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How Manufacturers Can Make Their Audience the Hero

In this week's episode, we talk with a guest who has interviewed pros, contractors and influencers in the building construction space to share how the smartest manufacturers are making their audience the hero.

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

Devon Tilly joins the show to discuss how building material manufacturers can make their audience the hero.

More About This Show

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 insight on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.

In this episode, Zach and Beth talk to Devon Tilly about how to help contractors and other pros thrive amidst ongoing disruptions in the industry.


Meet Devon Tilly

045 Devon Tilly Mountain View Windows and Doors

Devon Tilly is the founder and CEO of Mountain View Window & Door in Colorado. He’s also the host of the building industry podcast, “The Art of Construction,” which offers insights to contractors and affiliates on how to use technology to make their professional lives better.

After growing up in the supply channel industry under his stepfather, Devon earned his marketing degree in Colorado. He didn’t fit well in the corporate world, so after a few years in supply chain, he started to work for a customer and ended up buying out an existing window and door company.

While his marketing degree has been helpful, Devon cites his experience as an entrepreneur as the biggest part of informing his insights.

How Manufacturers Can Help Solve Contractors’ Challenges

There’s a lot of resistance to change in the face of massive disruption across the building industry. When working with contractors and pros, the manufacturers that are poised to win are the ones that actually help people with these new tools. You need to get engaged in helping educate your customers.

Not only does this help instill trust that you have the leading expertise in the industry, but it also makes pros more willing to switch to your product or brand. Make use of burgeoning technology and use those tools in-house. You need to push your product and position yourself as a manufacturer with a strong presence on different platforms.

Who’s Doing This Well

Devon cites the Andersen brand as a company that’s leading the way with industry advancement and engagement. They’re a big company, but they still know that you can’t try everything. To assist with this selective development, they’ve put together an Innovation Team and a complimentary marketing department.

Through this R+D facility, Andersen can test out new technologies. Because of their size, they can really make a change if and when they take a new product to market. Devon’s company partners with them specifically because they’re the ones poised to implement change.

Recently, Andersen’s innovation team came to the Mountain View Window & Door showroom and spent a couple of days understanding what the dealers do and how all parties can work together.

Ultimately, Devon says, it’s about the consumer experience. Andersen has different segments and uses data to understand how different parts work together and how buying decisions are made. Technology plays a huge role in this key understanding.

Helping Pros Overcome the Fear of Change

045 Helping Pros Overcome the Fear of Change

It’s vital for manufacturers to get contractors and pros on board with education about new product categories. Andersen, for example, is working on smart windows using a wall TV that emits vitamin D and changes shades as the day progresses.

If you just rely on the contractor to accept these changes, you’ll fail. They already have enough responsibilities, so it’s important for you, the manufacturer, to educate them. Technology is a huge part of how you do that. You can combine both virtual experience and a brick and mortar experience center to help the buying journey.

By helping both contractors and the partners in between, you’ll remove the fear associated with different technologies. When you help the entire chain understand these tools and demonstrate how they’re good for the industry, everybody wins.

Embracing Technology and Education

Another building company that’s repositioning themselves well in terms of technology education is Western Window Systems. One of their strengths is connecting technology tools with handshakes.

They recently did a professional video showcasing their new state-of-the-art window manufacturing plant. At the same time, they included footage of the fun customer experience, showing both the trusted partnerships that currently existing along with Western Windows’ new performance line.

Another way to do this is with an annual alumni party. Mountain View partners with manufacturers to split the cost of different events to get in those extra touchpoints. While data is important, personal touchpoints serve as the impetus behind someone actually responding to a survey you send. This gives you a credible audience with feedback that’s truly insightful.

Earlier in his career, Devon asked the Texas-based Mirror Gallery what their secret sauce was — their answer? Flyback trips to manufacturing plants. Devon tagged along to Anderson five years ago with another 50 people. None of them were competitors, and they spent three days together building partnerships with architects, manufacturers and other pros. Just six months ago, an architect from that trip contacted Devon to help with a project in Colorado.

The connections made through these types of experiences serve as cross-pollination for getting specified and receiving new orders. It’s much more effective than a simple lunch and learn because you’re creating a connection with people in the same world who are trying to make projects come to life.

Creating Value for Contractors

045 Creating Value for Contractors

Devon encourages manufacturers to create value over time. While the first factor in making a sale is typically price, you then need to keep adding value after the sale. That’s the secret to gaining a long-term partnership.

Many manufacturers focus on selling a product over and over to the same client, but those clients remember if you didn’t take care of them during the last job. A large part of doing this well is understanding your own business, including your core values, your key segments and who you really are as a company.

Andersen is creating a big push on replacement contractors in the pro channel. If a contractor invests to become a certified contractor, Andersen provides them with free marketing materials plus an additional two-year installation warranty. It’s a great example of how to build those trusted partnerships while removing hurdles between the pros and the manufacturer.

Implementing Better Efficiency With Technology

One of the major industry challenges Devon sees today is the “data drop chasm,” where every time something is handed off to another party, something is lost. An example is a contractor asking for three bids, even though a company like Mountain View doesn’t want to just do a quote to explain their value.

One solution is using a tool called Bluebeam, which streamlines that drop and connects information all the way through the bid process.

Two other noticeable silos include the design world and the execution world. Technology now has the ability to flow through the tools used for quoting and planning to the process of executing those ideas.

With all the new technology, however, Devon says that you can only take so many risks at a time. It’s important to create checks and balances when trying new things.

Want to connect with Devon? Find him on LinkedIn or The Art of Construction.

Interested in learning more about marketing to architects, builders and contractors? Check out our other podcast episodes by clicking here. Or, if you have a question about something you heard in this episode, send us an email at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!