Brands are re-tooling for 2021. Evolving market trends — such as the rise of e-commerce, decline of brick-and-mortar, and increased competition/better-informed audiences, thanks to the Internet — have only accelerated due to the events of this year.
While building products continue to sell — and building starts have continued to move forward in the face of mandated restrictions — construction brands are not insulated from the dramatic changes born out of the consumer retail sector.
Fortunately, recent consumer marketing trends can also be applied to your B2B strategies.
As part of Nike’s “Consumer Direct Offense” strategy, the company has announced that it will no longer sell to nine major channel partners. The decision comes as brick and mortar retailers struggle to replace significant foot traffic lost this year.
Prior to Nike’s decision to cut back on its retail partnerships, athletic retail giant Under Armour was already acting on a strategy to focus on growing its omni-channel business. At the end of 2019, Under Armour presented a five-year plan highlighting Direct-to-Customer as one of the “largest long-term growth opportunities” for the company. The plan includes investing more in premium channel partners that carry a larger array of full-margin products. More exclusive product drops online. And increased investment in online commerce options.
In a competitive market, it’s even more important to stay on top of your distribution strategy. While streamlining your organization’s operations can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase growth… channel consolidation can serve as a way to better organize your inventory, eliminate unnecessary processes and unclutter your supply chain.
For example, Canadian lumber giant West Fraser Timber Co. is consolidating with its rival Norbord Inc. — one of the world’s largest oriented strand board (OSB) producers — in a $4 billion deal.
And building products distributor U.S. Lumber Group announced in early December that it is acquiring Mid-State Lumber Corp., providing an expanded offering of products and services for dealers across the New England market. What’s more, US LBM recently reported that it had acquired pro dealer Ridgefield Supply Company.
It’s clear that consolidating Building Product resources can help brands more effectively manage logistical processes, product shipments and inventory levels to create even better contractor experiences.
Establish a Club
An age-old marketing tip used to increase demand… is to decrease supply. However, this approach is challenged in B2B sales because the biggest concern among distributors is often the supply chain. Brands want assurances that they can get more of the materials and components used to manufacture their offerings to help ensure they can consistently deliver on their brand promises.
So consider exclusivity strategies by creating loyalty programs — that give members “sneak previews” of new products, product discounts and first-mover-advantage access to member-only events (online or in-channel).
A well-run loyalty program can improve the contractor experience, drive sales, and provide valuable data to help brands better understand their customers. And in doing so, anticipate their needs. It also provides brands with an engaged, dedicated “focus group” of industry professionals — who are more often than not — willing to answer tough questions. Test new products. Spread positive sentiment. And, most importantly… achieve status ultimately to become brand ambassadors.
For B2B buyers, creating a value proposition will always be important. The vast majority of these customers are focused on practicality, which is why loyalty programs launched for B2B should focus primarily on business benefits. Tiered-incentives encourage immediate customer engagement. While prompting contractors to buy more.
Enhance Your Digital Presence
The IKEA Catalogue defined “home” for millions. This week, the flat-pack superhero announced that it is discontinuing its primary marketing publication. Realizing their catalogue has become a relic in the new digital age, brand leadership has called the decision “emotional but rational.”
And what does consumer-facing IKEA know that Building Product Brands can’t apply?
In the digital age, websites are often the first place where audiences interact with your Building Products. Imagine if your website was the ONLY place where you could talk about your products? And tell your brand story? What information, images, and stories is your website missing? Are visitors to your website greeted with a compelling brand promise about your product and service offerings? Can they read testimonials — or, better yet, watch video testimonials — from satisfied users? Do the downloads on your campaign-based landing pages and microsites match the experiences you might create at a trade show booth (e.g., a live product demonstration)?
Creating landing destinations online that are robust and informative — rather than merely flashy — will be more crucial than ever before as audiences continue to rely more upon digital channels. Delivering interactive virtual events — that cut through the noise of the Internet — will also become increasingly valuable.
Kohler, known for its expansive trade show booths complete with working fixtures, recently announced that it will launch a digital summit called Kohler@Home. The virtual symposium, scheduled for early February, will include the debut of more than 80 products along with programming designed to explore the impact of the pandemic and future technology on kitchen and bath design.
One service successfully providing interactive engagement for online audiences is Remo Conference. Remo develops events where members can create digital avatars that can “move” through a digital space (such as a virtual showroom). Event attendees can visit digital booths and then have more intimate conversations with the people at a particular table.
The bottom line: creating a personalized, information-rich experience — whether online or in-person — helps train and inspire more engaged and loyal customers.
Differentiate Your Business
When mounting an offensive in the digital realm, building product marketers must be aggressive and creative. In addition to competing with a seemingly endless cacophony of voices on the Internet, you’re also competing with “digital fatigue.” With so much of our professional and personal lives spent online, audiences can only take so much… before they disengage.
Telling a better story is the best way to maintain an audience’s attention in a highly distracted world. It’s also one of the best ways to stand out from competition.
Build a reputation as an expert in your field — through editorials, blog posts, videos, and training as well as other thought leadership communication vehicles. Customers who have a problem to solve… will always want to work with a proven expert. Content marketing, testimonial and aggressive media outreach can extend your company’s reach and help to support the story you create for your brand online.
So, what kind of story will your Building Product Brand tell in 2021? To learn more about creative ways to elevate your brand above the noise in a digital world, contact Steve Kleber at firstname.lastname@example.org.