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Managing Today’s Information Sources: One Builder’s Approach

Managing Today's Information Sources

Second in a series of interviews conducted by Point To Point to better understand the players that comprise the building products industry, how they engage with brands, and the sizable market forces reshaping their worlds. Check out the first blog in this series here.

Independent builder Jared Jones has big plans for his company, Copper Hills Construction in Yakima, Washington. A graduate of Brigham Young University with a degree in Construction Management, Jones recognizes the power of information in today’s digital age. Consequently, his information sources are as varied as his daily routine.

“I’m always looking for new products, new opportunities, new ways to apply things. If there’s a credible source, I’ll look at it — articles, e-books, blogs, case studies, whatever is relevant. I do subscribe to a number of magazines as well as various publications from NAHB (the National Association of Home Builders), and I belong to the local NAHB chapter, the Central Washington Homebuilders Association. I find my local HBA quite valuable. They arrange seminars regularly on everything from contract law to different methods of mold and asbestos abatement. Very helpful. Plus we have a good builder community here. I feel comfortable exchanging ideas with other builders, and I know they feel the same.”

The Impact of the Internet

A custom builder for 18 years originally based in Utah, Jones started Copper Hills Construction two years ago. He is a one-man operation, a father of four, and an extremely busy guy. Which is one reason why he uses the internet for education.

“I’ll do online searches multiple times a week. After hours at home I’m using my desktop. During the day when I’m running around I use my smartphone for searches. I can’t tell you how much I’m on that thing — and not just for searches. I use a mobile app for a software program called Buildertrend to update my subs on work scope and schedules. The internet not only makes me smarter — it lets me multitask 24/7. Can’t beat that.”

The Value of Social Media

With a website and a facebook page, Jones clearly sees the value of social media, particularly for marketing strategies. Yet he has difficulty finding the time to devote to it.

“Social media? Definitely worthwhile, but I need to do a better job with it. I just don’t have the time for it right now — wish I did. I use instagram personally and professionally I do have a Houzz account, but I don’t take advantage of it.”

“I don’t use social media to get information as much as to market my company. I’ll use facebook to invite potential customers to events like the local Tour of Homes. I’ll use it to show progress photos of a build. And I like to keep up with my clients on it. It’s all pretty low-key. I’m not using facebook to drive sales.”

Green Influences

Jones’s reading materials reflect his desire to stay on top of industry trends as well as his commitment to the environment.

“I read the local HBA publication, Builder Insight, as well as Builder magazine. Both of these are printed publications that come once a month. Most importantly I follow several green building blogs, including those from Green Builders and Net Zero Builders. I also seek out green building websites and magazines. I try to do as much green building as I can. I just think it’s a responsible use of resources and being a good steward of what we’ve got.”

What Homebuyers Want

Homebuyers frequently look to Jones for information. He advises them on best practices and material options, occasionally making recommendations.

“I give my homebuyers as much information as I can. Take windows. I don’t just talk wood versus vinyl clad — I also talk budget and user interface. I want them to have all the options and the knowledge needed to make good decisions. While I do encourage sustainable choices, in the long run, they decide what they want. It’s their money.”

How Brands Can Help With Homebuyers

Jones believes brands could help builders by educating homebuyers.

“Many building products brands are respected by homebuyers. This makes them a trusted source of information. I could see brands supplying a competitive analysis piece that pushed category rather than product, say on windows or insulation choices. I would absolutely use that with my homebuyers. I think a post-build maintenance checklist would be helpful — or a piece that described the steps involved in a typical build. These types of educational pieces — either downloadable or printed — would not only simplify my job, they’d keep the brand top of mind with the homebuyer.”

How Brands Can Connect With Him

Jones knows it’s important to stay connected with building products manufacturers.

“I make a point of going to the International Builders Show and the local home and garden shows. That’s where I expect to connect with brands. I’m there to see new products and new applications. I also will attend lunch-and-learns conducted by manufacturer reps. They’ll talk new products, new opportunities and approaches. That’s a good source of education for me. And I do go to manufacturer websites frequently, so that’s another way brands can connect with me.”

What Brands Can Do To Help

Without a big marketing budget, Jones is looking for new ways to differentiate his business.

“Most manufacturers don’t interface directly with builders, they get to us through their distributors or suppliers. I’d be open to a direct relationship with the brand. For instance, Kohler. I’d like to brand myself as a Kohler builder. I’m willing to commit to them and their products if there’s a competitive advantage in it for me.”

At age 37, Jared Jones is young to own a construction company. (According to the NAHB, data from the 2013 American Community Survey (ACS) indicated that average age of a worker in the construction sector in Washington state is 42.) But he is the wave of the future for the building industry. Well educated and comfortable with the internet, Jones takes a high-tech, high-touch approach to information, searching the web and using digital information sources in combination with in-person learning through trade shows and local home builder association seminars.

Building products brands that want to connect with Jones — and other niche or independent builders — should use a similarly multifaceted approach to create the high-tech, high-touch relationships that build brand loyalty and increase sales.

Point To Point has developed a roadmap for getting this done in our new e-book, “Marketing to the Forgotten Builders.” This online resource illustrates marketing strategies geared especially for the hyperconnected niche building segment to increase their brand loyalty, build trust and increase product sales.

To get the details and learn new marketing strategies focusing on this untapped market, download our e-book now.

Topics: Building Products Manufacturing