#93: Making the Change from Print to Digital in Building Materials Marketing

by Smarter Building Materials Marketing

Undertaking a digital transformation can be a daunting task. Maybe you've been in print, with a lot of traditional marketing materials in place, but you want to make that shift to online and bring the business into the 21st century. It can feel overwhelming, but it’s the way more and more companies do business.

More About This Episode

In this episode, Zach talks to Amy Post, who is the National Marketing Manager for the Pro Division at ODL about digital transformation and how to make that leap to build an incredible online experience.

Transcript

Zach Williams:

Undertaking a digital transformation can be a daunting task. Maybe you've been in print, you've got a lot of traditional marketing materials in place, but you want to make that shift to online. You want to bring the business to the 21st century. On today's episode, we bring on a manufacturer who has done that very thing. They've taken all of their old disparate tools, all their old materials and brought online. And really transformed their business to help their customer and improve their overall experience of working with them in the process. It's an awesome episode for anybody that's looking to make that leap and make the shift to being digital, to being the forefront of their industry. I'm super excited to share with you. Let's get to 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 lined up for you today. We're going to be talking about digital transformation, how to make that leap and how to really build an incredible online experience. And we've got Amy Post, who is the National Marketing Manager for the Pro Division at ODL on the show with us today. Welcome to the show, Amy.

Amy Post:

Oh, thanks for having me. Good to be here.

Zach Williams:

So Amy, for our listeners, maybe you can just give us a little bit of background into your story and how you landed at ODL and what you're doing there now.

Amy Post:

Yeah. I started my career as a journalist. I was a news reporter out there in the field, which I always like to say, that's just glorified writing. I would go out, do research, come back and write my stories for the day. And so that's how I really got into content initially. And over the years just continued to write on the side really at work and then some freelance as well. And so that just grew and grew and ultimately got me into content strategy from a digital perspective. So I landed myself at an agency, got out of the news, because it pays like crap, and I got out of the news and started doing some digital strategy work for a marketing agency.

Amy Post:

And then I was there for about eight years and we grew that agency and really started focusing on marketing through a channel of resellers. So I was there for eight years and then an opportunity at ODL came about and I've always wanted to do it for one company, I have an agency life, you've got your hands in a lot of different paths. So I wanted to make the next leap. So about a year ago, took the opportunity to be the National Marketing Manager at ODL. And for the last year we've been laser focused on digital strategy and execution.

Zach Williams:

So you are what I would call my people. You are my people, the digital, this is where we live and breathe. And so I'm really excited to hear from you to share what has this journey been like for you and what is your overall process and strategy? Because for a lot of people we talk to at Venveo, they don't know where to get started or what's actually going to bring the right results. And it sounds like, and correct me if I'm wrong, that ODL, a big part of why they brought you in was to make sense of this digital space and how to actually undergo a bit of a digital transformation, which is a buzz word, but you're trying to make it more forefront and center. Is that right?

Amy Post:

Yeah. And they didn't know what they didn't know. That's the thing. Like I say now, because at the beginning it was always like, "Oh, Amy's ideas and Amy's strategy." And now I'm like, "It's ODL strategy now." They just needed somebody who knew how to execute on it and knew what platforms and tools we needed and to really take a step back and look at what we were currently doing when I came in and say, "Okay, how can we do all of this stuff better and from a digital perspective?" I'll never forget. I walked into ODL my first day and on my desk was this enormous full line catalog, beautiful. My team makes a beautiful catalog. But next to it was this enormous book and it's a price list and it's a printed price list that looks just like the white pages. And I said to myself, "If nothing else, I'm stopping the madness on this printed material." We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on literature and I'm like, "There is a better way and I can show them a better way."

Amy Post:

So basically from there, I just researched what tools we needed and spent the last pretty much year. I think we've got it up and running now, but executing on the tools that we needed to implement. So you really got to find, I think for people that are trying to do this, they need to find somebody that can do that evaluation for them and tell them what they need to get, if nothing else. And that could be an agency or that could be hiring internally. They need to find somebody in the space to give them that advice for their unique business.

093 exterior home door

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Zach Williams:

So if we can dive into that, you guys specifically, or at least your line of business, you focus on the Pro, correct?

Amy Post:

Yes.

Zach Williams:

So what are the different, you mentioned tools, you mentioned making your online presence better. Can you dive into that? What are the different tools you're using? What are you doing to streamline and really leverage technology to push ODL forward?

Amy Post:

Well, we know who all of our customers are. We want to speak their language and we want to make it really easy to communicate with them. So my first thought for my digital mind is the website. How do I control the website? And most of these companies don't have control of their websites. So they have to reach out to some agency, pay them a ton of money just to make basic content changes. And that's where ODL was. And how do we get new content and fresh information to our customers if it takes us thousands of dollars to change a few sentences?

Amy Post:

So I'm like, "Well, first thing's first, we're getting control of the website." So I implemented HubSpot and the HubSpot CMS and got an agency cooking on creating a website that we could manage and monitor in house, so that we could get that information to people. So I implemented that right away. That was the first things first. And that website actually launched just a couple of months ago. So now we finally, it's such a refreshing thing to be able to just change the homepage banner. Can you add some content on the blog about X? It's just instant access to be able to get content out. So that was first things first. That was my very first focus. And also that catalog I talked to you about.

Zach Williams:

I want to ask you about that. Have you brought all that pricing online? And by the way, as a caveat, I am on the same page as you, you should be able to maintain your own website. You shouldn't need somebody else to do that. Because, I mean, not only does that cost dollars, but that cost time. You've got to email somebody, they've got to get in the queue. And so you're leveraging that technology to make decisions more quickly, as well as get things out in the field. Are you also bringing pricing into your site? Because that's a bit of a controversial idea. Like, "Oh, we can't broadcast our pricing because then our competitors will know."

Amy Post:

They know anyway.

Zach Williams:

They know anyway, everybody knows anyway, so what did you do there?

Amy Post:

Yeah, so we have a very legacy ERP system, which handles all of our order processing. And I know that tons of companies in this industry run the same way. So I was not sure what to do because I'm like, "I got to get rid of this price book, but how do I get this legacy system to work on our site?" And so I found one vendor, I combed the internet for weeks.

Zach Williams:

To integrate?

Amy Post:

Well, I'll talk through it. So I found one vendor that could integrate with Oracle and could get the information to sync together. And so we partnered with this vendor and they gave us a full line catalog experience that comes with list pricing in it. Our plan is someday, soon, hopefully in the next couple of years, to actually have a logged in experience on that full line where our customers can get their net pricing. We're not there yet. It's on my list of future plans. But yeah, so now you can go on to odl.com. You can click on a digital catalog. You can flip through, everything is linked. We've got videos in there. It's just an entirely new experience than that printed price book. And we don't have to print as many copies of it and spend an exorbitant amount of money and resources to get those out. So that was a huge part of what ODL needed. And now I'm proud to say it is transforming how our customers get information from us.

Zach Williams:

That was my next question is what were your customers' responses to this? Were they like, "Oh thank God that you're not giving me this massive book." Because other thing too is like pricing can be obsolete or can change on a fly. But when you print it.

Amy Post:

Yes, I'm not even kidding. I'd go to our customers to visit and they'd have those price books and they'd be like all marked up and notes everywhere. And I'm like, "You guys, oh my gosh, we got to stop the madness. This is crazy." Because they are dated. We launch and change products and have different things happening with our pricing every day. So not to say that we raise prices, it's just fluctuations for a number of different things. So we needed a change. And here's what I'm going to say about the customers. I have really tried to make a point since I started to not overwhelm our customer base, because they are slow to change and we have to gradually show them a better way over time.

Amy Post:

So I'm not going to turn on everything all at once. I'm going to layer this process so that they can, "Okay, right now I'm going to learn the digital catalog." And then, next year we have big plans to do a partner program. That's next year. Then they can adapt to that because they already understand our online experience and how to navigate through that. So it's really understanding that we need to take them through this slowly, which is good for us too, because we need time to get these systems up and going and people trained, so they understand how to utilize these resources.

Amy Post:

So while I think some people still will go and now we have an ordering system for all of our literature. They go to what we call the partner store, the ODL partner store online. They can go online partner store and order their price book. And it will print directly from our most recent pricing that we're feeding into our digital catalog. But we're hoping that, and I think we're already actually starting to see this, is that people will see that just is not the most effective way to get pricing from ODL. And they go to the digital catalog. And I'm happy to say the traffic to our digital catalog is through the roof. We've been live for less than 90 days on that. And it's already like our sixth most trafficked page on the site.

Zach Williams:

That's so great.

Amy Post:

Yeah. It's pretty impressive. We're hearing from customer service people calling in like, "Oh my God, this is great." So I think, although it's a rough transition for people who have been doing the same thing for 40 years, I think they're really adapting quite nicely. And the fact that we've also said, "You can have your printed book if you want it, just go right here in order one and we'll send it to you."

Zach Williams:

That's great.

Amy Post:

And so they feel the comfort of that.

Zach Williams:

Yeah. I mean, it sounds like you've really taken the transition from print to digital and making digital a bigger part of your overall business. You're servicing existing customers. You've talked about that a lot. Like, "Hey, we have pricing, you can order these things if you need to." What are you doing to target new potential customers online? Are you making traffic generation or traffic awareness or pay traffic, whatever it might be, a bigger part of it? Or are you just trying to say, "Hey, we're going to focus first and foremost on our existing customers, get that nailed down and then we'll figure out the new customer acquisition process afterwards?" Can you share a little bit about what you guys are doing there?

Amy Post:

Yeah. For the channel in particular, we know who 98% of the people that we need to be marketing to are, it's a nice benefit. I mean, it does have pros and cons in some ways, but it's really a nice benefit. So we don't spend a ton of time being like, "We needed lead gen. Bring me all the leads." So when people send me spam on that, I'm like, "Billy, you know nothing about-"

Zach Williams:

Delete, delete, delete.

Amy Post:

Yeah. But there is market share available. So we know that there are certain competitors that maybe they are missing something that we have, that we can strategically market to that group. And that's really where we spend a lot of our time going after new business so to speak. It's people that we know in the industry that we can target selectively. And honestly, we do that on a case by case basis, depending on what it is and what changes have happened or what the product fault is. Like right now we know that the flush-glazed door is a huge thing and we make frames and glass. We don't make doors. Despite what a ton of people think, we don't make doors. So we can't make a flush-glazed door if we don't have doors. So we need something to compete in the market and we need to be able to educate our competitors' customers on why you should go with the ZEEL frame that we just came out with, instead of a flush-glazed system. So we spend a lot of time creating that kind of targeted marketing.

093 french doors

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Zach Williams:

That's like the education content marketing component. I like to say helping is the new selling, the more you can do there, the more effective you're going to be. So what are some of the metrics that you guys monitor? Because you just mentioned customer acquisition and lead gen is not the most important thing to you. It sounds like it's serving your existing customer base and making it easier for them to do their job. What are some of the metrics that you look at to say, "Okay, we're doing a good job here or we need to tweak or improve our digital strategy based on what you're seeing." Talk to us a little bit about what are the things that you're measuring.

Amy Post:

Yeah. I mean, right now we're really working to get all of our system is actually functioning together, because at the end of the day I want to know how much revenue I'm creating from my campaigns. To me, that's the only metric that matters. And right now we're integrating Salesforce with HubSpot and with our ERP system, which is a challenge. So we're still working out the details on that. So right now we monitor our daily sales numbers. I monitor the traffic on the website pretty closely right now. And actually, for the digital catalog, that's really kind of my baby of where I'm monitoring things, because I can monitor page views individually and what pages have the fastest exit rate. How do we leverage this page more effectively? What copy changes do we need? Maybe people aren't staying on this page because there's too much content. We need to create a video to put on that page instead.

Amy Post:

So that's really where my brain is right now and monitoring the traffic and the engagement on odl.com as a whole, because we just launched it. And I want to be sure that I have a lot of heat mapping on the site that I'm making sure people can navigate effectively when they're going on there. So yes, if you go to odl.com, I can totally creep on you and I watch to see if people are getting hung up at any areas. But really, at the end of the day for us, it's sales, is pro, is our end of the ODL universe hitting goal.

Zach Williams:

When I look up what you're saying is, you know what your end goal is, which is obviously sales or, and if you look at things like CPA, cost per acquisition, that stuff is important, but you're also looking at individual pages and saying, "What's the purpose of an individual page? Is my exit rate high? Do I need to tweak my content? Do I need to improve or add a video?" You're not looking and just saying, "How much traffic is there? How many leads am I getting in sales?" Like it's not broad strokes. You're looking at the micro decisions that are being made to make that journey better or that overall experience. I think that's a really important point for our listeners is that you've got to look at the big picture, but also look at the individual purpose of a given section or page on your site to really move the needle, right?

Amy Post:

Yeah. We need that customer experience to be pretty flawless or they're going to go find it from somebody else. So I want to make sure that there is no hangup from the minute they get to odl.com to the minute they are placing an order. They can get everything they need quickly and easily without having to reach for a book or anything. I want them to be able to have that experience all from their keyboard and their mouse.

Zach Williams:

Where are you going from here? You've got this new site up, you've integrated pricing. It sounds like that whole integration of your CRM, your automation tool on your site is a big part of what you're trying to tackle and ensure that that's really, really tight. Where do you see is like the next step for you? And I am also curious, what do you see is the next step for the building products industry? Because a lot of people are behind. A lot of people are not pushing the envelope like you. Can you share with us a little bit about your vision of where you think the industry needs to go?

Amy Post:

Yeah, yeah. For us in particular, in the next couple of years, I see us really focused on implementing smart strategy and really deploying some really custom content to our audience and making sure that we're creating the most personalized experience we can. We spent a lot of time in the last year building an infrastructure and we've only scratched the surface on executing on it. We have a lot of big plans for our channel. Like I mentioned earlier, we're getting ready to start a partner portal and a partner tier program is involved in that and really leveraging our customer base like you said, to be your best sales person. We want to give them everything they need. We want to incentivize them. We really want them to value the partnership with ODL so much that they do business with us because of that partnership. And because we make products that make your life better.

Amy Post:

So it's a combination of those things. So there's a lot of digital strategy that we've been talking about implementing that we want to hit the gas on. And we also want to find the right solutions for our channel within our partner program and our partner platforms that we want to execute on.

Zach Williams:

That's great.

Amy Post:

So that's what we're doing at ODL. What I see for the industry and for ... I spend most of my time, like I said, I've only been here a year, so I have had limited exposure to a ton of things outside of our channel. But I do see within that channel, I do see people getting more comfortable with the idea because I think that ODL is really a leader in this space. And when we start to change things, we do tend to see that, as far as our network is concerned, other people start to get a little bit more comfortable with it too.

Amy Post:

So we're doing actually a launch project right now where we're deploying the same type of catalog experience that we have online for one of our customers.

Zach Williams:

Smart.

Amy Post:

Yeah. So we're hoping, and don't call me, if anybody's listening to this, don't call me, it's a test project. We're hoping that, like we've done in the past with creating literature and things like that for our customers, that we can help them with their digital experience too. And that we can enable them as well if they need the assistance. Now that's not to say, I can do that right now. We're still building our own, but those are all in my plans. And I think the industry as a whole, for us and our channel, and I think probably other similar structured channels, if they have a leader to get it going, I think people will slowly but surely follow suit.

Zach Williams:

You know what, you're talking about here, you mentioned experience a lot, Amy. I think what's important to know is that subconsciously, if we view a website and we go there and the website's difficult to use or it's, I can't find what I'm looking for. Subconsciously, you think that that company is out of touch and they're difficult to work with. And whether that was your intention or not. I think what's really cool about what you have done is you're trying to make it easy for your customers to buy from you, whether they're on a phone or they're on the website. And those two things, that experience of that customer journey has got to be synced.

Zach Williams:

Now I would love to hear from your standpoint, that to me is I think a big missing link. It's not just about awareness or leads. It's about making sure that that customer experience of somebody who buys from you, whether they're on a phone, they're talking to a rep, they're on the website. It's all at the same level. Because, frankly, our expectations are so high. I go to Amazon and I can buy something, it's on my doorstep tomorrow. But as a manufacturer, we don't necessarily view our online presence the same way, but it sounds like you guys have really championed that kind of a process. I know the word experience can feel like a buzzword, but you are. You're doing that, isn't that right?

Amy Post:

Well, and I think that that is what it's about. It's about the customer experience and they're the ones driving our business and they're the ones that we rely on. So we need them to be our champions. That's the best word I can use to describe it. So whatever I can do to create that experience for them. I'm going to do it.

Zach Williams:

So to wrap things up, Amy, what advice would you give a manufacturer who's listening and says, "Man, my website is horrible or I've got issues and I know I have a lot of room to improve." You've come in, you've wrangled this beast. I know you probably won't want to boast about it, but it's impressive what you've done. I tip my cap to you. What advice would you give somebody? What would you tell them to do?

Amy Post:

You got to find somebody that can help you. I really think you don't know what you don't know, and there's nothing wrong with that. And there are people out there that can help you. You just need to do some reading, get over to Google and find those people because they are out there. They're working in channel marketing, they're at agencies right now. I mean, really give them a call and say, "Where do I start?" And they can help you. Now it's going to take resources and it's going to take time and it's going to take money. But I do think this industry is on the verge of a change in five to 10 years, I would even say maybe three to six.

Amy Post:

When you look around at these trade shows and these places that you have a big gathering of people in the building industry, there's going to be a massive shift and I'm not trying to say, it is an older industry. People have been in it for a long time and they're going to retire. They're ready. They want to go off. And you know who's going to be coming in, is you and me.

Zach Williams:

Yeah, that's true.

Amy Post:

With our high expectations and our cell phones and wanting to be able to shop from them. It's inevitable. So we have to be willing to adapt to that. So I think it is worth that time, energy and resources, if you want to adapt. And if you want to survive that shift.

Zach Williams:

That's awesome. I mean, you're using the same wording we're using, Amy, and I just love it. I really appreciate it. If somebody wants to get in contact with you or connect with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Amy Post:

Probably LinkedIn, I would say is probably a good way to connect. You can always reach out to me. I'm at ODL every day here in Zeeland, Michigan. So yeah, definitely connect with me on LinkedIn. I'd love to share insights with anybody. If anybody thinks they have an idea, throw it my way, please.

Zach Williams:

That's great. Awesome. Thank you again so much for coming on the show. And 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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