You Ignore the Builder? Yep. It is true more often than you might imagine. Building products manufacturers who focus their communications on the homeowners and do not reach out to the builder is a fact that seems unlikely but is true for several different building products manufacturers. Ignoring the builder became a topic of interest following a few conversations with building products manufacturers at the IBS / KBIS this year.
It seems ironic for building products manufacturers exhibiting at the nation’s largest builders trade show to admit they do not target builders with their communications plans. In conversations with manufacturers at the trade show, we asked about communications plans, marketing efforts, and how these companies prioritize their audiences. More than one explained they focus on the homeowners with their communications and marketing. They provide sales support for sales team and channel partners that focus on the builders. On the surface, this seems like a reasonable strategy until you look at both their marketing and communications outreach.
Let Us Explain
A close look at the sales support of the aforementioned building products manufacturers shows an impressive package of online and print materials. Product brochures, warranties, installation instructions, and technical sheets are well-designed and represent the brands well. Co-operative advertising programs, promotions, and events are standardized. It is in the copy, words and tone, where you can see the focus on the homeowners.
Most of the sales support materials are written for the builders to use with their homeowners. The reasons for the builders to believe in these products are buried in the body copy versus being called out for the builders. The best marketing for builders is designed and written specifically for them, in their language with their terminology.
This review can be taken to another level when you look at the brands themselves. The brands are focused on the homeowners in copy, images, stories, and calls to action. It is true some of this will transfer to the builder, but it is not the same as speaking to the builder directly.
More Than Collateral
To ignore the builder is often more than marketing materials and programs. Most of the time it reflects a culture, strategy or attitude. One example is the manufacturer that recognizes their oversight of the builder but fails to communicate directly with them. Social media is a self-publishing network to target and reach the audiences that are important to your business. It is easy to track and measure results. Social media is fast, flexible, customizable, and affordable. Many manufacturers use social media to reach homeowners for these very same reasons. Yet, they choose not to reach out to builders. We track and report the social media efforts and results of the top 5 brands within ten building products categories. Brand leaders use social media to reach builders daily, delivering valuable insights, information, and support that generates awareness, engagement, promotion, loyalty, and sales.
If targeting homeowners is a strategy and it is achieving your goals, congratulations! If you ignore the builder as a reflection of your culture or attitude, you have an opportunity to change and likely grow your business. The first step in taking advantage of this opportunity to make the commitment through your actions and engage those with direct experience communicating with your builders.
Just in Case
Just in case you are asking why builders are so important to building products manufacturers, builders influence all product and brand choices. Homeowners are increasingly involved in the product choices based on design, color, or personal experience. Builders can typically switch brands based on their experience, preference, and suppliers. Depending on the type of builder – custom, semi-custom, or production home – the homeowner’s choices will range from making their own selections to picking from a few options to purchasing what the builders provide. Even with the most accommodating custom home builders, they influence the final decisions more than the homeowners.
The moral of this story is do not ignore the builder. Do so at the peril of your business. Connect with the builders through your communications in a personal way that will translate to measurable business improvement and growth. If you need help to understand the builder beyond the data and research you have collected, we have been working directly with builders for decades for the top brands in the industry.
SPECIAL NOTE – If you wish to take a full stride towards connecting with all builders, read this post and let us know if you have any questions – LINK