Are You Enamored With Your Website?

Enamored With WebsiteToo many B2B companies have forgotten the purpose behind their websites.

Instead, they have become enamored with themselves.  Their websites have become their way of showing off their technical expertise.  Or using the web as an electronic replacement for their printed materials.

So if I know enough to go to their website for a technical spec, and I work hard enough to find it, then I’m in good shape.

Except that I might not every get sold on why I want their product in the first place.

Here’s the irony.  Some web marketing guy in the company is bragging about how deep visitors are drilling into the site.  Taking pride in how long visitors are staying on the site.

Hello!  We’re lost.  And we’re not enjoying how hard we’re working to get what little we’re given.

Every website needs an underlying philosophy

The brand vision is the roadmap to a strong brandEvery building materials manufacturer needs to think about how to bring their sales materials to life.  The sales force does it every day.  The web should be a tool and reinforce the key messages that the sales team is sharing with customers and prospects.

The best way to think about your website philosophy is with this structure in mind:

  • Product
  • Purpose
  • Education

The website should be focused on delivering for the visitor:

1. Information

It’s not enough to share the features of your product line.  Buyers are looking for the benefits your product is providing.  Too often more features will be viewed as added cost, eliminating the possibility of being added to a project. By the same token, using the lowest, priced, most basic products will rob you of an important way you could be differentiating yourself in the marketplace.

2. Resources

Create A Resource Rich Website To Keep Audience EngagedBecoming known as a resource will bring you more viewers.  Regardless of whether they see themselves as potential purchasers or not, by being the resource for critical information those viewers will gain a new and deeper understanding of your company and product.

Here’s an example.  If a home owner comes to your website to learn about when to reshingle their home and learns more about your brand as an authority in roofing, they may become sold on your brand.

If your website can help the home owner select the right product, they may upsell themselves as they become educated and immersed in your materials.  Obviously this isn’t happening in a single website visit, and it’s only logical that they’d want your website to direct them to a skilled and qualified roofing contractor who can help them understand the total cost.

Now that web marketer can start bragging about a sticky web site and know that there’s a good reason behind it.

3. Tips/Insights

You’ve heard it before, content is king.  It applies to your web site as well.  Creating fresh, timely content through tips and insights is a reason to have homeowners as well as builders and installers wanting to come back to your site.  The more practical and helpful your approach, the greater the engagement and interest your site will generate.

Go back to your own website and look at it with this new lens

Using Outside In ThinkingHas it become an electronic version of your old sales binders?  Is it reaching all the players in the channel…from consumers confused about what and how all the way to contractors and builders saying why?

Have you made it relevant and used it to educate?  Inform?  Engage?

And most importantly, are you using the web to convert consumers from prospects to buyers through effective communication— consistently driving your brand promise in a meaningful way?

Good Selling!

Are You a Marketer or Just a Product Expert?

Product Marketer or Product ExpertYour success can be built around either, but as one Big Box buyer pointed out to me:

“Too many manufacturers think that their marketing managers are marketers and they are not – they are product experts and that’s not helping drive my business – or theirs.”

Because new product development is critical, it’s not surprising that many companies find people who are good at project management.

Many marketers are skilled at working within an organization cross-functionally and adept at Stage Gate or some other milestone process. After all, aren’t new products how you grow your category and improve your margins?

Are you thinking about marketing too narrowly?

IImagef you’ve found that sales are falling short despite a constant stream of new products, then your focus on marketing may be too narrow.

Ask yourself these questions to determine the breadth of your marketing focus:

  1. Do I understand the needs of the consumer, shopper or end-user?
  2. Am I creating products that solve a problem or are innovative enough to give my sales team “new news?”
  3. Do I understand the needs and priorities of my customer? Can I build a compelling story as to why our new product is right for them and will help build sales and profits?
  4. Do I have the capability to bring to life the new product’s packaging, merchandising and sales tools?
  5. Am I bringing new users to the company or helping my customers make the sale? Can I help build my customers’ business with strong promotional programs, social media or e-commerce tools?

Marketing is more than just products

How the pieces fit together in marketing

Marketing is a complex discipline. Although this is an oversimplification, we marketers tend to fall into one of these three broad categories:

  1. Product
  2. Channel
  3. Brand

Strength in one does not necessarily translate into strength in all three.

For example, you may be outstanding at moving a new product through your internal systems, but are you equally comfortable building the sales story for your customer or know how to create demand in the market?

How the pieces fit together

If you want to move from being just a product manager to a more senior marketer, here’s how the three parts of marketing fit together:

1. Product Marketers

  • Intimately understands the needs of the end-user.
  • Create products that solve a problem or help give the sales team “new news.”
  • Skillfully use cross-functional teams and internal systems and processes to move from the drawing board to the sales floor…without wasting the time and resources of the organization.

2. Channel Marketers

  • Intimately understands the distribution channel and knows the needs and priorities of their customers – and their customers’ customers.
  • Can build a compelling story as to why their new products and programs will help build their customer’s sales and profits.

3. Brand Marketers

  • Bring to life the new product’s packaging, merchandising and create compelling and convincing sales tools that give the brand or product a personality.
  • Build the customers’ business with a strong promotional programs, social media and e-commerce tools.

Like most things, balance is the key and you need all facets of marketing to be most successful.

For other Channel Instincts posts on product marketing, see “What Drives Your Product Marketing? or Are You a Product Marketing Hero?

Good Selling!

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