Product Innovation For A Changing Economy

Building Brands Ep 6 Ben Skoog Product Innovation For A Changing Economy

Ben talks about the many aspects of finding opportunities in the market that require innovative products and the different ways to approach launching a solution-based product that solves an unresolved problem faced by your target customers.

Episode Links
Find Ben on LinkedIn
Visit the Arcitell Website
Visit the Qora Cladding Website

Episode Transcript
Tim
Welcome Building Brands, listeners. For our sixth episode, I’m joined by Ben Skoog, VP of Sales and Marketing at Arcitell. Manufacturers of Qora cladding. Arcitell is a manufacturer of patented fiber reinforced polymer panels for residential and commercial siding. They commercialize superior building products for the envelope of structures that address key performance areas and chronic industry issues. This episode’s conversation revolves around the many aspects of finding opportunities in the market that require innovative products and the different ways to approach launching a solution based product that solves an unresolved problem faced by your target customers. Enjoy the episode. If you’re an owner or marketer in the building materials manufacturing, distribution or contracting spaces looking to set up your brand for success now and in the future, this is the podcast for you. On this show we talk about brand and market strategy used in the real world that grow companies and truly connect with consumer audiences. So sit back. Listen in and let’s get to it. All right. Welcome. Ben Skoog, VP of Sales and Marketing at Arcitell. Thanks for coming on to be the sixth episode guest.
Ben
Thank you, Tim. It’s an honor
Tim
I’ve met you at IBS earlier this year. So I know a little bit about Arcitell and your products. But if you wouldn’t mind just even going back a little further than that and giving us a little bit of a background on how you got into marketing, how it influenced your your sales strategies on how you got into being interested in that. And then you have ended up in the building materials industry, which is why around the building brands podcast. So that would give everyone a good foundation to know where your viewpoints are coming from and how you’ve come across some of these knowledgeable tidbits that will touch on today.
Ben
All right, will do, and I’ll try to keep it. Ah, concise and to the point. But basically, I’ve always been in building materials and specifically focused on exteriors, primarily sidewall cladding. Started off in sales, working for a company called Universal Forest Products and started selling pressure treated lumber. That’s what they created, but they started their inducing new products again. This is the late nineties and found the passion around that for a lot of reasons. Primarily, it’s just a far more interesting sell. Started in sales moved on. To work for a company called CertainTeed. Doing sales as well, once again found the passion around the new products. Um, they moved into marketing at that that point in the early aughts. Marketing for me was had always been my calling felt, because there’s a lot more trying to figure out why people buy things, trying to figure out what they really need. And in this particular position with CertainTeed, you looked across the nation versus kind of just your territory. So it was Ah, big step up for me, learned a lot again fell in the new product development process and with the sales background always had my eye on. What is it that we’re going to solve for customers? How easy is this going to be for sales folks to deliver. That thing’s gonna kind of pop up again and again and as we talk here, because I had seen a lot of new products that were pretty interesting and fascinating. But perhaps sometimes you’re left with wonder what problem solving or why somebody would buy it. So I did that for CertainTeed and then moved on to LP Building Products. I spent about 15 years there in the marketing executive capacity and the bulk of my years were spent building a product line called LP Smart Siding, which is why it’s named siding. And then about two years ago, an opportunity came the company called Arcitell, my current employer, and it was quite a fascinating opportunity because we’re developing a new technology to deliver the look of masonry cladding, but in a siding form. So it’s a great opportunity and introducing new technology into a market that I was familiar with.
Tim
And it’s you know, you started out on the sales side in the nineties, so you’ve also seen a progression in how audiences air, even interacting with companies and buying products too right? In the nineties digital wasn’t even around then, and in the two thousands, it sort of started to pop up and open the landscape to not only just needing touch points over the phone or mail or in person, but just everywhere, multiple times do you go from eight touch points being sufficient to like 40 to 50 over the course of 6 to 7 months
Ben
Yeah the analogy of there is I remember getting a car phone installed in my Honda Accord for my first sales job, we used, uh uh, I guess what they called them tubes of green screens for computers. Yeah the only touch point was when you physically shook somebody’s hands or call them on the phone.
Tim
Yeah, I’m picturing the Zack Morris phone from Saved By The Bell right now. So yeah, so you ended up Arcitell. Do you want to give us a little background on Arcitell’s history too and how they got involved in producing that masonry product for the Qora product you mentioned?
Ben
Sure, give you a little bit of the origin story here, and so Arcitell is a joint venture between a domestic company and the European company. Domestic company is the Belden Brick company, based out of Canton, Ohio, they’re a fifth generation company. They’ve been making bricks for over 135 years or so, and they have a strategic issue to solve. With the chronic skilled labor shortage, it’s especially acute in the masonry trades. There is simply if you can find a mason under 40 out there, it’s a rare find. And because the labor shortage has been impacting the brick business, it’s been driving up the installed cost of brick and thus brick as a category has been losing shared. It’s not too hard for those. Just imagine it used to be four sides of the house for brick, and then the back was something else in the side, in the front, and now a lot of homes were really just brick on the front. That’s that’s driven by cost. So they’re on the lookout for a product that could deliver the look of masonry products and not require masons to install. And that’s when their current partners stepped in, which is called A Cell Technologies, based in Milan, Italy. And they’re a company that’s been in R&D and, uh, engineering lab for the past 30 or 40 years, and they had recently come and brought the two markets and patents around a phenolic chemistry and specifically in a capacity to make a siding panel that looks like stone and brick. So thus the marriage was born. We’re about two years old right now, and we’ve spent the last two years getting ready to go to market, perfecting the technology, doing the R&D and we’re getting ready to launch later this year.
Tim
I’ve had Formica and Thermory on this podcast and they’re both international companies too. Is the product actually international yet or is just the influence coming from the Italian partnership for the North American launch?
Ben
So proof of concept and prototypes have been done in Europe globally. We have the license for this technology as Arcitell. So we have a model where we’ll partner with other manufacturers and other markets. Thought behind that is it’s really hard to be expert in a lot of markets and let alone just the U. S. so the technology will find its way in other places outside of the U. S. But you can see it first in the US.
Tim
And you know, what you’re talking about… how the inspiration for this type of product solves an issue in the economy, which is the workforce is dwindling, especially in the masonry side. Why? Why is that important for the industry to recognize?
Ben
You know, on a personal level, I wish more young people we’re going into the trades. There’s probably a whole different podcast about why it would be good for us.
Tim
There’s at least 20 Harvard Business Review articles about it,
Ben
Yeah. We’ve been saying that for some time. So the fact of the matter is, it’s not happening at the rate that we need. So the first thing that I saw people do was try toe, recast their products. Reposition the products is this is the labor savings are stuff like this but really not making significant changes or making what I call good incremental steps? But most of them were to reduce the amount of labor you know, take two layers of something and put them together so you don’t have people doing that or making something bigger or longer would have it. But I’ve seen only a handful of examples of people started from ground zero and said, All right, let’s re look at this completely from a blank canvas point of view and figure out how to design, a product that most anybody could do. I the one that comes to mind, his pecs, if you’re familiar with pecs plumbing. I think they’re kind of the biggest brand in that. But basically taking away the need to solder and weld copper pipes and put into a push and click really kind of was on the first big examples I saw on that. And so the thing the message I would say the other manufacturers. If you really want to solve a problem, you really gotta go that deep and redesign your products. So the installation doesn’t require any of that basically old school craftsman skill to install.
Tim
Specialized craftsman. Yeah. I mean, you already mentioned the plumbing products. Whether are you seeing this in other verticals and building products right now, other than masonry and plumbing?
Ben
I’d probably say there’s a larger hand full of what a good incremental steps. And by that I mean taken some good wacks at the problem and again, like zip systems. A great example of that. You know, you could even say premium sub flooring is an example of eliminating the labor to come back in smooth and grind out floors. But it still doesn’t address, you know, putting the floor together. I’d say most of it that I’ve seen has probably been in appliances electrical systems. Things like that, you know, we haven’t really seen a ton of it in the exterior shell of a home.
Tim
Yeah, I mean, modular building is becoming a thing to, which same problem workforce, costs, timetables for projects
Ben
And that that’s what I’d call a good step in the right direction. I mean, you’re basically moving the labor from the field to a factory. Um, and you’re getting some efficiencies of the way you’re producing in there. But you’re still mimicking the way you build on site inside of a factory. And I know there’s more optimization steps than just that. But to me, I really feel it falls back on the manufacturers to design products from scratch that simply don’t require the skilled labor to install.
Tim
Yeah, let’s talk about that product development. Where are you finding the inspiration from this? I mean, obviously, you’ve seen things in the economy that have given you and idea to match technology to something that’s happening in the workforce? Is that something that’s coming from R&D, knowing that that’s in the market right now, an opportunity in the market or is that something where you’re retroactively saying, like we need to adapt this product better for a different audience?
Ben
Yeah, it’s kind of a complex question. I’ll see if I can.
Tim
I always asked a complex questions.
Ben
That’s a little bit of, ah did the solution make itself available or did people demand this? And the classic you know, one around, that is, if Henry Ford asked people what they wanted for transportation and faster horse, right? In this case, you really gotta have the marriage of two things. People want it, and it’s difficult to do. Tile is an example. People love tile in their bathrooms in their kitchens. That’s still a time consuming, tedious thing to do high end custom trim work. Still, people love it and they’ll pay for, but it’s quite a process to get that done correctly. So any time that we see a combination of something that people desire from long term and you’re still finding, you know, the installers are not to be weird about it. But if they’re over 50 and they just know how to do things and they’re really good at it, that’s kind of an opportunity to say. Obviously, it takes a while to get skilled at doing this, and they’re hard to find, so I’d look at those a similar areas tile, high end trim work and say there needs to be some type of solution there. That’s probably the easier part. Actually find what the problem is, I’m been coming up the solution is the other trick and in the case of myself with Arcitell, we were just very blessed to just have those two come together and taking it to the market has been our challenge.
Tim
Who is actually coming up with the ideas room solution based products? Is it? Is it an R&D product team? Is it marketing, seeing something as a gap analysis in the market? Is it you mentioned customer demands? Sort of,
Ben
Yeah
Tim
maybe the tells they’re there, but they’re not the ones actually demanding the product is they don’t know what could exist.
Ben
So the good answer is it can come from anywhere. All right.
Tim
Great.
Ben
In my never be humble, but biased opinion. Um, this is what a strategic marketer needs to bring to the table. A common function of sales is they’ll come back and give very verbatim, feedback from your customers. This is a problem. This competitors this. This is a problem. Your operations team. We’ll tell you what’s possible on these operations in a large sense, engineering and in rd like we can do all of these things. A strategic marketer should be able to, you know, understand the need behind the complaint, if you will. Sales is coming back as the voice of the customer, saying these are all issues and then they know what capabilities the company are. That strategic marketers should be able to find where that overlap is to deliver on something that could solve a problem is easily understood and the company can deliver on. And the reason I’m kind of going a bit of elaborate explanation is again identifying the problems. First step. Doing something about it is the second step. And being able to do something about it in a profitable manner is the real trick. Anybody can design a wonder product paper being actually produce and deliver consistently is a little different.
Tim
Well, it’s very intentional too. It sounds like in order to pull those pieces together, you have to have planned meetings or conversations between those teams, and they can actually understand what the other side is receiving and feedback, or what the possibilities are to take the product from technology standpoint.
Ben
Again, there’s probably another podcast there about how to actually ask the quote unquote market what they would want, and you’ve probably seen plenty of where people go in, and they know the answer they want. So they ask the questions, um, to get the answer they want Vs and a face and some of those hard truths about what they’ll pay for something, what it’s worth, what they’d rather do, and then trying to find out a place you no reason for you to exist.
Tim
It is almost impossible to the strategy without having hard truths and critical conversations. We find that through a brand process that’s the brand therapy thing that I always mention.
Ben
You may think of yourself this way, but here’s how you’re viewed.
Tim
Yeah, yeah, and you know, and it’s the first step is understanding that, and then having the right conversations to overcome that, which is just a process to get to the right point. It’s It’s not saying that you’re bad at making a product or have bad customer service. You’re just identifying better ways to meet the needs of the audiences that you’re reaching out to you. So you were talking about the customers a lot to you. You have what is somewhat of, ah, technological scientifically involved product. It also addresses a very specific need in the economy. How in the last two years you’ve been ramping this product up. Are you planning to meet the needs of the customers that you’re trying to reach out to you from education standpoint? Is it more important to do the science or the benefits behind the like quality and budget and timelines that they might be trying to hit on their projects? Is it more installer based or end user based? Where are you finding, what audiences are you finding you need to reach out to and how are you going to and educate them on this type of product?
Ben
Okay, I’ll probably have to break this answer in a couple of segments, if you will.
Tim
Yeah, I asked really long questions sometimes.
Ben
First is know who you’re targeting and why. The more specific you can be there, the better you are.
Tim
I think that’s what gives personas a bad rap. Is people always see a persona is just age, income, gender, maybe title. But they don’t go into the pain points and the details that you’re talking about right?
Ben
Now I’ll give an example from Arcitell. The product, called Qora, is designed specifically four builders who are already designing their homes with stone accents and are having trouble sourcing masons, whether it be cost or availability. That’s a very specific sub segment of quote unquote the building materials market, and we have a more specific, down to geography is where our research shows that the problem is more more cute. And what that does is we have a highly targeted, you know, a profile of who are after. We don’t have to waste a a lot of time chasing people who may not have the same need.
Tim
Or money.
Ben
Or money or, you know, provide feedback that won’t help us sharpen their value prop. So that’s that’s number one is know who you’re going after? What problem are you solving for them? And then a lot of it’s good old fashioned going there and ask him, You know, whether it’s face to face events online of the traditional methods like survey groups or our focus groups would have you. But you’re getting down to the very specific and making sure that you understand they have alternatives, and they may prefer those alternatives. In the case of of this, we know that they need to put the look of stone on their homes because that’s what sells where they’re building their homes. And there’s not a lot of masons in the residential categories. So we say, Here’s our product. Here’s the proposition. Does it meet your needs? First on is typically aesthetics. Does it look real?
Tim
Yep.
Ben
And oddly, in this category, most of the stone that you see on residential homes or light commercial is actually concrete. It’s not stone stone, Um, but one of our learnings was most people today. Just consider that stone. That’s the aesthetic standard. Does this meet your category need of stone first? And we did a lot of work on that, and beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, and we had to set aside our internal opinions, realize that we’re not the target audience.
Tim
Ooo, that’s a tough one for everyone.
Ben
Everyone.
Tim
Everyone hates that part.
Ben
The seven people sitting around your conference room in your office are probably not the target market you’re after. They often have titles and opinions, but you know that. So do you do that and then, you know, so you go throughout aesthetics, and then you say, Here is the way the product is installed. And here’s how your labor would work. Here’s from our research what the numbers would come to, and you’re making sure that those things make sense a lot of time. People shy away from the numbers discussion because it’s it’s an awkward conversation sometimes, but you’re saying Hey, you know, given that this product meets this need, is this worth it for you? And the worth it for you is a little bit subjective. There’s hard costs. But then there’s the cost of change, risk of new so you get into those.
Tim
And then you mentioned that you’re still doing a lot of early on in the process, still doing a lot of face to face and communication based education. Do you have plans to go more of a broad scale digital aspect with your product launch too? I mean to meet sort of, that the channel needs that are presenting themselves nowadays.
Ben
Sure, when I’ll come back to one of the things Is this what I’ve been surprised in my 20 plus years of trying to introduce new products to what is historically a slow to change market. I’ve been really pleasantly surprised over probably last 3 to 5 years, how much more open the building materials market is to new tech and new products. It just seemed like forever. If your new people you know, I told you to come back in 5 to 10 years, when you’re a proven at least today with the composite product that we’re showing folks, they seem comfortable with the category of composite that wasn’t always so on building materials. So from an education point of view, that’s almost a little bit minimal, explaining that the value of composites it’s really the awareness and saying this product exists and it does this now the way we do that through the through mediums, it really is almost 100% digital marketing in terms of how we do our outreach, which is a radical departure from what I did for the first 20 years of my career. The point there, the digital marketing in though leaps and bounds and I don’t know where the tipping point occurred where the vast majority of the market that we’re after responds to digital marketing. But again, when you know who you’re trying to reach, you’ve got a pretty good idea of the value you can bring to them and you can articulate that and a very clean message, whether it be an email, a short video, a social media posts or whatever you put in that crisp value proposition in front of, ah, highly high potential target, you just don’t have to spend the money and efforts that we used to trying to kind of blanket the airwaves of you will with the generic message of this product is probably good for you. Figure out if it is and ask us about it.
Tim
Or at least if you are doing that on digital it costs a fraction, I mean, a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of what it would be to do TV or her paid at a magazine or something like that.
Ben
Part of it is a born of necessity to my prior career over for large companies with lots of people and resources, um, when you’re starting up a new company, you don’t have that luxury, but sometimes curse. And so that forced us to really say for the people we have in the time available, let’s make sure we’re only talking to the most highly qualified people who want to hear from us. I don’t want to spend time chasing people down That may or may not want to hear what I have to say, so that necessity forces to get really targeted and really crisp. So the hours were spending on the phone or going to meet. People are only the highest quality leads and people who wanna hear from us.
Tim
And with digital, you’re able to dial in the target so much that you aren’t going to be spending outside of where you need that money to be too. And another thing you mentioned that I think is interesting. When you’re this early in a product launch, you do need just some level of exposure.
Ben
Yes
Tim
You know, you’re mixing like you said, a static exposure. This product exists. What’s the name? How does it look? Getting that in front of people getting your touch points over time, matching that with content and then eventually what digital? You could get them to a more tractable solution if they re engage with your content through a cookie or something like that or a pixel for re targeting.
Ben
And the nice thing about the various, I’ll call them, subgroups in the digital world like people tend to hang out in like, areas you know, so they tend to follow the same things. And if somebody finds something that is positive for them or solve the problem, they tend to talk about the others. And so the condom mavens, you know, or whatever, but they’re not. They do it digitally now. It’s just so much faster. We get more, work him out that way than anything. And it’s actually word via keyboard, I guess I’m not sure I would say that in the digital world, but it’s the same concept, Um, and then also to where, Um, we’re very cognizant to not waste people’s time if they’re not the right target for us. They may be highly interested. But we have, ah, using market automation that let people filter themselves in or out. If they’re not in the market, we’re gonna be active in any time soon. We thank them for their time, but be transparent with them because we have to focus on the ones that target markets. I mean, we don’t want to make any promises we can’t keep. That’s a hard thing to do too is to turn down a big lead in a geography or segment that you’re not prepared to service. That takes the focus and the discipline at the bottom.
Tim
How do you know when you’re launching a product into the market like this, you’re doing that level of exposure pieces and value add piece value prop pieces. What type of activity turn around looking to see from a timeline perspective? I mean, you’re not going to get sales enquiries immediately from every digital activity that you do. Especially when it’s a brand new product. You know, you’re trying to get people in front of in front of people for a touch point. They need to know the name they need to see the product. Then they need to hear the value ads and end up on the page is what type of funnel timeline that you’re expecting to you start generating business lead conversations from that type of activity?
Ben
Let me make sure I understand the question right. Would you say the average time between the when they first become aware of the product to trialing it?
Tim
Yeah.
Ben
Okay, so the first part’s a little easier to find because we basically configured it into our our CRM in a market in automation platform and that’s from first interest. And what that means is they’ve somehow made it to our website and filled out the request information form. We have, ah, you know, tactics that that may take a week cycle time between outbound push or postings. But from the clock starts ticking assumes that hit submit with basically their name and email. And then the nurturing process is usually about two weeks at maximum, sometimes two days. No fast they respond. And then, if it’s a highly qualified lead, you’re probably talking another week to two in terms of basically figuring out if you’re gonna do anything together.
Tim
And that seems pretty fast, is that mostly because you’re in the residential side with this product?
Ben
Yeah, and we’re highly selective. Yeah, you know, as we launch product and we’re being very transparent with folks about, here’s what we have right now. Here’s what we’re willing to do right now. And here’s how we think we can help you with this. But that so that you know, you talking the better part of a month, month and a half there for that part. Then, actually, lining everything up has the highest variability. All right, we’re gonna try it on this trial it on this house when that house get built, This structure and that could be, you know, a month or two after that, that’s it. Upfront probably got really efficient at both in time and resources. But the call, perhaps the more good old away, which is when the actual structure you built is still dependent on things outside of that decision process.
Tim
So Qora has this very dialed in. Where would you suggest the other manufacturers start the conversations if they want to identify a market gap, that they could do a product innovation in? Is it is it more economy based? Is it more? There’s a lack in the design community and they can inject something that’s just very brand new and different. I think we kind of said, customer feedback is part of it, but it’s not really, like the best place to look. Or is it? You know, are installers giving you ideas, you know, based on feedback and working with the actual clients that you have?
Ben
So, um, I’m gonna touch back on a couple of concepts, and then I’m probably better at advising folks what not to do than what to do.
Tim
That’s valuable too.
Ben
So the first one is what they traditionally called like observation. I mean, you literally can get on a side and you pull up a chair and, um, some umbrella watched the way people build houses. When you pay attention and you have some mixture of art and science and your brain, you can see where they’re having problems, whether I have the tear things out and put it back in, where they’ve got people standing around trying to solve a problem. There’s a lot of areas. You can also do that through proxy. Talk to the folks have been doing your area of the house and find out what they’re complaining about. But sometimes you gotta pro, but you got to get a little bit of the psychology because sometimes they just gotten so used to. That’s the way it is. They don’t complain about it. They just grow numb to it. I’ll make one up cutting stair stringers. Folks have come out of prefab stair sets for a while. Some works I’m having, but man, not cutting stair stringers with different types of saws and putting up temporary soon It just looks like a big pain. I don’t know the solution to that, but I walking allowed squeaky stairs on, and I’ve heard a lot of guys complain about the temporary stares and they’re supposed to become the finish there. So that’s what I say is you really got to kind of get in the day of the life of the trade that you’re dealing with. The other one is, I think, chronic among the entrepreneurial, the engineer, the innovator or even sometimes the marketer of the salesperson. They get so enamored with their idea, they get so fascinated with how meet their thing is of their idea that they spend all their energy trying to find a home for trying the wedge it in, and they usually got a notion of a good idea there. But they’re so married to a they’re they’re blind and in depth to the feedback from the market. So they spend so much time trying to turn the wedge it in and make make it a success that if they just took the core of what the good idea was and listen to the feedback and took it in earnest and did something with it and be more successful. And I think that’s where you see the ground littered with good sounding ideas and and new products. That launchpad just failed to hit the mark because it’s it’s a lack of being open, receiving an acting on feedback from your your your target market.
Tim
So when when someone’s trying to instill this type of culture and innovative ideation environment in their company, you know who is who is really setting this tone? Is it? Is it the R&D team pushing for this? Is that the sales team saying, like look, we could solve this problem would make a ton of money? Or is it leadership saying, like everyone needs to be doing this and and make sure it’s part of everything they’re thinking about every single day that they’re interacting with the product and customer?
Ben
So if R&D pushes it from the back of the house, they’re gonna be pushing uphill because people are gonna be busy doing other things and making money here. Now, if sales tries to push it, they might have some luck, depending on how much of the ear of the executives they have. And if marketing does it. You’re really ah. Hoping to get lucky. And then it’s a no brainer. Um, So all that to say, Like a lot of things that are major business, our cultural items, it has to come from the top. Otherwise, you’re gonna be starved for attention. And resource is, it’s not gonna be considered that important, especially for trying to develop new customers or help existing customers. They’ll feel that lack of love from the top things will take longer. It won’t be quite right. And you’re kind of sour him because you’re saying that we’re trying to solve a problem for you. But every iteration you bring it was either off the mark or six months too late. So, like I said, it doesn’t need to come from the top. And then everybody needs to understand that that is your job, to serve these customers directly or indirectly. And the easiest way to serve him is to give them what they’re asking for versus what you want them to want. And a lot of us, especially when we get into the larger established companies, focus more on convincing people that want where we want him to want versus ask them what they want, a lot of ones in there, but hopefully that makes a little bit of sense.
Tim
Yeah, and you mentioned earlier. In order to actually create this innovative environment, you have to have all those teams come together to you, and there’s only really one level that can bring those teams together. And that’s leadership, saying I will make sure that we have time to get our Andy marketing and sales together in the same room to say, Where can we have work? We find opportunities, and it may be we don’t come up with the answer then. But if we keep at it, something will eventually creep up.
Ben
And that was one of the things that strongly attracted me Arcitell. Our leadership, my President Jeff, is very much that way. He understands the importance of it. It is the culture of the company, and the company was established as an independent joint venture to execute that vision. And we’re fortunate because every single function plays a critical role. Sometimes you don’t know it until that role is not being performed, and then the proverbial wheel falls off the wagon, but everybody has to have that mindset to be successful. Otherwise, you’re kind of pushing and dragging.
Tim
And then, you know, the one thing we might not have touched on earlier was when you absolutely immediately introduced the product into the market. What’s the first thing that you would do? You know, given that you’ve already done a little bit of customer outreach of human focus groups and you understand the product has a need and you like the technology behind and you’re ready to tell people about it, What do you think is the most important thing to do? Is it more of a PR piece? Is it more of a creative piece, advertising piece or boots on the ground piece?
Ben
Somewhat like that. And the results in that, um, I’m not trying to sound, too, I guess, ethereal, But I want the promises to be delivered to the customer that we agreed were being made. It looks it performs, it installs, your structure will sell. And when that happens, when you perform as promised, all of that happens from your customer. It’s great if you can say, let’s do ah showcase. You know more other areas. But the best example is success of your customer using your product, whatever role you played in that. So if we’re saying you’re going to save money, look great and help me move, help you sell your home great. Let’s have them talk about it that far more credibility. So that then does manifest itself in most various aways. But much better if the stories coming from the the real judges mouth, which is in the case of Qora, a builder.
Tim
You’ve seen some companies they’re doing contractor programs. They’re reaching through influencers or review systems, platforms, content, publishing platforms that there’s multiple ways to do that. And the base point is, is that pure referral, whether it’s through a paid placement, a partnership or just a word of mouth, is still one of the most influential things that can happen during a research and consideration phase.
Ben
Although there are other items thought leaders. What have you and you know, hanging around other smart people, so to speak? And those do help generate support, buzz, if you will, and those you need to do. But they they all soon around. Are you making somebody else successful in this from manufacturers? Pointed you? Did your solution actually provide what it promised, and it’s great when multiple people are talking about it. But the proof is in. Is in the end user saying, Yep, it did this. And then if you have a good relationship with him, it’s usually they’re quite willing to say, I’ll tell other people about it and whether medium you prefer and let them speak in their own language and saying the good, the bad and the ugly value has a lot more credibility than given the three by five cards with the four bullet points you want to get across?
Tim
100%. So when it comes to the industry as a whole may be in terms of how you guys have approached the Qora product? Do you see any other trends that might be shaping in the workforce of the economy that might put a strain or on the industry? Or maybe open an opportunity that people haven’t thought about that you might put on your wizard hat and predict without giving away an opportunity for yourself,
Ben
Well, I’ll speak macro enough.
Tim
All right? Yeah. There we go.
Ben
Is basically all around human safety. Easy one. Think of his fire regulation, but then indoor air quality. VOCs, safety in general. And there’s a lot of ways to meet these human safety needs and structures. But a lot of them are cumbersome and expensive, and they’re often sometimes mandated by code. But everybody would prefer a safer structure to liver working. They’re just not always. There’s not always great solutions for how to do that cost effectively or aesthetically, please. You can build a a really safe building that’s really ugly and expensive. Would you be 1% say from there? Um so manufacturers they think about how do I manufacture? How do I design products that you liken, contribute, contribute either and or aesthetics and safety You typically in a pretty good spot to be innovative and have a need in the market? Because, in my opinion, whether it’s by code or just the way consumers are going, it needs to look pretty and needs to be safe. Just the way that basically sustainable used to be a bit of an option. Now it’s a mandate.
Tim
Right.
Ben
I think we’re on the same route when it comes to human safety,
Tim
And then when it comes to you, just brands in general and approaching the market. What do you think is the most important thing that a manufacturer could be doing right now to make sure that their brand is positioned correctly for their target audience is?
Ben
That’s pretty classic walking the talk. You can put together a beautiful brand story, and then it could be slightly aspirational. But if you don’t behave in accordance to that brand and behave is a pretty broad ranging a term with how informed people are today, they’ll see through you. So you gotta make sure that if you’re going to put a brand out there that has a certain promise in it, that all facets of your company deliver on it. I mean, that’s everything from my depends on how broad your brand statement is how you treat suppliers, how you treat employees, how you treat government on NGOs and, of course, how you treat your customers and what have you in the good and the bad situations. So I would say, Be careful of how lofty you wanna build your brand to make sure that you can actually deliver on it. That’s okay to get better over time. Well, make sure you take care of some basics first, and don’t just try toe brand yourself into a better position. If you’re not prepared to behave that way,
Tim
That’s perfect. I mean, I had Formica on and Amy was talking about fulfilling brand promise too. And when we do our brand positioning exercise and we’re going through claims, we actually forced them to let us know if it’s an aspirational claim or when they can actually back up currently. Like you said, there’s nothing wrong with having aspirational as a goal, but you can’t make it your current position unless you’re really going to obtain it in the near future. You know, like you said transparency with all the different channels now and people able to publish on social about your company, your employees or product.
Ben
They say this, but this is what they do.
Tim
Yup.
Ben
And then all of a sudden you have to hire ah, uh, a crisis firm to do damage control. So whether it’s setting the correct expert expectations through your brand, or maybe going through a gap in Alice in your company, how you’d feel that brand promise, I think it’s really important or typically the marketing function that’s leading the brand to make sure the rest of the company is on board prepared to live up to that expectation.
Tim
Is there anything that I haven’t asked you think is important to get out before we wrap up?
Ben
But I just reiterate, you know, when it when it comes to introducing new products and new technology, it’s really important to focus on the key question, and several people say this. But what problem are you solving? And is it a problem that people will pay you to solve? And don’t try to force your own ideals on others or your own wants on others. You just gotta listen to what they really want. There’s a lot of layers to that, but I think people will make much more efficient use of their time and resources if they follow a couple of those key key principles.
Tim
Perfect. Thank you very much. This has been awesome. Thank you. Before we go, where can people find you, Arcitell and more about the Qora product as well.
Ben
So the two websites, the company’s website is archetypal dot com spelled a r c i t e l l dot com and that gives you a bit on, you know, us to people and us in the company. But then most of the product information is on Qora cladding dot com, and that’s q o r a cladding dot com were also active on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Tim
Awesome. Well, thank you very much. This was great.
Ben
Appreciate it. Take care of Tim.
Tim
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