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Marketing is an important part of business strategy for construction firms when times are good, but becomes a critical component of business continuity in challenging market conditions. While the construction industry has enjoyed many strong years, COVID-19 triggered an economic downturn that is forcing companies to take a hard look into their backlog. Depending on the sector, there could be some significant attrition or delays of projects planned to start in the next 18 months. Finding new business to replace this lost revenue is now top of mind for many. It is time for construction firms to inject more marketing muscle into strategies aimed at boosting visibility and setting the stage for long-term growth.

A Q2 2020 study by the USG Corporation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that three in four contractors have moderate or high confidence that the next year will bring sufficient new business opportunities. To deliver on this confidence, construction firms will need to implement marketing strategies focused on strengthening their brand and generating new opportunities.

Ideas for helping firms do this can be found in a recently released RedTeam whitepaper that provides a marketing roadmap for winning more business in the COVID-19 environment. Some of the marketing tactics outlined in the whitepaper include the following.

Telling a compelling story

This marketing tactic is foundational to driving growth. Telling a compelling story involves developing a narrative on why a prospect should know the firm, why they should want to know the firm and why they should trust the firm. A great way to get started is to have someone informally interview leadership or even a small team in the organization; great content can come out of simple questions like: What do you love most about being in the construction industry? 

The story of why prospects should know a firm should start with determining which prospects are a best fit for the company’s services. From there, firms can build their company story to deliver messaging that resonates with and engages the right prospects at the right time.

The answer to the question of why a prospect should want to know a firm starts with the attributes that set the firm apart. Wrapping those strengths into the story in a way that communicates value to the client will open a conversation and begin building the relationship.

Framing the company story in the context of trust can have significant bottom line impact. The complexity of construction projects and risks associated with the delivery of the project on time and on budget make trust a key factor in winning new business. Data from Autodesk and FMI found that at high-trust companies, four out of five projects are for repeat customers, potentially increasing gross margins by 2% to 7%. 

Making a case

Making a case means controlling the narrative through strategic campaigns that build credibility. A good way to do this is through measurable customer feedback. Also, document stories from the field and leverage those to demonstrate how you handle challenges and don’t hesitate to share when things went wrong and how that was resolved. Being authentic and sharing real-world examples to demonstrate your skills can be very powerful.

Surveying customers for feedback on projects can help improve company performance by defining key performance indicators. Feedback from customers can bring to light things that might not seem significant but were important to the client. Customer surveys can give firms the tools to measure projects more effectively as well as information that can be used in case studies and shared with other customers and prospects.

Demonstrating expertise

In addition to case studies that highlight the ability of the firm to deliver great value, construction companies should demonstrate how they actually do that. Presenting workflows and explaining how the firm manages key aspects of a project can be a deciding factor in winning new business. Firms can market themselves by presenting the project team and explaining how they use technology to ensure all subs on the jobsite are compliant, manage safety and track and capture information.

Leveraging the company website

Websites have moved beyond being informational tools and should now be a key part of any construction firm’s marketing toolkit.

To be most effective as a marketing tool, the company website should include value-added content that presents the firm as a subject matter expert. This content can include blogs, whitepapers, case studies, downloads, articles and videos. It is important to keep all content up to date, providing a steady cadence of news, resources and data that prospective clients can reference.

It is also important for websites to be optimized for search engines like Google. This is called search engine optimization, which is essentially the process of optimizing a website so that the algorithms of search engines drive organic or unpaid traffic to the website through search result rankings. To “Google optimize” their websites, construction firms should make sure their website is:

  • Fast loading: Slower loading pages increase bounce rates, which in turn have a negative impact on a company’s search engine rankings;
  • Mobile-friendly: With the number of smartphone users in the United States estimated to reach 275.66 million this year, optimizing the company’s website for mobile viewing is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have; and
  • Up-to-date: Keeping websites updated with fresh content and reliable operating and contact information can help upgrade a company in search engine rankings.

These and other marketing tactics can build brand awareness and generate leads that can help construction companies weather the current crisis by setting them up to win more business and sustain long-term success.

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