More About This Episode
The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insights on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.
It's our 200th episode! In this milestone episode, Zach and Beth talk about three things they believed when they first started the podcast that still ring true today.
The first thing we have to say before we get into this episode is thank you. "This is a pretty cool milestone for us, and first and foremost, we wouldn't be doing this if you guys weren't listening, if you weren't a part of it," Zach says. "And so we want to just thank the community."
1. Your Online Presence Should Be Your Best Salesperson
The slogan of this podcast has been 'your online presence should be your best salesman' from day one, and it's even more true today than it was then. In the past, companies would get a salesperson who would cold call or email, introduce the brand and then try and sell to them.
Today, more potential customers are making the decision to buy from you before your sales team can ever have a conversation with them. Their decision is made well before your salesperson engages with them because customers are looking at your website, viewing your socials and reading reviews — all of which are hard to track but are hugely important to their decision. This also proves that your online presence was and still is your best salesperson. As Zach says, "It's a no-brainer at this point."
For example, look at the effort Zach put into choosing a coffee grinder: "I did a bunch of research, I talked to people online and offline, I looked at reviews. Now mind you, this is a $50 coffee grinder — it's not like something crazy. But that same type of mentality around a small transaction, like a coffee grinder, happens with very large, costly, expensive projects in the building product space, whether that's a homeowner or a more commercial activity. It's all moving online if it hasn't already happened."
Beth agrees, pointing out that if customers are researching $50 items, how much more research do you think they're putting into $2 million items? "Especially in B2B, we know that you may not literally be selling like sales transactions [are] happening, but your online presence is absolutely the key to a sales partner. And more to the point, if you aren't online, your sales team is overcoming Everest in every conversation. It's almost like you don't exist."
While salespeople are important, "how infinitely more scalable is your website? How much time does your salesperson have to be in front of your audience versus let's say social media? How much time does the average person spend on social media?" 2.4 hours every day.
Say you could go into a room with your target audience for 2.4 hours every single day and say anything you wanted to them (hopefully about your value props and how your product solves their pain points). Why on earth wouldn't you?
2. Whoever Gets the Closest Wins
While the idea of whoever gets closest wins is still true today, we're no longer talking about the product itself as Zach explains. “If you're not creating demand by helping people solve their problems by getting as close as possible to your customer, you're making it much more difficult to win."
The manufacturers succeeding now don't stop at having excellent digital strategies. They're also creating demand through all their offerings and value props: their products, services, speed or even specialized training. In other words, they are helping their customers win more business so they'll continue to use their product. As Zach puts it, "they're more of a lead generation company with a product in the back end."
3. Understand Why Your Customers Are Actually Buying Your Product
Do you understand the value your product actually brings to your customers? Many manufacturers succeed because they understand the true reason customers are buying their products.
Don't get distracted by features and benefits or color options. Dig until you find out the real results your customers are seeing. Then, you can turn that into a solid sound bite that your salespeople, social media team and customers can use to sell that product to your customer and your customer's customer.
The caveat is that your result has to be significant — 5% is not a big enough time savings for most people to switch to your product.
And as Zach points out, "People don't buy products, they buy ideas. ‘I'm buying this product because I'm going to land more business, I'm going to get more work done, I'm going to increase my margins.' They're buying those ideas — they're not buying the product. The product is just the avenue to that idea."
"People don't remember why you're better — they only remember why you're different," says Zach. In order to really push your point home, you have to have a true differentiator. Most people don't remember facts and figures about brands off the top of their heads. You have to really stand out to be remembered.
As Beth explains, give them a problem to solve, and they'll constantly come back to your product over and over and over.
Zach gives an example of the cheesecake factory.
Zach Williams: "When I say cheesecake factory, what do you think of?"
Beth PopNikolov: "Their giant, giant menu."
Zach Williams: "There you go, that's why they're different."
Even though their food isn't better, their menu itself isn't better and their service isn't better, they have a memorable differentiator: the length of their menu. The same applies to manufacturers.
Beth and Zach's Biggest Takeaways
Over the past 200 episodes, Beth's biggest takeaway is, despite the claim that the building materials industry is five to 10 years behind from a digital marketing perspective, we actually aren't. "There are so many people who are so passionate, so smart, so innovative, deep in the industry, just doing what they know is going to get the best results. [They're] risking failure, trying new things, being excited about the newest and the greatest and the best, and seeing really cool success, really cool data and building really incredible things."
Zach's takeaway is that the entire industry is still constantly learning. People always come up to Zach and Beth at events to tell them how episodes changed their strategies for different initiatives because they learned something new. "And I love hearing that. That to me is the biggest, most ultimate win because that is showing that these ideas scale."
Want Even More Insight?
We can't wait to do another 200 episodes. As Zach said, "We're not even close to done." If you want to keep learning and growing with us, head over to the Apple Podcast and drop us a five-star review to help us celebrate, and then drop us a comment to tell us what you enjoy about it.
To learn more about our big takeaways from the past 200 episodes, listen to the entire episode.
Remember to like and subscribe to Smarter Building Materials Marketing wherever you get your podcasts.