A few days ago I wrote a post on here which explored the theory that this industry, under the weight of endless new products, endless legislation and severe under-staffing, has lost it’s direction. I also posed it as a question on social media, and the consensus that in many ways, it has done.

However, via the comments section on that post, from a DGB contributor, there was an idea suggested that could explain why the industry has lost it’s direction and how it could be restored.

It’s in the marketing

The comment in question was from Mike Bygrave of Roseview Windows. It’s a fairly long one, but all of it worth reading:

I say this as a Marketing Manager, but the problem – if there is one – comes from marketing, and the competitive pressure on manufacturers to try and grab a bit more market share while going for higher margins

Installers sell the products that their customers want. It’s up to manufacturers to supply products that their installers need. For the most part, good products evolve and improve over time, based on new techniques, machinery, ideas etc. This is fine, as everyone knows the product and its benefits etc, and just has to keep up to date with the upgrades. Every now and then a genuinely new product arrives on the market, and – if it’s good enough – gets accepted into installers’ portfolios.

The problem comes when manufacturers start describing every improvement as a new product – a revolution – when few of them really are. If it happens too often, things start to fracture as product offerings grow too big and too cumbersome to sell. Installers struggle under the weight of product knowledge they’re expected to learn. End users struggle to differentiate between the plethora of options being offered to them. And, in all likelihood, the manufacturers struggle when their revolutionary (and expensively marketed) products don’t take off as well as they’d hoped.

The solution should be simple. Manufacturers could stop over-hyping new developments and trying to make modest improvements look like revolutionary new products. Meanwhile installers could be more selective and critical when it comes to what they offer to their customers.

I have to say, the standout point in Mike’s comment has to be when he talks about manufacturers describing every improvement as a new product. He’s bang on the money for me there. All too often we see products tweaked a little here and there, and then touted to the industry as brand new. When they’re clearly not. Then, it gives installers yet another new option to learn and master. No wonder the industry has lost focus.

Clear, simple marketing

I think one of the big problems is the sheer weight of information installers are having to try and learn. Even if they only have two or three suppliers, the amount of choice offered by all three could still add up to mountains. I suspect there are not many installers that could claim to know every single configuration, limitation or range of every single supplier they use.

This also has a damaging effect for suppliers, as installers will fall back to selling what they know and are confident with, rather than the new things they are bringing out.

For me, manufacturers have to provide an absolutely crystal clear suite of marketing options for installers to use so that they can fully understand what is and isn’t possible for every product available. A brochure for this, a brochure for that isn’t going to cut it. If it’s not all synced, easy to understand or accurate then what chance do installers have?

If installers can’t understand all of their options, then suppliers should expect them to sell a limited range of their products. However, logical, well presented marketing can quite easily open up lots of product options for installers, and suppliers will then find a much broader base of products will be sold.

It’s a sea of choice out there right now, and it’s only getting bigger. Suppliers need to help installers really get to grips with the plethora of options before they start drowning in products and some lines get ignored.

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