PFMI Update: Making Sure Your “Online House” is in Order

– By John Ryan  NFBA Director of Market Development –

“Seventy percent of a sale is over before a salesperson ever gets involved.”

According to Tiffany Sauder, president of Element Three, a marketing agency based in Indianapolis, Ind., this fact is one of the main reasons that companies need a strong online presence. This point was one of my key takeaways from the 2014 Frame Building Expo in Nashville, where I had the opportunity to hear Sauder’s two presentations on website marketing.

To be certain, the process for making purchasing decisions has changed dramatically in recent years. According to Forrester Research’s Lori Wizdo, “today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90 percent of the way through their journey before they reach out to the vendor.” Customers are now finding information about possible products and services through online search engines, customer reviews, blogs and other sources. A clearly defined sales continuum can no longer be counted on, and companies in all industries need to adapt to this new reality.

Not only has the buying process changed, but so has the way that consumers are obtaining information. Product brochures and sales presentations still have an important role in the buying process, but consumers are relying more and more on online content that may (or may not) position your company as a leader in the industry. And search engines are reviewing your company’s website frequently for fresh, engaging content and ranking your site accordingly.

The bottom line is that, thanks to the proliferation of content available at your customers’ fingertips, proactively engaging with customers online is more important than ever. If your company’s “online house” is not in order—if your website is not updated regularly and not optimized for search engine performance and if site analytics are not reviewed periodically—you are missing out on a large piece of the buying process for many of your customers. Gets Overhaul, New Launch Planned
We are excited to announce that the Post-Frame Market Initiative is getting its own online house in order. is undergoing a complete overhaul, and the new site—at the same address—is scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2014. was last redesigned in 2011—not so long ago. What has changed since then, and why the need to update the website?

A lot has changed, actually. Take, for instance, the growth of mobile traffic. In 2010, less than 1 percent of all traffic to came via a mobile device (smartphone or tablet). In 2013, more than 16 percent of visits to the website were from mobile devices. In the first quarter of 2014, that number jumped to nearly 23 percent.

Mobile traffic is forecasted to exceed that of desktop traffic in the not-too-distant future. In order to keep those visitors engaged with the best viewing experience, the new will employ an adaptive design: the content on the website will have a “liquid design” that will automatically adjust to optimally fit any screen, no matter the size of the device. This means that visitors will have a positive experience no matter what device they use. will be getting a technical face lift, and PFMI staff is also taking this opportunity to reexamine the messaging and branding of the website as a whole.
PFMI’s goal is to expand the use of post frame into the light-commercial segment and into other non-agricultural segments. Key target audiences include architects and building owners, who, according to recent studies, perceive post frame as being used mainly for agricultural buildings like pole barns. In order to confront this misperception, the new website will position post-frame buildings as having roots in agricultural construction but constituting an ideal fit for other segments.

PFMI staff will be bringing to the forefront content that supports the initiative, increases awareness of post frame, and helps to shift perceptions. Much of the content from the current site is being reworked and given a fresh perspective, and all is being optimized for search-engine performance. For instance, case studies, which are a vital source of inspiration for designers, will be placed more prominently on the redesigned website, and photos of post-frame projects that “break the mold” will be featured throughout. A picture tells a thousand words, as they say, especially when serving as an example of how post frame can be used on a wide variety of non-agricultural projects. And new content will ensure that the site remains relevant and provides viewers with a reason to return.

Online Progress Will Aid in Capturing Future Growth
Why should all this matter to you? As you will recall from the PFMI Update in the April 2014 Frame Building News, a recent study commissioned by NFBA forecasts that the post-frame industry will grow 35 percent by the end of 2017. Most of that growth, however, will come largely from outside the agricultural market. In order to capture its share of that growth, post frame needs to use an effective, high-impact message to shift the perceptions of key building decision makers.

The changing dynamics of the buying decision process and the shift in the way buyers consume information present an interesting challenge. A redesigned—with a reinvigorated message—is just part of the overall strategy employed by PFMI. Education, research, marketing and metrics—all are essential parts of PFMI’s strategy to expand the post-frame market and advance the industry.
Be sure to visit the new PostFrame, scheduled to go live in the second quarter of 2014. If you have projects or photos that you think should be featured on the site, please contact John Ryan, Director of Market Development, at FBN

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