Blog for Building Materials Companies

The Problems With Building Product Comparisons

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The Problems With Building Product Comparisons

Building materials companies don’t compare their products to the competition often enough. And when they do, they usually do it for the wrong reasons. They use it to make their product look better instead of giving the customer the information they really need.

They make that mistake because they think about themselves instead of putting themselves in the customer’s shoes. If you start from the mindset that you’re trying to help the customer instead of trying to sell to them, you’ll understand the value of giving them an honest and convenient product comparison.

You see, the customer isn’t actually trying to buy your product. That’s just what it looks like from your vantage point as a seller.

In reality, what they’re trying to do is solve a problem. It might be someone doing a DIY renovation project and needing to replace a worn out entry door. Or it could be an architect trying to complete a task that’s part of a larger project, like deciding which insulation system to specify for a building.

They’re not looking for the best product. They’re looking for the product that’s right for their particular situation. They want to know which product will solve the specific problem they’re facing.

If they find you first and all you do is tell them about how great your product is, you aren’t actually helping them do that.

They don’t want to know about your product. They want you to solve their problem in as little time as possible. Time is everyone’s most valued asset these days, and the building material company that can save them the most time is going to have a significant competitive advantage.

How can you do that? Simple: by giving them fair, accurate and comprehensive product comparisons.

Product Comparisons Save Time

If you only talk about yourself and your product, you’re only giving the customer one piece of the puzzle. They still have to spend hours doing their own research, gathering the information from other companies so they can finish the puzzle and compare products.

Instead of getting what they need from you, they have to create their own mental comparison chart and hope they’ve got it right.

It doesn’t help that different companies will tout different product features, making it harder to make clear and easy comparisons.

Take decking, for example. What’s the most important thing to consider when looking at decking products?

  • Grain and texture?
  • Color?
  • Warranty?
  • Strength?
  • Is it environmentally friendly?
  • Ease of maintenance?
  • Will it burn your feet on a hot day?
  • Can the materials be submerged?
  • Installation?
  • Cost?
  • Something else altogether?

Each company is going to excel in one of those areas, and they’re going to make it seem like that’s the most important feature.

Customers aren’t stupid, though. They won’t make their choice based on just one or two features, and they realize that some features cost more than others.

When a feature catches their eye (like the length of the warranty), they have to go back to the other companies they were considering to figure out the lengths of their warranties. That’s another waste of time.

Comparisons Give Your Customers Value

The first thing the customer has to do is to learn about what are the many things you need to consider when choosing your product. They are likely to find this from a magazine article or an influencer.

You can make their lives a lot easier and save them plenty of time by making all the information they need available on your website and making it easy to find.

A simple comparison chart that lists you and your competitors and compares the features is even more helpful.

To do this correctly, you have to create it in good faith. If you only list the features that make your product look good and use it as an excuse to trash your competitors, the customer is going to see right through it.

Instead, you have to start with the goal of helping your customer find the right product for their needs – even if that product isn’t yours.

You can’t just create an apples-to-apples comparison that makes your apple look like the shiniest, juiciest, and healthiest one. You have to make it clear that your product and your competitor’s product are as different from each other as apples and oranges are, and accept that sometimes the customer will want the orange.

Let’s say you sell composite decks and truly believe in your product. To offer customers a great product comparison, you have to appreciate that some people will feel that wood is a better choice for them. Your comparison chart should reflect that – it should help them find the right wood decking products.

When you are creating your comparison chart, don’t forget to think beyond the product. You should also include important parts of the total experience such as:

  • Samples
  • Design services
  • Technical assistance
  • Qualified installers
  • Helplines
  • Estimating
  • Testing
  • Response time
  • And more

Don’t Be Afraid to Help Your Customers

Many companies are scared of using this kind of strategy. They want to help their customers, but they’re worried that calling attention to a competitor will cost them sales.

That’s because they don’t understand how customers really shop for products.

They imagine the customer going to their site, staying on it for a while, taking the time to carefully look at the product features and eventually deciding to buy something.


Think about the way you shop for things in your personal life. How often do you only look at one option and click on the “Buy Now” button?

Not very often! Even buyers with deep pockets like to shop around, compare and make sure they’re getting the best product for their needs.

When a customer clicks on your site, they’ll probably end up clicking on your competitor’s page too. The only way to keep them from doing that is to give them all the information they need to compare products.

One More Benefit to Product Comparisons

In every product category, there is a company whose website is the go-to site for information about all aspects of that category. They’re the company that doesn’t just give customers information about composite decking – they provide more information about all things decking than anyone else does.

When you become the website that even your competitor’s customers go to for information, that’s a win.

When they’re ready to switch, who are they going to think of first? Chances are, it’s the company that taught them the most and helped them make up their mind.

I have to give credit to Tim Denning for the idea for this post. His article “The Greatest Sales Page I’ve Ever Seen” is about the newsletter platform Ghost. Ghost’s brilliant move is to not just list their features, but show you how they stack up against all their major competitors, like Substack.

It’s a brave move and a very effective one. More building material companies should have the courage to try it.

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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.