Converting a market to a new product is probably the most challenging task a building materials manufacturer can take on. While you may have a better product, if the customer isn’t having trouble with the product he currently uses, he probably won’t see a need to change.
He is too busy and has other problems that are demanding his attention. He may even really like your product, see it’s advantages and believe that one day he will probably use it. It is very hard to create a sense of urgency in these situations as he feels, now is not the time to change.
Some other challenges are that no one wants to be an early adopter or guinea pig in the risky business of construction. They also are worried about who will install your product or who will train their installers. If it is a new installer, how reliable are they? They want to know who will be their local source of supply. And finally there is the challenge of converting a market when it costs more.
Converting a market takes time and patience.
Converting a market also takes creativity and innovative approaches. You can’t use the same sales and marketing strategies to create a market as you do to grow an established market.
Sto Has a Great Idea.
As you can see by this case history, Sto is trying to convert the residential market from building wraps to a higher performing fluid-applied air and moisture barrier. Their challenge is similar to the early days of Apple. No one ever got fired for specifying Tyvec.
Sto used a simple and effective technique. Get an architect to use their product on her own home. If an architect uses it, it must be good. While converting a single architect isn’t like converting a Top 20 builder, it’s a great place to start.
If the architect likes the product, they are likely to continue using it on future projects. This starts to build momentum and word of mouth to convert the market. Rather than waiting for a magic bullet to convert the largest customers or spinning your wheels with ineffective sales calls, it’s a much better idea to make something happen.
Another benefit to this approach is that you will usually find out something the customer likes about the product that you never thought about. You can also identify any potential problems in areas like installation.
I took a similar approach to this when I was helping a client who was trying to introduce a new type of roofing shingle. They had tried a number of sales and marketing programs that were not successful which is when they hired me. As part of my research I met with a number of roofing contractors and could not find the answer to converting them.
With the client’s permission, I offered a contractor a free roof. I wanted to see what happened when he actually used the product. I told him to pick the color and tell us where he wanted them delivered. He said, “You know my own house needs a new roof!” We were there when he installed the shingles and videotaped him. We were amazed to see that all he had to to was to install the product and he became a new customer.
From this experience, we learned what the key messages we needed to use to convert the market. They were different than what the client originally assumed was important to the market.
You can’t successfully convert a market from a distance or just studying a research report. You need to get your hands dirty, in the field and on the job site.
If you are trying to convert a market and would like a solution, contact me to see if I may be a good resource for you.