Marketing has changed since the days of big brands spending big money on billboards, commercials, sponsorships and the like. Although it’s become infinitely easier for businesses who don’t boast brand names like Coca-Cola, Crest, and Microsoft to market themselves and reach their target markets, it’s not necessarily any easier to know what to do with all that potential marketing power.
The name of the game is inbound marketing and a brand of any size can and should be leveraging it to grow and stay relevant. Even a construction company can build (see what we did there?) a better, more effective inbound marketing strategy than the big name competitors without blowing the budget. The internet has leveled the playing field for businesses of all sizes. If you’re intentional about doing it right...
You can out-market your outbound marketing competitors at a fraction of the cost.
Before you continue reading, make sure you have an up-to-date website. Many construction companies rely heavily on word-of-mouth and not their web presence. Think of the internet as another tool in your toolbox, but with the power and size of a dozer. Your website is the first thing your prospective clients are seeing, even the ones who’ve heard about you from friends and family.
Got your website? Ok, now what? Your construction marketing goals are to stand out, get noticed, and differentiate yourself from your competitors all at once, so we’ve broken down a few major factors that you should care about.
Identify Niche Markets
Identifying your niche means segmenting and targeting a portion of your potential customers. Serving a niche market allows you to focus heavily on one or a few specific topics, instead of trying to spread across countless topics that your industry covers. Do you have certain types of services that you specialize in?
Maybe it’s hillside concrete foundations.
...or industrial tilt-ups.
...or residential subdivisions.
It can be anything, but it should be relatively specific.
Whichever services you decide to focus on, those will be your niche (or niches). Your niche(s) should be obvious to your online visitors, so make sure they’re featured on your website and in your marketing materials. Your niche(s) will set you apart as an expert, instead of a generalist.
You might be wondering if choosing a niche means not casting a wide net. Technically, yes. However, casting a wide net is what countless companies are doing and just hoping for the best. Picking a niche or even a few and sticking to them can make you the #1 choice for whatever it is that you do. That way, when push comes to shove, everyone will know that you are in fact the best at that specific service and the decision becomes a no-brainer. Without a niche, you become only as good as the clients you’ve worked with, because you’ll be just like everyone else, relying on reviews and word-of-mouth for your next client as opposed to being the top link in search results because everyone is searching for you and your specific service.
Try to market your specialized services to the group of people who would most likely need it. This is called customer segmentation. By segmenting your customer base you can provide targeted information that answers to the specific needs of that segment. This makes you more likely to get found online by those searching for your expert services.
Don’t feel as though you have to stick to a single niche. However, if you’re just getting started, focus on one or two and get them right. The point of segmentation is to keep you from marketing to people who need a backyard swimming pool the same way that you’d market to an international textile manufacturer.
Different strokes for different folks.
Get Local(ly Listed)
As with any local business, local listings are key to, you guessed it, local success. As any construction company will tell you, transporting equipment and employees long distances is a pain, so staying relatively local can be a huge time and money saving option.
The best part about local listings is that it typically relies entirely on the business to manage. That means, getting your brand and business on all the different listing pages is owned by you, just like a Google Business or Yelp listing. The downside, it can be a pain to get yourself up and running on all local listing pages.
This image shows all the different things that you need to do to dominate the local SEO game and this website will tell you where you currently stand. It’s definitely a process to get all these updated, but the results can be astonishing for your business.
Aside from your digital presence online, investing in your local community is a fantastic way to market your brand directly to potential clients. Some ideas include sponsoring a little league team, advertising in stores where wait times are long enough for a patron to notice your ad, or simply attending local events and chatting with people about what your business has to offer. These are all relatively low budget activities that will easily get you noticed in the community.
With the rising appreciation towards local brands, your investment in the community both digitally and physically, can be a great way to establish your brand without paying for an overpriced billboard on your local highway.
Share Your Knowledge
Position yourself as the expert in your previously established niche (or niches). As a local business and construction marketing expert, you can keep up with changes more easily and understand your area better than a large company that operates in multiple states or countries can.
The concept of sharing your knowledge and teaching others how to do what you do is at the crux of what inbound marketing is. Don’t think of it as giving away your expertise, consider it as a way to show potential clients the amount of work that goes into the work that you do. Some will decide to go it alone, but many others will invest in your services instead.
Here are a few ideas on what you should be doing and sharing with the digital world:
- Create educational videos, blogs, infographics, and more for your prospects
- Share industry knowledge that your competitors aren't talking about
- Highlight good business practices and help people see why they should trust you
- Create case studies on past and current clients that walk prospects through the process of working with you from start to finished product
When you set yourself up as the (1) go-to expert for (2) your niche (3) in your area, people will trust, recommend, and look to you. When you educate prospects and provide value to the marketplace as a whole, you’ll be surprised to see how many prospects and even other brands in your industry reach out to you for work and co-branding opportunities.
What To Share and How To Share It
In case you haven’t noticed, video has become extremely important (and cost effective, if not simply free). You don’t need to own an expensive camera or hire a video editor to get the job done. Smartphones have made it infinitely easier to create, edit, and publish videos online.
For example, you can record videos and post images of completed projects and ones that are still in progress or you can create tutorials for homeowners about smaller, simpler jobs that they can do own their own. When they trust you for the small stuff that they can do by themselves, they’ll call you for the more complex work.
How do you use social media to reach your aforementioned segments? Think of each channel as a conversation, not a platform. Use it to talk to your prospects and customers, promote your content, offer deals, share projects pictures, create contests, post videos, and, above all, listen to your audience.
Social media can be the best way to see what’s trending in your industry and what people are struggling with or simply interested in learning more about. You can also learn where the information gaps are and identify a new niche that you hadn’t previously considered.
Social media can be a very big time suck! Make sure you do your research on which social networks you should be putting your efforts behind. Don’t try to use all of them, pick two or three and commit to a long-term strategy. Social media is all about putting your brand out there, so being in the right place is imperative.
REFERRALS & ONLINE REVIEWS
A much larger percentage of people will trust reviews from others before they’ll trust you. This makes a referral the golden ticket to gaining new business. When you perform a service for a client, request a referral after you’ve completed the work. Do your best to get these referrals without tarnishing your relationship with the client.
For our clients, we like to use a review portal. This way, the client can have a bit of control over the review process. The goal here isn't just to prevent bad reviews from popping up on certain sites, but it gives the client an opportunity to resolve any issues they may have been unaware of. If the customer had a good experience, they're redirected to a review site. If they had a bad experience, they're asked to fill out a form detailing it so that a representative can get in touch with them. It's win-win for everyone involved.
Reviews are a huge part of construction marketing, and they matter immensely on most sites, including Yelp, Google, Facebook Houzz. People often base their decisions entirely on the reviews, so make yours stand out.
An important note about reviews: Many of these sites, especially Yelp, have incredibly strict algorithms that decipher whether or not a review is real, fake, paid for, etc. It’s in your best interest to get genuine reviews. Avoid paying people to leave them or writing fake ones. However, offering an incentive for a referral or a review can work wonders! Things like gift certificates or discounts on future work should do the trick.
And Remember -
Your business and all of your competitors are not only in the construction business...
...you’re all in the relationship building business.