Testimonial from a satisfied client.

I recently advised a R.K., the General Manager of a European business starting operations in North America, that he did not have to make a planned expenditure and provided a succinct justification for my position.  His reply: 

"Your advice is music to my ears! 
I am lucky to have you as my consultant."

Call me at (1) 818 219 4937 is you would like more music in your business. 

A Nice Endorsement

In and online discussion on LinkedIn, Rob Haynes.Vice President Europe at IQ Allied American Industries Limited, says:

"You want success in North America? 
You need to talk to Michael Chusid, no question!" 

Thank you, Rob.  If you are planning on launching a building product in North America, please call or write to discuss your concerns and how I can best assist you.

Ask for testimonials

In sales, nothing is more powerful than a recommendation from a happy customer. When a customer gives you or your company a complement, ask them to put it into a letter. Or better, in this online age, ask them to post their thoughts on their blog, twitter, facebook, or other social media site.

As an example, here is a recommendation Erik Missio, editor of Construction Specifier posted to Linked-in after my request for his comments:
"As the editor of a peer-reviewed design/construction magazine, I’ve happily worked with Michael Chusid on multiple occasions over the last 10 years. A writer, consultant, and advocate, he brings his vast experience in architecture and the built environment to topics as diverse as concrete, ceilings, sustainable design, and wall finishes. Whatever the specific subject matter, Michael’s writing displays not only his wordsmith skill and ability to convey complex technical information, but also his passion for the world of building products and materials. He also understands the needs of editors in a trade publishing environment. In other words, his writing is clear and concise, his arguments are persuasive without losing objectivity, he meets deadlines, secures photography, and provides sources for his information, and he truly understands both his story’s content and its audience. It’s a genuine pleasure working with him."
 Don't be niggardly in giving recommendations to your customers. Architects, contractors, and distributors like to be recognized, too.

Green Advantage: Coming to a Job Site Near You

Green Advantage (GA) is filling one of the missing links in sustainable construction. No matter how carefully a project is designed, environmental goals may be compromised if construction crews do not understand principles of sustainability nor how to best manage a jobsite to protect the environment.

To meet this challenge, Green Advantage offers a personnel certification program by which a builder can demonstrate competency in these areas. Chusid Associates is providing marketing and technical support to the organization.

While the Green Advantage program has been gaining adherents since its launch in 1998, I believe it will soon gain critical mass and become part of the construction mainstream. One reason for this optimism is that USGBC has determined that a LEED Innovation Credit can be earned if 30 percent of a project's field supervisory personnel are Green Advantage Certified Practitioners. The Green Advantage Field Personnel Standard can also be embraced by building owners, designers, and contractors that are not pursuing LEED certification.

There are several ways by which building product manufacturers can take advantage of the Green Advantage program:
  • Employees that go onto jobsites can become GA Certified Practitioners. This credential will enhance their professional stature and help establish their credibility.
  • Having GA certified employees reinforces your brand's commitment to sustainable construction.
  • GA certification can also be a criterion in the award of subcontracts since the 30 percent standard also applies to subcontractor personnel that provide services on the jobsite.
Consider getting GA certification for all members of your field crew. Liz Boastfield, Director of Communications at Green Advantage, can help you arrange for training and testing for your organization. Call her at +1 540 822 9449 x105 or email liz@GreenAdvantage.org.

Finally, Green Advantage is a non-profit organization and needs corporate financial support to supplement its income from certifications. Support of the organization can provide PR and other benefits to your company. I encourage you to contact Liz to discuss this opportunity.

Chusid Client wins Innovative Product Award

Hanley Wood has announced that the new SPD Protector by Lythic Solutions, has received the Editors Choice award in their Most Innovative Product competition held during World of Concrete. Chusid Associates helped Lythic Solutions with their entry into this contest.

Contests such as this give building product manufacturers great PR exposure. The award provides an important testimonial, it gets announced by the sponsoring magazine, and the manufacturer can use the award on its website, product labels, and press releases.

Remember: You can't win unless you enter.

PR & Social Media Success Story

Here is a great example of how publicity and social media combine to create market awareness and produce leads.

I monitor the online discussion group artconcrete@googlegroups.com on behalf of several clients that are suppliers to this field. The group links artists and artisans from around the world that work at the leading edge of decorative concrete. While the collective buying power for this group is not huge, the members of the group are often at the cutting edge of innovations in concrete.

On July 18, Deborah asked for help:
I know there are issues combining concrete and glass...  I want to set old bottles into bases of concrete. Will I get degradation of the concrete segment that holds the bottle? Is there a additive I can use to eliminate the problem? I do use metakaolin in my mix; will this reduce or cure the issue?
Two days later, Andrew responded:

I found this great article that speaks to the problem and solves it
with metakaolin: http://www.solutions.precast.org/precast-concrete-recycled-glass-tiles-case-study They replace up to 20% of their cement with metakaolin when using all kinds and colours of recycled glass in their concrete.
I wrote the article over six years ago -- a reminder of the enduring value of getting published. At the time, I was a consultant to BASF, producers of MetaMax brand High Reactivity Metakaolin (HRM). The article includes a great case study and explains how HRM makes it practical to use glass in concrete mixtures. The article cites my client's brand names and includes a link to their then current website.*

I have now jumped into the conversation. Even though I explained why Deborah would not need metakaolin for her project**, the online discussion was a chance to reiterate the key benefits of metakaolin and point readers towards my client's product.

My contribution will have high credibility among this online community as one of their own has cited my article as a great resource. This word-of-mouth, peer-to-peer communication is an invaluable addition to a building product marketing communication program.

* The link is no longer valid.  Companies should periodically search the internet for obsolete links to their website. I suspect that Precast Solution would revise the link on its website if BASF requested it.

** The short technical explanation is that concrete reacts in a self-destructive manner when exposed to crushed glass. The bottles Deborah wants to do not have enough surface area to create the reaction.

Ask for Testimonials (We Did!)

Testimonials from satisfied clients can play an important role in building product marketing. Plus, they feel really good to get.

While testimonials sometimes appear in the mail unsolicited, the best way is to ask for them.

Asking for testimonials has been honed to a high art by LinkedIn. After signing into your account, go to the LinkedIn "Profile" tab, click on "Recommendations," select "Request Recommendations," and use the social media platform to reach out to your contacts to ask for recommendations.

Most of your contacts will be happy to give you a recommendation; doing so enhances their relationship with you, and increases their visibility in the social media platform. (Of course, they might ask for an endorsement in return. Give it to them; it increases your visibility)

Here, for example, is an endorsement I received through LinkIn:
“Michael and I worked on a technology transfer program for a mutual client in the building materials area, with great results. Michael is an inventive individual, with out-of-the-box ideas that get the job done in creative ways.” Raymond Hemmings, Founder and President, Hemmings & Associates, LLC
Old fashioned, face-to-face networking also works. For example, a client recently told me how pleased he was with the work Chusid Associates had done for his business. I thanked him for his compliment, then asked if he would be willing to put his sentiments into a letter I could use. Here is what he sent:
"Chusid Associates made critical contributions to successfully bringing Lythic Solutions to the marketplace. With their knowledge of our industry niche, they worked to helped shape our message and make a conceptual strategy for branding.  Their PR articles in trade publications generated contacts from specifiers and contractors from around the world and led to sales.  The Chusid Team’s ability to produce effective marketing literature and collateral sales materials, based on our knowledge and advanced technology products, leveraged us into market prominence quickly and with credibility.  Collaboration with Chusid Associates has made it possible for Lythic Solutions to build its brand, on an international scale, in a faster time frame than we had anticipated before finding them." Brad Sleeper, General Manager, Lythic Solutions.
I have tried to demonstrate in this post that testimonials work best if they are shared publicly. Make sure the writer has given you permission to use his or her name, then place the testimonials on your website or work them into your advertising.

And be sure to pass the favorable comments along to the employees, reps, and other team members that helped build and maintain the client relationship.

FTC Rules about Endorsements

New guidelines from the FTC may have a significant impact on building product marketing communications. Additional analysis will be posted in this blog in the weeks to come:

"For Release: 10/05/2009 (Excerpted Below)

"FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials -- Changes Affect Testimonial Advertisements, Bloggers, Celebrity Endorsements

"The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it has approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act.

"The notice incorporates several changes to the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which address endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities, as well as the disclosure of important connections between advertisers and endorsers. The Guides were last updated in 1980.

"Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.

"The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.

"Celebrity endorsers also are addressed in the revised Guides. While the 1980 Guides did not explicitly state that endorsers as well as advertisers could be liable under the FTC Act for statements they make in an endorsement, the revised Guides reflect Commission case law and clearly state that both advertisers and endorsers may be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims made in an endorsement – or for failure to disclose material connections between the advertiser and endorsers. The revised Guides also make it clear that celebrities have a duty to disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media.

"The Guides are administrative interpretations of the law intended to help advertisers comply with the Federal Trade Commission Act; they are not binding law themselves. In any law enforcement action challenging the allegedly deceptive use of testimonials or endorsements, the Commission would have the burden of proving that the challenged conduct violates the FTC Act."