One of the things I find frustrating is when I read articles that talk about ‘Marketing in such and such an industry’ and the article only focuses on one particular aspect of marketing. Marketing is an ecosystem. It’s never just one thing that drives response. And in the same way that scientists can’t observe without affecting, every little thing you add/subtract/tweak in your marketing ecosystem will have an impact on your results. Some impacts will be nominal, others will be seismic, but it will cause change.
This is why trying to work out exactly where responses come from is fraught. There is simply no possible way to draw a straight line from a potential client noticing you to the finished sale (or even the initial lead itself). There are way too many variables, and regardless of the hype around measurement for digital advertising, human beings just aren’t that predictable.
So today’s article will have a little bit of everything. It’s not comprehensive – there’s no such thing in today’s frenzied, fractured world. But what I will try to do is focus on the things you must do. Once you get these out of the way, you can start to get creative with the myriad of other marketing things you ‘could’ spend money on.
It all starts here, so let’s get a few things straight before we begin.
A logo is not a brand. A logo is just a pretty (or not) piece of artwork that represents your business, which is fine. Better to have a good logo that makes you look professional than some hideous thing that leaves the wrong impression. But a logo is not a brand. A logo only becomes a brand when you infuse it with meaning.
This really, really matters because your logo/brand is going to be seen in a lot of places, for a long time. If you don’t go to the trouble of articulating what your business stands for, you leave it to the public to make up their own minds, and that guarantees a schizophrenic, and often not kind, rendering of your public image. Smart businesses plant a flag in the ground and say “This is who we are”. Then over the course of time, if your marketing is well crafted and intelligent, this message can become inextricably linked to your name. Instead of being ‘Bloggs Builders’, you’re now ‘That construction company that expert at X (or Y or Z)’. And that is the single biggest competitive advantage you can have, because your competition simply can’t match it. They can match price, products, service etc, but not a brand. They can try to copy you of course, but then they look like clowns and your brand becomes even more influential.
Everyone in business will tell you it’s easier to keep a client than find a new one, and that referrals are gold. If that’s the case, how does your client experience differ from the rest? This is low hanging fruit people. You don’t have to spend a mint to make people feel special. Most companies are lousy at this, so you can really set yourself apart. And if you have your branding sorted, you can use this as another means with which to reinforce what makes you different.
Whether it’s on-boarding gifts, additional ‘feedback’ phone calls or simply providing the buyer with information and assistance that the competition don’t, enhancing the client experience should be bolted on as part of how you work.
Keep in touch
So many companies spend zillions to get new customers but do almost nothing to stay in touch with existing customers. Admittedly in construction (and other industries where you may not see the customer for a long time after the sale) it can seem a bit pointless to do email marketing, SMS marketing etc. But that just means you potentially do less, not that you do none. Even if the customer won’t buy again for a long time, that doesn’t mean they can’t refer you to others. And beyond that, good customer comms can even be part of your client experience (after-sales service).
So map out these comms and make sure they happen. Mailchimp is a great tool in email comms, and you can even automate the delivery so that past customers can receive ‘Happy Anniversary’- type emails 12 months after buying etc. It’s a small gesture, but as per my opening statement, good marketing is a host of things done well.
Car signage, site signage and similar ambient marketing forms are critical in construction, especially if you ply your trade in a regional area (because these markets are more connected than metropolitan areas, plus they’re smaller so your ambient advertising will get seen more often improving the frequency with which the message is delivered).
As with all marketing, the choice to do it is part of the battle, but without good execution you’ll still get belted by the smarter marketers. So don’t settle for some dinky sign on the door of your car when you can get it wrapped and drive your branding and retail messaging home every single time people see you coming (not to mention the value in making your competitors vehicles look ludicrously wimpy). The same is true of site signage, don’t put some tiny sign out the front. Wrap the fencing, put something up in lights, go big. Look at what your competition is doing and smash it out of the park.
To follow on from the previous point, too often businesses look to the competition to determine what they do (in other words they copy them). You should look to the competition to determine what ‘not’ to do. In other words, whatever they’re doing, you can better it. Be bigger, bolder and more original. Don’t ever just ‘match’ what they’re doing. Make them chase you. The first rule of marketing is differentiation. It can be scary to be out there on your own, but that’s where the opportunities live.
Every single thing your brand appears on should be A1. It’s never ‘just a letterhead’ or ‘just a business card’. Every time a prospect sees something with your name on it is a chance to set yourself apart. It’s a touch point that must not be overlooked or done ‘cheap and cheerful’. The cost of making these documents better is infinitely smaller than the cost of advertising, so make every post a winner.
Once again, if you get the brand right it will provide you with direction for any and all marketing you do. If your brand says you’re the best at building high tech homes, make sure all of your documentation reinforces this, both in message and design, but sometimes even in terms of the actual products you use (maybe your business card could be a custom USB?)
The other stuff
Once you get your house in order regarding all of the above, it’s time to start looking at advertising and other marketing initiatives. At this point the world opens up and there are an infinite variety of things you could do based on your geographic market, demographics, budget, messaging etc. There are some things that may be better suited to the construction industry as a general rule, but you still need to look at them through the filter of market, demographics, budget etc. Otherwise you’ll just burn money unnecessarily. So when you get to this point, talk to an expert. Like all things in life, talking to someone with experience will save you a lot of D.I.Y pain/cost.
Author: Rohan Johnson. Owner – Sneaky Ninja. [email protected]