Cultivating Experts

According to a recent editorial by David Barista, editorial director of Building Design + Construction,
The explosion of social media and the “publish everything” culture has turned everyone into brand-builders. In the AEC market, it’s hard to find a firm that isn’t taking steps to promote their knowledge leaders, whether through authoring blogs and books, speaking engagements, webinars, social media, or video.
They’re all chasing the Holy Grail of professional services: to become known as the expert and go-to resource for clients and prospects in a given market or niche. The prize, of course, is more work and a chance at higher profit margins, as market leaders are more likely to command higher fees.
While David is discussing professional services, the principle extends to building product manufacturers. Building product companies that are perceived to have expertise are perceived as having better quality products. The expertise can rest in the company as a whole, but that is often generated by the perceived expertise of a key staff member.
One of the services I provide my clients is to make them look like experts.

Most of my clients are already experts in their field. But without being visible to potential buyers, architects, and purchasing influencers, few would notice.

I turn the spotlight on clients by using the tools of marketing communication and promotion. This includes writing articles with their byline, getting them invited to speak at industry conferences and helping them shape their presentation, and generating content for their online presence. Using my own expertise in building materials, I know how to craft stories that let my clients' expertise shine on the leading edge of design and construction.

A case in point was my work promoting Engelhard's Metamax brand of High Reactivity Metakaolin. The Fortune 500 company, now part of BASF, was, without a doubt, the expert on the performance of the concrete additive. They did not, however, look like the expert in solving concrete construction problems. I significantly raised their visibility among architects, engineers and contractors through strategically placed articles, involvement with industry technical committees, building an online presence, and getting them quoted as an expert and invited to speak at industry conferences.

The result was not only good for the company, it enhanced the reputation and perceived expertise of the individual managing the business unit, as these press clippings suggest.

One of my current clients put it this way, "Michael, you are an expert at creating expertise."

The explosion of social media and the “publish everything” culture has turned everyone into brand-builders. In the AEC market, it’s hard to find a firm that isn’t taking steps to promote their knowledge leaders, whether through authoring blogs and books, speaking engagements, webinars, social media, or video.
They’re all chasing the Holy Grail of professional services: to become known as the expert and go-to resource for clients and prospects in a given market or niche. The prize, of course, is more work and a chance at higher profit margins, as market leaders are more likely to command higher fees.
- See more at:
The explosion of social media and the “publish everything” culture has turned everyone into brand-builders. In the AEC market, it’s hard to find a firm that isn’t taking steps to promote their knowledge leaders, whether through authoring blogs and books, speaking engagements, webinars, social media, or video.
They’re all chasing the Holy Grail of professional services: to become known as the expert and go-to resource for clients and prospects in a given market or niche. The prize, of course, is more work and a chance at higher profit margins, as market leaders are more likely to command higher fees.
- See more at:
The explosion of social media and the “publish everything” culture has turned everyone into brand-builders. In the AEC market, it’s hard to find a firm that isn’t taking steps to promote their knowledge leaders, whether through authoring blogs and books, speaking engagements, webinars, social media, or video.
They’re all chasing the Holy Grail of professional services: to become known as the expert and go-to resource for clients and prospects in a given market or niche. The prize, of course, is more work and a chance at higher profit margins, as market leaders are more likely to command higher fees.
- See more at:

Best construction product video - No Bull!

Video, above, gets its point across without words.

Behind the scene video, below, reinforces the point with words.


Branded Building Toys

"The top holiday best selling toys of 2013 were primarily tech/building-related toys!"
Instead of Kenner Girder and Panel, why not Vistawall kits! Photo from a blog about vintage toys.

That's the word from Jill Knepper who was an active contributor to this blog before joining a consumer-oriented marketing consultancy.Another source says:
 "According to NPD Group point-of-sales data, the building sets category grew nearly 20% in 2012 … and 2013 will be even hotter. Many manufacturers are diversifying their existing building lines and other companies who may not have previously specialized in building toys are responding to this surge and creating construction sets for kids of all ages, interests and abilities.

Includes: New innovations in building sets (i.e. building toys that go “beyond the blocks”) and an increasing number of licenses." (emphasis added)
I suggest that the growth of building toys is a backlash to the virtual play and electronic toys. What ever the cause, building product manufacturers can benefit from this trend by licensing their brands to toy companies or producing their own product lines. Such toys will help build brand awareness, create goodwill, and may even produce revenue.
Caterpillar is already in the game.

Imagine the possibilities:
  • Mason and carpenter action figures by Master Builders.
  • Erector set alternatives by Vulcraft.
  • Doll houses with kitchen counters by Caesarstone.
  • Junior electrician kits with wiring and LEDs (low voltage for safety) by Cree.
  • Building blocks by Boral Bricks.  
See some recent building toys at here.


Mattel is buying Mega Brands, makers of Mega Blox building toys, evidence of the high interest in building toys.


JCB, the construction equipment manufacturer, is offering some really BIG toys. They have broken ground in New Jersey for DiggerLand USA, a theme park that "will allow children and their families to drive, ride and operate heavy construction machinery in a safe, monitored, family-friendly environment."

Chusid is "Innovator of Century"

I am posting this from World of Concrete trade show in Las Vegas.

BASF has a gimmick in their booth that actually makes sense from a promotional standpoint.  I stood in-front of a greenscreen while my portrait was photographed. Then I was offered my choice of Las Vegas-themed backgrounds, each of which had a BASF branding message. By the time I got back to my hotel, I was able to download the image.

By putting the prospect into the frame, BASF created a piece of promotional literature the prospect will keep forever. I bet I am not the only booth visitor that posted the photo to Facebook or sent it home to the family, helping to spread the BASF brand. 

To see site in action, go to Photographic mosaics may have other applications in your business. To learn more, visit the developer,
The promotion was so much fun, I visited booth a second time.

New Internet Top Level Domains for Building Products

Move over .com and .net, the internet will soon have many more top level domains that will offer exciting branding possibilities for the building products industry.  Imagine, for example:

These and other extensions will be released soon, and internet service providers are already taking reservations.  

Even if you do not actively use one of these top name domains, you may want to buy your brand name to prevent mischief by competitors and to protect your trademarks.  For example,,, and

Of course, labor organizations and professional societies may want to get into the game. Consider, for example:

Your factory can earn during off hours

Michael Jackson's Thriller was shot on the street behind Davis Colors, Los Angeles, using the factory's distinctive masonry wall as a background. (photo credit)
Film makers, producers and advertising agencies frequently rent existing buildings or properties to use in videos, TV shows, advertisements, and other projects. Shooting their projects "on location"saves them the time and expense of building custom sets that may only be needed for a few minutes of screen time. While location scouts will sometimes drive around town looking for suitable sites, they usually begin their search by going to online directories of properties offered for shooting.

Industrial Acoustics Company, Bronx, NY is listed in a location database.
Building product companies can list their properties in these directories and to generate a bit of revenue during evening or weekend hours when the shop is not needed for the company's own purposes. Film production companies mobilize quickly and will work through the night, if necessary, to be out of the way by the time you crew shows up.

Your plant, like IAC's, may be useful for a variety of locations.
Location scouts are usually willing to negotiate to accommodate your needs, and issues like insurance and damages for delays have to be resolved in advance. Your employees may be able to get overtime paid if they are necessary to operate the plant's equipment during the shoot.

On most shoots, both you and the producer will want to sanitize the site so the location is not recognizable. In other cases, when the film project is compatible with your branding, you may want to have your brand recognized and can stipulate that your logo, product, or company name is visible on screen. In advertising, its called, "product placement".

Defend your trademarks

Escalator originated as a trademarked term for the Otis Elevator Company's moving staircase, first introduced at the Paris Exposition in 1900. Because Otis did little to protect its rights to the mark, a 1950 court ruling moved escalator into the public domain.

You should escalate the value of your brand, protecting it from a into the public domain.

Based on:

Logo Sponsorship

Construction tool manufacturers already know the benefit of paying for their logos on race cars. It seems to me, however, that there are many opportunities for sponsoring buildings by offering logo display opportunities.
What I envision goes beyond small logos on jobsite construction signs. These signs typically list the designers, prime contractors, and owner, but not suppliers.

Using buildings as billboards is also well established.

Instead, what I imagine is making extensive use of buildings for corporate logos.

How much would it be worth to a contractor to sell advertising rights to the building exterior or site fence while it is under construction? Would a material supplier discount its wares in exchange for exposure.

Then again, some building product manufacturers have already figured out how to get their brand displayed for free:

DensGlas Gold Sheathing
See site for interesting comment about this urinal drain cover.

Promote The Right Thing

Promotions – which usually means giving something away free – can be a great way to raise awareness, build a relationship with a potential customer, and give them a chance to experience your product first hand...

...If you do it right!

Case in point:  I downloaded a free iPhone app that helps you learn German.  Like many free apps, it's a "lite" version designed to expose potential customers to the product and entice them to buy the full or 'pro' version.

It's a nice little app.  Every night at midnight, a new German word arrives on my phone.  The app will pronounce it properly for me.  It will show me examples of the word in use in German, and (usually) supply the English translation for the phrase or sentence.  There's often a picture of it, too. (Which can present an interesting challenge at times.  Today's word is actually a phrase, "ich verstehe das nicht" – "I don't understand" - and the picture of it is a woman facing a geometry figure on a blackboard and scratching her head.)

All good.  After using it for about three weeks, I got several cool words, a number of useful words, and a couple of close English cognates that made me feel more confortable with German. I began to think about buying the full app.  But it was $14.99, a little expensive for something I wasn't yet particularly committed to, so I decided to use it some more.

That's when the app designer lost the sale.

The longer I used the app, the more close cognates I got.  For example, in the past week, I've gotten Komodie ("comedy"), Japanische Yen ("Japanese Yen"), oft ("often"), and Los Angeles ("Los Angeles").  More than half were close cognates, some laughably close.

Now, I no longer feel like the cognates make me comfortable with German.  I feel like either the app developer is deliberately giving me educational junk-food to force me to pay up to get more substantial education (bad impression of the brand), or else German is so close to English that it's hardly worth $14.99 (doubting value of the product).  Neither of these feelings makes me want to buy.

What do we learn from this?

1) If you're going to give something away, think through the way it will be received and used, and what that experience will say about your company.  The best promotional item I've ever seen is a simple plastic stick-pen, bent into a dog-leg and imprinted with the name of a chiropractor.  Every time you use the pen, you think about your back.  If the shape of the pen makes it hard for you to use, it will also make you think about your body being nonfunctional when it's bent up.

2) If you're giving away a product sample that's intended to be utilized (as distinct from just sitting on a shelf looking pretty), give away the quality and quantity of product adequate to producing a great result.  It could be a small great result, but it better be great.   One of our clients gave away samples of a new concrete coloring treatment.  The sample was just right: the perfect size for coloring one 2-car garage floor.  Our client knew perfectly well that no intelligent decorative concrete contractor would use an untried product on a client's job, but they all test products out in their garages.  This way, they could get an entire nice garage out of it (not just a 4'x4' patch in the corner), and end up feeling good about the product and the company they got it from.

If you're giving away freebies, there's a temptation to try to limit the expense.  Understandable, but don't limit the $$$ in a way that undercuts the object of the promotion.  Whatever you give away, make it represent the quality and intelligence you want associated with your brand.

New Internet Top Level Domain Candidates

The governing body of the Internet, ICANN, has been taking applications for top level domains (TLD) that can be used as alternatives to the common .com, .org, .edu and other TLD. For the application fee of $185,000 plus $25,000 per year, you to can own a TLD named for your company, brand, or industry.

For example, Lanxess, a global chemical company that makes pigments for concrete has their current website at If their application is granted, you will be able to find them at "" or even by entering the stripped down url "lanxess". Email could have addresses such as colors@lanxess, john.doe@lanxess.

The first batch of applications of "sponsored" TLDs was announced yesterday. It contains a handful of building industry terms, including: 
  • architect
  • build
  • builders
  • codesconstruction
  • contractors
  • design
  • engineer
  • engineering
  • equipment
  • diy
  • lighting  but not light
  • solar 
Only a few construction brands are are on the list, and these mostly by firms with interests that extend into many industries:
  • bosch
  • bostick
  • dupont
  • dwg (the file format used by Autocad)
  • homedepot
  • lanxess
  • rockwool 
Mitek has applied for several names, including "connectors".

Many of the applicants for TLDs are brokers that buy and then resell terms. for example: "glass" is applied for by a domain holding company, making it unclear whether their intention is to use it for window glass or for beverages. Other construction-related terms have been applied for by companies with other applications in mind: Microsoft has applied for "windows" for example.

There are no industry sector names such as:
  • ceiling
  • concrete 
  • lumber
  • steel
  • stone
  • wall
  • wood
There are no construction industry publishers on the list, no trade associations, and few major manufacturers.

Most of the construction industry has, apparently, taken a wait and see attitude towards TLDs. Perhaps the price will decline. And it remains to be seen whether owning a TLD gives a competitive advantage. For example, if Pepsi saw no reason to register their brand, why should Lafarge or USG or other building product companies. When I need a url, I generally just type the company name into a search engine; for Lanxess, I just guessed and went straight to

The industry seems to be saying, "ICANN wait."

Brand Names and the QWERTY Effect

Type the name of your company or brand.

How many of the characters are typed with the right hand? With the left hand?

According to recent research related to QWERTY keyboards, words typed primarily on with the right hand are associated with greater positivity than are words typed primarily with the left hand.

Published in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review [Kyle Jasmin and Daniel Casasanto, The QWERTY Effect: How typing shapes the meanings of words], the research abstract says:
The QWERTY keyboard mediates communication for millions of language users. Here, we investigated whether differences in the way words are typed correspond to differences in their meanings. Some words are spelled with more letters on the right side of the keyboard and others with more letters on the left. In three experiments, we tested whether asymmetries in the way people interact with keys on the right and left of the keyboard influence their evaluations of the emotional valence of the words. We found the predicted relationship between emotional valence and QWERTY key position across three languages (English, Spanish, and Dutch). Words with more right-side letters were rated as more positive in valence, on average, than words with more left-side letters: the QWERTY effect. This effect was strongest in new words coined after QWERTY was invented and was also found in pseudowords. Although these data are correlational, the discovery of a similar pattern across languages, which was strongest in neologisms, suggests that the QWERTY keyboard is shaping the meanings of words as people filter language through their fingers. Widespread typing introduces a new mechanism by which semantic changes in language can arise.
How does the word "feel"
The research raises many questions that should be explored before we understand the implications of handedness on marketing.

It clearly does not determine the fate of a brand:
  • BASF, a firm with many building product brands, has prospered despite being typed entirely with the left hand.
  • Pulp, a specialty glass manufacturer, cannot attribute its growth exclusively to being typed entirely with the right hand.
It is only in the past few decades, since the widespread acceptance of personal computers, that QWERTY has become such an important form of mediating communication; it is already on the decline among young folks who text with their thumbs, and future technologies may render it obsolete.

Still, the research offers an important reminder:  

When selecting a new corporate or brand name, 
consider how it feels to type. 

Your customers may be typing the name more frequently than they speak it. So the feel of typing the word must be considered along with the sound, look, and meanings associated with it.

Photo by MichaelMaggs,, accessed 2012-03-10,  and used under a  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. 

How NOT to use Flash Drives in Press Kits

It has become popular to use "thumb-size" flash drives in press kits. Having the copy and photos on a thumb drive makes it easy for an editor to transfer the data directly into a story, without having to go onto your website or open a CD.

Thumb drives are also a type of "swag" that will attract the attention of an editor. In the press room at the recent World of Concrete (WOC) trade show, I watched editors browse through press kit to see what was worth the effort of hauling home; press kits with flash drives went right into their goodie bag.

But here are a few pointers about how to do it wrong:

- Not using printed media, too. If you just put a bunch of flash drives on the press room table, your message will not be available to the editor during the trade show. Use your paper literature to motivate the editor to visit your booth and to stimulate buzz at the show.

- Not putting editable text on the drive. If you want the editor to run your story, include the press release in a format that the editor can cut and paste. Some of the press kits I saw had pdf files that were locked to prevent text from being copied. What editor will take the time to re-key your article into their word processor?

- Not including an overview sheet on the thumb drive. When I opened one of the flash drives from the trip, all it showed me were file names like:  2450GR, RT24, and 830RT. These may very well be model numbers for new products, but it is off-putting to a busy editor that doesn't know your company well. File names like, "Pervious_Concrete_Admixture" or "New_Sales_Manager" will be more easily understood.

- Not using the color of your brand. Flash drives come in all colors, and can be imprinted in any color. Use colors that support your branding.

- Not printing the name of the company on the data stick. The editor will probably erase your content and reuse the data stick for his or her own purposes. If the name of your company is printed on the face of the drive, at least the drive will continue to provide brand awareness.

- Not including links to your website on the thumb drive. The press release is supposed to be a tease that encourages an editor to go deeper into your story. Put live links into the digital press releases to invite editors to learn the rest of your story.

- Not indicating the name of the trade show. A well formatted press release should have a release date and, if the announcement is being made at a trade show, the show name should be indicated. Yet this information was missing on many of the flash drives I collected.  Compare that to naming the drive "WOC" (instead leaving it named "untitled") and placing downloads inside a folder named, "World of Concrete 2012."

- Not reporting any "News". I attended a press conference where the speaker had poor presentation skills. Afterwards, I asked an editor in attendance what she thought, and she replied that she didn't mind the bad speaker because, "at least he had real news to share." Many press kits just rehash the corporate brand or past glories. It may make the Communications Director feel good, but it is not much value for an editor looking to provide meaningful content to readers.

- Not including press releases: One flash drive was filled with brochures, animations, photos, slide shows, and sales sheets. Perhaps the exertion of putting all that together wore out the PR department, because they didn't include a press release.

- Not putting data on the flash drive. It happens.

Drive Your Brand

Applying your brand identification on company vehicles can have high impact. You probably have signage on delivery and service vehicles already, so why not extend it to cars driven by sales reps and other field personnel?This vehicle provides a case in point. A sales rep had parked it in front of a distributor's office while on a routine call to deliver new samples. Meanwhile, customers passing the car on their way into the office received a brand impression even before they got to the distributor's door.

Throughout the day, the car is probably parked at many locations where it is visible by potential customers: at a designer's office, construction job sites, a CSI or trade association meeting. Since Cosentino promotes several of their brands to consumers, the vehicle even creates brand impressions while stopped at a traffic signal.
Hilti has been doing this for years. Their distinctively marked fleet of vans are a veritable tool box on wheels at many construction sites. They recently took this a step further, outfitting 55 vans in the UK as field demonstration and training.

Here are some considerations:

1.  The visual design has to be consistent with your overall branding.

2.  The type of car must support your branding. If you have a green message, for example, consider a hybrid vehicle.

3.  Keep the vehicle clean and in good condition.

4.  Train your drivers in safety and driving courtesy.

Give Them What They Pay For: Support

The old saying that “you get what you pay for” can be read a few different ways:

  -  A description of the way life works
  -  A motto for merchants to reassure their customers
  -  A consumer demand

If you’re selling a high-end or advanced product that’s more expensive than the alternatives, you’d better make this your promise to customers.

In today’s market, when people pay more, they believe they're buying more than just a better product: they feel the price includes manufacturer support.  They expect customer service they can talk to.  They believe that they’ve paid for technical support they can reach easily, understand, and get useful answers from.  They want confidence that the high-end performance of the product is assured by the price they’ve paid, and support is an integral part of that assurance.

If I buy a bag of ordinary portland cement and I have a problem with it, I figure I’m pretty much on my own.  If I buy a high-end specialty cement, I expect the manufacturer’s Technical Support will help get me out of any problems I have with the product.

A reputation for good customer support is valuable.  It supports the high price of your product.  It's not that easy to establish, but in today's hyperconnected society, it's very easy to destroy.  You need to get your support operation in top shape, and you need to monitor and manage your reputation online in the social media sphere.

Sometimes you have to go the extra mile to establish that rep.  The most impressive example I’ve seen recently is Apple Computer.  Apple sells the top end of personal computers, smartphones and music players.  They charge a pretty big buck, but they have a reputation for well-designed, well made products and killer customer service.

In November, 2011, Apple issued a recall of the 1st generation iPod Nano, a device they stopped making in 2006.  The recall was based on a (rare) problem with the battery overheating.  They promsied to replace the old Nanos.

I sent my old Nano in, and about a month later, I received a replacement: a new 6th generation Nano, a far more advanced gadget with 4X the memory, a radio and a voice recorder built in, and all in a package 1/3 the size of my old one.

Now, I know incontrovertibly that Apple stands behind their stuff.  I know that if I pay more for an Apple product, I won’t get a piece of crap, and I won’t be on my own if it fails because of something Apple did wrong.  If I’m a value shopper, I know that Apple’s high price is also high value.

All high-end manufacturers need to convert their potential customers into value shoppers.  Educating them about the value of the product (i.e. sales & marketing) is one way.  Creating the confidence that the company will support that value in the future is the other.

Thanks, Apple, both for the Nano and the marketing lesson.

Trademark this Title™

I delight in creating meaningful phrases that express the identity of my clients' brands. I encourage clients to seek trademark registration ® for these phrases when appropriate, and to mark them with a ™ when registration is not possible.  (The ® mark provides greater legal protection than does a ™.)

I recently saw a website that appears to be misusing trademarks. Fentress Architects, a firm that does many airport terminals and other major public projects, enumerates eight principles to which they aspire. As a good marketeer, the firm has branded their principles as Touchstones of Design(tm). So far so good.

But then they claim the following touchstone phrases as trademarks:
  1. Discover the Natural Order™
  2. Use Context to Create Identity™
  3. Let Culture Guide Design™
  4. Celebrate the Entry™
  5. Listen Closely™
  6. Stay Focused™
  7. Restrain the Ego™
  8. Design for People™
Give me a break. These are not trademarks -- they are part of the architectural ethos and express ideas every architect learns in school or in the first few years of practice.

But here is the best part -- The firm has the chutzpah to say, under the Design for People™ label:

"Truly great architecture
is not controlled by catchphrases 
of the time."

(Emphasis added.) Having listed eight catchphrases (nine if we count Touchstones of Design™, the firm tries to shrug off catchphrases. I am surprised they didn't put a ™ after "catchphrases of the time".

Use trademarks in moderation. Use too many and you start to look like you are trying too hard and maybe aren't as good as you claim.

Use trademarks wisely. Trademarks require protection. To secure the firm's trademark rights to "Listen Closely" or the phrases, the firm will have to monitor other businesses in their industry and pursue legal actions against violators.  This is a fight they will lose; an online search finds nearly half a million webpages that use "listen closely" in conjunction with architects or architecture.

Introduce your copywriter and your intellectual property manager. If your lawyer goes through a website aggressively flagging trademarks, make sure the copywriter doesn't badmouth catchphrases.

Ironically, the firm does not denote trademarks on items that are clearly trademarks, like its distinctive logo.

Wiki Revisited

I was asked, recently, about the potential for a new and improved internet-based source for building product information, a comprehensive and reliable source of information about construction means and methods.

It seems the industry already has many powerful tools for distributing information; the crucial issue is how to create and maintain the content. My suggestion is to "crowd source" it, allowing the learned members of the construction industry (including building product manufacturers) to create content.

Wiki tools, such as Wikipedia, are a good way to do this. I use Wikipedia frequently as a quick source of information, as demonstrated to the many Wikipedia links embedded in this post.*

When looking for building product information, many architects and builders begin their investigation on a search engine where pages from Wikipedia are often the first result returned. is another wiki specifically for architecture. Yet I note that these sites are woefully limited in building product information and neither uses industry standards for organizing data. They could be more useful to the construction industry if it were cross-referenced according to MasterFormat and OmniClass, industry standards for organizing construction information.

At the time of writing this, Wikipedia, for example: 
  • "Ceiling" does not cross reference MasterFormat Division 09
  • A search on "Acoustical Ceiling" returns 13 hits, but most of these are tangential. Wikipedia does not have a prime entry for the topic.
  • Wikipedia's "MasterFormat" entry links to the entry for "50 Divisions" where Division 09 links to a page on "wood finishing" --- hardly a complete discussion about finishes.
Amazingly, the following common building product terms do not have pages in either wiki:
  • "Concrete Admixture"
  • "Division 04"
  • "Single Ply Roof"
This makes me wonder if the construction community is willing to support a new, non-profit product database. Perhaps an individual or organization could champion such an effort. Is this an initiative that should be undertaken by a trade organization such as the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI)?  Is it a viable commercial venture that could be financed by selling ads? Or will a new generation of online tools soon render wikis as antiquated as three-ring binders?

Marketing Opportunities
While the industry sorts itself out, you have a great marketing opportunity. If you are in the ceilings industry, for example, why not take it upon yourself to provide and maintain good content about your area of interest.

While overtly commercial messages will quickly be deleted by the crowd sourced legions of wiki watchers, you will find many ways to direct prospects to your company, such as links to articles you have published, and describe technology specific to your products. Chusid Associates created the studcast page, for example, with links to articles we wrote for our client, articles that also list the client's name and contact info.

This blog is mentioned in the Wikipedia listing for scriptio continua:
Scriptio continua has become common in e-mail and internet addresses. For example, the address for the website "Building Product Marketing" is written, scriptio continua, as, without spaces between the separate words.[4]
My business has little to do with Latin inscriptions, but I have had prospects call me after finding our link in the footnote on Wikipedia. It also helps our search engine listing.

 Other than the time you invest, there is no cost to participate in most wikis. It should be part of your social media and brand management programs.

For more information, see my earlier posts on the subject.

* Wikis should not be relied upon for critical decision making since they can contain biased, incomplete, and inaccurate information. Still, they are powerful starting points for further investigation, and frequently provides links to other resources.

Changed formulations in building products

An article in January 2011 issue of Consumers Report pointed out the unintended consequences of reformulating a product. According to tests conducted by the magazine, glass baking dishes made in the US have been reformulated. While the new products look the same as the old and generally perform as well under normal use, the reformulated products can shatter and cause injury. This got me thinking about how reformulations effect building product marketing.
Is this old or new Pyrex? New product packaging has safety warnings and handling instructions, but there is no warning on the product itself.

I have always had Pyrex brand glass baking in my kitchen, as did my parents before me. Over the decades, the brand earned a place of trust in my kitchen due to the product's ability to withstood the ordinary wear and tear of household use.

Recently, and without public fanfare, Pyrex brand products were reformulated. Instead of being made with borosilicate glass, they are now made with a less costly soda ash glass. The new products look the same as, and usually perform like. the older models. But I have had newer pieces of Pyrex break during ordinary handling while my older Pyrex products keep on working unless I drop them on the floor.

This reminds me about a story my father-in-law, a dentist, told me about a batch of anesthesia that produced unusual side effects. While the manufacturer insisted the drug was made according to all quality assurance standards, my father-in-law discarded the rest of the batch.  Years later, he learned the manufacturer had finally identified the culprit; the company that made the gasket that sealed each vial had changed its supplier for a lubricant used in the gasket manufacturing process. While the new lubricant met the written performance standards of the previous product, it left a trace contamination that interacted with the chemicals used in the drug.

Continuous process improvement is often touted as a virtue. However, it can become a liability if your customers are not informed about changes. Failure to notify customers can lead to increased product failures when someone assumes the new formulation will work just the same as the old one. Equally insidious is damage to your brand's reputation. My father-in-law found a new vendor and stayed with it for the rest of his career. And even if Pyrex resumes manufacturing of borosilicate products, I will probably remain skeptical, preferring to buy the old stuff in second hand stores than take a risk with an unknown product.

In construction
Product reformulations occur frequently in the construction industry, and usually without the knowledge of the specifiers or builders using the product. Indeed, reformulations often result in superior and more affordable products. But not always.

New products will always lack something that older products offer: the test of time. An old-fashioned built-up asphalt roof might fail in 10 to 20 years, but we reliably knew they would fail in that time period. When a new roofing system comes along, we can look at lots of material tests and even accelerated aging tests. But nothing tests a roof like 20 years of actual exposure. Lab tests usually measure one variable at a time; everything happens at once in nature.

It is generally best to tell customers when changes have been made to trusted brands. Then, work closely with them while they get used to the feel of the new product and learn to use it correctly.

A sexy spin on recycling

Forget the green message, recycling is sexy:

Instead of the green trees and other sustainability motifs used in most promotions for paint with recycled content, this one uses a sultry woman (with a strategically placed brush, no less) and the suggestive headline, "Somethings are better with a past."  Read more here.

Globalized Construction Branding

April 5, 2011 CEMEX, S.A.B. de C.V. (NYSE: CX), announced today the launch of its first global brand of ready-mix concrete, Promptis®. The
rapid-hardening, fast-formwork removal concrete technology is already being sold in France, UK, Ireland, Israel, Spain, and Croatia and will be made available in Austria, Poland, Latvia, UAE, and Hungary starting in the second half of 2011.  Click here for full release.
CEMEXSo far, the CEMEX "global" brand appears to be available only in parts of Europe and Southwest Asia. But the vision is impressive:
  • While cements are branded, I am not aware of previous attempts to create branded ready mix concrete. (Cement is just one ingredient in concrete.)
  • Further, there are still many strong local, independent ready mix producers serving an area with a radius of fifty miles from their batch plants. But the industry is in the midst of a massive roll-up.
This new initiative is another indication of the growing globalization of construction markets.

Zero-Landfill Manufacturer

Here's an example of a building product manufacturer going an extra step to make their products greener:
Tremco Commercial Sealants & Waterproofing’s Toronto, Ontario facility has achieved a major milestone: zero landfill. The facility reached its goal through a reduction of waste, recycling of waste and reuse as fuel feedstock. The facility is being monitored for the next 12 months to ensure there is no waste going to landfill. Initiated in 2008, this is part of a five-year project designed to eliminate Tremco’s landfill waste in its North American Sealant and Waterproofing facilities. In the program’s first year, the organization reduced its ratio of landfill waste to materials shipped by 40 percent. (March 31, 2011)
 The press release goes on to describe other green initiatives the firm is undertaking.