Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Marketing to the New Reality of Modular Sales

Since the beginning of time, man has been trying to sell something to someone else. The person that discovered fire probably traded a burning stick for a rabbit or a deer. As man got better at this trading, someone discovered that not only do people “need” to buy things; they also “want” to buy things that they heard about. Enter marketing.

Modular home factories and modular home builders are truly some of the last people on earth that have not fully embraced marketing as part of sales. I can forgive a lot of modular home builders for not developing a marketing plan as they think the factory sales manager and factory rep have a handle on that and some day they might actually share it with them.

For modular home factories, having an Internet presence which includes a website and a Facebook account is their entire marketing strategy.  Not only is that not enough, it’s not enough three times over.

Modular home factories not only need a marketing plan, they need at least three of them. One designed to attract the modular home builder, another to address the “developer” market and one for the commercial builder. Each of these marketing plans needs at least one sales rep dedicated to it.

Writing each of these marketing plans involves 10 major steps:

Step 1 – A brief description of the problem you’re solving for the builder or developer.
Every person that has a project has a pain. For the modular home builder it could be not enough leads or lack of sales knowledge. For the developer it could be price per unit and for the commercial builder it could be time. Identify their pains and you can begin working to ease it.
Step 2 – Describe your products.
What product lines can you offer each of these diverse builders? Set some time aside over the next few months and write down all the benefits your products bring to each one. Nothing fancy, just describe how your modular products can ease each of their pains.
Step 3 – Get an overview of the market opportunity.
Check out the lay of the land for each type of buyer. What are the total amount of dollars available for each market and decide which are best to market to and for how long.  Break the opportunities into geographic territories. Marketing your ability to build large volumes of the same module is wasted on areas with no reason for these benefits.
Step 4 – Know your competition.
Marketing your modular product to home builders is something the typical factory almost knows how to do. They know who the competitors are probably known their prices as well as their own. But moving into project sales and commercial buildings means taking on a whole new set of competitors and the factory sales team really has to be prepared to go toe to toe with the established players.
Step 5 – Find the niches.
There will always be niche markets. If your factory is unprepared to go after the big projects that a dozen other factories are after, look around that segment of the market and pick off one or two small fish. Make them feel important and deliver what you say you will and they will be yours forever.
Step 6 – Establish your marketing and sales goals.
How will you know if you succeed with your marketing plans? You will need to have goals to measure your results against. Those goals should include overall revenue targets, as well as objectives broken down by type of buyer, geography, etc. The more specific these goals are, the easier it will be to communicate them to your sales teams. Sending a sales team out to find buyers without a marketing plan is like setting out for a vacation with no gas in the tank.
Step 7 – Pricing your products to each segment.
Pricing is one of the trickiest parts of marketing. At the end of the day, you want to set your price right at the point where you’ll maximize profit. Good luck with that plan….your competition will set the price and you will have to decide if that price is something you can match and will it give you enough profit. The last thing you want to do is lose money and watch the modules go down the assembly line knowing that each one is costing you money out of pocket. Test, test and test again in order to find the optimal pricing for each type of market.
Step 8 – Decide how to sell to each market type.
This is not a one size sales person fits all three types of buyer. A good rep that calls on builders might fall flat on their face when calling on a developer. The most important thing a factory can do is choose the right sales rep for each segment. They have to fully understand the market they are going after and the product the factory can produce for that particular buyer.
Step 9 – Prepare an advertising budget.
How will your factory advertise product to each of the different markets? This is an area where you will want to test and course-correct constantly as there are many avenues to use such as print, television, social media, website, direct mail, etc. You will want to set up a line item budget for each advertising medium you employ and for each marketing campaign.
Step 10 – Determine how well your marketing is working.
The factory needs to set up metrics to constantly check the effectiveness of your marketing for each buyer by type of media. Tracking the results of “spend” vs. “results” is something rarely used in the modular housing industry as we usually don’t spend anything on marketing even though marketing is the most important part of the pre-sale cycle and if it’s missing from your sales efforts, then your product must be super to compete or priced so low that you have a reputation for low-balling.

All this may sound complicated and it is for a factory that has never done it before but implementing a marketing plan for at least one of these markets will bring more rewards than you ever thought possible. It only takes one dedicated person to begin the process and the “buy-in” of the sales manager and sales reps.

For additional information or help with getting started, contact Modcoach.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have to remain anonymous as our company has no marketing plan at all. My sales manager just seems to wake up every day and think of some new way to get sales. A couple of my fellow sales reps have left the company and went with another modular company. They say the same thing happens there.
I have never worked for a modular home company that had a marketing plan so I have no idea how it works but after reading your article I think I would like to try it, at least once.