Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Who Are We and Why Are We Here?

Let’s start by answering the “why” question. The building products industry, for better or for worse, tends to stick with what has worked in the past. And why not? When times were good, the industry could make a lot of hay just by churning out interesting products and by letting the sales and channel teams drive the bus. Marketing was perceived something of a necessary evil, little more than gobbling up impressions just to keep the competition from getting them.

But what happens when the economy takes a nosedive so steep and so fast that the oxygen masks drop from the ceiling? What happens when budgets begin drying up? What happens when all of your competitors go into survival mode and blackout their marketing programs? If you’re smart, that’s when you get creative and ratchet up the volume on your own marketing program. Because, it’s not all about who will survive right now; it’s really about who will be left standing in a year or two when the economy starts to rebound. Who will be positioned for success when Americans begin building houses, offices, malls and factories again?

No doubt, times are as tough as they’ve ever been. With alarming frequency now, I’m receiving calls and e-mails from friends involved in all facets of the building products industry. We’re talking about experienced marketing and sales professionals, talented product managers, respected trade media editors and others, all good people who have fallen victim to the dreaded budget cut. The first call or e-mail usually rings with the expected sense of helplessness and disappointment. But, subsequent conversations – and this is really interesting – often include talk of new ways of doing things, creative solutions, innovation. People are taking a new look at how things are done. Old dogs are learning new tricks. And it’s exciting to see!

That’s why we’re here. The future of the building products business is under construction. In my opinion, the foundation of this particular project is going to be built on the ingenuity, experience and perspiration of creative people willing to at least consider a new paradigm. So let’s see if we can capture a few of those new ideas here. Let’s hear from the manufacturers, the marketing pros, the retailers, the industry watchers. Let’s share a few good thoughts and ideas with each other. If we’re lucky, maybe this little experiment in the blogosphere will bear some interesting fruit.

Who are we? Well, the names on this blog are those of Managing Editor Rob Foster and myself. Between us, we have nearly 40 years of marketing, public relations and strategic planning experience, almost two decades of history working in the building products industry and a few dozen banged up knuckles from trying out the products we spend our days talking about. For the past few years, we’ve had the privilege of working for one of the leading marketing and communications firms serving the nation’s building products industry. But this project is bigger than the two of us and the talented and experienced people we work with.

In the coming months, Rob and I will be inviting new perspectives from industry thought leaders. We’ll be visiting industry events on a hunt for interesting ideas. And we’ll be scouring the Internet and the media for helpful insights. Along the way, we’ll also invite you the reader to chime in and broaden the conversation. Got an idea? See something cool online? Share it. We all have an opportunity to learn here and become part of building something we can all be proud of.

Bryan E. Wright

Executive Editor

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