Marketing Differentiation for Building Materials: 3 Tips

Chris Largent | June 6, 2019

marketing differentiationIn 2017, the research company Real Results Marketing released the findings of a survey called the 2017 State of Distributor Marketing, part 2: Distributors Lack Marketing Differentiation.

Differentiation is a difficult hurdle for distributors as you might have guessed from the title. The study says, “80 to 90 percent of distributors believing their value proposition contains at least one of the following attributes: product selection and availability, speed of delivery and pre-sales or post-sales expertise.”

As you can imagine, you can’t be very original while promoting the same message as most of your industry. The article says that creating a meaningful and, may I add, unique, value proposition is of paramount importance to distributors right now.

In a market oversaturated with commodities and low margins, standing out from the crowd is your only way to lead the pack.

Okay. Differentiation’s Important, But How?



Well, one way is to focus on what really makes you different, and especially from the bigger players in your market. Real Results Marketing says, “Most distributors are centered on a value proposition in which a larger foe can compete much more successfully – specifically product selection and availability, and speed of delivery.”

So, instead focus on the things that not only differentiate you from the competition, but that also bring intrinsic value to your customers. Here are some quick tips to get you started on marketing differentiation.

1. Website Differentiation

You may have noticed, but the world is going digital. As it does, your customers will start to find you in different ways, mainly through the internet. Today’s buyer is more informed, so you want to be the place they go to stay informed.

One of the best things that you can do, especially as a smaller distributor, is double down on your website. I promise you that investment will not fail if you keep it updated.

The next thing you can do is write content about your products. What makes them different from the competitors? How are they properly installed? Think of all the questions in the world that a contractor might have regarding how to use your product and give them the answers.

These guides don’t have to be professionally written, they just must make sense and be accurate. The last thing you want is for the information to steer someone wrong.

Having content on your website creates a huge marketing differentiation factor for you because not a lot of your competitors are doing it.

See? Simple, quick, and effective.



2. Add Value Beyond the Sale

We at HMI always say that Return on Experience is one of the most effective drivers of loyalty. Imagine being able to provide your customers with an experience so powerful that they’ll keep coming back to you for every purchase. It might sound farfetched, but it’s true.

For example, I was talking to my friend the other day. He works for his dad, who owns a plumbing contracting business. He told me that his dad goes out of his way to buy from a certain distributor because if he buys enough from them, they send him to Las Vegas every year.

Now you might be thinking, “Sending my customers to Vegas? Every year? That has to be expensive.” The glory in incentives like these, however, is that it doesn’t have to be. You can do a lot on your own.

Of course, it does help to have a professional helping you, but the point is, incentives can be a major marketing differentiation factor for you, regardless of how you offer them.

3. Arm Your Front Line

Training is one of the most important aspects of any business, and sadly a lot of us fall short. To counteract this, make sure to focus your time on onboarding new talent and providing helpful tips for improvement to your veterans.

One of the best ways to do this is just to make sure they’re prepared for their sales calls. There’s a checklist by Mark Mitchell at See the Whizard that’s easy to follow. It goes:

  1. Know the company
  2. Know the person
  3. Know their industry
  4. Know your product better

This is an awesome checklist, but also consider that the customer might not want to be sold just yet. Make sure that your salespeople are providing them with value that they can take with them at the end of the call.

For instance, you can give them examples of other companies that have had similar problems to theirs and how they solved them. Everyone likes a good story, especially if it helps them learn what their competitors are up to.




Forgive me for being a bit cliché, but… you’re special. Your business is special, and you have a lot to offer your customers. The most important thing to do to realize that is to make sure they realize it, too.

Singing the same old song and dance as your competitors won’t get you there, though. So, take these tips and run, because your competitors are also hot on your tail.









Related Resources