The Streetwise Guide to the New Age of Construction Marketing

2012 was a year of change

So 2012 was a bumpy ride for most of us in the Construction industry and like most I am sure you have come out the other end in 2013 feeling bruised and sore. You will have had to make changes to the way you work and adapt to forces that are outside of your control and have a long hard think about what you offer, who you offer it to, and how you can make the connection between the two better.

The main thing that became clear in 2012 is that specialist contractors can no longer rely upon traditional methods of estimating and bidding alone, as the ones who did found themselves struggling up against those who had embraced the new age in which marketing, branding and relationships between company and client play a vital role alongside the traditional.

The construction industry has changed to adapt to client needs and expectations, as it always has and always will. And it’s the specialist contractors who are open to these changes and adapt accordingly and quickly that always get ahead of the game.

Why are some of us stuck in the mud?

Surveys have shown that the vast majority of specialist contractors who use Yellow Pages for their advertising admit that the ads just don’t bring in the amount of sales that they used to, if at all. But the majority also admit they cannot say for sure as they don’t actually track their sales in any way, so they don’t know where the new clients are finding them.

This is a worrying flaw in today’s industry as marketing has become vital to the growth of businesses, but so many don’t understand and are too stuck in the mud to even try to understand, which is damaging their future in an industry that is overtaking them.

How Specialist Contractors Can Keep Up

Get Online

You as a specialist contractor have a distinct advantage over standard businesses in that you have the ability to go out and find new clients. You don’t have to wait for the phone to ring or the new client to walk through the door and you don’t have to hope that someone will recommend you to their friends to gain new custom.

Specialist contractors also have a unique advantage. In today’s industry when prospective clients need any kind of construction or building work done, the first place they go to find the company for the job is online, meaning if you have a good online presence and some digital marketing you have a massive advantage in your market.

The best way to test your online presence is to use a search engine to search your specialist area and where you operate in the UK, e.g. “remodelling Derby”. What and who comes up on the first few results? You, your competitors, a larger national company?  When potential new clients search for your company on a popular review site, such as Yelp, what do they see? Try looking at your website (if you have one) on a smartphone. Does the site appear at all and if yes, is it well converted or does it not work well on mobile?

Get Personal

Whether or not you have a solid online presence, don’t think that is enough to get by, you are still in a service orientated “people business” where good relationships with your clients, old and new, are vital. Being online is a good start and the best way to get your company name out there, but securing the client requires some time and effort put in to build the relationship and keep them satisfied and turn them into return customers.

At its core, contracting is about an agreement between two people to get something done a certain way. People. face to face, human hands shaking human hands. As convenient as email, websites, phones and faxes are, the construction industry is built on personal relationships. And in this age of digital and online we can often forget that.

Get out of your chair and go out and visit your clients. Show your face, shake their hand. Say hello and remind them of your connection. Call personally if you can’t go visit them. Make it a point to personally connect wherever and whenever possible. Make personal relationship building and networking a cornerstone of your marketing process.

Make it your priority to really get to know them and their needs and focus on letting them know you understand and can give them what they want. Listen closely to what they say and how they say it. Clients want to be heard, understood and respected. They want you to be able to make their dreams come true, and they are willing to give you money to make it happen. Show them you can.

So just take a moment to step back and really think about how you communicate and relate at the moment with your client. Who have you not kept touch with? How do you interact with the people you are in touch with at the moment? How can you improve on those areas?

Customer retention, business development, and basic relationship building are the key components to the growth of your construction company. Don’t just make them a priority, make them the way you do business.

 

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The Streetwise Guide To Building Your Construction Brand Online

Working in such a competitive industry where both communications between business to business and business to customer interlinks makes it ever more important to stand head and shoulders about the rest, and one way to do just that is to build and uphold a sturdy and durable online brand for your company.

What Is Branding?

Branding creates a distinctive and recognisable personality for your company that cannot be reproduced by others and draws in specific type of customer. It is more than just having a fancy logo and a few brand objectives and positioning statements, it is about creating a brand that embodies what you want people to think and feel about the company, creating an emotional connection. This in partnership with a good reputation is what helps prospects make a decision about using your brand over competitors.

Key Factors of Building a Brand Online

  • Consistency: The most important factor in branding is consistency, as it builds trust and gives off the clear message that ‘what you see is what you get’. This means the company must be clear themselves first on what standards they must stick to in order to achieve consistency, and ensure they always match if not exceed these standards.
  • Tell Your Story: Every company has a story, but the way this story is told has a huge impact on branding.  You know your brand inside out so there is no better person to tell the story, you just need to pick out the core elements that make your brand unique and more importantly superior. Get creative with digital tools and social media channels and don’t forget to show the human side of the brand, be humorous and original, that is what attracts people online.
  • Make Your Audience The Focus: It isn’t all about sell sell sell when it comes to using online channels such as social media. There is nothing wrong with the odd promotional post here and there, but for the most part it is about the audience, and engaging key people in conversation using digital channels and forming strong relationships. Don’t just post anything for the same of posting, carefully consider what each post will offer to your audience and use interesting formats such as images and video as well as sharing text and links.
  • Go Where Your Target Audience Is: There are so many different channels available to us now, and it can be easy to get caught up in trying to be active on them all because you might think you will miss valuable opportunities. But that time spent juggling channels could be better spent researching and listening to your audience to find out what channels they tend to frequent. You can then narrow down your active channels to maybe 2 or 3 key ones where the majority of your target audience are and have more time to focus on sharing worthwhile content and engaging in conversations.
  • Empower Your Workforce: Every person who works for your company, no matter how large or small, should have an influence on the branding. After all, your marketing department is just a small fraction of the whole outfit that customers will interact with when they choose your company, and so the brand needs to reflect the bigger picture not just the one department. Aim to have at least one person from each department who is willing to help represent their part of the brand on social media and even on your blog by sharing your content with their own networks and even contributing their own content to the brand social media and blog.
  • Integration Is The Key To Consistency: Ensure everything, both online and offline, is in line. The look and feel of the brand needs to be consistent throughout, as does the information the brand gives. For example if you launch a new product at an exhibition, be sure the information about the product is on all your online channels and website at the time of launch so people can go away and look into it.
  • Keep Looking Ahead: Because the digital landscape is an ever changing and developing environment it is vital that you keep your eye on the future and be ready to adapt the brand to any changes that may bring. One of the best ways to do this is to keep listening to what your target markets are talking about online, what they want and need, and forecast the ways in which your brand’s products and services could adapt and evolve to meet the current and prospective future wants and needs of your customers and prospects.

Got tips of your own that have worked for your company when building your brand online? We would like to hear about them, please share them with us in the comments section below or Tweet us @StreetwiseSubbi to tell us more!

Does Your Online Presence Compliment or Counteract Word of Mouth Recommendations

It is and always has been a vital part of the construction industry to have a good reputation. Word of mouth and recommendations are one of the most trusted and respected forms of advertising for a brand, as its far more reassuring if someone is willing to recommend the company after having work done by them than simply picking a random company from an advert or directory with nothing but their own word to go by.

However, in the digital age more people are turning to Google rather than the Yellow Pages when they receive a recommendation for a specialist contractor, so having a gleaming reputation online is as important as having one offline. When people type your company name into Google, the first page that will come up is very likely to be your company website, but what follows? Is it your company’s social media pages, directory slots, blog, etc? Or is it a forum post or otherwise where someone is complaining about your company and the work you did for them that they were not happy with?

Ever Googled Your Company?

You may think you have a blemish free online presence, but the truth is you never know the lengths a disgruntled customer with online access will go to these days, and how that could affect your company’s online reputation. Writing a negative review or comments about a company online is just as common if not more so than writing something positive or a recommendation, and even posts of this nature from years before could creep up at anytime in a search, as once something is published online it is very hard to completely erase or evade.

streetwise subbie specialist contractors help

If you haven’t already stopped reading after the last paragraph to go and Google search your company name to see what comes up on the first page, I suggest you do so now. If what you see is various links to your company’s different channels and maybe even some positive reviews then your company is doing something right. Keep up the good work and make a habit of regularly searching your company to ensure this continues. You also may want to read on to find out ways that can help ensure your searches stay positive and company orientated. If you see negative reviews, pages irrelevant to your company or industry that happen to share some keywords in common with your name, or even competitors’ websites and online channels then you have work to do to ensure your online presence compliments your offline reputation.

How To Manage A Good Online Presence

It is of vital importance in this day and age that companies and their marketing teams are aware of every aspect of the presence online and keep on top of this, as one bad search could lose your company credibility and prospective customers.

If negative reviews and comments are appearing on the first page of a Google search this isn’t irreversible, it just takes some extra effort on your side. Putting in place online PR and/or ensuring you have a regular flow of worthwhile content on all pages associated with your company name, including your website, blog and social media channels, will help to push those pages higher and push the negative comments off the first page.

Ensure you keep a regular check on anything coming up in relation to your company name and related keywords. You can set up Google Alerts to notify you of daily results or even as soon as each result appears so you can track your progress and make certain your online presence remains blemish free and optimised for success.