Why Transparency Should Be a Part of Your Building Materials Marketing and Sales

Customers respond to transparency and honesty in marketing. In a 2015 survey, Ask Your Target Market found that 85% of respondents said they were more likely to support brands that they considered to be honest. Brands that are transparent about the positive and negative aspects of their products are more likely to attract their ideal customer. Honesty helps build trust and leads to longer relationships with customers. Let’s see how building materials companies can use honesty and transparency to establish long-lasting relationships with their customers.

Why honesty is the best policy for marketing

Almost everyone knows the popular phrase “let the buyer beware,” cautioning customers to do their research and not believe everything they see or hear.

When it comes to building materials, the stakes are much higher. Occupant health and safety can be at risk if materials don’t perform the way they are intended. Designers and project owners depend on the information provided by materials manufacturers to make decisions that can affect a lot of people.

With this in mind, here are four reasons to market honestly:

  1. Honesty surprises customers – When you speak the honest truth about your materials, you stand out from your competitors who may not be as open.
  2. Honesty shows confidence – By openly sharing both the strengths and potential drawbacks of your product, you’re demonstrating confidence confident that the strengths of your product more than make up for anything that might be considered a negative.
  3. Honesty builds trust – If you are completely honest about a product’s challenges, potential customers feel more likely to trust you and believe what you say about the good points.
  4. Honesty attracts better buyers – If someone is scared off from your product by any negative information, that person was probably not going to be a great client. Conversely, prospective clients who having a full picture of a project are more likely to be a good fit.

One of the most important factors in selling building materials is the trust that you build with architects and owners. Trust can take months or years to earn but can be lost quickly when they find you haven’t been completely transparent about your product. It doesn’t have to be a catastrophic failure, it can be something as simple as neglecting to mention a key factor of the product, like that it’s hard to install.

What to say

How do you know what to include in your marketing materials? You need to think about your product from the standpoint of the architect, the owner, and the end-user. What things would they likely want to know before deciding to buy your product? What factors are relevant to their buying decision? Ask yourself the questions below:

  • In what ways could this product require additional infrastructure, maintenance, repair, or labor?
    • Example: A façade that can only be cleaned with a special cleaning fluid that has to be imported from Finland.
    • Example: A new kind of window that takes three times longer to install than traditional windows.
  • What information would be surprising to them?
    • Example: A flooring product has a six-month off-gassing period.
  • Are there things that you are trying to avoid telling them because you’re worried it will hurt your chances for a sale?
    • Example: Your product doesn’t fare well with heavy use.
    • Example: If the product ever needs to be repaired, replacement parts have to be custom-made.

The best way to handle these issues is not to hope that you’ll make the sale before anyone finds out. This doesn’t build trust. The best way to deal with them is to explain them in a matter-of-fact way without apologizing or minimizing them. The statement should be made before the prospect makes a purchase so they have all the information they need to make an informed decision. This information does not take the place of contract terms or terms of service.

How to say it

The best way to inform prospects about the negative aspects of your product is to frame them in positive terms. Explain how the drawback is related to the benefits the product offers.

  •  “Because this product has such intricate detailing, it will take an additional 2 to 3 weeks to install.”
  • “Part of the reason the product has such a long life is because of a proprietary sealant, which is superior to anything else on the market, but does cause the product to take about six months to fully off-gas.”

By being transparent about both the benefits and drawbacks of your product, prospects are more likely to value your honesty, which helps build trust. They also know that you will be honest with them about any issues they need to be concerned about.

Architects and owners know that no product is perfect. By being honest you help them select the best product for their project. They don’t like surprises or feeling duped. The truth is they’ll discover any product concerns on their own, you’re just letting them know ahead of time. This shows that you’re being their ally by giving them an opportunity to choose another product if it’s best for them.

Being honest may cost you the sale if the product isn’t the right fit, but you’ll earn their trust and likely their future business and referrals.

Transparency pays

While it may be natural to try to hide the negative aspects of a building material, it isn’t beneficial, both for the customer and the seller. Transparency and honesty encourage trust and lead to longer-lasting relationships. Building materials companies should use their marketing to inform potential customers about the advantages and drawbacks of their products, allowing architects and owners to make the best decisions for their projects.

Brian Jones