When considering whether your construction business provides ‘added value’ to your customers, the ultimate question you should be asking of your company is:
Why should a prospect choose a product from your company that can easily be found elsewhere?
Many building product manufacturers fail to see the huge disconnection between the messages their company promotes externally and what their customers actually want/need. i.e. they throw a whole load of ‘self’ promotional content in the faces of their prospects’, without taking the time to understand the important factors that influence specifier behaviour and subsequent decisions.
According to an article on Forbes, 43% of respondents said “blatantly promotional and self-serving content” is the characteristic key dislike in B2B content”.
In contrast, 75% of marketers said that content should frequently mention products, whilst 60% of their audience turn this down.
All in all, what the customer actually wants is disregarded by the business’ desire for immediate results and hard sells.
So the first step to improving your customer service is to remember this key point:
People hate being sold to.
Move your focus away from your product and towards understanding your clients’ everyday wants and needs. And the only way of doing this is by developing an emotional connection; remind them that you’re not simply a brand but a human being with feelings, who perfectly understands their problems and how to fix them.
It is this gradual transition in marketing, from a salesy ‘shout the loudest’ approach towards a more personable, direct connection with the audience that will help you to achieve your bottom line (to sell your product or get it specified) and to avoid rejection from the very beginning.
Whilst a previous post discussed why Building Product Manufacturers should provide added value for their customers, this post will focus on key tools and tips to exactly how you can achieve this.
1) Social Media
Whether you love or loathe it, social is here to stay and will only grow over the years. So if you’re not already, you need to be active on the platforms that are most relevant to your target audience.
Twitter is great for both listening and engaging with prospects; LinkedIn is useful for joining group forums and discussions, whilst Facebook may be useful for engaging with a specifier-based audience.
After all, how are you expected to work alongside your customer and get to know their needs and wants without listening and engaging in the right places?
Social provides you with endless opportunities for proving that you’re willing to go above and beyond to cater for their everyday needs. It should therefore be used for the following:
- Answering any queries that your target audience may have
- Guiding their user journey by pointing them in the right direction, whether this is a link towards a useful application page or a product testimonial.
- Being present to acknowledge mentions and join in with everyday topics of conversation
- Updating customers with the latest and most relevant industry news
- Demonstrating your brand values and staff/charity events outside of the office space
‘Twitter Takeovers’ are also a great idea for demonstrating your technical expertise and answering any FAQ-style questions for your target audience. Inform your customers when this will be taking place and get a technical member of your team to schedule in an hour or so of their time to provide the answers.
See an example below of a Celotex takeover campaign named #AskCelotex…
And if you aren’t using this already, Hootsuite will also allow you to manage your time effectively across all platforms; if you know you’ll be out of the office, why not schedule a few tweets throughout the day to keep your customers informed and your brand front of mind?
In order to schedule these in line with audience behaviour, try out Followerwonk; this supports your social activity by providing Twitter analytics; who are your followers? Where are they located? When do they tweet?
Remember that a clearly defined social strategy in line with your content is the only effective way of ensuring that every action you do points towards providing added value for your client and becoming a friendly face for when they need you.
And never use social purely for broadcasting purposes; this will not make your brand memorable.
Have a read of our post on how other Building Product Manufacturers are currently using social media.
2) Blog content
With the popularity of blogs manifesting two-fold, it’s still so surprising to see the amount of construction companies who havn’t yet invested in one. And with little or no engaging content to share, how can you prove to clients that you’re an invaluable resource?
This is exactly your chance to hop on board and prove you are the market leaders by providing specific content catered to the needs of your audience. This is the best way to establish your voice as an authority in your field and prove you are the go-to place online.
Core topics should include:
- Legislation and regulations
- Design considerations for a particular product or category
- Product application guidance
- Evidence of where a product has been installed in the form of case studies or testimonials.
Regular E-books and whitepapers created from your blog content and promoted as free guides will also allow you to share your knowledge and provide your prospects with reliable, actionable information.
Whilst the above topics are essential to Building Product Manufacturers, the most frequently shared content is fun, dynamic and playful; play with this human element and show you have fun within your community by mixing your messaging with sharable videos or infographics.
Check out this Youtube video on ‘Engineering Happiness’…
When reviewing your content strategy, ensure you focus on long tail keyword search terms; phrases that are typically 4 or more words long in order to give you a more specific idea of what your clients are searching for.
Google trends is also a great tool for ensuring your content is the most relevant it can be; what topics are currently trending? What topics are on the rise? Are these topics relevant to your brand?
Use this in line with your Google Analytics to analyse the most popular landing pages and trending on-site searches.
Creating an environment that entices the right people and doing this well means the value you add is remembered, pass on, and reciprocated; an authoritative blog will allow your client or prospect to recognize the additional benefits you offer and as a result they’ll develop a memorable connection with you.
3) Email Newsletters
Blog content can also be repurposed and implemented into your email marketing strategy; this will enable you to keep your prospects updated and engaged with your business activity on a regular basis. Email newsletters could include educational-type posts (perhaps helpful installation tips and guidance), a friendly update on newly joined team members, or an update from a recent industry or charity event.
Again it is important here to focus on the content aspect of your newsletter. Rather than focusing on promoting your latest product or offering discounts, use carefully curated content which should already exist within your blog area to re-affirm your brand as a credible voice of authority.
4) Specification Tools
Now that you’ve achieved a reassuring social presence supported by a regular flow of useful content, you also need to prove that you are the leading experts by incorporating the latest, innovative specification tools.
This will make your audiences’ lives as easy as possible by shortening the length of time it takes them to complete tasks.
The benefits of online applications don’t just stop at the end user; these tools are impactful marketing tools that, when built to do so, can generate well-qualified leads for your sales team and can help you learn about how and where your products are being specified.
These could include:
- Online calculation tools eg. U-values and Coverage
- Specification builder applications
- Product selector and comparison tools
- Members Login and Project Areas
- E-learning and CPD Areas
- Media libraries
- Product comparison tools
- Colour and texture selectors
A members area with a CPD section and a range of specification tools will enable your prospects to feel that little bit more appreciated and valued. Not only will your brand be known for selling a specific product, these additional resources will mean that you’ll soon be regarded as a reputable and supportive network within your niche area of the construction industry.
5) Professional community
Providing added value does not just restrict itself to your customers; remember that you’re a small fish in a very big pond and rather than swimming alone, engage and provide others in your community with your technical knowledge and expertise.
Let your voice be heard…
Become known as a problem-solver and thought leader by engaging in online industry forums, creating tutorials and ‘how to’ articles directed at members within the industry itself; these could be professional bodies, trade associations, forums or interest groups.
Anyone can say they’re a ‘thought leader’, but unless you can prove it and be readily available to engage and educate others then this means nothing.
Provide added value by maintaining regular contact and updating professional bodies with changes to your business, whilst keeping up to speed and interested with their business developments too. Aim to be helpful and reliable with every useful contact you meet as you never know when you may need their support back.
See the below screenshot taken from a Construction Forum group on LinkedIn, with a range of members conversing and sharing their thoughts on recent industry news and products.
This will not only enable you to build a strong support network, it will also mean that you start to build a presence in other markets and source new suppliers.
If you take anything away from this post, remember that understanding human sentiments is absolutely critical to achieving added value and high levels of customer satisfaction, not just within the construction industry but throughout a range of marketing sectors.
To find out more about creating an effective content strategy, download our Content Marketing E-book.