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How To Create a Competitive Advantage Through Education

By offering free education, insights and community, manufacturers can build trust with their customers and prospects. That kind of trust gives businesses a serious competitive advantage, but not everyone does it right.

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Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov

More About This Episode

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.

Marcy Tyler is Director of Building Science for Tremco Commercial Sealants & Waterproofing, and she’s positioned the company as a recognized expert in the building materials industry. Marcy shares how manufacturers can use the same strategies to get their product in front of their ideal audience.

Creating a Competitive Advantage

Marcy Tyler is Director of Building Science at Tremco Commercial Sealants & Waterproofing, a Tremco Construction Products Group (Tremco CPG) company where, among other tasks, has been hosting weekly building science webinars for more than a year now. “And obviously with COVID, virtual has come about and been a big deal,” she tells Zach and Beth. “It's not new to us, but it's certainly new to people in terms of how they have to embrace it because of our situation.”

Tremco offers customers a variety of building enclosure systems and services, and also provides customers with webinars and content to educate them on these topics.

Tremco has always provided this kind of additional support to their customers. “We'd have anywhere between two to 35 customers come through our facility almost every week. And when COVID hit, we're like, ‘Wow, we're not going to have the interaction with our customers anymore,’” Marcy explains. “So what can we do instead?”

Transitioning the facility tours to a digital format was the next step, but before unleashing tons of video content on customers, Marcy knew a strategy was needed first.

How To Create Helpful + Educational Content

“A lot of our Tremco Live … is based on system testing and we tend to loop it back to our building science laboratory, where we do a lot of this assembly testing,” says Marcy.

Understanding how systems and products are tested is helpful for customers, but the team at Tremco had to ask some in-depth questions around what their customers actually needed when it comes to content.

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“Who's your audience and how do you connect?” Marcy asks. “You want to use everyone's time wisely. I never want someone to walk away going, ‘Ugh, I didn't learn anything from that,’ or ‘That was terrible.’”

In order to measure the ROI of the webinars, Marcy has to account for the energy and time that her team at Tremco spends on the topics, as well. “So we really try to make sure that's doable, right?” she says. “[W]e want to be super respectful.”

Tremco has an internal system in place for creating (and editing) content. “So if we aren't engaging with our internal colleagues as much as we used to, this is helping solidify that, too,” she says. “At Tremco we are combining all these different brands together — Dryvit, Nudura, Willseal — with our existing brands, and we don't have that same kind of regional meetings regularly.” Getting that internal team’s input on the webinars has helped to focus Tremco’s content.

“I think the biggest thing that came out of it was just the need for people to engage no matter what it is,” says Marcy. And to stay engaging, it can help to have a sense of humor. We recommend it, in fact. And so does Marcy.

“If something funny goes on, we keep it in. If there's a blooper, it's going to stay; we want it to feel as real as possible,” Marcy explains.

But not all jokes land well, so Marcy sends video to the team to test out webinar content, and gets feedback from that. “So to me, that's my most amazing ROI,” says Marcy. “If I'm kind of energizing my own colleagues, the next step is pumping up our customers.”

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It sounds like a huge feat to make building science sound fun, but according to Lark Breen, with GB&D Magazine, Tremco is nailing it: “From testing the resiliency of building components at the Building Science Laboratory to the Build Meets World Blog to the weekly video stream, Tremco Live, Tremco strives to understand and meet customers wherever they are in their projects.”

The team at Tremco has been recognized by the industry for their Tremco CPG Live sessions and other content. “It’s all about matching solution to project to the people who actually use it,” writes Lark Breen for GB&D.

Tips for Creating Fun Content

Marcy has a few tips for manufacturers who need help with delivering content that keeps their audience engaged AND educated.

Make it easy for guests to participate

Having guests contribute to your video content is a great way to collaborate and build your customer base. “Do they need a little bit more planning?” says Marcy. “So making sure that they're comfortable is important … make it as easy for whoever it is that's participating, I think is the key part.”

Stay flexible

“Well, especially when you're going live, always have a backup plan, always have a set of slides ready or a topic ready that you can go to, just in case that customer can't log in or the power goes out,” says Marcy. “We've had to be super flexible with our content at times and just kind of change gears with eight minutes to spare before going live.”

Stay agile

Marcy is also adept at changing topics or digging into an idea further. “I'm always looking at LinkedIn, or I'm looking at what presentations are being given to you. What are the buzz words? What are challenges that people are facing?” Inviting customers to speak about those challenges can be incredibly engaging to your audience. “It's that individual telling their story. And these guys all have amazing stories,” says Marcy.

Don’t expect perfection

“I did have a guy once calling in from his car while he was driving,” says Marcy. (Pro-Tip: You shouldn’t operate machinery and try to film anything at the same time.)

It can be a challenge to predict how people will participate. “I think what we end up seeing now is the live participation kind of varies,” she says. “You can try to move it to wherever it's going to work, but there's going to be someone who probably has a conflict. So from an accessibility perspective, we always then put it onto YouTube. So that's part of it.”

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The key is to stay authentic, focus on education around your brand and try to enjoy the process.

“Honestly, I think my favorite show was when I had two of my colleagues on … Keith Nelson and Keith Simon,” says Marcy. “We talked about nail sealability, and so anyone outside of [the] building science arena would be like, what are they talking about? It was the longest program we had, but it was so much fun to do because there's just so much about this test that people don't understand.”

Want Even More Insight?

When manufacturers focus on how to educate and serve their customers, instead of just selling products, there’s a potential for partnership, which is what Tremco strives for. “So really what we want is that opportunity to collaborate as much as possible with all of our customers. We've definitely embraced it here at Tremco,” says Marcy.

You can contact Marcy about being a guest on Tremco Live or touring their facility in person.

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