Blog for Building Materials Companies

Odds Against Building Materials Marketing Success

  |  Posted in Marketing

Odds Against Building Materials Marketing Success

The odds are 7 to 1 against a building materials marketing program being as successful as it should. To be successful, you need to get three things right.


There are eight possible combinations when putting together the elements of a sales and marketing program. And there are seven ways to get that combination wrong. There is only one way to get it stellar. For example, you may have the right audience for your product but not the message or the medium.  Or you may nail the message and audience, but then shout it out off the wrong mountain top. To get the most bang from your marketing buck, you’ve got to get to the right audience with the right message using the right method.

I am a proponent of any activity is better than no activity.  There’s the benefit of adding to brand recognition and also learning from what hasn’t worked. So even when you only get one of the three correct, it is usually better than doing nothing.  When you get two of the three right, the program will be even more successful.  But when you get all three right, the results can be magical.

When you get all three right, customers start saying, “Yes!” and sales rise, almost on their own.

Blame it on Passion, Enthusiasm, and Incorrect Assumptions

The reason most companies often don’t get all three right is because of someone’s passion and enthusiasm. Every project starts with a goal like, “We want to grow our sales.”  Every marketing solution starts with an idea. The people who come up with the idea are passionate about their idea, and they should be.

The problem with passion and enthusiasm is that they can blind you to some important details that will make a great idea truly successful.  They think, “I’ve got a great idea for a message (a headline and photo), that will reach our audience (builders, architects, or contractors) using this method (online ads).”

In this case, the passion and enthusiasm are focused on the message and the creative way it is presented.  There is little thinking about the audience or the method used to deliver the message. To get all three right, each of them requires serious consideration.

When you start really thinking about the other two,  you may come to the realization that the original message idea is no longer correct.  The person who came up with the idea doesn’t want to hear this.  It’s his baby, and now someone is telling him, it’s ugly.

The originator of the idea doesn’t want to look, in depth, at the audience or the media, because they subconsciously know that it may call their idea into question.

We usually associate this problem with creative people, but I have it seen it where someone chooses a media that then overrides the power of the message.  I have also seen senior sales people insist that they know the right audience but aren’t open to being challenged, and as a result, the team carries on down the wrong path.

The other reason companies frequently don’t get all three right is that they don’t actively question the status quo and base decisions on assumptions that are incorrect.  For example, “We always exhibit at the AIA show.”

Architects may be the right audience for a company.  Still, only a few companies will have a message on their booth that is meaningful and compelling to an architect, so only a few get two of the three right.

Very few architects actually spend time on the show floor visiting booths, so for most companies, exhibiting at the AIA show is the wrong medium or method to reach architects.  Companies keep going to the same shows and feel, if only their booth were more creative, they would get better results.

Audience Problems

When you want to grow your sales to a builder or an architect, for example. Too many companies don’t take the time to dig deeper into the audience to determine who is the real decision maker and then target their efforts to the right person.

For example, with a builder, there are at least three different audiences within the builder organization who may be the best target for you.  Your best customer may be the builder’s construction manager or the sales and marketing department or the purchasing department.  Or it may be the subcontractor who can talk the builder out of your product.

There are also different types of builders based on the price of the houses they build, how green they are and more.

Most companies see the builder audience as homogenous when it is far more nuanced.  The more you spend time refining your audience, the better. What are the best types of builders for your product and who is the person that will benefit the most from using your product?

No matter whether your audience is contractors, dealers, distributors, architects or builders, you should refine your audience for better results. Or as some people like to say, the customer persona. 

Message Problems

The most common message problem that building materials companies make is to focus on why their product is better. Their customers are not looking for better products; they are looking for ways to solve problems and be more successful.

When you don’t take the time to explore your customers’ issues and then craft a message about how your product solves their issues, your message will not be effective.

Medium Problems

When considering the best way to deliver your message to your audience, there is a real lack of thinking and creativity. Too frequently it is simply; we’ll run some ads or go to a trade show with our message.

When thinking about the right mediums, change places with the customer. Start with the sales presentation and work your way backward.  If you were making a sales call on the customer to present your message, what would you say and how would you present it?

Now think about where the customer gets their information.  They get it from a combination of mediums including trade shows, ads, websites, web searches, coworkers, social media, emails and more.  The most effective way to make sure your message gets to your audiences is by using a combination of these methods.

Pay Attention to the Audience, Message and Media to Improve Your Odds of Success

Successful sales and marketing is combination of factors that require seeing the task at hand from multiple angles coupled with the ability to be flexible. No doubt it can be challenging, but when you get it right, it can be a big win.

If you’d like a copy of the infographic at the top of this message, click here to download a copy. You can use it as a reminder of the importance of choosing the right audience as well as the right message and method of communications to develop the most effective solutions.

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About The Author

I am the leading sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, I identify the blind spots that enable building materials companies to grow their sales and retain more customers.  As I am not an ad agency, my recommendations are focused on your sales growth and not my future income.

My mission is to help building materials companies be the preferred supplier of their customers and to turn those customers into their best salespeople. Contact me to discuss your situation.