How a new approach to marketing is driving opportunity in construction
The construction industry has faced its share of challenges over recent years – addressing a skilled labour shortage and navigating the global pandemic are key among them. These challenges mean that contractors have to find new ways to reach skilled talent and develop business relationships. SitePartners is a full-service marketing partner for the industrial sector looking to help businesses make those connections. We talked to Andrew Hansen, Founder and CEO, about the future of marketing in the construction industry and the opportunities he sees in this space.
Kaitlyn Till: How have contractors traditionally promoted themselves and what has changed over the past 10 years or so?
Andrew Hansen: The industry is still a relationship-driven industry, for sure. Word of mouth and who you know is still a key driver to a lot of business engagement and partnership. With every client we talk with, we never try to say that's gone away because that's still a key part of driving businesses forward and winning new projects. However, what we've seen over the last 10 years is demand for digital [marketing] has increased, and the opportunity where generally the people that are awarding the work, whether they're owners, whether they're developers, whether they're. . . reps, consultants, et cetera, whatever that end client is that awards the work, the younger demographic entering leadership positions. . . may not have that network that's been established.
And so for a lot of these younger buyers or these younger procurement teams, their first touch with the brand is online. That is their first touch with discovering who this brand is, where they stand, what are their capabilities, and what their position is in the marketplace. So we've seen a rise in the need for digital [marketing], just to communicate stories and positioning, to get on those tender lists and to get in those positions to win work. I see that as the biggest thing that [has changed], where 10 years ago word of mouth was probably the only major driver. Sure you had the traditional advertising but now, in the last 10 years, sometimes that first touch point is digital. [Digital marketing offers the opportunity] to make an impression, the ability to get on that tender list and the ability to showcase the capacity and skill sets to meet the project requirements. So for us, we work with clients on shaping that image, shaping that brand story and shaping that narrative so they're in a position to win the work.
The B2B buyer journey has changed. In light of the last three or four months, in an industry that's traditionally been driven by handshakes and face-to-face meetings, that has essentially been eliminated. So, now you go to video calls and you go to touch points. You have the opportunity to introduce [your company differently] whether it's video assets, whether it's an integrated website, whether it's different digital tools, that opportunity to share that company story when you can't meet a person is much more needed.
KT: What is the value proposition for contractors to invest in marketing and branding to a greater degree than they may have done in the past?
AH: The biggest thing is when you look at branding and you look at investing in marketing, there are two main audiences. The first audience is customers, and the second audience is employees. And I think in an industry that is driven by people, talented employees have their choice of where they want to go. So when you market and invest in your brand, that's really looking at that audience of employees and getting the top talent. They want to work with the top businesses. Investing in that brand really helps attract the right employees to really drive the business forward, and that's something we always hope for our clients where they may have more than enough work and they may have the revenues and the project backlog, but they need to locate the people and locate the talent. Investing in that brand and marketing [can really help] attract the talent that you need to drive your business forward.
We look at: what are the values of the business? What's the leadership with the project backgrounds? [We get to] work on exciting stories, really putting that narrative out to the marketplace. . . the customers are essentially all contractors, and they want to win projects on value, not price, where possible. So how to do that is they build authority in the marketplace, and what we work with our clients on is really building that authority. We're able to do that through building the narrative, whether it's industry articles and showcasing how our partners, or the industry as a whole, approach [projects]. . . so putting that into the marketplace starts to allow clients to win on negotiated contracts, rather than RFP [request for proposal] driven contracts – it allows them to win on value.
KT: What aspect of construction marketing most excites you and where do you see trends going forward in this space?
AH: Video is going to be something we see continuing to grow year over year, the opportunity to really communicate a story [so that] people can see the specialization. People that aren't in industry [don't necessarily] understand the complexity that goes behind every construction project, just the sheer amount of planning and logistics coordination of what has to go right in a project to deliver on time, on budget and on schedule. The opportunity to have video to showcase the company's story and how they approach projects is huge. We're just starting to see that take off. The big brands are starting to invest in that. Now I think the industry as a whole is going to come into that and that's going to raise the industry as a group. It's not [just] putting a hammer and a nail into a project, it's all the planning before.
I also see industrial construction companies starting to invest more in social media now, where before it's kind of been more private, the way that brands talk about their company. And I think over time that started to change where the leaders are starting to really be open and transparent with the way their company operates. So how they recruit, how they hire, how they approach projects and showing the behind the scenes. . . so that's growing. I think that's a trend that's going to start to increase – just that open transparency [through] digital storytelling across the entire brand.
With trends like the increase in mobile accessibility, the chances are that when you hear about a construction brand, you're going to engage with that brand digitally on a phone and kind of make that buying decision before you meet them in person. So that comes out of the video, comes out of social and comes down to that website.
It's definitely a talent-driven business. . . that's always going to be on the forefront of leaders' [minds]: how do we bring people outside of industry into this industry? How do we train people up and showcase the different career opportunities? The bigger brands are starting to do that and are telling those stories.