Pursuing long-term value and durability along with innovation and a balance between current and future trends is critical to success in the building materials industry. This has been the belief of Ralph Bruno, CEO of Derby Building Products Inc., throughout his many years in the industry. However he also feels there is another component to building a successful marketing presence – the role of the consumer.
Ever since big-box stores have played a significant role in the building materials industry, consumers have become more involved and invested in the materials selection process. People are increasingly choosing to act as their own general contractor, feeling more confident to make decisions based on knowledge acquired either online or through various building and DIY shows. Capitalizing on the end-user as an advocate for your brand is a direction many manufacturers haven’t seen the value in but, as Ralph Bruno knows, it is a trend that deserves some attention.
Years ago when he was launching a new product, Bruno agreed to a range of marketing materials that showed end users the emotional benefits of the product by presenting features and benefits in a meaningful way. This generated interest in his product offering beyond the obvious target of contractors alone. Consumers started asking their GCs for the product – essentially advocating for it to the very people who usually make those recommendations to their clients. At the same time, marketing materials were also provided to contractors so that they were fully informed and could speak to the feature benefits of the product to any client who expressed an interest in addition to being able to install.
It was a winning combination. By embracing the importance of brand strength in the DIY culture, he was able to dominate a building product category with the additional power of end user advocacy. It is an approach to marketing building materials that Ralph Bruno still believes in today and is certainly something for others in the industry to think about.