The Digital Push Brought on by a Pandemic (Q&A)

May 25th, 2021 by Drew Vass

The Effects of COVID-19 on Marketing

With: Blake Huang, Marketing Manager for Plastpro

In an industry that some suggest is “averse to change,” amid COVID-19, door and window companies found themselves pushed forward into new digital strategies. From revamped websites and new microsites to virtual reality experiences—sales and marketing professionals worked to fill the gaps left behind by missing trade shows and social distancing. But will those strategies outlive the pandemic? Blake Huang, marketing manager for Plastpro, recently weighed in through a conversation with [DWM]’s editor.

How effective have you found digital tools to be, in lieu of in-person trade shows?

“In this industry we are used to a lot of human interactions, because that’s how business is done … it’s all about relationship building, so it’s hard … It’s been really difficult over the past year for us to turn things around and find ways that actually work, compared to what we’re used to doing. When it comes to trade shows, it’s especially hard. I can’t speak for others, but [for us] all of the virtual trade shows haven’t been effective.”

What do you think are some of the primary obstacles?

“People in this industry aren’t the most tech savvy. They just aren’t.”

How about video conferencing? Do tools like Skype and Zoom continue to work for you?

“My calendar has never been so full of meetings, because people automatically say okay let’s get on Zoom … However, the longer this has drawn out, the less effective those things have been. After a certain point, the overall vibe that we got from builders was that their energy felt drained. Suddenly, they didn’t want to talk about work. They just wanted to talk to people.”

Do you expect the industry to continue using these tools and other digital strategies?

“I don’t think that the digital strategies we’re currently focusing on will stay, because everyone can’t wait to get out. And the industry has been set in its ways for decades. Behaviors are hard to change. It might change things permanently for things like meetings—maybe we won’t go back to as much travel for those. But overall, I think the industry is going to go back to the old way we did things.”

So, you don’t feel that the current environment will permanently impact in-person events?

“No. I think when it comes to trade partners and professionals, they’re going to still rely on trade shows and physical samples.”

What about consumers—do you think they’ll continue to rely more on websites?

“People want to get their hands on things. They might shop online, but they’re going to head over to Home Depot or a showroom to see and feel things.”

For more on what the industry has done amid COVID-19 to promote brands and products, along with how experts say those techniques are expected to fair in the long run, watch for an upcoming article in [DWM]’s May-June edition.

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