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From Leads to Loyalty: How To Take a Customer-Centric Approach To Building Materials Marketing

Digital platforms and consumer behavior are constantly rewriting the rules of marketing, so how can businesses in the building materials industry adapt and thrive? This week, we are talking about the power of trust, personalized experiences and the crucial role of the customer journey in driving sales and revenue.

Photo of Zach Williams
Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov

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.

Todd Miller is President of Isaiah Industries, a metal roofing company. He talks with Zach about why manufacturers need to take the effort to create a personal connection with customers.

Meet Todd

Started in 1980 by Todd’s father, Isaiah Industries began by producing commercial metal roofing. By the mid 1980s, it was clear they needed to expand out of commercial, and they began moving into the residential metal roofing market — which turned out to be a great idea.

“Because of so many great players in the industry, metal has gone from a market share of about 2 percent of the residential roofing industry back in the late '90s to the most recent numbers: 18 percent. So that is some stellar growth in such a huge industry as roofing. And it is firmly the number two player in the roofing industry now and continues to grow and continues to be on an upward trajectory,” says Todd.

Todd also hosts a podcast called Construction Disruption, which focuses on uncovering “the future of design, building and remodeling.” His guests chat about a variety of topics, including “what trends they're seeing, what's in their crystal ball [and] what the future's going to bring for design and building and remodeling.”

Creating Personal Interactions

Todd believes that the customer experience, regardless of whether they purchase through a dealer or distributor, starts with the manufacturer. Isaiah Industries, being a niche brand, is heavily dependent on their online presence to bring actual property owners to them, instead of contractors, wholesalers or distributors.

While many in the industry rightfully think that lead generation in the future needs to focus on the customer experience, “the problem is, we often think of customer experience as being only that thing that happens after their customer,” explains Todd. “But in reality, customer experience starts from the moment you first engage that customer. And that could be a manufacturer through their website [or] it could be a local contractor through their website. But whatever it is, we have to focus on that customer experience from the get-go.”

Isaiah Industries generates thousands of leads through their website every year, and for each of those leads, they respond with a personal message, asking personal, individualized questions about their needs. “What we really are always driving toward is that personal interaction.” That goes whether you're working with a property owner or a design professional.

By engaging leads personally, you are able to become their trusted guide. And it shouldn’t matter if the product they really need is yours. “I don't care if it [the best roofing product for them] ends up not being our product. If we can play a role in helping them discover what is best for them, then we've been successful — and we've created a good experience for them not just for our company, but I hope for the entire roofing industry.”

Zach agrees. “As technology has progressed, the customer experience has gone further and further upstream, closer to the manufacturer or the originator … If I can't find you, it's a difficult experience.”

If you have the best online experience, that’s going to translate to dollars. Plus, you’ll have set their precedent for what success and a high-quality experience looks like.

Standing Out Through Experience

Give customers what they want (a great online experience) so you can sell them what they need (your product). But how do you stand out in a crowded marketplace?

Todd points out that you can’t ever fully know what your competitors are doing, so you can only focus on the experience you think is best for your customers and prospects. However, “I do think that prospects and property owners will resonate toward that company that truly engages with them and answers their questions. How many times do you send off an email to a large company and say, ‘Hey, I want to know this about your product.’, and in your gut you're thinking, ‘They're never going to respond.’ In reality, what happens? They never respond — and so sometimes, just showing up is half the battle.”

When they ask you a personal question, give them an honest and transparent response. That builds trust and gets them thinking how much they want to work with you on their project.

“So much of what we buy is, ‘Do I trust that person?’” says Zach. “‘Do I like how it felt talking to them? Was their site easy to use?’ The decision gets made further and further upstream for all these intangible parts of the business where the product, although it's important, it's not the singular most important thing. And the sooner you recognize that, the more successful your business is going to be.”

If your ads are performing well and getting leads, but you’re not getting leads through your website, there’s something wrong with the experience. You’re leaving money on the table because your site is difficult to use. Check your website’s speed, ease of access and available information. Your lead volume might not increase, but your close rate will because you’re removing frustration and friction, making it easier for the person to convert. That means more sales and revenue for your business.

Want Even More Insight?

Remember, “for that individual consumer, nothing means more to them than their house, and they see it as extremely unique.” How you treat them needs to be in regard to how they think of their own home and its uniqueness in their eyes.

Especially when you’re working with homeowners, avoid a mass marketing mentality. Today’s technology allows you to “hone in on individual prospects with a laser-like focus” to ensure your customers feel like they’re cared for as individuals instead of just another customer to filter through.

To learn more about connecting personally with customers, listen to the entire episode here. You can reach out to Todd on LinkedIn, through his educational website or through email at [email protected].

Remember to like and subscribe to Smarter Building Materials Marketing wherever you get your podcasts.