Construction Marketing 101

By Terry Wegner, CM, PMP

Many people confuse sales and marketing.  They are not the same.  While sales is an “in-house” process, marketing can and should usually be outsourced so that the owner and operation team have adequate time to provide stellar service to new and existing clients.

When it comes to marketing, there is a lot of confusion.  First, it’s important to remember that a potential buyer of services is never going to be talked into anything.  Your motive is to be there when they need the service that you offer. They need to be reminded on a repeated basis so when they are ready, you will be the one they think of. Just keep in mind that your future customer does not log onto social media looking to buy something.  No form of marketing truly has an instant results outcome.

“Your brand” relates to you personally as well as your corporate branding. Both are important and necessary. Personal branding establishes your credibility, experience and knowledge.   You can use storytelling, creativity, humor and inspiration to shape your company’s public and private perception and forge an emotional connection.  In order to begin your brand marketing, you need to deeply understand your buyer’s persona and what would resonate with them.  Of course, you must also know your position in the marketplace and what makes you unique from your competitors.

I believe that the best approaches to marketing for the construction industry are:

Direct Marketing
While mass mailing to prospects, to zip codes, to mailing lists to and to organization members is a waste of time and resources, direct marketing is different.  A direct marketing campaign might include a letter, enclosed offer or post card sent directly to a carefully researched “perfect client.”  The direct marketing piece needs to be carefully prepared and stylized to the person who is to receive it.  Also, it is important to consider how to get it past his or her “gatekeeper.” Consistency of the message and timing of delivery are key. 

Email Marketing
Getting someone to open your email before it hits the spam folder is the challenge here.  It is paramount to obtain the real email address of the person you are targeting and provide an enticing subject line to get your message opened.  It also helps greatly if the person targeted knows the sender.  People get too much email, so it is important not to “bombard” your target while still being consistent with your timing.  

Realtionship Marketing
Remember is it is not always who you know, but who your clients know that is important.

A satisfied customer is always your best salesman.  If you’re reluctant to ask for referrals and testimonials, an outsource can be invaluable.   It has been proven that strong ratings often “tip” a potential buyer into serviceable action. 

Relationship marketing is focusing on your existing customer base and retaining them, reminding them that they made the right decision and turning them into advocates for your services.  The value of this approach is that the cost to retain is much lower than attracting new clients.  However, you must seek ways to constant improve the customers’ experience. Don’t just  rely on past performances.  

Referrals and client testimonials are most useful on websites and can also be very effective on post cards. The order of your reference list is important. In a list of five references, a very busy person might only call two (often it is the first and last).

Word-of-Mouth Marketing
The newer term is “influencer marketing.”.   The “trust factor” of the influencer is the main consideration.  It might go as simple as, “I don’t know how to do that, but I know someone who does.”   Those best at this are constantly nurturing friends and clients, so they feel free to say nice things when asked.  

Too often, companies create what they believe is an effective website, but in reality, is just a reflection of their ego.  An outside evaluation is necessary because in-house staff don’t want to endanger their positions with a critical assessment of an owner-created site or they may have a limited perspective with their ego also being served accordingly.  One needs to place his or herself in the mind of the buyer.  What are they really looking for?    Price?  Schedule?  Quality?  It rarely is all three, even though they might tell you it is.  

Content Marketing
Content marketing is a key instrument in your digital marketing efforts.  By definition, content marketing involves creating, publishing, and distributing content to a target audience. Common platforms are social media networks, blogs, visual content and tools like eBooks or webinars. 

Most people use search engines, such as Google, to find information they need to buy or educate; providing great content allows targets to find information they search for on the web and when they find your comments, it establishes you as an expert.

The newest form of content, and a really effective mechanism, is video.  People want to see who they are buying from, as this gives then a feeling of trust and comradery.  Keep it short and sweet–the attention span of the average viewer is 30 seconds. Creating and uploading videos to your website or YouTube channel can be helpful in brand building.  Some video apps even allow one to analyze, nurture and score leads based on their activity.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
It’s essential in the modern world that your business services are visible on search engine result pages or SERP’s. When a searcher types in a certain key word, SEM enables your business to appear on the first page.  We say the first page, because surveys show that few browsers go past the first page, rather they enter a new search term.  All of the above strategies will contribute to effective SEM.  A SEM campaign may include free SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay-per-click advertising).

There are three principles to a successful business:

  1. Getting the work
  2. Doing the work
  3. Getting paid for the work

The easiest and the one every good company can do is, “doing the work.”  A marketing agency can help you get the right work and see dividends from it—not just in getting paid for a job well done, but in seeing future dividends from satisfying a single client and them telling others.

Terry Wegner is the Managing Partner of Wegner Advisement, LLC—Construction Advisors, Risk Managers, Inspectors and Marketing & Succession Planners for construction entities.  Visit or call 214.500.0726 for more information.                                

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