I recently came across a rather insightful piece by Mark Mitchell, outlining the do’s and don’t of ad agencies in the home & building space. His very first point jumped right out at me and I thought it was worth exploring in greater detail.
Unless they have extensive building materials experience, most agencies don’t recognize the importance of the channel in building material sales. They assume their brilliant creative will pull products through the channel.
Channel. This is the critical piece, and one that I think is often overlooked, much as Mark rightly points out. We’ve worked across the table on brands we serve with some of the hottest creative shops around, from NYC to LA, and the thing we see time and again is a heavy emphasis on the Creative, with little consideration of how to effectively manage people through the proverbial sales funnel.
Batch and blast creative advertising doesn’t work in home & building products. You can’t expect that one slick piece of Creative will serve as the catalyst for meaningful engagement (or conversion for that matter). And I think there are a few core reasons for this that are worth diving into specifically.
- Products in this space typically have anywhere from a six to twenty-fourth month sales process. Homeowners aren’t going to see an ad for luxury appliances and then run right out to their local retailer to replace their refrigerator, dishwasher, and range. These are calculated purchases that require thought, consideration, research, and interaction with others involved in the process, which leads us to…
- There are many decision-makers in the purchase process. If you’re a homeowner building a new home, for example, you’ll consult with your architect, your designer, and your builder, as key influencers in the purchase process. Maybe you saw an ad for a particular brand of windows or doors six months ago, and want to consider them in your new build. Has that brand stayed in touch? Are they even still on your mind? What does your architect think of them? Your builder? Are they effectively portraying their value to each of these audiences to ensure they second your opinion? Is there even a distributor nearby that can deliver or service the product? If not, the deal may very well fall apart due to a lack of knowledge or familiarity with a brand or its products due to poor education, which sets up our final point…
- Many products in this space have a unique technology, science, or value behind them that needs to be communicated in a meaningful way. Think of it as the old “what’s in it for me?” consideration process. Sure your HVAC technology might be slick, but how do we ensure a building owner understands that it’s right for his commercial property? Have we fully explained in a meaningful way how our product works and why it’s right for his particular installation? And more importantly: how do you do that in a way that is easily understood?
The thing is, this can’t all be accomplished in one ad.
It requires good creative, no doubt, but it doesn’t work without a fundamental understanding of the path to purchase, the key influencers along that journey, and meaningfully breaking down products, features, and benefits across that six to twenty-four month purchase process in a way that underscores what matters most to each audience involved. And it needs to be done in a way that leverages each piece of your marketing program to pull that off, from emails, to websites, to advertising, and yes, the creative.