This previously-published article was updated on July 1, 2017
Construction marketing is complex
Whether you’re a general contractor or subcontractor, you’re probably not selling a commodity product, but high-value, highly-customized services where differentiators include things like experience, capacity to meet a project’s deadline, safety history and of course price.
That complexity doesn’t go away on the buying side either, where your “buyer” is rarely an individual person, but instead a buying committee. Each member of this committee of decision makers comes to the table with his or her own needs and priorities.
What results is a highly-consultative sale where it’s your job to establish trust and build relationships throughout a process that can take months or even years. Sound familiar (and maybe a bit painful too)? If so, read on.
Marketing for contractors isn’t just about awareness
SEO alone is not the answer. Pay-per-click alone is not the answer. Print advertising alone is not the answer. If these awareness-generating, discovery-oriented marketing activities were enough, then your ideal customer would simply discover you through an ad, a Google search or an industry directory, and then proceed to enlist you for their big job that day.
But we all know it doesn’t work like that. Not even close. Instead, the long road to a closed deal is just beginning.
It’s for that reason your marketing strategy has to extend beyond pure promotion and actually start to provide value and utility to your prospects all throughout that long buyer’s journey. And that value should be derived from your company’s wealth of knowledge and expertise.
How to deliver value to your prospects from day one
During the earliest stages of your prospect’s buying process, you do of course need to assure he or she discovers you. After all, if you’re not on the bid list in the first place, you can’t play the rest of the game. But the key is to attract and provide utility to the right people from the right companies who are already out there trying to fulfill a need, rather than soliciting the masses with generic promotional advertising.
Content marketing (paired with smart SEO) is one of your strongest weapons for discovery. You can then supplement content with highly-targeted paid media like pay-per-click and retargeting ads.
Once you’ve successfully attracted your prospective customers to your website, you have a short window of time to assure them they’re in the right place. Before they click the “back” button and return to their Google search, you need your website content to confirm quickly that yes, you can indeed help solve their problems. And you’ll need to back up the “brochure” content on your site by demonstrating your company’s expertise through helpful content that answers their questions and assists their buying process, as well as case studies that prove you’ve walked the walk.
After you’ve started earning trust, you’ll need your website to generate physical leads out of these anonymous website visitors. And because most of them aren’t yet ready to put you on the bid list, you’ll have to create other opportunities for lead generation to happen.
Let’s illustrate this content-backed, utility-driven discovery and lead generation process with an example from one of our clients – The Korte Company.
An example of smart construction marketing in action
The Korte Company is a design-build contractor that serves a variety of industry verticals very well. But in recent years, they’ve focused on establishing and growing their business in the healthcare industry – building hospitals, outpatient clinics and other medical facilities. A key facet of their growth strategy has involved translating their expertise and experience into marketing content that provides utility to the buying committees of their prospective healthcare industry customers.
If you Google search “healthcare construction” or “medical facility construction” you’ll consistently find Korte at the top (or near the top) of the organic (unpaid) search results. And a high volume of highly-qualified traffic to their website results from that.
But this isn’t by chance. Korte has committed to being educators of their healthcare industry audience – not just promoters of themselves. They’ve earned their Google real estate.
Korte has written articles like the following about a variety of healthcare construction topics:
- Hospital expansion: A complete guide
- 7 steps to save money and improve care in hospital expansion and renovation
- Evidence-based design: four traits of a smart hospital floor plan
They’ve also written a wealth of in-depth content like the case studies and white papers below that prompt their visitors to trade contact information for a helpful resource:
- Anderson Hospital Case Study
- The Owner’s Guide to Healthcare Construction
- Financing You Construction Project
The role of construction marketing after lead generation
Marketing doesn’t stop once the lead has been generated. Content can and should be used to continuously educate different members of the buying committee all throughout that long buying process. It serves as a complement to the personal interaction of your sales staff – not a replacement for it.
Using the previous Korte Company example once again, not only does their content serve to attract, build trust and generate leads on their website, it forms the core of their email marketing strategy – to nurture and stay top of mind every month with their audience. And it also translates well into a print format, to be used by their sales team as direct mailers and leave behinds after key in-person meetings.
The smartest GCs and subcontractors out there have built business development teams made up of marketing and sales professionals that work as one cohesive unit. They share the same goals, the same vision for success and the same message.
If you’d like to have a conversation about how build this kind of team within your organization, we encourage you to request a consultation. We’ve been immerse in construction marketing for over 10 years – and we’ve even won a few awards (2013 CMA awards / 2012 CMA awards).
We’d love to talk!
Construction marketing resources
We’ve written a wealth of content over the years about marketing and lead generation for industrial sector companies in our Learning Center. A selection of related articles and case studies follow.
- Increasing website contacts 600 percent in two years for national construction company
- Website visitors converted into real sales leads for leading flooring contractor
- Inbound marketing immediately delivers new leads for geotechnical contractor
- 3 smart ways to generate construction leads online
- Generate better construction leads with these 3 types of website content