In an earlier blog post we focused on how home and building brands can capitalize on the current environment to better connect with consumers. But there are other audiences that can influence the path to purchase: contractors and dealers/distributors.
Both contractors and dealers/distributors play a critical role in the decision-making process for home and building products. This may be true now more than ever due to COVID-19 and its impact on consumer behavior. While one study shows that 60% of builders and contractors reported projects being postponed or cancelled, many distributors are experiencing strong years despite changing consumer retail expectations and product availability concerns.
What does this mean?
By helping contractors and distributors adapt to changing times, brands can not only move more product in the short run but also forge valuable and long-lasting relationships. Brands should be stewards for positive change for their best customers in the channel by helping them address their biggest challenges:
- For contractors, postponed and cancelled projects due to COVID-19 and ongoing labor shortages mean many contractors have too much time on their hands.
- For distributors, many are not equipped to handle online ordering or contactless pickup. And now more than ever, retail locations must stay on top of their online presence to even enter the consideration set.
What should marketers be doing?
Contractors often want to learn more about selling techniques and product innovation, but infrequently have the time to do so. Brands should use any extra time that contractors have for training opportunities. Create a set of “rain day” tutorials that keep your brand top of mind while providing valuable information to contractors. If you have a loyalty or rewards program, you can easily tie this content into it. This can be everything from product knowledge content to tips on selling virtually.
Contractors may be taking on fewer jobs, so help them make sure they’re getting the most out of each one. Provide easy-to-use upselling tools that boost their margins.
In short, when they have the time, help them become better businesspeople and craftspeople. When they’re on the job, help them strengthen their bottom lines.
Not everyone can secure aisle tags in The Home Depot or Lowe’s. We get it. But there are creative ways to get your messaging delivered. Does your product come packaged on a flatbed truck? Wrap it, and you’ve got a traveling billboard.
Do you have strong relationships with your independent distributors? They are actively looking for ways to compete with big box retailers. For your most important customers it may be worth helping them develop innovative strategies that position them better against big box retailers. Bring them fresh thinking about advanced advertising using sophisticated data analysis of their market opportunity. Or give them support as they ramp up curbside pickup of building materials. It could be as simple as making sure their Google My Business Listing is up to date.
Relationships throughout the channel are just as critical as those with consumers, and they’re just as impacted by COVID-19. Bring contractors and dealers the same level of innovative thinking you bring to consumers to ensure you win in the aisles and at the kitchen table.
Could your marketing plan better prioritize key channels?