#87: Drive Local Demand for Building Products Using Social Media

by Smarter Building Materials Marketing

Everyone talks about how we need to be “doing” social media as part of their marketing, but if your social media strategy isn’t integrated with the rest of your marketing tactics and your sales funnel, you're cutting the process short.

More About This Episode

In this episode, Zach talks to Justin Dewey, Sales Center Manager at American Olean and Marazzi Tile about how to structure your social media accounts on a local standpoint, the content you should be creating and how to get your reps involved to actually close a loop and grow your sales.

Transcript

Zach Williams:

On today's episode, we bring on a manufacturer who has a very smart approach to their social media, and how it helps them get in front of the right audiences. They share how to structure your social media accounts on a local specific standpoint, the content you should be creating and how to get your reps involved to actually close a loop and grow your sales.

Zach Williams:

It's a very simple tactic that every building product manufacturer out there can learn something from. Let's get into the episode.

Voiceover:

Welcome to the Smarter Building Materials Marketing Podcast. Helping you find better ways to grow leads, sales, and outperform your competition. And now here are your hosts, Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov.

Zach Williams:

All right, everybody. Welcome to Smarter Building Materials Marketing, where we believe your online presence should be your best salesperson. I am Zach Williams and we have a great show planned for you today. We're going to be talking about everything from social media, how to drive local demand, how to get in front of the right customers using social media. And how do you actually get your reps to do that final mile? And we've got a great guest with us today. We've got Justin Dewey, who's the sales center manager at American Olean and Marazzi Tile. Welcome to the show, Justin.

Justin Dewey:

Thanks Zach. Happy to be here.

Zach Williams:

You're out in sunny, Seattle. Is that right?

Justin Dewey:

Yeah. It's a little deceiving right now, but it's starting to poke through. We've had rainy days though. That's for sure.

Zach Williams:

That's true. Yeah. I've got a bunch of family out there. I'm surprised because, for our listeners, I'm looking at Justin right now and it looks like he has a ton of sunshine. I'm like what in the world? So, for our listeners, Justin, why don't you just give us a little bit of your background and what you do at American Olean and Marazzi Tile?

Justin Dewey:

Absolutely. For American Olean and Marazzi Tile. I am the, like I said, sales center manager. So what I do, my branch in particular covers all of Western Washington and Alaska. So we're primarily a tile manufacturer and distributor, and we also have some tile setting materials. Mainly working with dealers, home builders and commercial contractors. And I've been doing this role for about three years. I was at another tile distributor beforehand doing their operations. And I've been a manager for the last 10 years. So I've been doing this a while, at least for my standards.

Zach Williams:

That's great. And so talk to me about who you all market to, who are you trying to get in front of? Because, granted, you're in a local market, you're trying to target a bunch of different types of people. Can you just quickly break down the list for me?

Justin Dewey:

Absolutely. We cater to some dealers, some home builders and some commercial contractors generally and some architects as well. And what we are trying to do is get more designers from all those segments of the business, in our showroom and how we've gone about that is well for one we're updating our websites, americanolean.com and marazziusa.com. We're trying to get those a little more user friendly, trying to give them tools to help design. And with that, we're also promoting pretty heavily on our social media, as far as on Instagram, we'll have rooms and scenes and events that we're having.

Justin Dewey:

We try to have one at least once a quarter, more if applicable, but really these events we're trying to get more designers, more contractors, just so we can get them in front of our products and really showcase what we have to offer. But that social media is key to get people that maybe didn't know where we were or much about us before. They probably heard our name before but they don't know what we do officially. So just adding one little hashtag can get you a whole range of customers you didn't have before.

Zach Williams:

You know one thing we hear a lot from a lot of manufacturers is should I have a social media presence for my overall brand? And should I also have local ones for my local markets. You all take that second approach of having one for your big brand and then one for local markets. Talk to me about how that works on your end. Like what logistically, what does that look like?

Justin Dewey:

Absolutely. Yeah. So we have our corporate team who manage our corporate page, but I think it's very essential to have a local page as well because, from my experience, every market's different. So what our corporate team is posting might not really cater to our crowd. We have a very specific look here in the Northwest and we know that better than our corporate team in Dallas. So, us being able to showcase what we know our customers like is a huge deal. I'm sure that goes for other markets in the country. Being able to split that off to a local level, I think, is absolutely critical. Especially since, like I said, we promote events as well that we're having at our branch. So doing that at a corporate level, you're going to get a lot of white noise. People that don't necessarily care. Somebody from Florida isn't going to make a trip to a little wine and cheese party we're having.

Zach Williams:

That's true. Well, I'm curious, do you have to get approval from corporate before you post anything? Or do they just give you complete autonomy?

Justin Dewey:

For the most part we have complete autonomy. There's guidelines in place. So obviously we're not going to post any lewd material or our verbiage has to be appropriate, but as long as you keep it professional, there's really no issue. We can joke a little bit here and there but as long as we have these guidelines in place, obviously we don't want to rub people the wrong way or.... We're trying to get customers, not lose them essentially.

Zach Williams:

Yeah. And I like that approach a lot, too, because the name of the game in social media is lots of times speed. Like how can you be in the field, see something you like, quickly post online and be done.

Justin Dewey:

And yeah, technology today is very helpful. You know, I got my phone on me all the time. So if I'm on a job site and I see something that looks amazing, snap a picture right there and throw it on our story.

Zach Williams:

And you're also using it for sales too. I think this is one common misconception is like, social media is just for building the brand, building awareness, maybe building some connections. But you're viewing it like, how do I get in front of the right people in my market so I can get them to come to an event or work further down that funnel, which we'll probably dive into in a minute. Talk to me about how you're actually viewing your social media to drive the right demand and awareness.

Justin Dewey:

Like I said, a lot of times, maybe people don't know what we offer. So I post a picture of the right material. Maybe it's just a simple subway tile that we have. It could draw a whole new crowd, just that perception that maybe they're already working with a vendor that they think has what they need when really we have a larger offering and maybe they're getting it from China, we're getting it from USA. They don't know that until they're made aware.

Justin Dewey:

So, especially the Made in USA thing is obviously really big right now. So, us being able to promote that through social media is a huge selling point, especially on a lot of commercial jobs where Made in the USA is a stipulation of the whole job. And if... I know American's right in our name, but it still... sometimes it's deceiving, but-

Zach Williams:

You can't take it for granted.

Justin Dewey:

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So to know that that's one of the aspects of how we do business, definitely draws customers, definitely helps us make the sale. And then if we have a customer that doesn't know what we're about until I post something on social media, I can then get them in contact with my sales reps and then we can get racks in their showroom and end up doing a lot of business.

087 ornate living room

Source

Zach Williams:

That's really smart. And you know, I like what you're saying there about trying to get them into your showroom because you're pretty intentional, if I understand this correctly, you're pretty intentional with what you're trying to get somebody to do after posting on social media. You're experimenting with different hashtags. You're trying to post new content. Talk to me about the different events in your showroom and how you're trying to funnel everything to that kind of experience there, a part of your brand.

Justin Dewey:

Yeah. So in some cases it's kind of an open invite where we might have... like next week we're doing something for St Patrick's Day where we're going to have some green drinks and what not. But, in other situations where we want to kind of narrow it down, we've invited maybe a home builder and their flooring subcontractor for a very intimate showroom experience.

Zach Williams:

You're inviting both. You're trying to get both people in there at the same time.

Justin Dewey:

Well, it's typically, especially in this market. Our flooring subcontractors that actually buy the material from us already have a great relationship with the home builder, which in this market, if we go direct to the home builder, we could end up tarnishing our relationship with our flooring contractor. So we really like to get them together and form a partnership and say, "Hey, this is what we have to offer." And what we've done in the past that has been pretty beneficial is if we have a group of five, 10 designers. Might not sound like much, but if you're trying to guide them around your showroom and having them all talking about one product at the same time, you get a lot that'll like it, a lot that'll hate it. And sometimes that hate outweighs the ones that like it. So they end up not using it.

Zach Williams:

Interesting.

Justin Dewey:

What we've done, in the past that's been really effective, is we'll just get little colored sticky notes or something. Each designer will have a different color. They just walk around, put a sticky on what they like. And that way we don't get these designers being influenced by the other designers that might not like it. That way we can say, "Hey, I know you like this, you put a sticky on it. Let's get it in your show room or in front of your home builder." But we'll usually have maybe me and a sales rep and my design consultant kind of spread out through our showroom so they can just go around, tagging what they like. And if they have questions, we're there to answer it. But that's been very beneficial so far, especially in those large groups for saving time and again, finding out what they actually like instead of what the group as a whole.

Zach Williams:

Group think. Yeah. Have you ever heard of KJ sessions? Have you ever heard of that?

Justin Dewey:

No I haven't.

Zach Williams:

It's like a brainstorming... Man, it's like.... we do this a lot at our agency, but what you're talking about is that oftentimes there's people like myself, if I'm real with you, who have very strong opinions or who are louder in a group and people don't want to speak up. And so, I'll link to it in the show notes here, but a KJ session basically is where you do brainstorming and you'll apply sticky notes to an idea so that each person's voice is equally heard. So each person in the group might have three to five stickies. They vote on ideas. And even if you're the loudest in the group, it doesn't mean you necessarily have a stronger voice.

Justin Dewey:

Yeah. You don't drown out somebody else. It makes sense.

Zach Williams:

I mean, what you're doing there, I think is really smart too, because you're also getting these designers or people at your showroom to tell you what they like in a less sales-y approach. You're not following them around saying, "Okay, well do you like this one? And do you like that one, or what about this one?" It's less pressure.

Justin Dewey:

Exactly. I mean every product we have, we can give you the whole spiel on it. At the end of the day, they're either going to like the look or they're not. We can tell you where it's made, how it's made, what special features it has but.... It might sway one way or the other, but still at the end of the day, typically with the designers, they either like it or they don't. And yeah, like I said, that the way we did it made them feel more empowered too. Or, you know, this is my color.

Zach Williams:

This is mine. That's right.

Justin Dewey:

Exactly.

Zach Williams:

I'm putting my seal of approval on it. That's interesting.

087 tranquil bathroom tile wall

Source

Zach Williams:

Okay. So again, if we break this down so far, you're creating this funnel. You're getting people to your show room. You're using social media to help drive that. You're doing this with builders, contractors, designers. Talk to me about, what does it look like after they come to the showroom and I'm kind of setting you up, because I kind of know your answer here, which I'm excited to talk about, but what's your relationship with your reps look like post this event.

Justin Dewey:

Exactly. So when we get customers in the showroom, the social media events are working. We get customers interested. Maybe they have a showroom down south that they want one of our reps to service them. Maybe get a rack in there. So we get them in contact with our sales rep and they'll get the whole rack with all our stuff in it and it make it look pretty. But what we really try to drive here, and one of my reps really turned me on to this whole idea and I really appreciate him for it. Is basically these customers need to see our reps as an extension of their business. It's essentially an employee they don't have to pay. Because they're the experts, a lot of our customers are going to have tile, wood, laminate, carpet. It might not even be just flooring either.

Justin Dewey:

It could be window treatments, cabinets, the whole deal. So them trying to remember all this information, every different vendor, every different material. It's a lot. So they really need to use our reps, other vendors reps as an extension of their business. Because they're the experts on their material. So if you got a commercial subcontractor trying to VE a job because something's too far out, can't get it in time, they reach out to our reps. Either we have something that works great for them. They just say, "Hey, I need something that looks like this, this size." We might have it. Boom, good to go. They're job's easy. All they had to do was pick up the phone or send an email. And even if my reps can't find anything that works we know a lot of our competitors materials. So we can say, "I don't have this, but I know so and so down the street does."

Zach Williams:

I appreciate that so much, Justin, because so many people are afraid to do that, but it actually further solidifies your relationship with your audience because you're like, "Oh, well I'm right in a lot of situations, but I'm not right in this situation. And here's someone who is."

Justin Dewey:

Yeah. And I've really preached that to my team. I don't want to say no to our customer. So when I know we can't help them and we have an avenue to at least get them taken care of. I want my people to say, "Hey, we can't help you here, but I want you to talk to my buddy down the street here." And nine times out of 10, they're going to come back to us because they know, even if we don't have it, we're going to point them in the right direction.

Zach Williams:

That's honesty.

Justin Dewey:

Yeah, exactly.

Zach Williams:

I mean they know you're going to be honest. You know, it's one other thing, I want to get your perspective on this is that it's easier said than done to be like, "Oh well let's make sure our customers feel like we're part of their team." There's going to be walls that come up, especially with new customers. What are you doing with your reps to say, hey, these people are going there. Their walls are going to be up or they're going to be hesitant. Here's how you create rapport. Here's how you create trust. So they do start to feel like they're an extension of your team. Not just like somebody trying to push product. Do you have any like hidden nuggets or ideas that you can lend to help solve that?

Justin Dewey:

Well, what has worked in the past is exactly what I'm saying, where, if we're in an account, that's kind of given us the cold shoulder, I'll have my reps pry a little bit, obviously. Maybe ask what they're working on or if... a lot of times it's being in the right place at the right time where you can solidify a relationship where somebody's looking for a specific material, a rep just happens to be there. They say, "Hey, you have anything like this?" "Yes." Boom.

Zach Williams:

There you go.

Justin Dewey:

And then they can lead into that "Hey, you got to use me more. You got to just... I always got my phone on me, shoot me a text, whatever. You're on a job site, shoot me a picture." It's that easy. Just making our customer's lives easier is really the key.

Justin Dewey:

I think a lot of our customers just don't take advantage of their sales reps as much. And I even do it on my end. because we partner with outside vendors and while I know a lot about the stuff I'm selling. I don't know everything. So having our vendor sales reps hold my hand essentially, I'll give them a call if I don't know something, if they're a good rep, they're going to help me. They're going to get the job taken care of, they're going to make the sale. And what I found is a lot of people like to try to Google the answers themselves in a lot of situations and that can lead them down rabbit holes or find a deal that's completely misleading or incorrect, especially with tile. There's a lot of guidelines, but you know, really just using your reps because they're the experts is key for a lot of people. I don't think a lot of people take advantage of that, as much as they should anyways.

Zach Williams:

That's great. Well, Justin, thank you so much for coming on the show. If someone wants to get in contact with you or connect, what's the best way for them to do that?

Justin Dewey:

LinkedIn's always great. Just Justin Dewey at LinkedIn or honestly, if somebody wants to give me a call, I'm more than happy to just talk with them. I'm at 517-282-0346.

Zach Williams:

That's awesome. Again, man. Thank you so much for coming on and I appreciate you just breaking down that funnel for us. If you want more great content like this, go to venveo.com/podcast until next time, I'm Zach Williams. Thanks everybody.

Voiceover:

You've been listening to Smarter building Materials Marketing, with Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov. To get the resources mentioned in this podcast, visit venveo.com/podcast. Thank you for listening.

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