Why Marketing Matters in The Construction Industry

The word “Marketing” sounds like a big corporate word, with images of glistening towers of downtown Toronto, or the slick Coca-Cola ads you constantly see everywhere and anywhere.

Marketing is not always something that you associate with the construction industry. 20 years ago, if you didn’t have a website in the construction industry, you could proudly say something like “We get our work purely by referral or word of mouth”. In fact, even today, there are still a lot of contracting companies and consulting firms that either don’t have a website or do have one, but with spelling errors and lacking any sort of company personality. Certainly, there are many companies out there not thinking about marketing concepts, such as “target audience” “segmentation”, or “Search Engine Optimization (SEO)”.

The general lack of marketing expenditure in the construction industry is likely the result of the get ‘er done approach that you need to survive in this competitive industry, and would-be-nice items, such as marketing…they are simply not a high priority for most of those in the industry…As a result, marketing budgets in contracting or consulting can be quite small.

Larger construction companies like the PCL’s, and the EllisDon’s, and even larger consulting firms like the WSP’s and Stantec’s of the industry have a bunch of marketing going on.  These companies know how to survive no matter how big they get, they know that by doing ongoing marketing, they are ensuring that their business will thrive and survive.  Their brand image is important and must be supported by a robust marketing program.  It does seem that many of the smaller and even some midsized companies in the field seem to have very little going on in the way of quality outbound marketing, including true lead generation for their sales and business development people.

So how do you get your business?  Are pre-existing relationships, word of mouth, and bidding opportunities enough?

Ultimately your business success depends on your people, and your ability to deliver what you promise.  You want your clients to think of your company and your services as valuable.   Great, so your existing clients appreciate the value you provide – how then, do you demonstrate that value proposition to new contacts and prospective clients?  What’s your brand, what’s your “WHY” … why do you do what you do? And why should clients want to work with you as a result?  These are all questions you will have to find answers to.  And once you do, a well-planned, and well-executed marketing programme can help to get that message across.

Truth be told, most companies in the industry are not making use of any in-house marketing strategies. The biggest hurdle for companies in the construction industry is measuring the return (ROI) on marketing expenditures.

There are so many marketing tactics (including free ones) that can be done to get your company ahead.  Start with a solid (even if it’s simple) website as this will provide the backbone for the rest of your marketing programme. Create free branded pages on the social media site of your choice, set a schedule, alternate between industry news and company news and at least you’ll be doing something to get things rolling in the right direction.

Even a basic and regular marketing schedule can make your company better connected to those in the industry that matter – your clients.

Once you gain some traction with a basic website and social media, complete a more detailed website project, ensuring that the content is engaging, and that the website is visually appealing, and is kept up to date and current.    It’s not difficult to do and ROI can be measured with leads that result from visits to the site, using simple tools. Websites that are not kept current with fresh content tend to die a slow SEO death.

It’s important to keep sight of what your clients want, and to ensure your marketing program is focused on their needs.  In addition, you must understand your competition in the market. Figure out what they are doing that’s innovative, what they’re doing wrong, or what they are doing better than you.  A simple competitive analysis like this is a great way to gain insights into your company’s strengths, weaknesses and help you identify potential opportunities or external threats.

In terms of other in-house marketing efforts, there are many options and tools available once you have established a website and social media presence.  Consider Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to boost your searchability online.  Think about issuing a regular newsletter with engaging content and targeted e-blasts.  Google AdWords, press releases and digital or print advertisings can easily become money pits, but if you do them right, they can also be a powerful addition to your programme. Printed formats (magazine ads, printed literature) in general are not as relevant as they once were, however in the construction industry, paper is still king so some level of clean marketing collateral in printed form is a good idea.

Your clients are not shopping for sneakers online, they are extremely selective, and want to go with a name that’s well known in the industry, a company whose name always seems to be in the forefront.   So, how can you ensure that your company doesn’t fall behind in the construction marketplace? The answer is to create a simple but effective marketing machine that will help your company stand resilient against anything that may come its way.

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