Archives for Building Products

All Blogs Are Not The SME

Blogs Help Business

A blog is like a sound system made just for your brand

The word “BLOG” strikes fear in many businesses. What will we write about? We don’t have anything to say. But wait—you actually do!

You are ALREADY an SME (subject matter expert) on your brand: what it does better than anyone else, AND how it solves real pain points for your customers.

Help people by sharing your valuable insight on your company blog. Don’t miss the opportunity to be a SME in your industry.

We all consume information in different ways—give people one more way to connect with your brand: ROCK YOUR COMPANY BLOG.

p.s. If you need more reasons to get your blog on, here’s a great post by Carolyn Cohn of Compukol, The Many Reasons Why Blogging Helps Your Business


Make your presence felt.


Lori Sallee POSTED BY: Lori Sallee| Leave a comment

Made in the USA

Hardworking. Honest. Inventive. Passionate.

These words describe our customers and probably yours.

So many companies, founded over fifty years ago, by a young man or woman with two nickels to rub together and a dream, to build what people needed because they couldn’t find it anywhere else.

Made in the USA means “built with heart.”

It’s why I love this country. It’s why we chose to specialize in the building materials industry. We have the privilege of working with genuine hardworking people who create something from nothing. Committed to honoring the past and laying a solid groundwork for the future, they are the infrastructure of this nation.

It’s exciting to see the torch passed from one generation to the next. Brimming with new ideas, a whole lotta gumption and a healthy amount of fear, Jr. takes up where Sr. leaves off and commences to carry on the family tradition. The next generation always has new ways and means, however, there is one thing that remains unchanged—pride. Pride in making great products, in the employees and families they support and in helping their customers succeed. Also, pride in supporting this great nation and carrying on the Made in the USA tradition.

Ironically, we’re all Made in the USA. WE ARE American made.

Being that most of us reading this are Americans, we’re preparing to celebrate with good food, beautiful weather (cross your fingers) and maybe some spirits (if the mountains are blue). Now, we each have our own library of memories stored up from many Fourth of July’s passed. When I think about the 4th of July all sorts of happy memories come rushing to the surface; family reunions at Chesterfield Park (a giant burg in Indiana), watching my Uncle Larry and my dad compete for the title of “best burger flipper”, nearly burning a finger off with sparklers, laying back on the hood of the car waiting impatiently for the sky to light up, and feeling my eyes well up when I hear the words to my favorite American tribute song ( during a fireworks spectacular.

What are some of your favorite Fourth of July memories? What does Made in the USA mean to you?

Create a sensational memory this weekend. Happy 4th!


P.S. My Aunt Barb’s specialty was Cherry Delight…yum! What’s your favorite food on the 4th?

Allison DeFord POSTED BY: Allison DeFord| Leave a comment

Social Media Posts: A Day In The Life

If You Haven't Seen It, It's New To You

If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you.

Recently, Melissa Leiter wrote a great post on the Lifespan Of Social Media Posts, and broke it down by the 7 most popular platforms: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.

It is interesting to note that posts last the longest on two image dominant platforms: YouTube and Pinterest. We are fans of Pinterest for many reasons, but first and foremost for an easy (and fun) way to drive direct traffic to your website.

One of the things we’ve noticed on both YouTube and Pinterest is the “second wave” effect—especially on Pinterest: New users are constantly joining and creating boards with their interests, they often seek board content from existing Pinterest users.

Users benefit in three ways:

  • users connect with like users
  • users increase their own content
  • users connect with and existing community of people with like interests

Reminiscent of that old NBC campaign “If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you”, second wave pinning brings a whole new life to existing Pinterest content by putting it back in the main (read: most visible) content stream.

Consider the brevity of most social media post’s lifespan when you’re repurposing existing content. Not all your social media followers/connections might have seen something the first time around, and if you haven’t seen it, its new to you.

Make your presence felt.


Lori Sallee POSTED BY: Lori Sallee| 2 Comments

What Contractors Want from Manufacturers

Mind Meld

Contractors want the lowest prices, quality products and maybe a cool T-shirt now and again. Right?! Unless you’re a mind-reader, how do you really know what they want unless you ask them.

Recently, Tradesmen Insights asked contractors what they want from manufacturers and produced a series of interviews and podcasts highlighting their answers. Their intention: find out what manufacturers could do to better support contractors in the field. Those interviewed were a mix of electricians, plumbers, HVAC and general contractors. Here is a sampling of some of their most common wants (aka: opportunities for manufacturers):

  • Quick Response to Questions - access to knowledgeable tech people for problem solving.
  • Regular Site Visits - have your salesman make regular visits. Most contractors say they very rarely see the manufacturers. Great way to build relationships and identify possible product problems or shortcomings.
  • Application Training  - quick tips on doing a process better/quicker. If not in person, via email.
  • Best Way to Communicate with Them - mobile phone or email.
  • Not Super Social Yet - (Twitter, Facebook).
  • Recognize that they are professionals.

There are some prime opportunities here for manufacturers to up their game.  Our recent research yielded similar findings. Contractors want to be recognized and engaged with regularly—and not just about “what’s on sale” or “what’s new,” but how your product affects their bottom-line. Here are 10 ways to make your contractor experience richer and more rewarding:

10 Ways to Give Contractors What They Want

  1. Responsively designed Web and Mobile Sites -  Sites crafted to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors to tablets).
  2. How-to Videos, Demos and Easy Installation Instructions - Short, concise, available online / YouTube channel
  3. FAQ Section – Easy to find online, expansive and always current
  4. Live Tech Support – Knowledgeable, friendly, easily accessibly, separate 800#
  5. Email Communications - Rich consistent content that educates, inspires and reaches contractors on a deeper level (think “substance vs. sales”)
  6. App – Contains useful tools, specs, inventory and more they carry in the palm of their hand (beyond what’s on your site)
  7. Campaigns - Themed effort with a central message, communicated in promotional pieces and activities to recognize and unite contractors
  8. In Person – Live on-site visits and events
  9. Support - education and information about best practices to inspire and empower
  10. Forums & User Groups – Create an online community that supports, unites and celebrates contractors (excellent way to listen too–bonus!)

Tradesmen also shared this powerful statement, “There wasn’t a contractor I talked to that would turn away a visit from you, the manufacturer.” That sounds like opportunity knocking!

With sales people already spread thin across accounts, it can be challenging to fulfill the face to face need on a regular basis. Luckily, there are numerous ways to satisfy a Contractors’ craving and so much that they can have seconds.

Allison DeFord POSTED BY: Allison DeFord| Leave a comment

Check the Expiration Date

Check the Expiration Date

Feelin’ it? 

That buzz…that energy in the air. Business is rocking’ and rollin’ in the first quarter and Spring has sprung (or maybe there’s just less smog in the air) whatever the reason, this is a great time to check the expiration date. No, not in your fridge or on your shelves.

Your customers expiration date.

Inspired by a recent post from Seth Godin, I was reminded how precious customer shelf-life is and how many companies aren’t paying attention to it. 

Whether you’re audience is B2B or B2C, there’s a real opportunity here–to pay attention. To surprise and delight our customers. To keep them for a lifetime instead of taking them for granted. (Read Seth’s full post here: ) After all, what is the average customer expiration date? If the expiration came and went, what are you doing about that?

What’s one new thing you could do to deliver on your brand promise? What would make your customers stop and take notice? Feel how much “you get them.” Feel special, understood, supported?

On that note, I challenge you to try something new. Fun, free and, promise, it won’t hurt. 

The Challenge 
Make an appointment with yourself and your team and once a week spend 30 minutes brainstorming how you could surprise and delight your customers. That’s it! Just 30 minutes! The cost is zero and the payoff is priceless. A few ground rules: put it on the calendar, cell phones off and laptops closed during, just a pad of paper and a pen/pencil. Be present and remind your team, “there’s no bad idea.” The results will surprise you. The real key here is what you do afterward…put the ideas into action. Immediately! Talk is cheap.

As Seth says, “think lifetime, all the time.” 

I think this goes for more than just our customers… What do you think about that?


Allison DeFord POSTED BY: Allison DeFord| Leave a comment

communities: foster passion


Who’s The Bomb?
Festool, a leading producer of power tools, is headquartered in Wendlingen, Germany, where most of its power tools are produced. The company was founded in 1925 by Albert Fezer and Gottlieb Stoll to manufacture woodworking machinery. Festool invented several well-known woodworking tools including the first portable chainsaw, the orbital sander, the Domino jointer, and the portable circular saw with guide rail (called a track saw). Why is Festool fuknawsm?

Mind-blowing because…
“Festool – Passionate People Designing The World’s Best Power Tools” is the opening video on Festool’s YouTube channel. Passion emanates from Festool and is powerfully reflected back from its customers, or as they renamed them: owners. Owners have a unique forum: the FESTOOL OWNERS GROUP (F.O.G.). F.O.G., a People-to-People (P2P) wellspring of user-generated feedback, imagery and content. It helps Festool keep its finger on the pulse of its most involved customer: brand influencers. Community insures Festool maintains a relevant and innovative advantage in three key ways:

Festool redefined their customers and launched the FESTOOL OWNERS GROUP (F.O.G.). F.O.G. embodies a passionate collective: external customers and dealers as well as internal employees. The FESTOOL OWNERS GROUP exemplifies community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

The sections and boards on the FESTOOL OWNERS GROUP site are a banquet of information for every segment of the collective: external customers and dealers as well as internal employees.

  • Tools, Accessories and Reviews
  • How To’s
  • Tool Problems
  • Jigs and Enhancements
  • Wish List
  • Ask Festool
  • Sales & Dealer Area
  • Member Projects
  • Other Tools and Accessories
  • Other Tool Reviews
  • Building Materials
  • Hand Tools
  • Finishing and Painting
  • Woodcraft, Crafts, Home Improvement, Other Projects

With F.O.G., Festool has created a 360º view of everything that could interest their most avid brand influencers. The most popular board: Festool Tools & Accessories

The success of the the FESTOOL OWNERS GROUP is driven by passion. Owners connect online and offline for the same reason: they are passionate about Festool. F.O.G. is a space for expressing that passion in a variety of ways: product feedback, project pictures, and wish list requests. From these interactions, Festool has an active, real-time supply of information to drive sales, new product development, existing product enhancements, and improvements in customer service at every level. The community is also a unique area for passive sales support: “how-to’s”, new/improved product information, product reviews, and project-specific information. In a move reminiscent of “Miracle on 34th Street” where Macy’s begins referring customers to competitors to get what Macy’s doesn’t carry, Festool also reviews other power tools, as well as hand tools. In the movie of course, Macy’s watches their own sales soar, when customers realize Macy’s passion for it’s customers outweighs its own passion for profit.


Chemistry Baby!
New product ideas. Existing product feedback. Testimonials. Brand-evangelist-first-adopter attention, influence and engagement. Testing environment for new product soft-launches or social media strategies. Project imagery and stories from product owners/users. Unique content found nowhere else: all of this while connecting with your best customers on a deeper, more meaningful level.

That’s customer chemistry.

What's The Point? CommunityIn the transactional model of communication, people are connected through communication and engage in transaction. Each of us is a sender-receiver, not merely a sender or a receiver. Communication affects all parties involved, and is fluid/simultaneous like in-person conversations. Effective communities can create similar results in an online environment. Create passionate community conversations that involve and benefit everyone: external customers and dealers as well as internal employees and departments.


Lori Sallee POSTED BY: Lori Sallee| 1 Comment