It’s no secret that demand is high in the building materials industry today, so why are so many manufacturers losing sales? We talked with one of the construction industry’s biggest names, Matt Risinger, about how manufacturers can stay successful in such a fast-paced environment. You’ll want to check this one out.
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.
Our celebrity guest this week shares his insights on how today’s manufacturers can address the supply shortages and project delays plaguing the industry. Matt Risinger is a major influence in construction today, and his experience and perspective on building project success have gained the attention of builders, manufacturers and construction pros across the world.
Producing Online Content That Attracts the Right Audience
Matt Risinger is Chief Builder of Rising Build, founder of the Build Show Network and host of the Build Show podcast and online video series.
If you’re online at all, you probably already know Matt’s name. While he’s not sure about being called an online influencer, his YouTube channel alone has more than 840,000 subscribers. He knows a thing or two about producing content online and creating a digital presence that works for your business.
“I've built my two companies greatly through online presence,” says Matt. But Matt grew that presence over several years, after being in construction for some time.
“I've been building for 25 years now, and I'd always wanted to own my own company,” he says. “And about 15 years ago, I started my home building company here in Austin, Texas called Risinger Build. Very early on in my company, I was trying to figure out marketing and where do I spend my money, how do I budget for marketing?”
He went to an industry conference in 2005 about online marketing and was inspired to start blogging about construction. In 2008, he ventured into video. “I started making YouTube videos and realized I should go all-in on this whole digital marketing,” he explains, “because it's really not very expensive compared to traditional print media. You basically just need a little bit of equipment and most platforms are free to publish to.”
“I learned really early on that Google will recommend you if you have content [that’s] worth consuming, for people that are interested in that particular content,” he says. He eventually stopped writing the blog, and instead put his videos on the site.
“And then I went all-in on YouTube in 2015,” says Matt.
It wasn’t an immediate success — if you know anything about online marketing, you’ve probably learned that it’s not a quick fix. “For years I'd just bumped along, had very few subscribers, very few followers, not a lot of watch time, but I found out really early on, ‘Hey, this is vital for my business,’” says Matt. Even when his videos were only getting 50 or so views, he’d still meet with a client who was familiar with his published content.
“And I'd be like, ‘Oh, okay, set your ego aside. It's not about the numbers,’” says Matt. “It doesn't really matter how many people are listening to your podcast, liking your Instagram posts, watching your videos. It's about the right people watching those and listening and helping them consume that content.”
The Effects of Manufacturers Being Too Busy With Today's Increased Demand
Matt’s breadth of experience and online success has given him a wide perspective on what’s going on in the building materials industry these days. With supply chain issues and the labor shortage in construction, there are a few issues cropping up that Matt has noticed.
“I think that there's a couple weird things that are happening in our industry now that no one has really foreseen, and that's both some weird shortages, but also the unfortunate after-effects of being too busy,” says Matt. Response times from manufacturers, even reputable businesses, are delayed right now across the industry.
And that’s a big issue for builders today — even Matt, who has considerable clout with his suppliers. “I'm trying to order something, it's not free, I'm trying to pay for it. And it took me four emails for this manufacturer to respond,” says Matt.
If you’re a manufacturer, it’s time to take note, because “this is something that I think manufacturers need to be getting in front of right now,” he says. “Get the pulse on your sales team, on your frontline people and figure out a way to dial back or throttle back the desire to double your business this year, and let's double down on taking care of your core customers.”
If you’re not responding to people or telling customers to just “take a number,” they might go somewhere else for supplies. “We're probably buying five to six million in building products a year, and I've got some key suppliers that we may change out because we're not getting very good service from them, and that's a bummer,” says Matt.
Navigating New Business
Those kinds of delays mean that builders might just take their business elsewhere. In fact, we’ve seen the numbers: We already know how pros in the industry were more likely to try new brands and products this past year. “Anywhere between 25% and 35% of pros tried a new brand of building product they had never touched before,” said Grant Farnsworth with market research firm The Farnsworth Group on our Deep Dive episode last week.
That was probably the most surprising number we’ve seen this year when it comes to building materials research. “If you look at most builders, they use the same suppliers, they use the same subcontractors for the most part year in and year out — until there's a big problem that makes them go, ‘You know? This has been terrible. I need to switch,’” says Matt.
“Builders don't like to change things. We don't like it when new codes come out. We don't like it when my favorite rep moves on because they got a promotion or because someone else hired them. Any time that happens, that's an opportunity for someone's business to go away,” says Matt.
Client Retention Strategies
Matt has thought a lot about making his relationships with clients more successful, and he still remembers what he learned when he first started working. “I had an old boss years ago that said ‘Reliability equals communication,’” he explains. “I was a young assistant superintendent and this woman in my office, who I was late on delivering something to said, ‘Matt, it's not that you're an hour late or two days late on delivering this to me, it's that you didn't communicate well with me.’” That’s stuck with Matt for a couple of decades.
Even in situations out of your control (like the Suez Canal shipping emergency) or your own oversights, talking to clients before the issue becomes a real problem can go a long way to instill trust with a client. “Any of those kinds of things would be a … much different conversation and you would be the reliable supplier, even though you delivered a month late, by getting in front and communicating,” says Matt.
“It's a respect thing too,” Zach adds. “It's saying, ‘Hey, I respect you enough to communicate something that isn't fun to communicate.’ You're not avoiding the painful conversation, you're valuing the relationship.”
How To Stay Ahead of Uncertainty in the Construction Industry
Manufacturers can address these issues through good communication with clients and by being transparent about their operations.
Having a solid online presence can make this easier and more efficient for professionals in construction — it can even support how you’re doing business, in general. Matt gave us some perspective on how manufacturers can stay ahead of industry shifts and engage clients across the digital landscape.
Remember Your Reps and Social Channels
“I'm not saying you need to spend money, but people need to feel appreciated and feel like there's a personal connection,” says Matt.
“There's a bunch of brands that have field reps, and some of them do them really well and others don't. You know who does it really well, is Huber Engineered Woods. They have a fantastic social presence; they have a dedicated, at least person or two, who does nothing but Instagram. If you DM them a question, they write you back in 30 minutes. They have reps all over the country that are actually good at going out to job sites and meeting with people. They're one of the brands that's done an amazing job of connecting socially with builders.”
Outsource Your Reps, If Necessary
You’ll want to do some research first, but there are agencies available if you need to outsource your sales. “Last week I made a call to Fantech, which doesn't have many outside reps. They use a rep agency,” says Matt.
“And I was totally impressed. I thought this was going to be a terrible example that I would have to not say the manufacturer. And all of a sudden, it was the opposite. The guy came out to the job, answered my question about the install, met with me and my electrician. We totally were able to figure out a very complicated makeup air system because this local rep knew his product line, even though that was one of 20 things he repped for.”
Engage More Influencers
Manufacturers can benefit from partnering with online influencers like Matt. They’ve already got an engaged audience, who wants inspirational, informational content on products like yours. Matt’s experience and expertise make him a trusted source of information to his audience of builders, and he takes that trust seriously.
He doesn’t promote products or manufacturers that he wouldn’t use himself. When he loves a product, he’s happy to promote the manufacturer, which can sometimes turn into a bigger partnership. “Most of them I've made videos for free about them for years, and all of a sudden, they want to jump on board and either amplify that or do things across my other platforms,” says Matt.
Stay Ahead of Supply Issues
“I think what we're going to start seeing [is] builders doing some version of hoarding or ordering stuff that they don't need,” says Matt.
He’s seen a few businesses buying up materials from their suppliers, much like we saw people purchasing toilet paper during the first stages of the pandemic. “I think we have what we need on the shelves right now, but again, come summer if people realize, ‘Hey, we're getting low. Well, I'm going to buy 10 cases of caulk to make sure my jobs have painters caulk, and we don't run out,’” he says.
Want Even More Insight?
What Matt and other industry experts have seen is that while more surprises are ahead of us, we should still focus on playing the long game. “We got a whole lot of weird forces happening. As busy as demand is, we have to remember to ‘block and tackle’ in really good times as well as really lean times,” Matt suggests. He uses the sports reference to suggest that we can’t always throw end passes, in the hopes of scoring points (or sales).
Matt’s seeing more manufacturers who are using their online presence to help them win in the building materials arena. “And we're only going to see more and more manufacturers who only advertise traditionally, moving more and more of their budgets to influential type marketing,” he says.
“You need to be producing content that's helpful for people,” he says, “and I think the digital strategy is 100% all-in for just about any business these days. So that's the long story short.”
Check out the Build Show Network to catch up on all of his podcast episodes and videos.
Have questions about attracting and converting customers online? Email us at [email protected].
How to Revamp Your Newsletter + 3 Building Material Indus...
Newsletters have incredible potential to deliver consistent awareness and actions around your products and services. But if you’re struggling to create consistency with getting your A&D readers to open and click on your newsletter, you’re not alone. Most building materials companies are doing newsletters completely wrong.
How Building Materials Businesses Can Market in a Third-P...
In January 2020, Google announced its plan to phase out support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser. In approximately one year, all major browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari will have blocked third-party cookies.