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Episode 171 4 Tips to Successfully Develop a New Building Product Line

4 Tips to Successfully Develop a New Building Product Line

Introducing a new product to the market isn’t just about launch day and social media announcements. How can you help guarantee you’ll get traction when you reveal new product lines to customers? This week’s guest gave us a few insights and insider ideas.

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Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov
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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.

Amanda Sizemore is the Business Development and Marketing Director for AmeriCote, which launched a successful new product line — right before the pandemic. We talked about how her team navigated such a challenging project and how manufacturers can guarantee a successful launch when it’s their time to shine.

Bringing “Something Better to the Market”

Beth was flying solo on this week’s episode but brought on someone who wears multiple hats in the building materials industry. Amanda Sizemore joined AmeriCote several years ago and came with the sales and marketing experience the company needed to launch AmeriCote’s proprietary line of flooring products: AmeriCove.

“You find a lot of it in commercial buildings, government facilities, restaurants, coliseums — things along those lines. And I've been working with them for about five years in developing the AmeriCove products,” Amanda explains.

There's so much that goes into a successful product launch, but Amanda was a part of the product development process, working with the original designer of the cove base product. “I worked with him the past few years of his life before his passing and perfecting the precast cove base product — and bringing it to market under the AmeriCote name as AmeriCove Base,” she says.

In building materials, developing an original product isn’t just about coming up with new ideas — a successful product needs to provide real solutions to the customers who are installing it. “[W]e worked very hard for a few years in getting the product right,” explains Amanda. “We've worked with a lot of installers and listened to the problems and issues they had with the current cove base on the market. So we just tried to address all of those issues and bring something better to the market.

They launched the AmeriCove brand around the end of 2019, right before the beginning of the pandemic — when the market wasn’t very predictable. But with more stores opening up in the last year, AmeriCote has seen success. “[W]e've certainly got it out there on the markets and [are] seeing a lot of growth daily. So, it's very exciting,” explains Amanda.

Being able to get a brand new product in front of customers and grow that customer base during an economic crisis is nothing short of impressive. So we asked Amanda to reveal a few of her secrets.

4 Ways to Create a Product That Performs

Amanda and the AmeriCote team worked hard to ensure that their product was well received by potential customers. We asked her for some key tips that manufacturers can use to guarantee the same success with a new product and its brand.

1. No Shortcuts on Quality

The Americove product is hand-poured and carefully manufactured. “It's not made by machine. We actually look at every single piece and make sure there [are] no flaws,” says Amanda. “So, we worked very hard on the research and development, and we worked through all of that. And it took us probably about a year and a half to get the product ready.”

2. Discover Pain Points

For product manufacturers, try to understand what your customer struggles with and deliver solutions to help.

“[With] some of the products on the market currently, some of the issues the installers were having was inconsistent sizing [among] the pieces,” explains Amanda. “One thing I've heard a lot of is basically having to remove the pieces, alter them and then reinstall them, which is basically not the idea of the products.”

3. Articulate Your Vision

Before your product launch is on a calendar, Amanda suggests clarifying the strategy behind its story first. “Have a good idea on what your vision is for your products, what you're willing to accept and what you're not willing to accept,” says Amanda. “And just to make sure that it's going to fulfill the needs that you're trying to bring to market.”

4. Make It Easy to Pick Your Product

Inflation has impacted everyone in building materials and offering your customers more affordable or simplified product options will help to win them over. “The other thing is just finding a product that's affordable and will serve its purpose, but doesn't need anything additional like fancy adhesives,” says Amanda.

Finding specific solutions for your customers tells them that you’ve been listening. The vision for AmeriCove was a product “that's not going to break the bank, get the job done and basically be more help than work. We want to make your job easier. That's what we're here to do,” she says.

Perfecting your product takes time — and it should. Price and quality are still important, but we’ve talked before about what customers are looking for. According to Grant Farnsworth, a research expert in the building materials industry, “Your value proposition now has to incorporate some other elements, whether it's service or support or whatever the case may be, that's now got to be baked in beyond just quality and pricing.”

Launching a product line in building materials should take just as much thought and planning as the brilliant new product you’re revealing to the world, and Amanda talked more with us about how AmeriCove navigated its launch.

How to Plan a Successful Product Launch

Planning for the launch took time and energy from the AmeriCote team and required support from their business partners and some of their distributors.

“We started with smaller stores that only have one location, maybe two locations. And then, we would contact installers directly, introduce ourselves and actually send samples of our products so people could actually get a good grasp for what it is and how they could benefit from using it,” said Amanda.

That kind of customer outreach helped the AmeriCote team talk about the product and benefit from the direct feedback. “That has been really good for us, that's probably been something that's helped us a lot, being a small marketing department here,” says Amanda. ”Just having those distributors and all of their sales reps reach out to the clientele [who] also may not be aware of our product because there's a lot of people that are in the industry that aren't aware.”

This kind of planning and forethought, along with the “grassroots” strategy that the AmeriCote team used, has reaped other benefits. “Now that we have worked through this for a year or two, we've worked out our kinks, we've got our production [and] we've got plenty of inventory in stock. We have some bigger distributors,” explains Amanda. “PPG is actually distributing our product now [with] guaranteed supply. They have about 13 or 15 locations in the Southeast of the U.S. They move quite a bit of products.”

What’s next for the AmeriCote team? “Well, we are really just focusing more on spreading the word of AmeriCove and doing more branding now that we've got our product where we want it,” says Amanda.

Yes, our ears perked up, too. We wanted to hear more about the AmeriCove brand and their digital marketing plans for the near future. Amanda shared a few ideas with us about how the AmeriCote team launched the cove product and what’s ahead.

“We're going to be doing some online advertising. We have partnered with Concrete Decor,” explains Amanda. By focusing on trade publications and trade magazines, the AmeriCove brand can get in front of a much more targeted audience. “One thing we are going to be building on, as well, is we're kind of starting to focus more on our digital presence. You'll probably see some social media coming along. That might be a little bit more interactive and fun,” says Amanda.

Many professionals, especially installers, are on social media apps like TikTok and Instagram. “And that's where they get about 90% to 100% of some of their business. It's certainly a good avenue for marketing,” recommends Amanda. “If they're looking for something, they go straight to their phone — and if they have free time, they're probably on TikTok.”

For manufacturers who want to reach those customers, check out our episode on TikTok strategies for building materials brands.

Want Even More Insight?

The road to launching your new product might be longer than you expect. “Just be ready because you're going to find issues that you didn't foresee,” says Amanda. “Don't get discouraged if it takes longer than expected.”

But that kind of leg work is worth it, and it helps connect with customers when they know what kind of commitment you’ve made to their success.

Listen to the full episode for more insights on launching your new building products.

Or check out AmeriCote and reach out to Amanda here.

Subscribe to the podcast for even more ideas on selling and marketing your building materials products more successfully.