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How Dealers Can Stand Out From Large-Scale Competitors

There’s a growing market in home construction for exterior solutions, and fiber cement siding dealers have the opportunity to stand out from even the largest competitors.

It might seem daunting for small and mid-sized building materials dealers to compete with larger companies for customers, especially when they seem to have money to burn. But for innovative firms, there are some forward-thinking strategies you can use to gain more customers, even if you’re working with a smaller budget.

You don’t have to spend millions of dollars on marketing to be successful in your industry. Here are a few ways that fiber cement siding dealers can stand out from even the largest competitors.

Use Social to Start Conversations that Matter

You don’t have to be a large corporation to stand out from the competition. Just being recognizable is enough to gain loyalty from local builders and contractors in your community.

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It certainly helps to have an active social media presence. The goal is to start a conversation with your clients, existing and potential, so merely setting up a Facebook page (and then ghosting) won’t make an impact on page visitors.

However, you don’t need to set up a profile for your company on every social media platform. According to search and social media expert Neil Patel, “The primary question to ask about social media is where your audience is actually spending time. What social media outlets are they on?”

If you can share high-quality images on a regular basis, Facebook and Instagram are good platforms for visual content. Video can also engage many followers, so you might even create a YouTube account to host installation and product guide videos for your audience.

And don’t forget about user-generated content (UGC) and content from your employees! Resharing content you have been tagged in by others is a great way to keep your posting regular. Plus, it always makes customers (and employees) feel good to be noticed.

But remember: The overall goal is engagement. According to Venveo, “Even though you may spend a lot of time finding relevant topics to share with builders, sharing isn’t the end goal. The end goal is to start up a conversation with your leads and customers.”

Engage your followers and page visitors by grabbing their attention: Post a poll about a trending product or share installation guides (or videos) with your followers. Give your audience content they can use, and they’ll think of you as a resource (a benefit to their own business).

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The point of social media is to connect with a community, and dealers who navigate this with some flexibility will succeed in winning customers online. “The idea is to get as many people involved in the conversation as possible so that you can show up in as many feeds as possible,” explains Venveo. “More exposure equals more friends, which equals greater impact.”

Give Your Fans More Ways to Connect

Events are another great way to connect with the community of builders that you want to work with.

Once pandemics aren’t a concern, hold a lunch-and-learn for local contractors on building practices, or offer a webinar to builders on the benefits (to them) of using fiber cement siding for homes in flood zones.

In the meantime, hold virtual events! Set up a time for a Zoom meeting and have lunch sent to the participants’ homes or locations for a virtual lunch-and-learn. Or send a gift certificate for coffee before a call so they can get a caffeine fix while you chat.

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Whether these are virtual or in-person, putting a face to a name will make an impact on your customers. This is especially true if the event is local. When you’re able to spend some time with local builders, answering questions and getting feedback can make a big difference for your business.

PRO-TIP: Plan the event carefully and promote it on social media and through email for the best turnout. “Once you have a topic and date planned,” says Venveo, “notify your audience through all your available channels: on your website and blog, through your email listserv and on social media. When builders start signing up for the event, make sure you follow up with a reminder email.”

Invest in Marketing

Marketing can take on many forms: Content marketing is a growing practice used by today’s savviest building materials dealers.

“Most forward thinking companies are familiar with the benefits of blogging,” says Larry Myler for Forbes. “If you’re tired of being overlooked online; if you’re seeking a fresh way to share ideas and have your voice heard, get involved with corporate blogging.”

Devote time to developing blog posts that help educate and inspire your audience, and make sure that content is share-worthy. You might need to invest in content marketing (an agency or in-house hire) to help you with a strategy for content creation and writing blog posts.

Not sure what to write? Think about the kinds of questions your customers ask most often and where they might have a “pain point.” Then address those points in easy-to-digest blog posts or an actionable guide. Talk about the product trends that your customers (or their clients) are interested in and give them inspiration for trying new materials and products by creating relevant content.

And you can go beyond blogging if writing isn’t your strength. Take a video of new product reviews and share them on your channel or showcase an innovative construction material in a compare-and-contrast photo series. You don’t need fancy equipment or skills to take photos or shoot video: All you need is a decent cell phone with a camera. People will respect honest, quality content over fancy techniques or photo filters.

The goal is to share content that your audience finds so useful that they’ll have to share it, too.

Promote Products You Trust

Dealers should work with high-quality products that offer solutions to builders and homeowners.

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Give your customers a way to learn about these products and how they might use them in their own projects. You can try to do this in a few ways.

  • Offer a step-by-step downloadable guide or a visualizer on a product. (You don’t have to make the visualizer yourself; check to see if the manufacturer has already created one you can use!) Help them understand how certain materials provide solutions and give them options that work with their budget.
  • Create videos and how-to guides for contractors and DIYers using the products.
  • Help them understand the materials, their warranties, and how those products will benefit them. Start a podcast on your favorite products to work with.

“Adding this type of assurance to your marketing message shows customers and prospects that you truly care about their satisfaction,” writes Larry Myles for Forbes.

Remember Customer Service

Even if you’re looking to get more customers, remember the clients you already have. Your business will stand out when you have the right kind of service.

“Make sure every buyer feels like they are the most important,” says Claire Easley for Builder Online. Taking care of existing customers is just better business, and promotes integrity in your interactions.

You can ensure that you offer the best in customer service by being where your customer is at, both digitally and in-person:

  • Set up an FAQs page on your website for the most frequently asked questions about placing orders, delivery, or project services.
  • Install a chatbot on your website to field customer service questions and to help streamline communication with customers. Chatbots can handle many of your site visitors’ most commonly asked questions, using knowledge-based, automatic replies. “If a customer's problem is complicated and requires live assistance, chatbots can transfer the chat to a human agent,” according to HubSpot.
  • Claire Easley, with Builder Online, suggests building a knowledge base around your product warranties, as well: “Work with your trades to cut down on warranty call backs and solicit referrals from your happy buyers.”

And above all, be sure to respond to your customers and potential clients in a timely manner: Most customers expect a response to their questions, social media posts and emails within 24 hours.

Give Back to Your Community

Your business will also benefit from the connection that comes from community outreach. Businesses that give back to the community are more successful in the long-run.

“Community outreach can make a positive impact on your corporate image and brand reputation,” writes marketing expert Neil Patel.

But don’t fret over starting an extensive outreach program. It doesn’t have to be a major (or expensive) event: Sponsor a local nonprofit activity or volunteer at your neighborhood food bank. Giving back to a cause in your local community will create the most impact, especially because you’re more likely to be able to actively support that cause.

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No matter how you’re able to help your community, that kind of outreach makes a big difference for your business. “It improves how customers perceive the value of your company, which in turn increases their satisfaction and heartens them to stay loyal to your business,” writes Patel.

The key is to be actively involved, however. If you just help once and stop, it’ll look like lip service. Pick an organization (or two if you have the means) and help monthly. Not only will you be doing good for your community, you’ll likely make new business contacts in the process.

Stand Out From the Competition

When you’re committed to service and quality, your customers will definitely notice. And using a few of these tips and strategies can help you stay ahead of the competition — even when you’re up against large-scale businesses.

Allura is committed to helping dealers succeed in their communities by giving them solutions for high-quality exteriors and all the tools they need to grow their business.

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