The construction industry has been enjoying a period of immense feasting as projects continue to fall into business owners’ laps. These circumstances therefore discourage investments in marketing or even new business development. However, if there is any truth to “what goes up must come down,” those riding the current high tide will eventually face low tide, sparked by mounting inflation, increased raw material pricing and a fluctuating labor market. Spending a small amount of time to refresh or update your marketing efforts now will help shore up a steady stream of work for seasons to come.
Today’s evolving consumer trends combined with human dependency on technology are driving marketing. Millennials, the largest living generation by population, have been born into an era conditioned by instant gratification and absolute mobility. Therefore, marketing approaches used in years past may be construed as outdated. Failing to keep a digital and mobile strategy in mind will cause many businesses to struggle.
According to Fundera’s 2021 Small Business Marketing Statistics and Trends Report, a whopping 81% of shoppers research online before purchasing. Sixty percent of all consumers begin their product research with a search engine before heading to a particular website, and 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions.
These statistics prove both the value of online presence and the ease of discoverability. Beyond baseline discoverability, your potential customers conduct deep dives across the internet and social media platforms where they unearth reviews from Google and Yelp, and ask community members for recommendations on Facebook, Nextdoor, Thumbtack and Angi.
The vastness of the digital realm can seem overwhelming, yet there are a few easily executed strategies that every operation can implement to boost its marketing efforts without a heavy lift or significant expense.
Marketing itself is a journey, not a destination. To be successful, you must travel. The process through which customers decide on a product or service is known as the buyer’s journey, comprised of three stages including awareness, consideration and decision. Customers place tremendous value on the ability to find information online and the less information available, the less a product or company is trusted. Word of mouth referrals remain invaluable lead generators, yet customers today demand more before genuine trust can be established.
1. Prioritize Your Digital Footprint
Company websites are themselves a strong marketing tool, because they provide a degree of brand awareness and are further used to educate customers, showcase wares and cement a digital footprint. The content placed within the website helps to bubble up your business across digital search engines using an ever-changing algorithmic process that takes into account keywords, image titles and website traffic, among other things. An easy way to impact the algorithm and showcase business skill is to add before and after pictures of completed projects. The images serve as a visual portfolio and well-constructed image titles containing relevant keywords also attract web crawlers that further boost digital visibility.
Additionally, the ease with which any size construction business can integrate modular software or add-on applications or plug-ins to an existing website can further power it to function as two-way client portals. This evolution opens the door to a more engaging and interactive experience through which secured communication can be done, contracts uploaded/downloaded and other processes automated to save time and money. For example, an element of the buyer’s journey driven by marketing is the call to action. Adding a self-scheduling application that uses specific days and times on your business calendar for project quote requests eliminates back and forth phone calls or emails and progresses a customer through the buyer’s journey.
2. Turn Transactions Into Interactions
Construction is a people-first business. The work contractors do is personal and very little can replace the benefit of face-to-face interactions. Yet, plenty of customers are emboldened by the anonymity of digital interaction, resulting in online conversations about your business — both the good and the bad.
Too often, construction business owners, proud of their years of experience and skill, will avoid engaging or responding to customer reviews — especially if the reviews are less than glowing. However, online reviews are opportunistic in that they support a stronger digital search footprint and provide a means to authentic engagement. Businesses that encourage customers to leave reviews improve online discoverability in leaps and bounds compared to any other marketing strategy, although some fear what customers will say. Business owners take public commentary personally — particularly if it is negative. Yet even in the face of dissension, business owners have the opportunity to respond with integrity and detail to build trust and rapport online, as well as share specific desirable narratives.
For example, a customer of your business for whom you just completed a major renovation left your business a four-star instead of five-star online review. Rather than fear it will discourage new business, the absent star opens the door to additional communication to determine what that customer felt was lacking. The opportunity to right any wrongs or clarify misgivings can quickly turn a four-star into five-star and ensure a word-of-mouth referral that can extend one project into many more.
Engaging with previous customers is an underutilized marketing strategy as prior customers are typically a business’s best cheerleaders and referral gallery, which can help shore up future streams of business when the market levels or slows.
3. Bust Out Your Creative Side
Social media platforms have extended marketing capabilities for construction business operators who leverage industry expertise layered with creativity to enhance the art of persuasion. Marketing, at its core, is the art of persuading, enticing and attracting others to experience your product or service. In these times of great gains and broad reaching social media, marketing can be done with what you hold every day in your hands.
Take videos of the work being done on a jobsite. Capture before and after imagery. These visual tidbits can be stitched together into Instagram reels, Facebook stories or TikTok videos. Once posted, their reach is limitless — especially content that is compelling, visually appealing and connected with viral audio. High-quality content valuable to your target audience stimulates two-way engagement and awareness. It further drives traffic to your website which, as outlined above, can be optimized for conversion.
Marketing has never been as easy or inexpensive as it is today, but the wrong time to regroup and consider marketing approaches to spur business development is when the tide is low and you are left scrambling for business. Rather than putting efforts on hold, ride the high tide while also taking small steps to solidify your business’s digital presence.