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Three Lessons on Marketing Building Products From the Cleveland Cavaliers

As a born and raised Clevelander and avid sports fan, I was glued to my TV for the Cavs playoff run in hopes that they would finally end Cleveland’s 51-year championship drought. And while the Cavs eventually fell to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, they put on a performance of which the entire region could be proud. They also taught us a few lessons on marketing building products. Here are my top three:

Optimizing Performance

From the moment LeBron James announced his return to the Cavaliers, the city of Cleveland had high hopes. But after a sluggish start, those hopes somewhat dissipated and the organization recognized it needed to make changes. Quickly. With the team nearing the halfway point of the season and in the middle of a six-game losing streak, General Manager David Griffin made two key trades in the span of 48 hours that propelled the team’s second half success.

We often think of measurement and optimization at the end of the process, but we shouldn’t. In marketing, it’s essential to measure your activity throughout every stage of a campaign, from strategy through execution, and be agile enough to alter the direction and optimize your efforts quickly. Test fast. Fail and learn fast. Optimize fast.    

Responding to Disruption

The Cavs closed the regular season by winning 15 of their final 19 games and wrapped up the the number two seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. All was good. Until the playoffs began and players started dropping like flies due to injuries. But rather than panic, the Cavs kept winning because they knew their remaining players well and, more importantly, knew how to play to their strengths.

As a building product marketer, your world is being disrupted too. The balance of power has dramatically shifted from the manufacturer to the buyer. Now, building product specifiers, installers and end-users take an omni-channel approach to conduct product research and are much further down the buying path before you realize they’re in a buying mode. They are demanding more and engaging less.

So as a building product marketer, it’s crucial to embrace this disruption by knowing your audience. By understanding how they perceive your brand, where your products fit in their buying path and where they are conducting their due diligence, you can take back some of the control and set a foundation for communicating with them at the right time, in the right place and with the right message.         

Aligning Communication

As the injuries piled up, the Cavs mantra was always, “Next man up.” It’s an often cliched and overused term in sports. But what was interesting in this case is how the team never wavered from that mentality or used their injuries as an excuse, even after their season had come to a bitter end. After their final loss, Head Coach David Blatt said, “We never made an excuse, and I certainly won't do that now.”

While the Cavs front office, coaching staff and players were all communicating the same message, we often find this not to be the case between building products companies’ sales and marketing teams. Marketing blames sales for not pursuing and converting enough leads. Sales blames marketing for not knowing their customer base and providing irrelevant support materials. Because today’s new market realities are built around customer engagement and relationships vs. product-led selling, it’s essential for these two departments to be aligned and to communicate the same message.

Topics: Building Products Manufacturing