This is a guest post from Carolyn Frith who is the Queen of Content for building materials. She has a lot of good advice in here that can really help you start or improve your social media program in building materials.
The Educated Building Material Customer
“An educated consumer is our best customer,” said the tagline for Syms’ discount clothing stores.
If you truly believe in your product, you probably would love everyone who’s involved in purchasing your products, from channel partner to consumer, educated about your products and the problems they solve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling insulation, windows or cabinetry, the more people know what to look for the easier it is for you to compete.
But sometimes they just don’t get it. And then what happens? It becomes a price war, and you’re left feeling frustrated when a lower-priced competitive product wins the business.
It’s just not fair.
But this doesn’t have to happen to you today. There’s an answer to the problem, and it’s not another glossy brochure or catchy ad.
We hear about the empowered buyer and consumer. Today they can go on the web and research just about everything. Everything! They can learn about insulation, windows, cabinetry and your product.
Guess what that means? You’re empowered, too. Yup! You can educate channel partners, contractors, architects, designers, consumers…whoever influences the purchase of your products.
It’s called content marketing — blogs, e-books, white papers, web content, newsletters and even printed materials. For example, Wegmans Food Markets serves up a glossy magazine chock full of mouth-watering recipes designed to help customers feed family and friends while using more of their products. But if you’re on a budget, you can be successful without printing a single page.
The Educated Building Material Vendor
So, how do you get started with content marketing? The key is knowing your buyers and their information needs as they make their buying decision. You and your team have to educate yourselves, too.
And, as Mark points out in his post Selling Building Materials — A Better Way, that means you need to understand everyone who influences the buying decision from the distributor or dealer to the architect, contractor, homeowner or do-it-yourselfer.
If there’s a missing link in your understanding of the buying chain and how you support it with content marketing, your results will suffer.
Once you understand how buying decisions are made, you can develop a persona, or archetypal description, for each of the people who influence the purchase decision. A persona describes the questions someone asks when deciding to buy a product as well as their decision criteria.
Why is this important?
Because once you know the questions asked, you know exactly what content you need to create. You can developcontent that answers each question and in doing so moves buyers effortlessly through all stages of the buying cycle from awareness to consideration and the final decision.
Warning: don’t develop personas based on your gut feelings. Leave that methodology to your competitors.
You want to gain the competitive edge that comes from the deep insights you can only gain from talking with people who have recently bought your product or even opted for a competitor’s offering. This example, which assumes you’re doing research with a channel partner, shows you key questions you want to answer.
- What Made the Purchase a Priority?
Given their hectic lives, find out why they decided to make buying a product in your product category a priority.
- How Do They Define Success?
Discover how they define a successful purchase. Is it increased inventory turns? Ease of doing business? Greater profitability per square foot?
- What Obstacles Did They Encounter?
Ask them about the obstacles along the way to the purchase. Buyers inevitably run into internal politics, lack of readily available funds, space concerns or some other obstacle that slows down the purchase or brings it to a screeching halt.
- The Buyer’s Journey
Explore the steps the buyer takes on their journey from awareness to decision and, importantly, where they look for information and the content they consume.
- The Final Decision
Finally, ask why they chose your product or your competitor’s product. You want to know why you’re winning or losing so you can enhance your messaging to emphasize crucial deciding factors.
Once you understand the buying process, questions asked along the way, and content consumed, you can start to develop a content marketing plan. You’ll outline the buying cycle and map content to each phase, making sure you answer all your buyers’ questions in blog posts, white papers, case studies and more.
by Carolyn Frith
Carolyn Frith is the principal of Carolyn Frith Marketing. Carolyn develops personas, on-target content-marketing plans, content maps and content calendars. She also creates blog posts, white papers, e-books, videos, email newsletters and more. Formerly in marketing for Kohler Company, she has expertise in the building materials market.