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A Marketing Perspective on Material Shortages

Anna Anderson Material Shortages
February 16, 2022 at 7:00 a.m.

RCS Influencer Anna Anderson says using empathy when having tough conversations makes a difference. 

Editor’s note: The following consists of a conversation between RCS Multi-media Manager Megan Ellsworth, and Art Unlimited CEO Anna Anderson. You can listen to the podcast or read the transcript below.

Megan Ellsworth: Hello everyone, my name is Megan Ellsworth here at RoofersCoffeeShop.com, and I am so excited to be with Anna Anderson from Art Unlimited today. And we are so honored to have you as an influencer this year, and this is your first response to our influencer question, so we're very excited to hear what you have to say. And this month's question is all about material shortages. So how are you dealing with, and what is your advice concerning material shortages for contractors out there? So hello Anna. 

Anna Anderson: Thanks so much for having me Megan, it truly is an honor to be an influencer for the RoofersCoffeeShop this year. And you're right, this is my first time. So yeah, super stoked. 

Well, the question as far as how are you dealing with material shortages and what is the advice for contractors? Obviously I run a marketing agency and so I look at all of these challenges through a different lens than someone who's running a roofing company or sitting in a different position. And so the big thing that comes to mind with material shortages is the communication piece, because we're all in a very turbulent time, we just got through Christmas, right? 

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. 

Anna Anderson: And the big thing on everybody's mind was will my present come in time, but that same question has plagued each and every job that has been run almost, it seems like especially from the commercial world for the last umpteen months. And so now all of Americans understand this crisis because their loved one might or might not have received that treasured gift due to supply shortages. 

Megan Ellsworth: Right. 

Anna Anderson: And so the supply chain crisis really struck a chord everywhere. And I said America but it's really global component as well. And so communicating that message was much harder in 2021, wherein 2022 we have this newfound empathy that we now can leverage as we communicate. 

So what are some practical components to look at when you are communicating material crisis, and we've walked through this with labor shortages, but the one thing that has stayed tried and true anytime you have a crisis is to be honest, to have a clear message and to make sure that within your company everyone is crystal clear on what the communication is, and they have the same message externally. That is one of the biggest gaps that I see is the owner, the visionary, and maybe it's the leadership team, those individuals truly understand the communication, but they fail to properly cascade that throughout their company. 

And so the sales team will say one thing, and then all of a sudden it gets into the operations team or production team's hands, and they are having to communicate reality. And that harsh reality is something that if presented up front and the client understood that, and they can say you know what, we're not the only company that's experiencing these issues. I would challenge you to ask some of the different companies that are also bidding on this job what is their plan and how are they handling material shortages? And that communication piece all of a sudden sets you apart and says you're a leader, you recognize this is what we're all facing, and we have a plan. We understand how we're going to communicate these material shortages to you, and you can see it's documented here so that's a good thing. 

As the leadership formulates what that plan is, document it, make sure the team members who communicate externally have that. So again, it's one message and it all of a sudden elevates you to a whole new place with your customers, and your team has this sense that our leadership really cares about us. They want to make sure when we have those tough conversations, we're empowered to share truth and to make sure that it's not our names on the line, but it's together, we are all unified with this message. 

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Wow, that's such a good point, because not only are you then communicating to the customer the right things, you're also like you said communicating with your whole team and it makes it more of a team bonding almost where they know what to say, they feel supported. You're so right, that's brilliant, yeah. 

Anna Anderson: The other thing that I see is as you are sharing the material shortage and the crisis at hand, there's other opportunities. You can express the depths of your network when it comes to different products that you're able to share. You could talk about different opportunities. I know I've talked to some architects and they said in 2021 they began having three different specs where they would begin to say here's our spec number one, but here are some backup options. And so showing that depth from a marketing perspective we have begun displaying the depths of manufacturers that contractors have access to, just further demonstrating to the customer that we're never going to be backed up into a corner. We've got you, we have different manufacturers we can leverage, and we're going to make sure that we deliver to the best of our ability on the project that we've agreed upon. 

And then that just interweaves so beautifully into the core values that you as a company might be demonstrating to your clients, so that's where I love EOS because Entrepreneur Operating System talks about core values, but really leverage, our core values is this. And because of this that's why we are open and honest about the shortages that we're facing. And it's this other core value that we feel is empowering us to truly bring you exceptional customer service, and here's our path to achieve that. 

You can make it seem like it's not really a crisis and we all need to meltdown and cry, but we as a company, these are our values, we stand strong on them. We have this network and together we'll rise above, it won't be easy all the time, but we will make sure that even in the midst of foreseen delays on some products we're going to keep working at it and we will get it. We will work through the price increases or anything that comes, faces us, because we're open, we're honest and we always put you and our team first. So leverage all those things. I think it's really exciting, challenging, but differentiating time for businesses to rise to the top. 

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, wow, so well said Anna. That really makes me think about when water and oil, or oil and vinegar meet, what rises to the top, that's so yes, that was a great visual at the very end there, I love that. I'll cut that out. Oh gosh. But thank you so much for being an influencer this year, we are so excited to have you. Any last words of encouragement for anybody out there? 

Anna Anderson: I would just say we are currently in an exciting time, make sure that you are always reviewing and updating your communication. Look at all the different places where that communication can be shared, and don't bury these challenges under a rug. Everybody's facing them but if you're again open and honest and you're saying we have a plan, we are strong, that's what is going to really make for an exciting year this year. 

Megan Ellsworth: Well said. Well thank you again, and I will see you next month. 

Anna Anderson: Sounds good. Thanks so much, Megan. 

Anna Anderson is the CEO of Art Unlimited. See her full bio here.

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