Building materials companies continue to demonstrate how they are ten years behind the rest of the marketing world. I recently started working with three new clients who hired me to help them find better ways to grow their sales.
In our initial input meeting, they couldn’t wait to show me the new website they were building. They didn’t like it when I told that they would need to start all over if they were really serious about growing their sales.
Most building materials websites are just a filing cabinet full of information that it is assumed the customer would like to see. When they redesign their website, they simply rearrange the filing system to refresh the content and make it easier to locate information. They also make the front of the filing cabinet (the homepage), look more attractive.
They have a view that their website is standing side by side with their competitors. They imagine the contractor, builder or architect is looking at their sites like it is some type of beauty contest with a storehouse of information behind a pretty face.
They really haven’t moved beyond the seeing their website as an online catalog that is a necessary marketing expense.
Their website is doing nothing to build a relarionship with the customer and only a little to differentiate them from the competition.
The Following Changes are Happening.
Just like there were companies who were early adopters of websites, there are early adopters who are embracing this new approach to sales and marketing. Just like every company now has a website, every company will change their approach to sales and marketing and the role of their website. The question is, will you gain a competitive advantage by transitioning to this new approach before your competitors? Or will you wait till you are losing sales to a competitor who made the shift before you?
We Don’t Build Websites Anymore
The following is from an announcement I received three years ago from one of the best web development firms that I know, New Fangled. It stopped me in my tracks, why would a website development firm, stop producing websites.
I found this to be an easy to understand description of why a website alone doesn’t do much but take a big chunk out of your marketing budget with no measurable return on your investment. I also like everything Mark and his team write because they make things understandable and are trying to help you and not to sell you.
You can’t hire New Fangled as they only work for and through agencies. Is your agency smart enough to partner with experts or do they continue to insist that they can do it all?
As you will see this is not marketing automation or CRM or your website, it is about all three of them working together.
By Mark Obrien and Christopher Butler on September 10, 2013
“Sure, you can still go out and buy a website, but you shouldn’t. Websites alone don’t do very much; what you need is far more complex than pages and forms.
We need to reframe our entire concept of web development, and that is a two-step process. First, in terms of widening the scope of what marketing and sales-focused websites do today — which we believe is best expressed by locating them within a broader lead development ecosystem — and second, in terms of understanding what web development as a discipline is becoming — which requires drawing a distinction between platforms and programs. Sophisticated web development is no longer about creating discrete applications, but doing what we call information logistics.
The Lead Development Ecosystem
Yes, you still need a website — but you can’t afford a standalone website. You should now focus on building Lead Development Ecosystems, and while the conversion-focused website represents one-third of the Ecosystem, those other two-thirds — the CRM and Marketing Automation tool — are critically important.
The Lead Development Ecosystem is a combination of three tools — the conversion focused website, CRM, and marketing automation system. It runs on two ingredients — the right quantity and quality of contacts and content, and it’s entirely based upon the only thing any good marketing effort can be based on — a unique selling proposition.
Now that we’ve seen the power and sheer accountability the Ecosystem represents, going back to just building a website seems ridiculous. We can’t do it; it’d be like putting the training wheels back on the bike — why would you?
A new website is something your agency or web developer promises to spit out in several months; that is simply a remodeled filing cabinet like I mentioned earlier.
When you view your website as an integral part of a Lead Development Ecosystem, you are creating a system that has an undeniably and measurably positive impact on your business.”
There’s an original thought, combining the terms marketing and measurable!
How to Move Beyond a Website
- Do not try to do this yourself. Work with outside experts.
- Do not let your IT department manage this. They may be able to master the mechanics but they can’t grasp the nuances of the messaging. They also aren’t used to working at the live time pace this can require. This belongs in the marketing and sales departments.
- Do not let your agency or web developer convince you that they can do this. Make them prove it to you. If they have a role in this, and they are smart, they will partner with a firm who is an expert.
Here are three firms who are experts at this and are very knowledgeable about building materials. I have included a link to one of the companies they work with. Don’t make the mistake of judging these sites by what you think of their appearance, they are getting delivering outstanding results for these companies as part of an overall Ecosystem.
Check out their websites and sign up for their newsletters. If you still aren’t convinced yet, include them the in your next web designer selection process.
When you move from a standalone website, CRM or marketing automation program, you will change how you classify the expense.
When you do this correctly, it is like adding 10 to 20% more sales people. That’s how effective this is. How much does a sales person plus expenses cost you annually? When you look at it this way, it doesn’t seem so expensive.
We’re going to go into this is a lot more depth at my upcoming Whizard Summit this October, in Boulder. I hope to see you there.