missed delivery dates. Manufacturers are putting the brand loyalty to the test, and many are failing. Builders are finding product parody and availability that transcends the brand when they must support their own businesses. This seems particularly true with custom home builders that lack the volume buying influence of national production builders. It is time for the manufacturers to directly demonstrate the value of their brand to all customers through what they do for them. This starts with regular, timely communication as outlined in this article.
#5 – Turning data into insights, insights into strategy
We recently shared a story about social listening titled “Pssst. We Can See the Future” where we outlined how we use the data we collect for our clients to help them make important business decisions that have significant impact for them. Collecting the data is one skill set, converting the data into meaningful, actionable strategies is another that is important today and even more important tomorrow. You are likely collecting a large amount of data through your regular business practices. This data is being used to validate some of the decisions you are making. Do you have the people that can use this data and the data you like have but are not collecting to create insights to help you move forward? These are questions to be asked, answered, and acted upon in 2022. Doing so will give you an advantage. Overlooking this recommendation will give another business this advantage. What will you do in 2022?
As you plan for 2022, communications with all your customers and prospects must be at the center of your plan. The five specific recommendations we share with you focus on sales, product promotion, ordering, distribution, delivery, service, customer satisfaction, and the success and profitability of your business. All right in the heart of a well-considered, productive plan.
Good luck with your planning for 2022. If we can be of any assistance, give us a shout.