Small Biz Week Profile: BuildDirect embraces social media

This Small Business Week profile is sponsored by Brother. Comment on this blog post and your name will be entered in a draw to win one of two Brother Colour Multi-Function Centers (model MFC-6490cw) on Nevember 1, 2008. These professional series colour inkjet all-in-one centers allow small business owners to print, copy, scan, and fax wirelessly and retail for $350 each.

Vancouver’s BuildDirect is reaching out to its global customer base in a whole new way. As one of the world’s leading online wholesalers and manufacturers of building products they have always focused on using leading edge technology to stand apart. Now the company co-founder Jeff Booth, and his executive team, are engaging in direct conversations with their customers from around the world.

The company recently launched a series of corporate blogs covering everything from how to pick the best bamboo floor, to insights on green building and how to successfully build a new business. All of the company’s department heads are now blogging in their areas of expertise, and they have also started micro-blogging on Twitter. In addition to this, employees, customers and suppliers are joining in to become fans of BuildDirect on Facebook, and their executive team is starting to shoot videos of their work around the world to share online.

BuildDirect has always taken an innovative approach to the building products industry,” said BuildDirect president and CEO Jeff Booth. “Very early on we understood the value of making all of our products and detailed product information available online, and we definitely understand the value of communicating differently with our customers. One of our early initiatives was the creation of BuildDirect University where customers could find online articles about installation, product selection and maintenance, and last year we became one of the only companies in the building products industry that allows users to leave unedited product reviews on our site for every product we sell. When we started this dialogue with our customers we got some great input that has helped us improve our customer service and expand our product offering to include more of what our customers were asking for. We learnt a lot of valuable lessons from those conversations and that is why we are really focusing our efforts on expanding the conversation even further.”

Blogging, Twittering and Facebooking are new initiatives for BuildDirect, but they are already finding that new social media connections are helping them connect with new customers and the media. By staying on the leading edge the company has continued to grow its sales this year, even as the US housing and construction market has experienced a significant downturn. They have expanded from their base in Vancouver, to now do business in 60 countries on 6 continents, and by using social media they now have a whole new way to keep in touch with their growing customer base.

Want to talk to Builddirect? You can follow them on Twitter (@BuildDirect) or check out company president and co-founder Jeff Booth’s blog Building Into the Future.