By: Jeremy Knauff on September 27th, 2017
Digital Marketing Strategies Contractors Can Use to Generate New Business Efficiently
One of the things I love about the construction industry is that it's filled with so many honest, hardworking people. One of the things I find frustrating about it though is that a lot of those same people often avoid technology that could make their jobs so much easier and more efficient. I see this mistake most frequently when it comes to their marketing efforts.
Many entrepreneurs involved in commercial construction believe once they have a basic website, the digital aspects of their marketing efforts are done. They mistakenly believe their business is only about relationships and price, so they believe that updating their website and publishing new articles regularly, and using digital marketing channels like search engine optimization, social media, and email marketing to get in front of potential clients are all a waste of time. They think that kind of stuff if just for tech companies.
I frequently find myself in a position where I have to show people in this industry just how effective digital marketing can be in producing new revenue for them.
This situation reminds me of a scene from the movie Hitch, where Will Smith plays a dating coach. In this scene, he's hitting on a beautiful and confident lady in a bar, and she playfully but insistently turns him down while expecting him to try harder to convince her otherwise. Only, if you remember the movie, he didn't do that.
It reminds me of that because I know some of you are probably expecting me to give you a dramatic story about how you're going to struggle and maybe even go out of business if you don't heed my advice, but I'm not going to do that. Even if you don't listen to a single word I say, you probably won't lose any revenue anytime soon. In fact, you'll probably hum along doing business at the same level as you've been doing for years. In other words, you'll be fine for now. But you will miss out on a lot of opportunities for growth that your more advanced competitors will pick up, and over time, that can result in a significant amount of revenue, market share, and a powerful competitive advantage in their favor.
While the commercial construction industry, in general, has adopted digital marketing more slowly than other industries, it is rapidly becoming an essential part of business in this industry because of how much more effectively it helps you earn new business.
So today, I'm going to share three digital marketing channels that you can start using today to increase exposure, build awareness and trust, and help you close more business.
Most people today accept the fact that social media is here to stay, and it's not just for kids to tweet their besties about Taylor Swift’s latest song. It's a legitimate and powerful platform for people to connect with family, friends, and yes, even companies.
You might be thinking “That's crazy, Jeremy! Sure, my clients might use Facebook from time to time, but they aren't looking for my services there.” I will agree with you that your clients are not looking for your services on social media, but here's the thing—it doesn't matter why they’re on social media because you can still use the fact that they are there to present your message.
No one goes to Facebook or any other social network to buy a product or service. They go there to connect, engage, and be entertained. But while they're doing that, you have a tremendous opportunity to keep your brand at the top of their mind, build trust, and showcase your value. Social media lets you accomplish all of that, and do so far earlier in the buying process.
The key today is to understand exactly who your ideal buyer is and target them specifically because this allows you to tailor your message precisely to them. Think about it like this, let's say you run a large electrical contracting company and you specialize in mid-size hotels. This means some of your best clients might be general contractors who specialize in building chain hotels like Hilton Garden Inn. You can very easily use social media to get in front of these people. A few ideas could be to:
● Use paid ads to target fans of Facebook pages of trade organizations geared towards larger commercial contractors. This option may not be available for all pages.
● Share articles and videos on your Facebook business page that these type of contractors would find valuable, such as industry trends, new laws and regulations, or even their own content.
● Participate in relevant Facebook groups by asking and answering questions. A quick search turned up dozens of construction-related groups, some with over 10,000 members.
It's important that any content you share is useful, engaging, and original. Your audience is already overwhelmed by the garbage everyone else, both people and companies, are sharing on social media, so you need to knock it out of the park to get their attention.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
When executed properly, search engine optimization delivers a reliable flow of prospects who are ready to buy. That makes it easy to understand why it plays such an important role in marketing today. To get the most from your efforts, you need to step beyond conventional thinking.
We're not going to get into the nuts and bolts of how to do SEO today though, because that would require a series of articles just to scratch the surface. What we're going to discuss is a particular SEO strategy that can give you a significant advantage over your competitors.
Because most people are busy competing for the same few obvious keywords, many overlook a tremendous opportunity to earn organic search traffic by publishing content that answers the kind of questions that tend to come up earlier in the buying process.
The key is to think strategically about the things potential clients have to deal with before they're in a position to buy your products or services. For example, if they are going to hire a general contractor, they first may conduct searches related to:
● Construction trends (For example, green/sustainable construction, open vs. flexible office plans, etc.)
● Architectural and engineering topics, since most projects require their certification before construction can begin.
● Local business and employment trends because the success of any project is dependent on adapting to the local economy.
Success with this strategy depends on creating useful content on these type of topics, which relate to and eventually lead up to the purchase of your products or services. Self-promotional content is not going to cut it here. It's essential that this content answers some important questions that prospects have throughout the planning and buying process.
By producing content which answers the kind of questions that come up earlier in the buying process, and then getting it ranked highly in the search engines, you create a powerful opportunity to place your brand in front of potential clients sooner than your competitors. These related searches could span weeks or even months before they ever enter a search term related to what you do. It's during this crucial time that you have an opportunity to establish brand awareness, and more importantly, begin to build trust—long before your competitors have even entered the picture.
We used the term “force multiplier” in the Marine Corps to describe a tool, resource, or technology that enabled a unit to operate as an exponentially larger unit. For example, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (also known as UAVs or drones) can provide reconnaissance and fire support, allowing a single rifle squad to perform the same missions that previously would have required a platoon or more. That’s a unit three times larger! Can you imagine what you could accomplish if you could achieve the same results as a company three times larger than yours is?
In digital marketing, email can be a powerful force multiplier if you use it correctly. I'm not talking about what you send from your inbox, though, nor am I talking about an email newsletter either. What I'm talking about is a powerful and automated drip campaign.
This specialized software allows you to send a series of prepared emails to a prospect according to a predetermined schedule and is initiated when they submit a contact form or register to receive information. The idea here is that you're maintaining brand awareness while sharing valuable information to make their decision-making process easier. This demonstrates your expertise and helps to build trust, which is especially important in the early stages of the sales process.
For example, a general contractor might prepare a series of emails that send the following valuable information over the course of five days to prospect once they fill out your contact form:
● Three questions they need to answer before hiring a general contractor
● Recent building code changes they need to know about, and how it will affect their project cost
● Five planning mistakes that could lead to cost overruns on their construction project
● Current construction trends that can affect the future value of their building
● Three steps they can take to help ensure their construction project is completed on time
These emails only need to be long enough to share the information in a way that your prospects will understand. For some simple topics, that may be just a paragraph, while other more complex topics might require something considerably longer. Like Rusty from Ocean's Eleven said:
“Don't use seven words when four will do.”
The beauty is that this tactic is completely scalable and once it's setup, doesn't require any further work on your part. A prospect simply fills out the form, and the software will then automatically send out your email series according to your schedule.
Jeremy Knauff grew up in the construction industry, and today he runs Spartan Media, an agency that specializes in digital marketing for the construction industry. His company provides web design, search engine optimization, social media, and more, to help companies create more exposure, earn more customers, and build the business they deserve.