Building materials marketing never works because it follows rather than leads. Marketing leadership is an important driver for any kind of business success. The trouble is, it’s a bit difficult to define. You know it when you see it, but what it takes to develop it isn’t as obvious.
At its core, marketing leadership is your ability to develop the vision, define the mission and formulate the objectives for a marketing campaign. Those skills, combined with innovative marketing strategies, is what it takes to gain a stronger share of the building materials market.
Everyone develops leadership skills their own way, whether it’s through careful study or plenty of practical hands-on experience. But I’m going to give you six strategies that will help you improve your marketing and acquire that kind of leadership, no matter what your personal strengths are.
Marketing Building Materials
When it comes to the building materials industry, marketing has traditionally played second fiddle to sales. Every company had a marketing department, but marketing teams kind of went with the flow, checked off boxes and advertised the company’s products.
The industry has changed since then. It’s no longer good enough to market your product. If you want to grow and succeed in a sustainable way, you need effective and competitive marketing strategies.
The market is getting saturated. It is harder to create interest in your product and to make it stand out from the competition.
Major Challenges for Marketers
Marketing is incredibly important, but building materials marketers face three significant challenges.
- Marketing is often misunderstood and misused. Marketers are often treated like graphic designers, as if their expertise is making things look nice instead of real marketing. The higher ups in the company give marketers tasks to complete (“make us a brochure”) instead of giving them problems to solve (“how can we better communicate to our stakeholders?”).
- Marketing success is still often measured according to task completion (how many boxes the marketing team can check off) and budget constraints (how much the campaign cost) instead of the return on investment. Launching a campaign on time and under budget doesn’t mean it’s effective.
- Everyone thinks they’re a marketing expert. There’s an art and a science to marketing. It’s a combination of creative thinking and data-driven decision-making. Instead of letting the experts handle it, marketing decisions are often based on what the boss likes.
To create sustainable success for your company, you have to overcome these challenges. That’s where marketing leadership comes in. Here’s what it takes to develop it.
6 Strategies for Developing Marketing Leadership
1. Get Involved at a Higher Level
Marketers are often handed tasks to do instead of being involved in solving higher level problems. If that’s the way things are done at your company, take steps to changing it from the bottom up.
Marketing leaders should offer their expertise and get involved in the strategic operations of the business. Frame issues in terms of problems in need of solutions, not actions that need to be completed.
For example, when you’re asked to redesign the website or a tradeshow booth, find out what the overall goal of that task is. Is it to increase engagement? Is it to stand out from a specific competitor? Is there a specific type of customer the company wants to win over?
Asking those questions will ensure that the marketing department is treated like the experts they are.
2. Establish Clear Roles and Responsibilities
The marketing department needs to know exactly what it’s in charge of – and other departments have to recognize this as well. Its critical functions (defining the brand, campaign management, producing promotional materials) need to align with the goals of the business.
Every marketer’s ongoing responsibilities (social media management, internal communications, market research) also need to be clearly delineated so everyone knows exactly what they should be doing and how to prioritize their tasks.
3. Frame Marketing as an Investment, Not an Expense
Ironically, marketing often has a marketing problem. No matter how much it drives growth, strengthens the brand and creates engagement with the customers, a lot of executives still see it as a drain on the budget.
A big part of marketing leadership is being able to sell not only building materials but also sell yourself and what you can do for the company. That means being able to successfully frame what you do in terms of the returns it generates, not the costs it requires.
Learning to communicate the value of a strong SEO strategy, of making the brand more recognizable and of reaching new customers is essential to being a marketing leader. Often, data is what speaks the loudest, so learn to use it. When all executives see is a number in the expense column, you need to be ready to counter them with numbers that justify that expense.
4. Ask More Questions
Good marketing goes beyond the surface. It means not just trying to drive interest in the product, but figuring out exactly what problem you need to solve.
Does the solution you’re advertising actually address the problem your customers are worried about the most? Is the messaging as clear as it could be? Is there a more effective way to deliver it to customers?
Those questions help you see the problem from 30,000 feet above, which helps you get a better sense of what you’re doing and why.
5. Measure Everything
Everything is data-driven these days and marketing should be no exception. This takes the guesswork out of marketing, makes it more scientific and more importantly makes it more effective.
Track all the relevant metrics to make sure your marketing campaigns are delivering on their promises and to figure out if anything needs to change.
ROI. Cost per click. Cost per lead. Measure it all and you will have a very clear picture of the success of your marketing strategies.
6. Do Your Research
Your marketing efforts will only be truly effective if you really understand the customer. Marketing building products is all about promoting solutions – and that means knowing exactly what problems your customers want to solve.
Research the companies you’re targeting. Talk to the sales team to find out what they know about the customers. Talk to customers themselves and redesign your campaigns based on their feedback.
Implementing Marketing Changes
Marketing leadership gives big results, but it often starts with small changes. Don’t walk into the boardroom and tell the executives to rethink the way they approach marketing. Sell them on small changes first, measure the results and build from there.
Once you have the momentum, you can pitch big ideas. For now, take steps toward making your marketing more effective and becoming a marketing leader in building materials.
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