3 Effective Tips to get your product in front of resellers – Manufacturer Marketing

3 Effective Tips to get your product in front of resellers – Manufacturer Marketing

Constructing Brands Podcast

Episode #30

What You Will Learn:

  • What makes a decision maker consider your product

In the latest episode of Constructing Brands podcast, Eric Lanel speaks with Kyle Bushoven, Marketing Manager of Wayne Tile, New Jersey’s premier tile supplier and retailer. Kyle began his career in sales at Wayne Tile and currently heads up the marketing department. As marketing manager, he is involved with product selection and understands what manufacturers are doing right to get the attention their product needs. Tune in to learn the most effective tips for your product.

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Intro (00:03):
Building materials manufacturers run a complex business, but we are here to help you plan for the future. Whether you are launching a new product, rebuilding a brand, trying to get thoughtful communication strategies in place or everything in between. Here on Constructing Brands, we will be talking with leading experts in construction, architecture, engineering, marketing, and manufacturing to help make your building materials company stronger and more profitable. With 15 plus years of experience, helping building materials companies succeed and grow, your host, Eric Lanel.

Eric (00:43):
Good morning and welcome to Constructing Brands. This is the place where we speak with people who are influential in the building materials space. So whether they’re architects, designers, contractors, distributors, our job here is to help people who are in the building materials space, figure out a better way to do their business and maneuver through interesting times that we’re in. With that said, without further ado, I’d like to introduce our guests today, Kyle Bushoven. Kyle is the Marketing Manager at the Wayne Tile Company. Prior to that Kyle was a showroom manager. He ran sales. Kyle is that third generation we talk about. So really from the ground up, Kyle’s been involved with the Wayne Tile Company. Kyle, welcome to the show.

Kyle (01:34):
Thanks for having me Eric. Pleasure to be here with you today.

Eric (01:37):
Thank you for saying yes. I appreciate you coming on. So, Kyle, our audience are people who are in charge of maneuvering through the manufacturing of building material, something that, you know, a whole lot about being that Wayne Tile is I think at this point, the largest importer of Italian tile on the East Coast and in this country possibly?

Kyle (02:00):
More on the East coast, possibly Northeast? You know, we do import a lot of containers. Containers coming in from mostly Europe, Italy, Spain, pretty much daily, if not multiple containers a day. So we have a lot of material coming in and a lot of material going out and going out to other tile stores. And yeah, we kind of cover, we have retail stores in Northern New Jersey and a new location in Manasquan down the Jersey shore. But we also have wholesale accounts which sell our tile stretching from Baltimore up to Maine. So, you know, we have a good footprint. A lot of customers have been dealing with us for a long time, a lot of great customers we appreciate their business very much.

Eric (02:46):
Because Wayne Tile wears so many different hats, you know what your customers who are purchasing tile from you, who own tile stores, you know what they’re up against being that as you pointed out, you have a couple locations that do that. So, it’s positioning and it’s understanding the marketing and also understanding what’s hot in what areas and being able to guide that. Also, as you said, as an importer of tile, you know, what is going to be the next best tile, or the tile that people are going to be looking for, right?

Kyle (03:21):
Yeah, for sure. And it’s interesting. We have stores in Northern New Jersey. That’s one set of customers, suburban. Maybe they work in Manhattan, maybe they don’t, you know, they have colonial homes in Northern New Jersey, but we also sell tile to people in Brooklyn. We sell tile to people in Long Island. We sell tile to people in Manhattan. So we get to see the trends kind of spread from the urban area where, you know, maybe they’re more fashion forward, maybe more contemporary or maybe more European in their sensibility in terms of their aesthetic they’re looking for in their home. And then we see that slowly expand out of that area and then hit the suburbs. So you know, something that’s maybe selling good in Manhattan won’t be selling in Northern New Jersey, but come six, eight months a year from now, we’ll get to see that trend move out. And then the next thing kind of come in and that’s one of the difficulties with COVID. We’re not able to go to the tile show in Italy. We’re not able to go to the tile show in Orlando Coverings, which is the big North American tile show. So we’re relying on those contacts of ours in Italy to give us that next look ahead and try to keep the trend moving forward. So it’s interesting. We’re in an interesting time and it’s a challenging time.

Eric (04:43):
So that’s interesting. You brought up the shows, the big shows. As these big shows aren’t happening, you’re reaching out and you’re asking for advice. Are there any unique or interesting things that these tile manufacturers might have? Have you seen anybody do anything to get in front of you that maybe is new or interesting to showcase their new tile?

Kyle (05:05):
Yeah, well with COVID, you know, it hit Northern Italy really hard and it started working its way around the globe before it came to the US if you remember the headlines where Northern Italy which is really where the tile manufacturing of is, and the tile manufacturers are based out of there, but it’s almost like the United States with the auto industry. You don’t just have four plants. You have the plants that supply for, with their parts and equipment and service, their machinery, and, you know, same thing in Northern Italy. You have the design hub there as well, that supplies the graphics for the tile and that makes the kilns and all that. So that whole industry took a huge hit. And so a lot of the plans got put on hold to be honest. So yeah, some of them have come had products that were going to come out and they decided to wait. They didn’t go through with that research and development phase. They kind of just put a hold on it and just kind of kept their businesses, hopefully afloat. Other people have pressed ahead. And to your point about how they’ve been presented to us has been virtual, you know they weren’t able to have a booth at Cersaie the Italian tile show, but they can have a virtual booth. You know, so some of the larger factories that put together a basically a virtual three-dimensional rendering of what their booth would look like. And even though you can’t go in and walk and touch the products, you can get a sense for maybe how the room would look with their tile and then they’ll send us samples, you know, in person, and then we can touch and feel them in person and see if it’s something we would like to have.

Eric (06:54):
Great point, you know, what? You just brought something up that there’s a handful that are doing virtual and really making an effort to go forward and move forward. The ones that are making that effort are honestly, are they, is it worth their effort? I mean, are you now considering them higher than you had? Or are you now purchasing them?

Kyle (07:16):
It probably just depends on their product if their product is good, they probably don’t need to do it, you know, and they would send us samples like they normally would, and we would make a decision based on how nice the tile is. So yeah if the product is good, you probably don’t need to go through all of it, but is it interesting? Will we look at it. Yeah, of course we will, you know so yeah, so at the end of the day, it comes down to, you know, the customer that we have in the store, in eight months, when that tile does arrive, do they care that they had a nice 3D rendering and we were able to look at it in a cool way, or do they care if the tile is nice, they want to put it in their home. You know, they care.

Eric (07:57):
The question is, for you, making the decision to have it as an option for that person, who’s looking, at it, is it in your consideration set because of all that work or are they wasting their time and energy, should they send you the tile?

Kyle (08:15):
Probably should just send us the tile in my opinion, because that’s what we’re used to looking at. You know, we’ve been doing it long enough that, you know, going to the tile show is a great experience. It’s a good sales tool for them. They have everything designed beautifully and it’s a fun week. But we know at the end of the day, you know, realistically, how is that tile going to look in the store? How’s it going to look on the marketing that we’re going to get from them? And you know, we’re not very persuaded by the tile show because we know kind of what goes into it and and it’s good. And it does get you excited about the industry. It does get you excited about the new products, but we’ll get excited about them anyway. We don’t need to necessarily go there and see all that. But it is a good. What it’s better for is people that we haven’t seen before. People that we walked around, we had extra time and we came came upon a factory that was off the beaten path and maybe their booth wasn’t so great, but their tile was pretty cool. Or they had just a little meeting room somewhere, and we heard about it through the grapevine and here we are, wow, this is pretty neat. You know, we can’t really get that remotely. So yeah, that’s where you miss out. You miss out on that extra little find that you had that, you know, your regular people that you bought from you’re going to probably buy what they have, because they really do a great job. They have nice products, they know you, you have that relationship. And that’s more, the easy one. The hard part is finding that kind of diamond in the rough, you know, that wasn’t, you didn’t know what you were looking for until you saw it. And you’re like, that’s pretty cool.

Eric (09:57):
So if I’m hearing you, right, just as a recap for people who are listening, if you have a product and by the way, this doesn’t need to just be tile manufacturing. If you’re manufacturing a building material and you’re in these times right now, you’re not doing the trade shows maybe that you were doing, maybe thinking about how you’re getting your new products in front of your distributors, just to getting in front of them the way they have, and not spend a ton of extra energy in terms of virtualizing and putting a lot of the marketing in front of it. That way that might not be where you need to focus. But it sounds like if you have a new product that’s coming out and you want to get in front of a new distributor, or you want to get in front of something, you definitely need to think about what is the right way to introduce yourself, being that the show isn’t going to be there. What is something that’s going to get in front of Kyle and different people who are making the decision, if they’re going to put your product in front of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people who can purchase your product, right?

Kyle (11:05):
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. At the end of the day, the product, it’s gotta be the right product, you know, and if you have something that you can send, send samples, you know, I mean, sometimes that’s good, you know, if you get it to the right person, they’ll look at it. And, you know, we always try to be open minded. We always think that, you know, if I see something and I don’t really see value to it, maybe someone else will see value to it. Maybe one of the other partners will see value to it, or one of our salespeople. That’s why when we go to a tile show, we bring a good amount of people, because if it’s me and just two other people, you know, it can be hard, but maybe the salespeople they recall, a couple of people have asked for something, you know, now that I see this, you know, this is something that we could sell. You know, I’ve had people ask for this and, you know, everyone has different people that they’re talking to every day. I’m not necessarily in the store all the time. And so, you know, when you have people with you that are with your customers, then that’s where you get good feedback. So send samples, send them to the right people, be persistent you know, and it makes sure that you know, how your product will be sold and what the key differentiating factors of it are because at the end of the day, that will help you get it placed.

Eric (12:21):
So understand what your brand is, what your unique selling proposition is and how it fits in against maybe some of your competitors.

Kyle (12:28):
Yeah. What makes you different?

Eric (12:30):
Do that work. That makes perfect sense. Let me ask you something a little bit of a pivot because knowing Wayne Tile, as I do. And knowing you guys, I know that even though we’ve been talking about importing tile from overseas, I know that there’s been a number of domestic tile manufacturers who have done a great job getting in front of you. And, you know, I remember there was one out of California and it was a bunch of surfers who, you know, created a glass tile, if I recall there were. And I remember it because I remember the stories about the people behind the manufacturing of it. There was one guy who did beer bottles, if I remember. Right.

Kyle (13:12):
Yeah. So to your point, while in the United States, we have more kind of specialty manufacturers that like when you’re referring to the glass tile company out of California and you know, they’ve used recycled glass, Corona bottles, basically white clear glass bottles. And you know, so they have a really nice product great for pools, great for spas and commercial applications, but also really cool residential applications. And then, so you have specialty manufacturers like that happen to be at places out of California, a couple of them. And then you also have some of the Italian tile factories that we deal with. They opened up plants in the United States, and they’re selling more, I don’t want to say run of the mill because the products are nice, but for everyday applications, kitchen floors, bathrooms, porcelain tiles, you know, and so yeah, we, we deal with both. We deal with domestic factories that create really cool stuff that we can sell local. And then we have some of our big manufacturers that make products in the United States that are porcelain tile that we sell every day. I will still say that the Italians have the edge and they are still manufacturing the best and making the products with the most cutting edge graphics and design and everything. But for a lot of products, there’s definitely a United States manufacturer that can fill those jobs. And the good thing about that is it’s domestic. So you can get it quick you know, versus shipping things overseas. So, you know, you find that everybody has a little unique edge to the market, their own little niche they’re servicing. And yeah, I mean, we deal with everybody, so it’s good.

Eric (15:04):
So with that said, I guess my big question is I know these stories and I know about, how did they get in front of you and what did, for instance, that California company that I just mentioned that you were talking about, what did they do interesting? I mean, I’m sure my audience is going to want to know, because if I’m a manufacturer and I’m right here in this country, and I want to get in with a large distribution company, and I feel like I’m doing something unique, how did they tell you that story? How did they get that information? How did they not only get in with you, but develop a brand that you guys felt compelled enough to understand, share it with people like me, you know, and other people where it became more than, just a sales pitch, it became something that is part of who they are.

Kyle (15:58):
Yeah. Yeah. It’s interesting. I mean, the story for them, from what I understand is there was some type of a pool indoor, one of the largest indoor pools in California, it’s a historical landmark and it needed to be repaired and they have blue tile. And they couldn’t find anyone that could make that blue tile. And this person happened to be in the glass manufacturing business, and somehow through the grapevine. They heard about this and they created this blue glass that would match. And they basically got a huge project. They saved the customer who basically was stuck and they thought, you know, we can do pools with this glass tile. And then it slowly morphed into a bigger and bigger business where they do beautiful pools around the country, around the world. And then they glass tile for residential applications, like I said before. So by the time they got to us, they were already a desirable brand we had heard about, we had seen, we didn’t have access to because they were dealing with other people.

Eric (17:05):
Did you recall how they got in front of you?

Kyle (17:08):
We were trying to get in front of them, you know, because they had something that we were looking for. And it wasn’t something that we had access to and we heard about it and that they were doing well. And they were like, well, you know, in all honesty, in order for us to work with you, you guys have a unique angle on the market. We want you to buy our products and we want you not to order it as people request it, but we want you to have it in stock. So then we came up with a list of products that we felt like we could sell every day out of our stores and we put together a program and then we sold it and then we’ve been dealing with them ever since. And we do everything. We sell stuff that people want on demand, on orders, special order, custom order stuff. And then also we have some items in stock that we sell from them.

Eric (17:56):
And my guess that’s probably about a 10 year relationship at this point, if I’m not mistaken.

Kyle (18:02):
Yeah exactly.

Eric (18:02):
That works. So now, if I were that new company, so just recap, it sounds like number one, if you’re not going to, obviously these shows aren’t happening. So to get in front of your distributors, if they’re distributors, you currently work with send them samples, keep that going. Be persistent, if you haven’t and you want to get in front of new distributor, think about your brand, your USP, how are you uniquely positioning yourselves and letting these new are these distributors who will be new to, you know, why they should bring you in, or if you’re the hot new commodity on the block, answer your phone, figure out a great way to negotiate a stocking opportunity in this case or something like that. That’s going to be a win win for both you and the distributor. And there’s a great way to have a relationship blossom over time, for sure. Now, if I’m all, I guess the next thing is if I have a product and I’m thinking about actually a company, we spoke with their founder and their head of marketing and super cool product served a great need, relying entirely on their distributor, right. Entirely for their channel distribution, their brand hadn’t been real developed. And I was thinking, wow, you really need to have your USP. You really need to position your brand. You need to think about these things, not just making the product great, but why the product’s great. What about those folks? How can they get that information to you in a way that you’re actually going to pay attention to it? Is it a website that you’re going to look at? Is it a mail piece of direct mail piece? Is it a sample along with an explanation, some testimonials? Is it what a caricature, what would get you?

Kyle (20:02):
Well, obviously, you know, if you make a phone call, it’s going be difficult to get the right person, you know everyone’s busy and, you know, I just find, especially for me in the tile business samples are so huge. I mean, if someone sends me something substantial, it’s a couple pieces of tile and some type of print thing to go along with it, or a USB stick or something, that’s just like, you know, yeah, I’ll check this out and if it doesn’t get lost and I get it and it ends up on my desk, which it will if it’s got my name on it. Then you know, that to me has got value. And this day and age, you know, with COVID, if I don’t know you and you call me and say, hey, can I come in to bring a sample? You know what, just right now, it’s too easy for me to say, you know, no. It’s not worth the risk. Don’t come into the building, you know, whatever it may be, you know, I don’t know what you have. Your website maybe isn’t very good and you know, you haven’t sold me, you know, but if you just send me something and then say, hey, I’d love to meet with you. I love to set up a call or a Zoom meeting or something where we can just talk, or I got a price list I want to go over with you or something that worked something that this works somewhere else. I think it could work with you guys, you know, then that to me the best way they have a little old school like that. But you know, emails again is so easy just to either, even a great email I might just forget about it. Or I might just move down my email list so fast that, you know, you don’t get it. So physical stuff I think is good. And if you’re not sending these things out to a million people, it’s not that big of a deal. You know, you have a couple key people, you know, you’d really like to work with, to send a little box is I think, well worth it. Especially in the building materials business, you know, if it’s something that’s going to be unique and worthwhile.

Eric (21:56):
I think that’s a great, thank you, Kyle. That’s a great point. And the point just as a recap is because online is so hot and everyone’s always thinking online, and we’re always thinking about our website and we’re always thinking about how we’re driving our brand through online. And we’re thinking about social marketing, and we’re thinking about all those connections. We can’t lose track that, yeah, those are all really important things. And that might be, you might check someone out there, you might have looked at their website. That isn’t the end all.

Kyle (22:27):

Eric (22:28):
You still need to think about how do you, how are you going to create that relationship?

Kyle (22:33):
Right. And I can just say too, from tile, I’ve had more people disappointed that have come in the store. The reason why they’re disappointed is they saw something online, not from us from another eCommerce store or Instagram page or whatever. They thought it looks so beautiful, but then they got the physical sample and they’re like, ah, this is kind of cheap. It’s thinner. It’s not the quality isn’t there, what I thought, you know, it photographed really good. And that this can’t be that, you know, I’m like, well, you know, yeah, this is why it’s hard to buy things like tile online because you know, you want to see a sample first. You want to, you know, maybe talk to somebody about it. So yeah. Yeah. The physical product at the end of the day is still the most important thing.

Eric (23:19):
And it sounds like the one, two punch there is sending a physical product is super important, knowing who to send it to. Right. Making sure that it’s going to the person, who’s the decision maker in this case, but also including a one sheeter, USB stick to your point. Something that helps also paint the other part of the story. This is why, you know, here’s something we think you’re going to like, and this is how other people used it, or this is why you might find it interesting. Or these are reasons why, so that way it completes the stories. So then maybe when the phone call happens after that.

Kyle (23:53):

Eric (23:54):
You’re interested in talking to them already. It’s not a cold call that you don’t want to talk to.

Kyle (23:59):
Right, right. Yeah. You can check in, Hey, do you get those samples? I just want to make sure you got them and I don’t know. I didn’t. Okay. Well, I’ll resend them this time. Where should I send them? You know, what should I do? Should I drop them off in personally by the front door? So you know, that’s helpful for sure.

Eric (24:14):
That’s great. Any other pearls of wisdom to people who are manufacturing right now, building materials, and they’re looking to make sure that they’re getting the most exposure in the best way as possible and any other cues or clues or pearls of wisdom you have?

Kyle (24:32):
No, I just say, just have to persist because this is going to pass and, you know in the building materials industry. I think that we’re blessed that people value their home. I know at night I go home and what do I watch? I put on HGTV because I don’t want to watch the news. And I don’t really know what else to put on. And, you know, it’s background noise a lot in my home. And so, you know, I see people fixing things up all the time. I’ve talked to you about fixing these of all time. You know our culture is very into home improvement into your home and this concept of having the right home. And, you know, maybe it’s an unattainable goal, but you know, it’s a goal, you know, and the things will be different when I have this home and, you know, it’s so, you know, just to persist and to continue forward and you know, be thankful that we’re in a business that is hopefully going to do well, weather the storm and, and we’ll come through it.

Eric (25:27):
Let me ask you one quick one more question commercial. Are you seeing a change in the commercial space right now? Or are you seeing people looking at redesigning their commercial space?

Kyle (25:37):
Yeah. I mean, we’ve seen just with this shutdown in the past couple of months, a lot of people with restaurants, a lot of people that were closed that are like, okay, we’re going to be open again. We’re closed right now. Let’s take this opportunity to do some of the things that wasn’t feasible to retile our restaurant when we were busy. But you know, now if we’re closed, we can do this. We can, let’s make it so that when we reopen, it’s going to be really great. And we’re good for the future that we’ve invested, but we’ve taken time while we’re shut down, not just to sit and complain about it, but to make some steps that, you know in the future, we’ve gotten some things off our checklists that we really wanted to do.

Eric (26:21):
Kyle, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it. If anybody wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way for them to reach you Kyle?

Kyle (26:30):
Kyle is my email. kyleb@waynetile.com

Eric (26:34):
Appreciate your time. Appreciate all you’ve shared with us. And and thank you. Have a wonderful, day.

Kyle (26:40):
All right. Thank you, Eric. Take care.

Eric (26:42):
Thanks Kyle.

Conclusion (26:43):
Thank you for listening to another episode of Constructing Brands. Your feedback is how we thrive, so please leave us a rating and review on your favorite platform. And if you want access to even more great information, go to constructingbrands.com.