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Sales, marketing must demonstrate value

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As group publisher for Hanley Wood's residential construction publications Builder, Big Builder and Multifamily Executive, Warren Nesbitt knows a bit about how companies ought to market their wares to major national and smaller regional home builders. "Products that are well-designed, priced right and combined with excellent service and value will always do well in the home business," Nesbitt said. "This is an industry that is, at the same time, brand loyal and ready to try new products."

BtoB:Is a strong sales force the best way to market to residential construction companies?

Nesbitt: In the case of high-volume builders who are now controlling so much of the new-home market, it is often necessary to establish a sales force to call on them directly. Their clout is growing so quickly that it would be a mistake in many cases to assume that a distributor's sales force is doing the job with the big guys. Targeting the big builders can also involve rebate programs, but at the very least volume price discounting is now part of the deal right from the get-go.

BtoB:What about advertising?

Nesbitt: In this market we still find that advertisers see value in vertical, but national media. That includes print and online products that can demonstrate their value to the end-user. But don't count reader service sales leads, as this market has long ago begun moving away from snail-mail lead fulfillment. Use your advertising to drive prospects to a great Web site [that has] interactive features and is easy to navigate. Make it worthwhile for prospects to give you their important data, then be sure you get back to them quickly with solution-based information that almost seems like it was generated especially for each of them.

BtoB: But isn't it critical for marketers to tangibly demonstrate their products and services?

Nesbitt: Trade shows provide a vehicle for letting builders see and touch a manufacturer's products, and these events are especially valuable with respect to new product introductions. [Exhibiting in] the top three national industry trade shows is usually enough to do the job every year.

--Roger Slavens

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