While we may want things to return at some point to how they were before COVID-19, there’s no denying that the world has been altered significantly in the past six months.

Consider the recent Democratic and Republican presidential conventions… where boisterous gatherings in large convention centers were replaced by a series of virtual, slickly produced video segments.

While some of the content – most notably speeches from the presidential/vice presidential hopefuls – was broadcast live, most content was scripted and approved prior to being recorded for later broadcast. The pre-produced segments were largely delivered without a live audience. Although in some cases, a large Zoom-like conference screen allowed the audience to be present, if not “in the room.”

This approach certainly facilitated more control. Although it can be argued that it also removed much of the spontaneity and lively exchanges that have dominated past conventions. In fact, some political analysts have even suggested that the content was essentially a four-day infomercial for the presidential nominees. Albeit with higher production values. Others like the changes… and say the conventions needed an infusion of fresh ideas.

One thing is clear: virtual meetings can (and do) work. And that’s a good thing. Because – for many businesses – remote workers, virtual conferences and showrooms, online presentations and multi-channel marketing are quickly becoming the new norm.

Building product brands are using (and will likely continue to rely upon) online tools to help facilitate communication. And minimize time spent meeting in person… or inside of customers’ and potential customers’ homes.

Showrooms Find a New Space

Many consumers who – in the past – would have happily visited brick-and-mortar showrooms, are increasingly using the Internet to make purchasing decisions. It’s no surprise that Internet usage in the United States during COVID-19 has spiked significantly. According to statista.com, daily average in-home data usage has increased by 38 percent since March 2019.

We covered in a previous article how commerce in the U.S. has been trending toward digital purchases – even prior to the pandemic. In another post, we discussed how major home remodeling and design projects are on the rise… as consumers re-evaluate their living spaces.

Many building product brands – and their dealers – are addressing this shift in buying behavior by offering virtual showrooms. While in-person interaction has been the mainstay for many brands, virtual showrooms enable customers and prospects to engage with products in new ways.

If budget doesn’t allow for a comprehensive virtual showroom experience, easily accessible tools are available to build your own version, including Google Tour Creator.

Conferences Go Remote

With a growing number of in-person events being canceled – and ongoing concerns around face-to-face meetings – many businesses are leaning on virtual events to reach potential customers.

While most of us would certainly prefer in-person meetings, the organizations holding these conferences are making a concerted effort to provide ample time to engage with presenters and network with fellow attendees. Many are even offering programming over the span of several days.

Virtual booth visits are also a valuable part of the remote conference experience. In most cases, attendees can view a brand’s virtual showroom at their convenience and, if desired, set up an appointment to learn more… via a video call or conference call.

In addition to attending virtual conferences, brands should consider submitting speaking applications for future meetings. Presenting at an industry meeting is a great way to establish credibility as a thought leader, build rapport with existing customers and get your brand in front of potential new customers.

An added benefit of virtual conferences is the ability to record sessions. Which can then be replayed on demand. Most organizations will send links to recordings, if you’ve registered for the event.

To get even more mileage from your presentation, you can share it on your website, on social media and in an e-newsletter or email to customers and prospects.

K&A recently presented an online session on “Influencing the Influencers” during Coverings Connected. Check it out here.

Educating… and Entertaining Online

While some brands regularly offer webinars and CEUs, many more have jumped on the bandwagon in the wake of the pandemic. Webinars and online CEU courses are a valuable way to reach a wide range of industry professionals… including builders and remodelers along with designers and architects.

If your brand has available educational content, now is the time to share it with professionals. Many of whom may have more time on their hands at the moment.

Some brands are going in a slightly different direction… offering entertainment while showcasing their products. Big Green Egg for example, recently launched a weekly online grilling series, Big Green Egg Training School (aka Grillertainment).

Virtual Tools Get a Boost

Technology to facilitate homebuilding and homebuying has been gaining traction for a while now. And companies are sharing a growing arsenal of tools to facilitate communication and support the decision-making process.

These tools can be as simple as creatively using a smartphone to visualize an installation, to more sophisticated options such as online room visualizers and software that can assist with estimates and orders.

For example, Houzz has launched new virtual meeting and visualization tools that help design and construction professionals move projects along more quickly and safely. The new tools offer the ability to host video meetings… allowing professionals to connect virtually with homeowners. Where they can discuss a project from the convenience and safety of their own home. In addition, an augmented reality (AR) room measurement tool creates floor plans that can be modified using Houzz’s Pro 3D floor planner tool.

Looking to get your building products in front of more potential customers and grow brand awareness? Send an email to sk@kleberandassociates.com.