Archives for Building Products

PRINT: New Routes for an Established Vehicle

Greetings from Typo, KentuckyThis month the FELT Road Trip has us rolling over the high, wooded hills of Typo, Kentucky. Our destination is no mistake, because this month we’re focusing on Print — though you might have trouble finding it in the AAA travel guide.

There’s something relaxing about hitting the open road in country like this, even if you’re taking back ways that are off the beaten path. It’s easy to get where you’re going — with or without fancy electronic gizmos — because you probably knew what most American road signs meant long before you learned how to drive. It’s so familiar that you can sit behind the wheel, have a conversation with the person next to you, and still find your way without even thinking about it.

When it comes to marketing your business, print enjoys all the same advantages. It’s tangible, familiar, and easy to use anywhere. And unlike new-fangled digital tools, you never have to worry about the hard drive crashing.

But just because print has been around for ages, that doesn’t mean it still works the way it always has.

PRINT: The World’s Most Versatile Marketing Tool

See things differently with printWhen you’re on a road trip, you don’t just see new things — you see old things with new eyes. It can be as simple as seeing a traffic light hanging from a cable instead of sitting on a pole. Your perspective changes when you see something familiar being used in a way that’s new and different to you.

In today’s marketplace, print is still creating a lot of “wow!” moments like that.

Fifty years ago, print was the first choice for every form of marketing from brochures and sell sheets to direct mail and advertising. All that stuff still has its place today. According to a 2015 report by the Direct Marketing Association, direct mail alone still outperforms every digital outlet combined by 600%.

But print’s versatility also makes it the easiest marketing element to integrate with other ways of communicating. It can:
• Drive buyers to online media (like the post card that may have sent you here).

• Respond automatically to conditions that make people ready to buy (like moving or starting a new business).

• Deliver a personalized experience far beyond adding “Dear firstname” to a letter, with custom content and full-color images specific to the reader’s needs and interests.

• Make buyers feel like part of an exclusive group, because print is less common than in the past.

Millennial respect printEven the Millennial generation, habitually plugged into their smartphones, sits up and takes notice when something tangible crosses their path. Raised on cheap pixels, they know that only serious companies invest in print. Recent studies have shown that young adults, 24 years and younger, are among the most direct mail responsive, and that 92% of young shoppers prefer direct mail when making purchasing decisions.

So if you’re not taking advantage of print’s new capabilities, you’re missing opportunities to reach and retain great buyers. Before you decide to take new print marketing out for a spin, look in the rearview with your free download, MANUFACTURERS’ GUIDE: LOCK & LOAD Print Marketing.

See you down the road,

Your friends at FELT


p.s. Don’t miss the FREE DOWNLOAD,
LOCK & LOAD Print Marketing



Lori Sallee POSTED BY: Lori Sallee| Leave a comment

We Love Manufacturers

As a kid growing up in central Indiana I had little awareness or appreciation of where my shoes were made or where our (one) family car came from. They were just there, at the store or car dealer, my parents purchased them and we used them. I could run faster and jump higher and I always had a ride to school or Baskin Robbins. End of story. Never thought about where those things came from or who made them.

Now in my forties, and with my life’s work dedicated to marketing for manufacturers, I have such a greater appreciation for where things come from and who makes them. Looking back, I can see that manufacturing was behind the making of those Chuck Taylors and that Chevy that housed our uneaten McDonald’s french fries. Back then, General Motors was the largest job creator in our town of 85,000. My grand-dad, father-in-law, uncle and many other family members retired from GM with a gold watch and strong sense of pride for the products they helped build.

This October 2nd is a day to honor manufacturing in America. Maybe you’ve already participated for the last four years. But, in case this is new(s) to you here’s the scoop and why it might matter to you and your company.

Manufacturing Day is an opportunity for manufacturers to highlight their work and their workers and to energize a future pipeline of skilled workers.  An annual event that occurs on the first Friday of October, MFG DAY is an occasion during which manufacturers open their doors to showcase the potential of modern manufacturing and foster interest in manufacturing careers.  All across the country, organizations showed the public what manufacturing really looks like through more than 1,660 open houses and events in each of the 50 states and Puerto Rico with an estimated 50,000 students, parents, and community members attending.  Manufacturing Day also resulted in thousands of articles, TV segments and interviews; participation from public officials; and proclamations across the country – including the first ever proclamation from the President of the United States.  

Supported by a group of industry sponsors and co-producers, MFG DAY is designed to amplify the voice of individual manufacturers and coordinate a collective chorus of manufacturers with common concerns and challenges. The rallying point for a growing mass movement, MFG DAY empowers manufacturers to come together to address their collective challenges so they can help their communities and future generations thrive.

This info graphic from sheds some light on the state of Manufacturing in America and why it is central to our economic strength and a driver of innovation. Manufacturing jobs are some of the best in the country, yet the public doesn’t perceive them to be. And there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill them. But together we can help tell the real story.


Join in this special day with your company tweets, blogposts, employees, sales teams and customers. Make a video about how your company supports manufacturing in America. It’s a great day to celebrate together and amplify the voice of manufacturers in America.

Have your own story to share? Love to hear it in the comments below. #MFGDAY15

Allison DeFord POSTED BY: Allison DeFord| Leave a comment

Get the Biggest Bang for Your Trade Show Buck

Trade shows are a unique marketing opportunity because they have short runs and attract adoring industry fans to a megaplex of exhibitors.

The Butter on Your Popcorn
The average cost of closing a sale to a qualified trade show prospect is 1/3 the cost of closing that same sale out in the field.

Trade Show Success
More than likely, you’ve already had a taste of trade show success and you’re fully aware of what it takes to achieve trade show stardom.The pre-show preparation, to ensure you look your best–on camera. A fortune spent on shipping your display. Sponsorship commitments. Travel plans. Staff coordination. Alerting the media. You’re not new to this.

And, you’ve got the metrics in place to measure just how successful the shows have been. Taking advantage of all the qualified leads you’re acquiring and tracking your ROI3 (return on investment, innovation and influence).

If, by some chance, you haven’t achieved the level of stardom you’ve hoped for, guess what?

You’re Not Alone

Maybe you’ve been treating trade shows as individual events, rather than integrating them into your overall strategy—opting for cheap and quick booth graphics, slapping your logo on a promo stress ball and calling it a day. Once you return home, you and your team get bogged down and those costly leads fall by the wayside. You commit to doing a better job next year and it’s on to the next meeting about a meeting.

Trade Show Advantage
Strategy, planning, metrics and follow thru are the way to elevate your trade show star power. With a new purpose, plan and tools in place, you can make your trade show dollars count and be an Oscar contender in no time.

Get the biggest bang for your trade show buck. Download your Guide to Trade Show Stardom and use the handy check list included to create a memorable visitor experience before, during and after the show.  Lights, camera, action!

Here’s to creating a sensation.

Allison DeFord POSTED BY: Allison DeFord| Leave a comment

Space Shuttle to Mars—Now That’s Customer Service!

Starbucks, visionary leaders! 

I don’t go to Starbucks for the coffee. 

Let’s face it, I can pick up a coffee from the local donut shop down the street. Why is it that I’m willing to possibly go out of my way, wait in a line and pay more money for a cup of coffee? It’s all the details surrounding the actual purchase of said coffee.When I grab a cup of joe anywhere else I get just that, a cup of coffee in a styrofoam cup. The end. At Starbucks I get a coffee experience!

How Starbucks Builds Trust

Starbucks knows me. They know you. They know us so well, in fact, they’ve created an experience we didn’t even know we wanted. They took the simple act of selling coffee and turned it into an art form. That’s what building trust is all about. Getting creative. Going above and beyond to consistently surprise and delight those that you love. In business it’s turning the act of selling into the art of serving. Starbucks has done this successfully by paying attention to the details surrounding the coffee. 

Consistency – coffee how you want it every time in any store all over the world
Availability – locations everywhere, including the grocery and the airport
Atmosphere – relaxed, warm and inviting
Sound – familiar tunes and new artists provide background entertainment
Trained Associates – not just coffee servers, but baristas who know coffee
Extras – healthy snacks, hearty sandwiches and decadent confections that pair perfectly
App – find a location and pay with ease
Community – local flavor breeds familiarity
Rewards – spend money, get free stuff
Communication – consistently sharing what’s happening

Notice, I listed nothing about coffee—their claim to fame.

Experience a Connection

People buy from people. People buy an experience. Every company, whether B2B or B2C, is similar to Starbucks. The unique opportunity exists to create a more powerful connection at every customer touchpoint. Fascinate, surprise and delight, just like Starbucks. Doesn’t that sound like alot more fun than “selling”!

Creating this kind of experience takes more than just special cups and a fancy title for your sales people. It takes real planning. And not the kind that happens at the annual company budget meeting. It takes clear positioning, strategy, creativity and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. In his prolific book, The Icarus DeceptionSeth Godin explains why true innovators focus on trust, remarkability, leadership and stories that spread. Starbucks has successfully created a trust by focusing on the customer experience. By being remarkable. By making their customers part of their brand story.

It’s time to re-examine every customer touch point and design a more remarkable customer experience, like Starbucks. It’s time to stop pleasing and start serving. Let’s surprise and delight, starting now. Whose with me?  

(Excuse me, I’ve got to finish my venti iced coffee with cream now—aaaaahhhh!)

Make your presence felt.

Allison DeFord POSTED BY: Allison DeFord| 1 Comment

Surprising Your Customers Never Gets Old

Happy birthday!

Today is my birthday. My 47th to be exact. I know, I know, you’re shocked because I look way younger.

My first day of 47 started of with a bang! I awoke to fresh flowers, breakfast, cards and special letters from my two girls. My husband and I have been married since, well, dirt and we’ve had many opportunities to “top the year before.” And something he wrote in my card gave me an idea. He said:

“We’ve celebrated 31 birthdays together and it never gets old!”

Because we’ve spent so many birthdays together and celebrated in so many different ways, it is getting harder to “keep it fresh and surprising!” This is not only a marital dilemma, it happens in customer relationships too? Here’s my question:

“How do we continue to surprise and delight customers year after year after year?”

Or, experience after experience. It becomes increasingly difficult—but it doesn’t have to. All we need to do is remember back to the first time—similar to when you first started dating your mate:

…the first time we looked into each others eyes (connected with the prospective customer)

…the first time we asked them out (created awareness and curiosity)

…the first time we went out on a date (they made a purchase)

…the first time we spent a holiday together at her parents house (gave them a thoughtful gift)

…the first time you surprised her with flowers just to say “I love you” (sent a handwritten thank you note)

…the first time you created a surprise birthday experience (threw a customer appreciation day party)

…the first time you created a new tradition (added something new to the buying experience, with them in mind)

If we get creative and treat customers like it’s the first time, every time, the relationship will never get old!

Here’s to cultivating customer chemistry year after year after year.

Now, who wants cake?

Allison DeFord POSTED BY: Allison DeFord| Leave a comment

Create Curiosity Without Pointing To Your Own Naval

It's not about you. Create curiosity.
A common assumption in B2B marketing—particularly so in the building materials industry—is that because you’re reaching out to a business you don’t need to be “creative.” Or different. And certainly not fun.

Just inform the target audience that you’ve been in business for 50 years, you have what they need, your prices are fair—and the orders will come. Right?

Not in today’s competitive, cinch-this-belt-any-tighter-and-I’ll-stop-breathing market. The simple truth: boring brands don’t spring to mind first when there’s a need. Brands without a clear personality and voice, who aren’t saying anything different or making a difference are not seen, heard or felt. The ones that do have something to talk about, and do so in a way that resonates, create curiosity. They’re perceived as dynamic, relevant and authoritative. And, dare I say it, maybe even fun!

So how do you become the interesting brand? Create curiosity? Become so compelling that customers and prospects are always eager to see what you’ll say or do next?

For starters, say and do things regularly.

Make an introduction – to a thought leader, a mindset or a new product or service. Share something that could possibly change the way they do business or live their life. Issue special offers or bundles on a monthly basis. Hold product demos at  your trade shows at regularly scheduled times (give them a heads up in advance). Communicate with your target audience at least once a month—via e-mail, snail mail, social media or blog. In other words, get on their radar and stay there.

Don’t be afraid to shift to customer-centered advertising.

Instead of talking about the company behind the product, focus on the benefit to the customer. Address their pain points. Connect with your reader emotionally—or in an unexpected way. Remember, you don’t have to show your entire hand in each ad either. Create curiosity by sharing bite-sized nuggets. A taste, if you will. Also, put away that “Make My Logo Bigger Cream” and keep your logo/branding smaller and in a supporting role. I know, I know, but it’s not about YOU.

Leave a popcorn trail of information.

Be THE source for useful information about the building materials you make or sell and the stories around them. Survey your customers about a hot topic and share the results. Produce a video or slide show demonstrating how to use a new product in a creative way. Name and brand every “kernel” appropriately, so that all searches/links/SEO lead back to you. This can also aid in crafting better site content (aka: mapping it to the buying cycle).

Dispense this information via your e-newsletter or blog or social media channels, then archive it on your website in an organized way that’s easy to navigate. Soon you’ll have a library of information your customers want and need—one they’ll return to again and again.

Give it a name.

Introducing a new product? Don’t just identify it: urethane resin flexible mouldings. Give it an identity: Valuflex™. (Incidentally, this moulding from EL & EL Wood Products was used by a contractor in my own home, and I love the results. Would I have remembered “urethane resin flexible moulding” and mentioned it here? Probably not.)

Products aren’t the only nameable aspects of your brand. Instead of “July’s Special Offer,” try something like “July’s Things-You-Can’t- Live-Without Sales Event.” Your blog, e-newsletter, and the online library mentioned above could also benefit from memorable, brand-centric names. Which is more memorable, “our eNewsletter” or “Freshly Squeezed”?

Use social media to leak the story.

Remember that new product you’re about to introduce? The one with the intriguing and memorable name? Pique curiosity before the launch with a teaserly Tweet such as: “Coming October 1st … meet the hardest working lubricant in the industry.” Closer to launch, post photos of the product on your Facebook and Pinterest pages. Use LinkedIn to conduct a poll related to the product, then share the results. Be sure to tie these posts to specific landing pages on your site for tracking and metrics.

Remember, there are people like you and me behind those businesses you’re marketing to—people who respond to brand messages on an intellectual and emotional level. Keep them interested (read: curious) and they’ll keep you top of mind.

Here’s to creating curiosity…and a sensation!

Allison DeFord POSTED BY: Allison DeFord| Leave a comment