Marketing during the pandemic

While there is significant uncertainty around the impacts of COVID-19, one thing is for certain: business has and will continue to change.

Mike Sims, LP Building Solutions senior vice president of corporate marketing and business development.

Reevaluating and retooling how to interact with customers in new and authentic ways is critical during the pandemic.

Mike Sims, LP Building Solutions senior vice president of corporate marketing and business development, shares insights on customer-centric sales and marketing during the crisis.

Remember, the best place to start is with health and safety.

“The most important thing a business can do right now is show their customers how they are protecting their own team,” said Sims. “By being open and authentic about steps to ensure the health and safety of all team members, businesses can connect to customers in a human way and show that we’re all in this together.”

  • Share your own health and safety responses with customers

    • It’s more important than ever to connect with your customers in a human way. We are all facing similar unknowns. Showing your clients how you are working to ensure that the health and safety of your entire team is the basis of authentic connection and communication. Make sure they know the steps you are taking to ensure that you are keeping your team safe. An example is remote work practices. At the LP Building Solutions manufacturing facilities in North and South America (declared essential by relevant authorities), LP has instituted rigorous cleaning and social distancing protocols as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

    • On the job site, look for products and applications that help reinforce this. Within the LP Building Solutions portfolio, we offer various products that can help reduce labor in terms of laborers and labor hours. In the time of social distancing and increased health and safety measures, this is one way to help implement adjustments at the job site.

  • Reassure that you are committed to supplying your customers during this crisis

    • Let potential customers know of any anticipated shortages during the pandemic and be upfront about it. Practice transparency and proactivity. Instead of waiting for a specific order to come in, tackle the issue head-on. At LP, we are committed to protecting our employees and supporting our communities during the crisis. We are following national, state and local guidelines, while also continuing to provide our products to support critical infrastructure needs. We are utilizing our in-house logistics teams in the southeastern and southwestern markets to ensure product can move fluidly between markets, while ensuring our team members remain safe and healthy.

  • Offer discounts to help your customers get through the challenging economics associated with COVID-19

    • When possible, offer discounts to customers who continue to purchase your products through the pandemic. Offering discounts on products shows a commitment to help the industry as a whole and can lead to long-term brand loyalty as the economy recovers. If you have loyalty programs, encourage your customers to participate in those. At LP, we have moved our first-time user rebates to a digital platform that works better in this environment to ensure that industry professionals can access our rebate program seamlessly.

    • “I’d look at your manufacturer loyalty program offerings and how to utilize them,” said Brent Taylor, remodeler and owner of C. Taylor in Raleigh, N.C., and a loyal LP customer. “Could they help to offer you more leads during this time? Could you be brushing up on product training or installation training for new products? Could they be helping you with new marketing materials? As a longtime member of the LP BuildSmart Preferred Contractor Program, I know they offer all these things. This slow(er) time is the perfect time to really utilize these types of resources.”

  • Stay connected with customers, offering help and support during these difficult times; embrace more digital or phone options to interact with customers and stay engaged while also social distancing

    • Proactively and consistently offer alternative ways to meet with customers about their needs and questions. Ways to do this include phone calls, video calls, social messaging and text messages. By having a variety of “meeting” methods on hand, customers are more likely to feel comfortable reaching out knowing they will speak with a human on the other end. Like you, your customers are facing enormous uncertainty—now is the time to show them you’re a true partner.

    • Take things a step further and focus on your social media presence. “If you have the spare time, maybe now is the time to focus on building your social media presence as a business and as a builder,” said Kyle Stumpenhorst, owner of Rural Renovators out of Dixon, Illinois, and LP products user. “You also have to think about the fact that people are spending a lot more time on social media, so maybe it’s a good time to switch from typical ads or emails to promotions on your social channels.”

  • Offer Zoom or web-based product training and demos

    • During this time it’s even more important to have readily available product information and training resources. We’ve heard from many of our builder partners and customers that they intend to spend time now working on professional development and education. A recent poll on the @LP_Pros Instagram page asked followers what kind of content they would like to see more of on social channels from manufacturers. Nearly 60 percent of respondents want to see more how-to videos for installation. Providing builders with easily accessible materials for quick learning opportunities is a great way for you to keep your brand top of mind while providing helpful tips.

    • Offer your customers one-on-one training demonstrations through video platforms. Consider setting up webinar trainings for larger groups or hosting a live social video where customers can ask questions in real-time during a product demonstration.

While uncertainty continues to loom during the current crisis, having tangible plans in place to communicate authentically with customers is a great first step to support their businesses. We are all facing unprecedented times, but by focusing on the needs of your customers and how your brand can support them you can continue to market effectively through COVID-19.

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