Why is marketing a dirty word in the construction industry?
“My business is just managing to stay afloat. I can’t afford marketing.”
“I rely on word of mouth referrals and tender opportunities. I don’t need to market my business.”
“I have so much work, I don’t have time for marketing.”
These are just some of the reasons construction companies, and especially small contractors and sub-contractors, put forward for choosing to place marketing on the back burner and not educate prospective clients on why they should choose their product or service over their competitors. According to Databuild CEO Morag Evans, this approach is short-sighted and detrimental to the business in the long run.
“The days of simply throwing money at expensive advertising are a distant memory. We have found that working with the sales teams and creating a multifaceted approach at an entry level cost produces the best results.
“Regardless of the size of the construction company, and whether it’s thriving or just managing to keep its head above water, investing in a marketing strategy designed for today’s times is imperative, especially while the construction industry is struggling to recover from the devastating fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
According to Evans, businesses cannot operate at their full potential without a marketing strategy in place. “Besides building awareness of the company brand and the products and services it offers, marketing enhances the company’s reputation and credibility, which is important for attracting new clients and retaining existing ones. In this landscape, existing business has shrunk, so you need to downsize – or get new business.
“The right marketing activities generate leads that mostly turn into business for the company, which is key to gaining an edge over competitors.”
Essentially, a marketing strategy outlines the actions necessary to achieve the business goals. “Fundamental to the development of a marketing strategy is a thorough understanding of your business and the market in which it operates,” says Evans. “It’s also important to find out what your competitors are doing that’s innovative or better than you, as well as what they’re doing wrong. This will help you identify they type of marketing best suited to your business.”
Evans points to several key elements that should form part of any marketing plan, such as an impactful logo, clear messaging and an understanding of your target audience. “If nothing else, your business must have a website. It’s your face to market.”
In today’s fast-paced business landscape an online presence is crucial, she continues. “The quest for a particular product or service almost always starts with a Google search and it’s important that your company comes up in the search results. Consequently, every business should invest in a professional website that provides up-to-date information about the company, what it offers and where it is located. The content on the website should be comprehensive while leaving prospective customers wanting to know more.
“Don’t fall for the expensive website scam. There are always capable people who can create a simple site for an affordable fee. It’s a start, and you can always improve later.”
While it’s not necessary to spend a fortune when creating a marketing plan, it is important to be consistent in its execution. A stop-start approach will only cost more money in the long run, Evans points out.
The internet offers plenty of cost-effective ways to market your business, many of which are free.
Don’t underestimate social media
Construction companies don’t usually opt for social media marketing, believing their target audience is generally averse to it, but the beauty of these platforms is that they offer a variety of techniques that allow businesses to engage with thousands at no cost.
Focus on the platforms utilised not only by your target audience but also your main competitors, Evans advises. “What works best for them will probably work for your business as well. Keep an eye on their activities and learn from what they are doing right.”
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Instagram are ideal for showcasing your company’s achievements. Use these networks to share multimedia content about your latest successful construction project, the new product your company just launched, or reviews from clients who are happy with your service.
One of the main benefits of social media is that your audience can provide feedback on your content in the form of likes, comments, shares and even recommendations. Positive engagement on a well-managed social media page will instil trust among potential customers about your company and its offering.
Social media also enables you to provide your customers with 24/7 support, as they are no longer limited to calling a number during business hours when they have a query, but can quickly and instantly engage with you over a chat messenger. This instantaneous contact goes a long way towards enhancing customer satisfaction.
Advertise for the long haul (even if it is conservatively)
Whether it’s print or digital, advertising is an invaluable tool, as long as it is done regularly and provides a clear call to action. Research has shown that an ad run over an extended period is far more effective at generating business leads than a once-off placement.
Spread the news
It’s important to regularly publish news from your company in which you educate clients on how to get the most out of your product or service. This can come from your own channels, such as a monthly e-newsletter or blog. It’s also a good idea to send regular press releases to relevant trade publications about recent projects and company developments.
Undoubtedly, the best source of new business for suppliers and contractors is project leads, especially in the highly competitive construction industry where the ability to communicate with the right people at the right time is essential in securing a contract.
“This is where investment in a lead generation platform is invaluable,” says Evans, “not only in helping to acquire those vital leads, but also in providing you with the right information relevant to your business. This will ensure that when you do tender for a project, you are able to market your products and services effectively at each stage of the project lifecycle and increase your chances of being successful.
When all is said and done, marketing is not a dirty word, it’s an investment in business success, Evans concludes. “An effective marketing strategy will put your company on the map by building its brand into an authentic, trusted partner of choice. The long-term value this brings will ensure that your company remains at the forefront of the construction marketplace.”