Manufactures in the Building Material Industry are highly dependent on builders, dealers, distributors, and big box stores to get their products to market. The process of leveraging intermediaries to get your product to the end user is called channel distribution.
The process of leveraging content and technology to promote a manufacturer's product to, through, for and with these intermediaries is called channel marketing.
Manufacturers have to consider each step in the distribution channel in order to successfully implement any growth focused sales and marketing approach. It is important to understand the buyer’s journey and what inhibits them from selecting your product at each step of the process. Building Materials manufactures have a significant challenge when you come to gaining product preference.
A dealer or distributor may prefer a product, but if the builder or contractor doesn’t like installing it, then a manufacturer will struggle to move the product. Conversely, if a builder or contractor loves a product but the dealer or distributor does not have it available, then again the product will not be sold as much as it possibly could.
Adding to the complexity of channel sales and marketing is the role that influencers play. Building Material manufacturers have to influence Architects, Engineers, and others to specify their product.
The reputation of an architect or engineers a is on the line if a product doesn't deliver the promised functionality. Architects and engineers daily choose to use products that they perceive will make them successful or reduce their risk.
Channel Marketing for Building Materials manufacturers requires that they are engaging the right stakeholders in the way that they want to be engaged. It involves guiding buyers and influence with educational content personalized to their needs. Then it involves ensuring that they are helping their customers grow and delighting them.
While one or two step distributors are the typical purchaser of a building materials manufacturer. Often considered to be the customer, the distributor has limited influence on what product gets used in a residential or commercial building project.
Typically the architect, or engineer has the most power in the selection process. This is especially true in commercial or industrial projects. When it comes to residential projects, the builder and contractor holds the most power in the product selection process, and they also assume great risk when switching products.
The products that builders and contractors recommend impact their brand and reputation. Any product they specify into their construction drawings needs to be reliable, be competitively priced, be easy to acquire at the right time for their project, and be easy to install by their team or subcontractors. If any of those criteria are not met, the builder or contractor is at risk of damaging their reputation and client relationships. Ultimately, the builder is the face the homeowner sees, so if something goes wrong with a chosen product, it's perceived as the builder’s fault.
Dealers and distributors have to keep this all in mind as well to ensure their business relationships with contractors are strong, however, dealers and distributors are thinking primarily how to have the perfect balance of breadth and depth of product offerings, staying on top of trends, and inventory management.
Product knowledge and understanding is key in winning the product selection process. Architects, Engineers, and contractors, like most humans or change and risk averse. If they are not familiar with a product or uncertain of its application they will not recommend it. These facts require manufacturers to prioritize their efforts on product education and influencer marketing.
When trying to solve for the complexities that building material manufacturers face there are several ways that digital technology can enhance their sales and marketing initiatives. Some of these solutions include:
- Digital Catalogs: Digital catalogs need to be more than and export of your physical catalog to a PDF format. Digital Catalogs that provide a buyer friendly list of products with specifications, pricing, and product availability.
- Educational Videos: Educational videos are extremely important. Show builders and contractors how to install, service, and maintain your products.
- Lead Distribution: You have to make it easier for your product to be purchased. When anyone visits your website you need to make it quick and easy for them to find where to buy your product.
- Customer Portals: For Building Materials Manufacturers a customer portal is the number one tool for growth. Everything for your buyers should be personalized behind a logged in experience. Every tool available for dealers and distributors should live on the customer portal.
Building material manufacturers have to remember that the way people research and consume information has changed. As a result, building material manufacturers who want to influence architects, engineers, and contractors must ensure their digital presence has shifted to engage and guide all within their distribution channel appropriately.