Marketing Tips to Strengthen Your Brand

A focus on marketing and communications can position construction firms to thrive after a crisis.
By Brian Gallagher
July 30, 2020

No one could have predicted the challenges the country has experienced in 2020. From the COVID-19 pandemic to social unrest, and from remote work to economic turmoil, the construction industry continues to face dynamic changes. The current environment demands that construction firm leaders provide a vision and direction for marketing and brand communication efforts. These efforts should reflect core company values and focus on engagement strategies to strengthen relationships with clients, employees and trade partners.

Business development and marketing expenditures typically are some of the first items cut during challenging economic times. However, continued investment in marketing and brand communication initiatives is more critical than ever, as engagement is most important during times of uncertainty. While construction activity has temporarily slowed, companies still need the solutions provided by our industry.

The convergence of COVID-19, social unrest and economic challenges has disrupted all facets of business and life. From a marketing and business development perspective, the methods and approaches we have relied on to communicate with and engage our clients have changed, too—some forever. Association events and trade shows are cancelled; in-person client meetings and sales presentations are not happening; and prospects and customers are working from home. Even if an audience can be reached, messages that were crafted as recently as a few months ago may no longer be appropriate and relevant or have the right tone. Contractors need to market and communicate, but they need to consider a different approach.

Adjust brand messaging and approaches

Engage with company leadership to ensure consistent internal and external communication. Align the approach to brand communication including messaging, frequency, and tone. Messaging needs to be empathetic, compassionate, educational and solution-oriented. Avoid the hard sell and reaffirm the firm’s commitment to the long term.

Strengthen relationships and be visible

Despite the slowdown, purchasing decisions are still being made and relationships are being developed, albeit differently. Clients want reassurances from their trade partners. Focus on building loyalty with current customers. Measured efforts on social media can help project a consistent presence and build a sense of confidence. Focus on showing gratitude and building trust, versus selling. Work with the client-facing operations staff to better to engage and improve the client experience.

Support the community

Focus on telling stories about how the firm is positively impacting the community. Expand efforts to provide resources for pandemic relief and to address social issues. Reallocate dollars planned for a trade show, golf outing or other event to support worthy causes.

Develop engaging content

Remote workers are searching for a range of things. Produce engaging content including articles, white papers, blogs, Q&As, webinars, podcasts and videos. Use this time to tap internal subject matter experts and gain their contribution for content generation.

Assess PR and digital efforts

Social media activity has increased in response to the pandemic and social issues. Carefully review messaging, tone, frequency and approach. Find ways to be relatable and humanize the company. Be prudent and thoughtful when addressing, avoiding social topics and issues. This time is an opportunity to assess digital assets, improving or enhancing social media content, SEO, graphics, videos, email marketing and digital efforts.

Master virtual meetings and presentations

Zoom, Teams, Skype and Google Hangouts have become a mainstay. Virtual meetings require different approaches than in-person presentations. Provide staff with coaching and training tailored to virtual communications and interactions.

Audit existing marketing plans and tools

This is an ideal time to audit marketing efforts and perform general marketing housekeeping. Update marketing materials, qualification packages, templates, resumes and project reports.

A playbook for marketers on how to deal with a pandemic, social unrest and an economic collapse does not exist. However, marketing and brand communications will play a critical role now and in the future. Use this time to assess and modify marketing and communications approaches, activities and initiatives. Research from previous recessions demonstrates that firms that continue to market during challenging times rebound faster than those that cut marketing expenses. Clients might not be spending right now, but they are still planning. When the crises end, there will be pent-up demand. The most agile and effective marketers will benefit the most.

by Brian Gallagher
Brian Gallagher has over 30 years of experience leading strategic planning, organizational development, marketing and sales efforts for design and construction firms. He is author of three books and was named a Top 20 Construction Influencer by Procore.

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