Channel Marketing Across Your Building Materials Distribution Channel

Channel Marketing Across Your Building Materials Distribution Channel

Nichole Gunn

Incentive strategy to navigate your building materials channel.

Driving through Atlanta is a constant reminder of the sheer size of the construction industry. Every morning on my way to Extu, I see new high rises, apartments, and retail properties ascending the skyline.

The numbers speak for themselves: 670,000 construction companies. 7 million jobs. 1.3 trillion dollars’ worth of construction every year in the U.S. alone.

For companies that manufacture building materials or heavy construction equipment, it must be frustrating to see all that opportunity and realize how unequipped your distribution channel is to capitalize on all of this opportunity.

Worse yet, can you even pinpoint the places in your sales channel where breakdowns happen?

Marketing Across a Complex Sales Channel

Somewhere between manufacturing and distribution to contractors, wholesalers, dealers, and, finally, to the end users, there’s a breakdown. First of all, that’s a lot of moving parts. Then, there’s the fact that the building materials distribution channel is highly fragmented, with regional suppliers and independent dealers.

In the past, a building materials manufacturer could get by on the strength of their reputation and the stability of their B2B relationships. Limited options meant more B2B customer loyalty and the ability to consistently fill marketing verticals.

But now contractors and dealers have more options. They can go online. They can work with offsite construction companies.

Left to their own devices, they’ll recommend the options that they know, that are reliable, and that save them the most overhead. There’s not much motivation for them to stay up-to-date on your newest product lines or to choose your offerings over a similar competitor’s.

Building Materials Brand Preference

If you can become their preferred brand and personalize those relationships, then price becomes less important and they will be less receptive to messaging from your competition. Plus, information can be exchanged more freely. They will inform you of new opportunities or changes in their organization. And they will be more open to learning about your newest products.

Effective channel marketing, building brand awareness, and educating sales reps and end users are essential. But do you even know who your contractors and dealers are?

Using Incentives to Gather B2B Customer Data

Before you can market to your B2B customers, much less your end users, you have to know who they are. Building materials suppliers and distributors are often reluctant to supply that information. Why would they? They’re the middleman and would prefer to keep it that way.

However, if you can find a way to bypass the distributors and build business relationships with your dealers and contractors, that’s a massive step in the right direction.

Incentives can be used as a data collection tool. For instance, if you offer incentives and convenient mobile platforms, many contractors and dealers are more than willing to upload sales invoices and warranty registrations. In the process, you gather valuable B2B customer data: Who they are, how to contact them, and who your end users are.

Plus, the rewards they receive in the process build emotional capital and open the door for further marketing.

Relevant Incentive Technology:

  • Performance Tracking—Contractors & dealers can instantly upload claims, invoices, & warranty registrations.
  • Open Enrollment—Channel partners & end users can register for your incentive program, even if you currently have limited access to them.
  • Mobile App—Contractors and dealers in the building materials industry are often out in the field. A mobile app makes participation easier for them.

Using Incentives to Build B2B Loyalty with Contractors & Dealers

Once you’ve made contact with your dealers and contractors, you can use incentives to train their behavior in ways that benefit your business and reinforce those relationships. We talk more in depth about that here.

But the gist of it is you reward points based on specific actions:

  • Reward points based on order volume or for add-on components to better fill marketing companies.
  • Reward points based on verified invoices or warranty registrations, giving you more complete customer data.
  • Reward points for your top B2B customers. Let them compete and visibly promote the top purchasers or most loyal clients.
  • Reward points for customer loyalty.

All of these reinforce positive behaviors for your business. They build brand awareness. They build customer loyalty.

Most importantly, they result in ROI.

You can find out more about programs to boost channel sales and gather valuable marketing data or to build B2B customer loyalty for your building materials business here: