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How Building Materials Manufacturers Can Reach Niche Audiences & Specialty Trades

Are you asleep at the online strategy wheel? This week’s guest thinks some building materials manufacturers are and explains how they can connect emotionally with niche audiences using different online platforms.

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.

Brent Ridley is an HVAC technician and owner of a plumbing, heating and air conditioning company outside of Georgia. He talks with Zach about his unique social media story.

Authentic Reviews

As of recording, Brent has 184,000 followers on Instagram under his Tool Pros brand, where he reviews tools and advocates for skilled trades. His followers get to see what he does every day as a business owner.

His favorite tool that he’s reviewed recently is from Milwaukee: a cordless vacuum pump. When reviewing tools, Brent considers what his audience cares about learning, including comfort to use, ergonomics and does it live up to its claims.

So often, marketing can be misleading, and Brent and his team want to make sure that their reviews are authentic. They make sure when using a tool they talk about why it works or does not work for their use case, and let viewers know that it may work differently for a different use case.

Every time they post a tool review, Brent gets 75 to 100 direct messages that are pretty evenly split between “I got that tool, and it was great” and “I got that tool, and it really stinks.”

What Manufacturers Are Sleeping On

Brent has found that a lot of manufacturers are “still asleep at the wheel for social media marketing.” Social marketing is huge right now, and for a fraction of the price of typical marketing, you can reach a much more targeted audience to show off your tool, product or building material. It gives you access to as niche an audience as you want.

“It's much more targeted, much more centralized than an ad in a magazine or a billboard driving the road,” says Brent.

One company that’s doing it right, according to Brent, is Viega, a plumbing fittings company. Their product isn’t fancy, and yet they do a great job with their social media on multiple platforms, including Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. “They have really, really done a great job of getting their name out there and converting people to using their product just from putting their social media stuff out there,” says Brent.

They win their audience over by being creative, humorous and educational all at the same time. “They really do fun stuff. They just did some stuff for May the Fourth for Star Wars.”

Zach loves that. Too often, manufacturers focus on pushing a product or new project rather than connecting with their audience emotionally and “that is one of the best ways that you can not only see higher engagement, but also connect with people on a more relational level,” says Zach.

On the flip side, an influencer that’s doing it really well is Kyle Stumping Horse (R&R Buildings on YouTube and Instagram). Brent loves how down-to-earth and in-depth Kyle is in his content.

Another influencer is Matt Bangs Wood, on Instagram and YouTube, who puts great educational content on his platforms. Recently, he’s doing a series where he visits and rides around with other contractors on the West Coast.

Since Getting a Following

When asked what the most surprising thing to happen since getting a large following, Brent can’t pick just one. Followers who reached out through DMs have turned into valuable friendships. “That's the power of it, and that's what's really cool — because without that, I would have never known these people. I would have no idea who they are, but now I consider some of these people really good friends.”

The other cool thing that he’s had happen is getting featured in a Lowe’s ad. “They took like a six-foot poster of me, and they put me in-store of Lowe's all across the nation for a week. That was really cool and interesting and something I never expected to happen,” laughs Brent.

Recommendations for Social Media Strategy

Brent has two recommendations for manufacturers on their social media strategy.

“Number one, put some emotion and put some personality behind your product when you show it off and you put it out there.” It’s important to keep within your brand guidelines, but putting personality behind it will help your audience bond with you.

Number two, work with influencers within your niche. Create relationships with them and see how they can show off your product and how you can help them as well.

Brent did this himself. A few years ago, Brent came up with the idea of Miracle Mechanical. The first company he reached out to was Rigid Tools. He told them he wanted to help someone who couldn’t afford to do major plumbing and HVAC repairs in their home, and he wanted to film it with a professional film crew.

With blind faith, Rigid Tools decided to lend a hand. “So they helped us out monetarily, and we were able to go in, were able to film the whole thing, make a wonderful marketing piece,” says Brent. Not only were they able to help an individual in need at no charge to him, but they were also able to show off the Rigid line of tools.

Want Even More Insight?

When manufacturers work with influencers, be sure to make it a great marketing piece and give back to the customer at the same time.

To learn more about using social media to connect with niche audiences, listen to the entire episode here. You can reach out to Brent through direct message on Instagram @toolpros.

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