This is a true story, but with the details disguised so I can share it with you.
When John Reed became president of BildIt Co in 2001, his job was to make the building-materials company profitable again. The business had done reasonably well since being founded 10 years earlier, but it had foundered over the past couple of years. Its sales had peaked at $6 million and the business had, for the first time, slid into the red.
Everyone in the company knew that BildIt's product was excellent—and that it had a massive potential market because almost every new home built in North America used a product from BildIt or one of its competitors. But Ian Sharpe, who had invented the firm's product and founded the company, was stumped about how to achieve the kind of results he envisioned. He brought in John to help him grow the company.
Today, 11 years later, BildIt's sales have soared to $83 million, an increase of almost 1,300%. When I asked John what he had done to achieve such a stellar growth rate, he attributed it above all to the firm having made a fundamental change in its mindset.
"When I joined BildIt, we were a world-class product company that sort of marketed," says John. "Today, we're a world-class marketer with a superior product."
BildIt's shift from focusing on product to focusing on markets and customers is one that I strongly urge B2B companies to consider emulating. Every week I see great companies that make excellent products, yet that don't even come close to the degree of success BildIt has achieved over the past 11 years. The difference is that these firms are more focused on the product they make than on the customers they serve.
What John did at BildIt was to make sure that customers knew about and wanted the company's product—and could buy it easily.
The company's dramatic shift in mindset entailed far more than simply boosting its ad budget and tweaking its sales-commission structure. And it took several years for the firm to fully evolve its new strategy.
BildIt started by simply increasing its presence at industry trade shows to raise awareness of its brand among dealers and installers. The company launched a program to certify installers and give them a discount on their BildIt purchases. This program achieved several key objectives: it made sure that customers who were using the BildIt product had a positive installation experience; it incented installers to use BildIt's product by making it more profitable for them than using a rival's product; and it created a community of champions who had a stake in BildIt's success.
BildIt also invested in PR. This included providing its product to popular home-renovation TV shows to use in the reno projects on these programs. As more consumers heard about BildIt's product, they asked contractors for it by name, driving demand at the installer level.
Over the years, BildIt massively expanded its sales and marketing effort. The company created new dealer programs, communicated frequently with its installer community and offered comprehensive education and training courses. BildIt became known for helping its installers become more successful. As the company grew, its community grew, and so did its marketing budget, from $250,000 in 2001 to $4 million today.
John's story is a compelling demonstration of the power of marketing for B2B companies. While there are many facets to BildIt's successful marketing, it all started with the firm's new mindset. The mindset of the vast majority of B2B companies is, like BildIt's was back in 2001, focused on its products. Look what happened when BildIt adopted a new mindset focusing on customers and the market.
Are you a world-class marketer with a superior product, or a world-class product company that sort of markets?
Regardless of which category you fall into, I would love to speak with you and learn more about your business. You can reach me at 416 583 5831.
Originally published on PROFITGUIDE.com