Whether you’re a manufacturer, distributor or builder, leading a company in the building materials industry requires a roadmap and clear directions. Once you know where you want to drive your company, you need the right marketing plan to get you there. Understanding where your audience is and how to target them online is key to turning your online presence into a sales and lead generator.
We hear over and over again how dependent sales in the building materials industry are on relationships. If you take the right approach to your branding and marketing messaging, your digital marketing should be an extension of your company’s ability to establish and nurture business relationships into sales.
Although the industry can be slow to adopt digital tools for marketing, building materials professionals who already have a basic web presence and social media following are reaping the benefits by staying on top of digital marketing.
Recently, Steve Booz, from Royal Building Products, spoke with Venveo about how slow companies are to adopt these tools.
"Like a lot of companies, we had a website, we had social channels, and we were doing some of the basics, but like a lot of building material companies in general, we're behind … So I saw it as an opportunity to really raise our game and to try to catch up to the rest of the industries in the world while at the same time bringing Royal forward a little bit faster.“
Using multiple methods that align with your business goals is the best way to drive results.
Digital marketing isn’t just a good looking website or posting ads on Facebook. It’s about turning your online presence into your best salesperson. It’s about being where your customers are (online) and giving them access to what they need to solve their problems.
Sometimes that may mean access to your product pages and downloading spec sheets or brochures. But other times, that means helping them compare your products to the competition or offering installation videos or even giving them insights into what the end-consumer needs to know about your products in an infographic.
The average building materials company targets a minimum of three audiences within the channel. This makes building materials marketing complicated — but not impossible.
Before you jump in, however, check in on your company’s brand.
“Everybody's got a brand,” explained Rich Pond with Prescient, in a recent interview with Venveo. “We're all working for some brand, some company, and either that brand is the byproduct of unorchestrated actions and could be somewhat confusing or unclear, or a brand is clear about what it wants to be and where it's going to go.”
You’ll want to ensure that your company’s brand has a clear and cohesive message across all of the platforms you might be using for marketing.
“What we're trying to do here at Prescient is to build a brand that is seen as the smarter way to plan, design, and build. And so our messages should be around that smarter way: education, clarity, transparency, collaboration, as well as the overall brand experience.”
Once your team is on board with your brand’s messaging, you can start to plan out the tools that you’ll use to market your brand.
Here are the main components of a digital marketing strategy:
Your digital marketing efforts will likely center around driving your target audience to your website. You want people who visit your website to be able to easily find what they need, get answers to their questions and learn about your products including where and how to buy them.
Remember that not everyone who comes to your website will be ready to purchase your product or talk to a rep. For these potential customers who are still higher in the sales funnel, you’ll want to offer them downloadable content like guides or case studies. This strategy allows you to still capture their information and nurture them through email until they’re ready to purchase.
Content marketing means connecting your customers with answers to their problems through content. And remember, content can be a wide variety of things: from blog articles to social media posts to videos, comparison guides, case studies, even images or infographics. Anything that you create to share with your audience is content.
The guiding rule for creating content is value first. You want to offer valuable solutions, not just promote your products. If all you do is talk about your products and how great they are, no one will want to read it.
Social Media Marketing:
These days, just about everyone has at least one social media profile. When it comes to using social media to promote your brand and grow your business, the key is to remember the social part. The more relatable and authentic your brand is online, the more people will want to follow you and the more engagement you’ll see on your posts.
It’s also important to know which platforms your customers are spending the most time on. Architects and designers are most likely to spend time on Instagram and Pinterest as they’re highly visually-driven platforms. Builders and contractors, on the other hand, have built strong communities on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
If your target audience has a question, the first thing they’re going to do is search online. One of the best things you can do to win their business is be in the top search results when they go to Google with their questions.
Creating a website and content that is optimized for search engines, like Google, doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by creating great content that includes targeted, industry-relevant key terms that your customers are searching for. Then make sure your website follows all SEO-best practices and is optimized for relevant keywords as well.
This resource can help you understand All About Keywords: What They Are, Why They Matter and How to Use Them.
Online ads are one of the fastest ways to drive traffic to your website.
One key to keep in mind when deciding where to advertise online is the intent of the person who will see your ad.
For example, if someone is searching online for “Wood Flooring Alternatives,” their intent is already set on purchasing. You may pay more for them to see or click on your ad, but the potential for return on your investment is much higher.
Keep “intent” in mind when creating ads that will be displayed on social media as well. Your social media ads need to grab your audience’s attention because their intent while on Facebook or Instagram is to be entertained. That doesn’t mean they won’t engage with your ad or eventually buy your product, but it does mean it’s a longer road to get there.
You can learn more about getting started with online ads here: An Introduction to Online Ads for Building Materials Manufacturers.
Email marketing is a great way to stay top-of-mind with past, present and potential customers without waiting for them to come to your website.
Don’t burn out your contact list with constant product updates. Use email marketing to deliver valuable content that helps them solve problems, answer questions and positions you as a go-to resource. Building this goodwill can greatly increase the chances of them purchasing from you when they need your product on their next project.
Your website should be one of the biggest marketing qualified lead engines in your organization. Try offering visitors free content like downloadable project plans or 30-minute consulting sessions to attract potential customers and capture their contact information.
A digital marketing strategy involves all of your marketing channels — from your social media sites to search engine optimization — to gain new website visitors and then convert them into long-term, repeat visitors.
“People are searching for information in multiple channels, so there’s no reason to limit yourself. If ranking on Page 1 for Google isn’t possible, ranking #1 in Pinterest or YouTube might be a better option,” suggests Digital Marketer. “And traffic isn’t the end goal. Conversions are. So think beyond traffic.”
To convert a site visitor, you have to inspire them. Give your audience design ideas for their project, set up a product visualizer on your website or write a blog post about a project installation. It’s that kind of inspiration that can compel someone to take the next step to give you their contact information, to work with you or buy your product.
There’s no magic pill when it comes to digital marketing for the building materials industry. It’s about having the right message and the right mix of marketing tactics to reach your customers where they are. Check out this guide to growing sales using your online presence if you want to dig deeper.