Webinar Replay: Construction Marketing
Posted December 2nd, 2021
Marketing is a lot more than a logo, a website, or a Google ad. It’s everything your company does to build awareness, gain new business and deliver value to your customers.
We invited three AEC marketing experts to share their tips for effective branding, website design, email, social media, and video marketing. Watch the replay or read the transcript below.
In the meantime, I’m going to go ahead and get started. Hi, thank you all so much for joining me and my special guest today. My name is Autumn Sullivan. I’m the director of marketing for mobilization funding. We are a specialty lender working specifically with construction companies there Jenny’s back. We do contract financing and purchase order financing. You can learn more about us at mobilization, funding calm but that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. So first, I want to give my panelists an opportunity to introduce themselves. Seth, let’s go ahead and start with you. And then we’ll do Stacey and Jenny.
Great. Thanks. Awesome to be here. My name is Seth Fargher, I live north of Charlotte, North Carolina. My company is actually called Heightened Creative. It’s a creative marketing agency. I started six years ago, two years ago, I started focusing on construction and realize that to the typical construction, company owner, heightened creative doesn’t sound like much that they’d be interested in. So we’re talking about branding later i i chose to rebrand part of my business as construction video pros. And that’s what I do now is build websites, shoot video and take photos and other marketing tasks for construction companies. So that’s that’s me in a nutshell. I’m married. I have three kids. If you follow me on LinkedIn or social media, you’ll see a lot of pictures or videos of my son and his John Deere plastic tractor, who was three and hysterical so I’ll throw that out there.
Stacey Holsinger 23:10
Hi, I’m Stacy Holsinger from steel toe communications. I started my marketing consulting business about nine months ago now. I have experience over 15 years experience working in mechanical construction, civil engineering and home building helping companies with their marketing. So right now, I’m working with a lot of smaller mid sized contractors to help them compete in the market with the much larger people and I live in New Market Marilyn, most of my clients are in the DC area, but I do have some clients on the West Coast. And I focus on email marketing, social media. I do a little bit of video marketing, newsletter writing anything that relates to content pretty much and I am married with a three year old son.
Jenny Nix-McGerald 24:10
I am Jenny Nix-McGerald. I am the marketing director for Element Engineering today is day six. So my 32nd elevator speech is a little rough so bear with me. Elements focuses in the transportation infrastructure industry. We provide transportation engineering, civil engineering, structure engineering, surveying, subsurface utility engineering and utility coordination services. We are headquartered in the Tampa Bay area where we provide services throughout Florida and we are a disadvantaged business enterprise in the state of Florida.
Autumn Sullivan 25:01
Awesome. Thanks, guys. Let’s go ahead and get started. And we’re going to start at the beginning. We’re going to talk about branding. And I think that branding is one of those topics that a lot of people know is important, but don’t necessarily know what it means. Often it’s confused for Yeah, I have a logo, I have a business name, maybe I have a website. And we know that branding is so much more than that. The quote that I shared today, actually in the in LinkedIn was, I’m going to put it up on the screen super quick. So everyone can see it. It’s a quote from Jeff Bezos, and it’s your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room, which is a controversial statement. Some people disagree with that. But I think it is important to acknowledge that your branding is about a lot more than just your logo. Seth, do you want to start here? Can you talk about your philosophy around branding?
Seth Fargher 26:00
Absolutely, I Thanks. Um, like, like you say, whether people agree or disagree. Marketing, to some degree is subjective. People have different opinions of what’s the most important, what’s the most effective, what works in one industry might not work Same. Same is true for branding.
My personal philosophy is I think branding is largely about two things, the first recognition, if people know who you are, and what you do, when they see your logo, drive by a job site, I’m going to I’m going to speak in terms of construction language, because that’s what we’re doing here. See your job site, an invoice with your letterhead comes across the table, anything every touchpoint that you might have with people, do people know and understand and recognize who you are and what you do.
And second to that is the feelings that that sort of brings up if it’s a if it’s a feeling of angst, you brought up a Jeff Bezos quote, somebody might be I don’t like Jeff Bezos, that’s part of his brand. We just came from Thanksgiving. So some of us had meals, probably the crazy Aunt Edna or cousin Eddie. And they’re a brand when cousin Eddie gets brought up, you know what to expect, because he has a personal brand. And the same thing happens when we build a brand. Everything that without that is associated with that brand can invoke a positive or a negative feeling. And you can spend a ton of money building a logo or a website or a something. But if it’s not, if people still have to ask Yeah, but what do you do, you’re kind of missing the mark. And so maybe it’s a budget conversation, which we’ll get in later.
But I believe branding specifically for construction needs to quickly and conveniently illustrate who you are, and what you do without question. And you can spend $100,000, or $200,000, and get a bunch of brilliant marketing minds, and aboard a boardroom in New York City, to say, here’s a font, and here’s a color. And here’s a shape, and this invokes this feeling. And this is what people are going to think, and it means this and it elevates that, and this is what they’re gonna see. But I don’t think the construction industry needs that because they still can miss the mark.
At the end of the day, you need people to know and understand very quickly who you are and what you do. Everything after that is is a little excessive, in my opinion. So I’ll let Stacy and Jenny have the floor on branding, because they know they both have great ideas as well.
Stacey Holsinger 28:24
Sure, so on your note to everything that you’re saying I do want to give some tips when it comes to logos and identifying who you are.
So especially when you’re small or midsize contractor and you don’t have a large marketing budget to work with, but you know, you want to rebrand or refresh your logo. Or maybe you you had added more services onto your brand and you want people to recognize that or you know, the thing about construction as most of us in our names. It’s a family name, or it’s an acronym like DPR JB G Smith, you know, and if you have a large marketing budget, or a large marketing team, you know who DPR is or JBG Smith, right? But if you’re an underdog and or you’re a smaller company and your EA s or HP s specialty is no one knows who you are, so you have to work harder to you know, you have to work harder in your logo or your brand messaging. So there’s a couple things to consider.
When you’re thinking about your logo, first you want to do a conduct a competitor analysis so check out what your competitors that going on. I recently worked with a glazing contractor and all of their local competition choose the same exact colors. So they’re all they all have the same across the board. So you want to make sure that the colors are different than your competition.
Another thing about colors is you want to choose two colors or less. And the reason for that being is once you do define your logo, the cost and price hikes up, print wise when you get to three plus colors, not just that, but your logo is less memorable, because it you know, we’re inundated with all these logos that we see all the time. And you want, you want it to be really simple and really clean and really easy.
If you’re thinking about that, the other thing with logos, you have to consider, make sure the design, the design isn’t too intricate. And it’s simple, because your logo has to be, you know, scrunched down to fitting on like a pen, promotional items real small, and then really big blown up on the big screen. So you have to really consider that when you’re designing your logo. I think the other thing I wanted to mention, so when you’re a smaller midsize contractor, again, like you don’t have a big marketing budget to work with, but you still can represent what services that you offer. So if you are like an acronym like II s, make sure in your email signature, you spell out your services every chance you can get. So this is exactly what we do on the business card to on your website everywhere. Make sure it’s very clear what you provide. Because if you can’t, you know, if you don’t have that big budget, you really got to spell it out for people.
Jenni Nix-McGerald 31:41
And I will just chime in Stacy, that was a great list of specific mechanics to remember. And says you said earlier something about the feelings being evoked when people think about your name or your brand or whatnot. And I would just remind everybody that specifically in the AEC industry, people work with people, it’s all about relationships at the end of the day. So as you’re thinking about what your brand is, maybe the logo, maybe the website, all these other things. Remember, first and foremost that your people are your brand ambassadors, so if they don’t know what you’re trying to do, they can’t support you.
The other thing is, is that you want to make sure that these people are on. On brand. I didn’t want to use that word, but yes, they are on brand, they have their messaging, even if you’re doing something as simple as providing a quick bid to a contractor. For a small project or whatnot, you’re whoever your client is working with that person is your brand ambassador, they’re going to help continue to build your image with the community as a whole and your clients. So just remember that I’m working with people to ensure that they have a great understanding of the overall brand and purpose of your company.
Autumn Sullivan 33:19
That’s a great point. Um, and, you know, I really feel like every communication that you have with your potential client is is a branding moment. And particularly for the small businesses, the smaller contractors out there, like to your point, Stacy, who don’t have the big budget dollars, they invest in the hats that match with their logo and the you know, the polo shirts, and their whole team wears them. But if your team isn’t empowered to then act on brand, they look on brand, but they also have to act and communicate on brand. And that’s like a bigger conversation. But it is a big part of branding, like when I used to, you know, when I used to go to other companies and do branding workshops, I would always meet with the customer service department, because really, they’re the heart of the brand. like who are you when something goes wrong? And how do you communicate with customers when things are challenging that all of that is part of your brand as well.
Since you brought it up the emails I did want to ask you, Jenny about if you had any tips on turning those moments into marketing opportunities, like if you’re sending a proposal, how can you make your proposal stand out from a marketing perspective?
Jenni Nix-McGerald 34:39
Um, proposals, even simple bid, pricing lists, whatever even if you’re considered in a commodity code and you’re looking at just getting the lowest bid type thing. That piece of the sales cycle is pretty much The cherry on top of all your marketing Sunday, everything you’ve done up until this point. So it’s important to make sure that every thing leading up to this submission of your proposal or bid is that it’s in there. You you demonstrate you’ve heard what your clients been saying you, you understand where they’re coming from their pain points, their challenges, and how you can offer that solution if it’s a qualifications type proposal. And again, it’s just the sort of, it’s the, it’s that it is a moment, but it’s, it’s sort of a combination of many moments, and you want to show more than anything else that you have been listening, and you hear what they’re saying, and you are there to support them, because that’s how you have a repeat client.
Autumn Sullivan 35:57
That’s awesome. Thank you, I, when I work with clients, when I used to do freelance marketing, I would remind them that your email signature is a great marketing moment, it’s always there. And, and a tip that I learned just this year, and I love and we’ve been using in our own efforts, and really seeing the value of is putting a PS underneath your signature. That and that is the the CTA that drives to a value moment. So if you have a really cool video about who you are, as a company, you put PS want to learn more about, you know, ABC contractor, and, and then you have a link off to your video. And the the the click through rates on that are really quite impressive. So that’s, that’s my tip for, for email marketer.
Stacey Holsinger 36:48
And to add to what you’re saying about the email signature, too. You can also link it directly to your websites, all of your social icons. You know, it’s not just who you are, but who your company is what your services provide. And then use it as an call to action, drive them somewhere else on your website, if hirings your thing. And you’re looking for people that you can encourage, you know, if you have a large organization, and you’re really struggling to hire, make sure that’s included in your email signature, like apply here, you know, right to your careers page, they’re a huge opportunity in the email signature for call to action.
Autumn Sullivan 37:29
So let’s go ahead and talk about the the big, the big rock of marketing, let’s talk about websites. We work with a lot of smaller contractors, and a lot of them don’t have a website at all. And when it comes up in conversation, what we often hear is well, our businesses 100% referrals, so we don’t we don’t need a website. Which just as a marketer, I’m like, Oh, my God just died inside. Right? Tiny bargain. We just had a heart attack. Um, but Seth, I know you’ve experienced this as well. And I know you had a story about someone saying that they had kind of a, they had an older website. And but it was fine enough for them. So would you mind telling that story and then kind of talking about why companies need to invest in a website, even if their business is mostly referrals?
Seth Fargher 38:27
Absolutely. I had worked on a company for about a year and a half finally got around the table to have a conversation about helping them redo their website, been in business for 40-50 years long standing history in the community, multigenerational. Those are all the reasons that they’re in business. And in that kind of discovery meeting, they just said, you know, we’ve only we acknowledged we all agreed that they didn’t have a great modern website that really illustrated who they are, are illustrated it well.
And they said, you know, we’ve we’ve only ever gotten one, one lead from our website. And I explained to them so you understand that your website is probably not as good as it could be yet it brought you a lead. Is it possible that a well engaging, impactful video that does a better job of displaying who you are and quickly showing that you’re an authority in your space? might bring more and kind of sat back and the light bulb went on.
So yeah, that’s, that’s the that’s, that’s one of many examples. There’s a lot of of belief and perception around the value of a website, what I always explained to people, regardless of whether your business is 100% referral or low bid, people are looking on the low bid side. There’s a lot of people that submit bids and if you’re the same or close to the same at somebody else, what’s going to be the deciding factor, maybe an existing relationship. But if you’re relying on relationships and that person to do t or whoever’s comparing bids, pops over to look at this website and sees an impactful, engaging video that shows a company that’s investing in their people that’s got cleaning equipment that’s got well maintained equipment. Do you want to bank your referrals or your your relationships so slowly that you’re going to win that job?
So it just gives people a more of an opportunity to see who you are and what you do and build authority. This is who we are, this is what we’re good. And people, it’s about legitimizing who you are, oftentimes I had a company, a concrete manufacturer sent me a text that he got from a superintendent that they were already working with, and the guy just they’d already done the job, they were already a customer. And he just sent him a message. So I just want to tell you guys, you have a really great website, we look forward to working with you guys in the future. That was a that was after the fact that he was telling them that the website was good, they were already a customer. But it goes to legitimize who they are, it shows that companies are willing to invest who they are.
And then the whole the whole looking thing. External people are searching online for sitework companies, massive developer out of town is maybe looking for a site or company or a paver or a painter or whatever, you’re in H fac supplier in that area. Maybe they got their people, but it costs them a lot more to come from out of town, it saves everybody money if the people working on site are going home and feeding themselves and everything at night, then paying for outside lodging and things like that. And so people are looking for local subs to do that work.
And then recruitment and employees, everybody’s feeling the strain of of needing help. I don’t want to keep I keep giving these stories, but they illustrate so well I had a guy contact me said yeah, we need to we need a website, actually, we have a parent company who needs a new website to to be perfectly honest, they own us. And if I was looking for a job, and I looked at their website, I probably wouldn’t apply. So again, perception is huge with recruiting, if someone’s 25 year veteran equipment operator, and they don’t necessarily they go look at your website, you may be you may be a 60 year company that’s been around forever. And they might go elsewhere. Because the the content they see the perception that they get is that this other company is more established or treats their people better, or something to that effect. And so those are a few examples that I that I highlight when talking to people about the importance of websites.
Autumn Sullivan 42:36
Stacey, you guys, you just launched a website today for a client. Yeah. Can you share what you? Do you have like VIP pages, the pages that every company has to have, as a minimum website?
Stacey Holsinger 42:52
Oh well, that depends on what you’re looking for. But I guess if you’re a smaller amount, it really depends. If you’re a vendor supplier, you know, you probably you only need a couple a couple pages, because you’re working with manufacturers. But then if you’re a small GC or sub, you know, that could be up to like 14 pages or something like that. It depends on, you know, the projects that you’re working on and what you want to highlight, it depends if you have a hiring problem.
But what I can say what I wanted to say first is Amanda had a great point in the and I know Amanda, she’s great. So some people do rely on social media, right, instead of building a website. The problem with that is, as we all know, social media can go down, you don’t own social media. And Facebook could go away one day in one day. So they also have you know, their own format their own rules, and they control Facebook or Instagram or however, so you need control of your marketing and your brand. And you’ll get that by having your own website. So that’s the importance there.
But what I would recommend for you know, smaller mid sized contractors, when you are developing your website, some of the things that you want to make sure especially on the home page is define if you’re a commercial residential or an industrial contractor, this is super important because I get phone calls all the time that you know from an H back company that will say we keep getting residential people that are calling us and we only do commercial. So you want to try to like cut down on those phone calls by making sure and all of your marketing that you just say you only do a commercial or you do commercial and residential or you know, whatever, but just make that message really clear.
The other thing on your homepage, you want to make sure the location what is the territory that you guys do. Are you a national organization Or do you only work on a 75 mile radius of DC, something like that, you want to make sure so when the out of town guys do find your website, they know exactly who you are, whether you work in commercial, what locations you work in.
Testimonials are also great. You want to make sure you have that on your website. This was a conversation on LinkedIn not too long ago, we don’t have a place in the commercial contracting industry, where you know, except for Google reviews, where people are leaving those comments. So that’s the only place to really do it, where people can learn about your company and whether or not you’re a good contractor. So you want to make sure you get testament testimonials and permission from your clients that you can put on your website. So when people do see you, especially on the homepage, you know, they’re legit comments.
Another thing that I don’t see on websites that I’d like to see more often is, especially from the smaller contractors, if you hire interns, or apprentices, they’re visiting your website, and they need to learn more about your company and what you offer. So make sure you have a spot for that.
And also an FAQ section. You Your website is strictly for your clients, it’s not for you to brag about your company, you know, you want to make sure that when your clients are visiting their website, your website, they get all of their questions answered. And you establish yourself as a thought leader and an expert in what you do. So those would be my tips for your website.
Autumn Sullivan 46:41
Jenny, did you want to add anything before we move on to our next topic? Yeah,
Jenni Nix-McGerald 46:46
I’ll just wrap it up by saying, um, we do still, to my point earlier, it’s a relationship business, for sure. But these days, we’re all attached to our phones. So if we’re your website is really a virtual business card. And when I get a text saying, Hey, do you know of a firm or contractor that will do XYZ? If I don’t have to have the contact? I’m like, oh, yeah, that one company, we work with them. They were great. I can go real fast. And just shoot them your website immediate and be like, yeah, contact this person. And so yeah, remember, which also
Autumn Sullivan 47:31
like the importance of mobile, right? Like you should have a responsive website, because if Jenny sends that, like, Oh, check out this person, and sends that website link, and they tried to open it up on their phone, and they can’t, well, they’re gonna move on, right? Like, there’s like, Well, that wasn’t like, I’m not going to do the hard work to find this. Right. We’re all busy. So make sure your website is responsive. Um, since we’re talking about Facebook, oh, did you wanna say something? So
Seth Fargher 48:01
I add one more thing. That’s a good segue to Facebook. We can talk details of websites, the importance of imagery, or video, or SEO, or those different things. And a lot of that is very overwhelming to people. One of the themes we talked about for this call, and for companies to not feel like they’re drinking from a water hose is a crawl, walk, run strategy. So if you’re doing nothing, do something, if you’re not spending anything, spend something. And as it relates to websites, it is a tool. And it’s a two way street, it is not just something for people to find you it is something for you to be active with my friend Aaron, who’s tuned in with the construction channel, if you’re not familiar, it’s like a Netflix for the construction world. I get lots of cool stuff on there. He mentioned to me that that’s that so many construction companies don’t put value websites because they get no traffic. Well, part of it is how much how much you pushing it from social media, which we’ll get to how much are you doing to work to drive traffic to your website from your signature, like you mentioned autumn with a P with a PS or those kinds of things. And so having a website, yes, it’s crucial. It’s important, get it there, and then start looking for ways to optimize it to drive traffic to it to get it in front of people, and that kind of thing. And so I wanted to make sure and point that out because and social media. Here’s the segue social media is probably the easiest way for us all to drive traffic to our websites. Well done. You can thank me later for that segue.
Autumn Sullivan 49:31
I’m okay, so social media, strangely enough, is is another platform that I see a ton of value in and I have a lot of contractors. I mean, in my career, a lot of other industries as well, but construction seems to one of them where they say oh, it doesn’t work in our industry, particularly the the commercial contractors. They’re like, Oh, well, my people aren’t on Facebook. My people aren’t they don’t use LinkedIn or they don’t Use Twitter. So Stacy, I know you and I did an entire webinar on social media for the AEC. Industry. Do you want to go ahead and kick us off on this topic?
Stacey Holsinger 50:09
Yeah, I don’t know where to start. Um, yeah. So this is, this is one of the marketing initiatives that I probably get the most pushback from, when it comes to owners of big, you know, large or not large, smaller commercial contracting, why should I even be on there, I noticed most of them that say, that don’t have accounts themselves. So there’s a lack of understanding of the value that social media brings. I also noticed, it’s very much a generational thing, I have a lot of younger family members that are going to be taking over the business in the next like five to seven years. And they’re pushing, you know, their parents, or whoever’s owning the company that they’re related to come on, we got to be on social and they just can’t get the benefits across to them. But social is not going away anytime soon.
You know, LinkedIn has been around for 20 years, it’s the top b2b business to business platform. We’re all on here as a community talking about commercial construction. So you know, it’s not going to go away, it’s a great tool, it’s how we learn about each other, our companies, how we can help each other. It’s another form of marketing, or I’m sorry, networking. So you know, you have in person networking, which is old school, but very, very important. And I would never say not to do that. But you have to digitally participate and connect with people virtually, that’s never going to go away now. So you have to make sure that you’re you’re missing out. Because if you’re if you’re just doing the in person thing, and you’re not connecting with people, you’re missing out on so many different conversations. And your competition is going to beat you to that. So that’s, that’s just some things about social media.
But the four top platforms that the commercial construction industry should be involved with is Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube. YouTube is your second largest search engine, it’s also connected to Google. So that’s gonna help with your SEO, and we’ll talk about video marketing. But those are definitely the top four platforms. And what I can say, with my personal experience, and 15 years in this industry, Facebook is usually you know, the platform that your employees like to get recognized on, there’s a lot of communication with employees and referrals, it’s a great place to maybe experiment with some recruiting ads. Because as we know, this is very much a family based. The construction industry in general, it’s very family based and, and everyone on Facebook, it’s very much connected with their friends and family. So that’s where you’re going to make those referrals there. So that’s the importance there. LinkedIn is where we’re having professional conversations about what’s going on in the industry.
And people love to see what other projects people are working on. So when you’re, those seem to be the most engaged posts. So when you’re talking about your projects, and you’re giving recognition to your suppliers, your subs, your vendors, your GCS, people love to talk about the projects that we’re working on the same as you know, you hear that story. And you know, your dad’s pointing at all the projects that he built in the city, that kind of thing.
So that same things going on, but on social media, on LinkedIn, the tip I would give for posting though, be very careful that your posts aren’t egocentric, and they’re customer centric. It’s me and Seth talked about this yesterday. But I’m so egocentric, egocentric marketing is just kind of our old school marketing and where you’re talking about, look at me look at the quality we give, we have the best experience top top safety, you know, everyone’s saying that. So you got to be careful to talk about, you know, the challenges that you all overcame on the project. Talk about trainings that you offer, like anything that will give thought to the customer and solving their problems. You always want to keep the customer top of mind.
And then Instagram, you have your pictures and you’re showcasing and Seth could probably talk about Instagram more because he’s more of that visual content person and then YouTube you know, feel free to take take But there’s two
Seth Fargher 55:01
honest ad real quick because there’s a great question that I empathize with Michael Dutcher says, What if you’re opposed to social media platforms? Michael, I am opposed to most social media platforms I despise being on Facebook and the constant barrage of stuff. But I can’t deny that there’s nine, or I don’t know, 9 billion people, a billion people, I don’t know, my numbers are wrong. There’s a gazillion people on Facebook, despite what the kids are telling people about tick tock and Snapchat, and the other million of them, Facebook is still the primary social media probably for your customers, the the reach you can get with Facebook ads, I do ads for a painter down here. And I can go target people within a one mile radius of a pin that I drop on a peninsula of Lake Norman, and just show it to people that live within that and put his ads there. And so that sort of your people are on social media.
So I empathize with you, I don’t love it. It can be it can be like drinking from a water hose. But you don’t have to post five times a day, I’m going to recommend that I wouldn’t post everyday even necessarily, Stacy would be great to talk about the strategy, hire her to talk about that, and your messaging and get that because fewer well crafted posts are going to do more for you than just throwing stuff out there.
I also want to say to Stacy’s point of not like, egocentric, there’s a way to build authority without thumping your chest. Look at me, we’re awesome. A client I’ve worked with that I’m dying to I tell them I’d like you to you need to brag about yourself a little bit more. Because they they invented the slip form machine, their product is on like six continents, maybe five, maybe six. Like that’s marketing gold, you don’t have to brag to the world. But just explain your authority. We started this back then we’ve evolved, we’ve grown we’re American made made in Salisbury, North Carolina, we’ve got people that have been with us for 50 years, we’ve got multi generations, like all that stuff just gives people the warm and fuzzies when they watch a video, they want to do business, it makes them feel good about doing business with an American made company. So in their example, those are things for them to, I say brag on, but they’re not they’re not thumping their chest, they’re just telling their story.
And that’s, that’s part of a huge part of marketing is telling your story and do so with authority. So you carve out that space in that niche as being the authority in your field. There’s a
Autumn Sullivan 57:29
that’s a key point that you just said Seth and I wanted to bring it up because in, in creative writing, which is what my background is, I don’t have a background in marketing. My background is in English and in writing. We have a mantra s uh, the our mantra is show don’t tell. Right? Um, so don’t don’t tell me, you did a great job. Show me you did a great job.
And I think in in in marketing, one of the ways we do that is we focus on the customer, we tell the story of the customer. And by focusing on them and telling that story, we show how we helped we show our authority without ever having to say we’re the best we’re the you know, we have the most what have all those things that everyone old that old school marketing focuses on. Instead, we just focus on the customer and tell that story.
That’s the, and to the you know, I also hate being on Facebook, like, I hate it. And I don’t go there that often. But I can’t deny that it’s in the top five traffic drivers to my site every month. I can’t deny those numbers like it just is what it is. So I don’t engage with the parts of Facebook that I don’t like, right? Like I just go post good content on our company site and respond to the comments.
So, okay, we have so much to get to. Um, let’s go ahead and talk about video. I feel like one of the biggest barriers to video is the cost. Everyone thinks that it has to cost a million dollars to have a video, the
Stacey Holsinger 59:13
video, can I just answer Louis’s question because it’s based on social media. So he said, What can you what can you say about recommended business development efforts for small general contractor firms? So when it comes to social media, I would focus on LinkedIn for your b2b and make sure you’re participating in group discussions. You have a strategy, one of my clients had a strategy the other day and I’m gonna mess up the numbers because I did not write it down. So I have to talk to him. I don’t know if Chris is on this call. But it’s you know, make sure your business development team spends time on LinkedIn or whether you post twice a week. Just say you have you have a commitment to reach out to a couple connections per week, and you post on other people or you visit your target customers and engage with them on their company pages. So that’s a social strategy for a business development person on social media, you also want to make sure that you fill out your profile, there’s so many people in our industry that are still not doing that. Make sure that they understand your brand, what you represent what services you represent, you have a nice banner in the background that represents what company that you represent, and work for. So but LinkedIn is where it’s at for business development, I just wanted to get that answer. And for you,
Autumn Sullivan 1:00:48
absolutely, our sales team and our CEO, we have a monthly LinkedIn meeting where we talk about what are you going to talk about on LinkedIn, and we make, you know, I make sure that all three of them are posting regularly. And, you know, sometimes they’re like, help me say this, you know, which is something that I think is important, just real quick, like if you are afraid to start posting, because you’re afraid of how you will sound or that you’re you know, quote unquote, not a good writer, like, I advise you to go spend an hour reading other people’s posts on LinkedIn, because people who are hugely influential in the construction industry space are not English masters, they what they are, is authentic people, you know, like, we forgive a spelling error. When the story is compelling, we, we don’t care that you don’t know where a comma goes, if you are speaking from the heart, that’s like, forget all of that, put all of that grade school grammar stuff out of your head and just tell the story, or just make the point that you want to make, just start talking. Because what LinkedIn really is, is just an amazing place for real conversations with people to just like Seth says, if you’re doing nothing, just start doing something and and see how it takes off.
Seth Fargher 1:02:08
I would recommend like, optimize your page talk to Stacy about that. Full disclosure, because we’re being real here. Stacy was helping me optimize my LinkedIn page yesterday, because my byline was catchy and saying things that I want it and she’s like, it doesn’t make it painfully clear right off the bat, what you do, and I even updated my image, I had an awesome profile image. She’s like, change it to something with you taking a picture of a piece of equipment, and I did. And so those those those matter very, very greatly.
Autumn Sullivan 1:02:41
Yeah, they really, they really work. LinkedIn provides us new leads and closed one leads every month. It’s which, which didn’t start until our CEO leaned in hard and started checking LinkedIn every day. And now he’s completely addicted to it and loves it. He’s a huge presence on there. But he was very hesitant in the beginning, we had a whole conversation about how it was okay to just be yourself on that platform.
Stacey Holsinger 1:03:04
Definitely have to have a strategy and spend time and know that your strategy is long term. Don’t just post one time and think that no one’s connecting with me. That’s not how this works. Like, you have goals throughout the year and try to make those goals and then you’re going to start seeing that leads will come in and you’re connecting and getting more opportunities, I promise you.
Autumn Sullivan 1:03:28
Let’s go ahead and we’ve had about 15 minutes left. Let’s talk about video for a little bit. Let’s go ahead and get into the video conversation. Seth I know video is your bread and butter. So if a company invests in a produced video What strategies do you recommend for them on on extending the shelf life because I know Stacy has a story about how long those videos but if I’m going to invest in a big video, what do I do with it?
Seth Fargher 1:04:01
You have to begin I always advise people begin with the end in mind. So what are you hoping to i A lot of people I want to put it in a video okay, what do you want to do with it? I don’t know. Tell our story. Okay, who’s it for customers? Is it a recruitment video? Is it a process video? Is it for new hires, and no one outside of the business will ever see it? And so first of all, establish what you’re wanting to do with it. And many video won’t ever go beyond the confines of a safety your training media me or opportunity meeting and that’s fine. But begin with the end in mind what who’s going to be the end consumer of it? Is it for a sub isn’t for a customer? Is it for a GC? Is it are you trying to win someone over with it? Are you just trying to tell your story? What’s the end goal for that video? And then that’s going to determine how you’re going to create it what story you’re going to tell and then ultimately how and where you’re going to publish it as it relates to social media.
Social media is huge. Social media is is quick hype and it’s going to happen a low shelf life, YouTube and Stacy can talk about this. YouTube has less hype beginning, but it lives forever and it ramps up. And so it’s like a snowball that keeps getting bigger as a Rolls where Facebook or Instagram other ones generally tend to trend down.
And so the thing that is the biggest component or asset to video, in my mind, is that it gives you the opportunity to control the narrative. So if you think through, man, people just don’t understand what we do I keep having the same conversation over and over again, take your frequently asked questions that Stacy talked about, use that to develop a script. And so that there’s no denying who you are and what you do at the end of the video, you said showing showing is telling. So you build a video, your your script, answers all those frequently asked questions.
And the imagery just supports that whether you’re H fac, or sitework, or asphalt, you’re building authority, you want it to start here and the person’s emotions through just to be going wow, yeah. And by the end of the movie, they’re going, geez, this is this is who I have to hire I had, I had a very high up executive and accompany remark on a much, much, much smaller, concrete companies video that I did, he’s like, gosh, I got done watching the video, and I wanted to go apply to work for him. And I’m like, they probably couldn’t afford you. But But he invoked with him and told the company culture, how they train their people, they believe in their core values that building strong, capable, confident employees will yield better jobs for their customers. And and it was a it was a here’s who we are, here’s what we do. And we’re successful because of our people. And it was just a huge call to action. Come join our team at the end. And it made that guy. So knowing knowing how and where you’re going to use that Stacy has a lot of good information about teasing videos and things like that, that I’ll let her speak on. But those are some of the big ideas around video.
And then it’s a tool, it’s an outbound tool, put it in your signature, send it to people, there are still people sending a one page like this, like who or what do you guys do or hey, we’d like to get on your your bids list, because you’re just like, You sent a Word document on company letterhead. And, and that’s, that’s, I won’t say that’s not marketing. But in this day and age, it’s not good marketing. So
Stacey Holsinger 1:07:24
yeah, I guess, to add to all the wonderful things you just said, two quick stories about video marketing, we had did a low budget video for a day in the life in each back tech for mechanical contractor that I had worked for. And we drove traffic to the careers page. And this this video, I don’t know how old it is now, maybe eight years old is still to this day driving traffic to you know, the mechanical contractors website and people all over learning about this mechanical contractor. Now. Another one would be you know, if you have your we’re talking about the capabilities sheet, why not do a video on your capabilities, if you have a fab shop, or a project that you want to highlight from beginning to end, that’s so much more valuable to showcase what your team can actually do, and then just listing it out on a paper.
And most of the time when you do have something to share with that, you know, the biggest mistake that commercial contractors make when they do decide to do video and they look at the price and they’re like man, five to $10,000 or something like that. That’s a lot of money. But your video is going to last for you for years down the line. And it’s going to last for you if you have a video strategy to go with it. So what that looks like is you know, you create your video and then you contact your videographer and you’re like, can you please give us a couple of 32nd teaser clips. With that you can use those teaser clips for Facebook ads when you’re recruiting people. Or you can just use them to start the buzz build momentum about the video that’s coming out over a couple of weeks. You know, you don’t want to just you spend a year tracking a project right and you spend all this money and then you just post it once and forget about it. And they get so discouraged that the numbers aren’t there, there was only 100 people that watched it. It’s because you didn’t have a strategy and you weren’t building buzz and momentum up with your videos. So the teaser clips that you want to spread out.
You can also use the video to do a private tour. You could invite clients in and host like a little movie or a happy hour or something like that. And they could watch the video with you if they don’t want to do that. You could do a virtual presentation. You could also do a separate separate event for employees. Whether you do a virtual presentation or show that video at your yearly holiday party that helps, you know, build company retention, people are proud, that kind of thing. And then after that, you publish it on social media, social media live, and then you want to do an email campaign out to your clients. So you do this over a month or two time and people the buzz is starting to create over time, and you’ll see that the engagement numbers are going up, and people are more likely to share the video that you invested in.
Autumn Sullivan 1:10:39
Absolutely, Jenny, did you want to add anything to the video marketing conversation?
Jenni Nix-McGerald 1:10:46
Video was not my strength, I will leave it to the two experts.
Autumn Sullivan 1:10:50
It is not my strength either. In 20, in 2020, when we all had to go home for the pandemic, our CEO, Scott Cooper said to me, I want to do YouTube videos. And I was like, I don’t know how to do that. And, but we started bootstrapping it. And it is now one of our top marketing platforms. And we we love it. And we do we work with a videographer for some of our work. But also sometimes Scott just talks to the camera and answers commonly asked questions, or he’ll get on the camera and say, I just got off a great call with a client. This was their problem, this is how we solved it. And we just, and then I create a super quick design in a free tool called Canva. And I’ll put a link to that in the description for this. And then, and then we have a new video.
So you know, crawl, walk, run, if you’re not doing anything. Start, you can start small. I mean, we literally started when everyone was stuck at home answering the questions our our clients, were asking, What can I do with this PPP loan? How do I figure out if I want to furlough my employees? Or you know, or let them go? It was and we just asked our expert network, which is the other thing, right? Build your network? Have other people come on to your video, it doesn’t have to always be about you.
So we have we only have about eight minutes left? Ah, so I think one of the topics that we really need to talk about is budget. Because it’s I think it’s one of the stumbling blocks with marketing, how much should I spend? Why should I spend anything? How do I prove the ROI? All of that fun stuff, particularly in this industry, where I don’t know what you guys experience, but my experience has been? Someone’s kid does the marketing, because they’re there and they’re young. And so they know, right? Like, they know Facebook there. So so let’s talk about what companies should realistically be looking at in terms of budgeting for marketing.
Stacey Holsinger 1:13:02
Let’s start with what you just said. So there’s problems with getting someone on board that, you know, might they could understand social media? Yes, but do they have a marketing background? Can they simplify a message, do they understand commercial construction, because that’s where you’re gonna run into a ton of branding problems. And they can make a really critical mistake and mess up your brand. And once it’s posted, you can delete it, but someone can take a screenshot of it. So you got to be really careful.
So based on what you said, my best advice would be, you know, you can hire an entry level marketing person with a marketing background, that’s great. But you have to have a plan to make sure that this person is included in your strategic planning meetings. They’re learning about your products and your services on a regular basis. So you’re giving them the training, whether they’re participating in vendor trainings, or whatever, getting involved with the safety team, because God forbid, you post a picture that you think is fine, but you didn’t run it by the safety director. And now you have a OSHA citation photo on your website, which by the way, happens a lot when you’re not familiar with the industry. So that’s why you don’t want to hire someone that just knows social media, like Please do not do that.
Um, and then the other thing is, if you don’t, if you want to hire an entry level person, and you’re going to invest in their education, that’s a solution or you just hire someone with 1510 years of experience that has been through all these life lessons. And you’re going to feel that peace of mind that those mistakes are not going to happen. So those are the points on that.
Oh, and then real quick for outsourcing. If you’re going to just choose a marketing company that’s not familiar with the construction industry. I’ve seen so many mistakes happen with that, first of all, they’re using AI stock images of guys in trenches that are squeaky clean that look like they just got a manicure done. Like that does not represent our industry at all, they don’t have even a paper cut on them, like who’s gonna want to go work for that person. And then the other thing is with that, you know, I had a client who hired an outside marketing agency, and they just got all these AI stock images. And these images were of a company over Asian workers and their, their whole seat safety gear was completely different because of the weather conditions over there. Not to mention, it was all Asian workers in there on their website, photos, and then United States, you know, the State’s website, so you got to be really careful about that you have to choose someone, or a marketing agency that has a construction background. So those are my comments on that. Just be careful.
Jenni Nix-McGerald 1:16:04
I want to go back to your thought about budgets in general on how to create them, and nobody wants to talk about money. Nobody wants to talk about spending money, because that’s just 13. No, we don’t do that. However, there is truth to the statement, you have to spend money to make money. That doesn’t mean you just shove money out the window and see how it goes, you can be really intentional with where you develop your budget, there’s a variety of ways to develop a budget. But I have found over the course of my career. And while I’ve spent the majority of my career in this industry, I’ve been in other industries as well, that goal based budgets are pretty much the best way to be pretty mindful with where your money is being spent in will be able to show you the most return on investment to kind of wrap in that business development question.
So as a as a leadership team, you really figure out what your goals are for the year. And from there, you develop your micro tactics, which include things like the video social media that we’ve been talking about, and also just where you might have participate in industry organizations, or community organizations, where your clients are at, and things like that, by looking at your tactics, maybe you’ll do a website, maybe you’ll do a mailing those still work, actually, all the thinking about those micro tactics, and then putting that plugging in that information.
And then giving yourself a little bit of a cushion is a great way to just have a really solid budget that won’t. That’ll be pretty close to accurate. Budgets are flexible overall. But as you’re going down, you might have to pivot. But um, it’s, it would be easy to say, hey, you need to spend 3% of your sales, revenue on marketing or 10%, or whatever. But at the end of the day, the best way you’re going to know and actually achieve your goals is by having that hard look at your at what your goals are, what your micro tactics are going to be deployable. And by having micro tactics built into your budget, if you know, things shift, you have to maybe make some cuts, that’s easier way to look at you can cut some micro tactics that way. So and that’ll help with your return on investment.
Autumn Sullivan 1:19:03
I love that Mark. Mark jury has a comment in the chat about speak to people about investment. And that’s, I can say that’s very much how I’ve handled. I worked in for marketing agencies for most of my career, and when we would go to clients and we would say we’re going to ask you for you know, $5,000 a month or $8,000 or $12,000 a month. It’s a huge ask, didn’t matter how big the company was, they were all like a huge amount. But when you when you reframe it, as you have told us your goal is x in order to reach that goal, we will have to you know, if it was wedding bookings, for wedding company, we would have to say, well, in order to get that we would have to drive this much traffic in order to drive that much traffic. We’re gonna have to do these micro tactics, those micro tactics are going to cost this. That’s like it really reframing the conversation. As an investment toward the goal has been very helpful. And it’s what I do here, you know, I look at what our sales goal is, and then work backwards from there. What do I need to do in order to reach that? And then how much do I need to spend in order to make that happen? It just really reframes the whole the whole conversation.
Seth Fargher 1:20:21
Oh, and good marketing, good marketing is, is an investment that appreciates It’s tax time. People are expensing things, buying equipment, paying for trucks, let’s buy the CEO a new truck, because we got to spend money and whatever. But everything, no single one of those things depreciates as soon as you buy it and start you good marketing, to the YouTube to the social media to photos, if you got a great photo of your equipment doing something from three years ago, but it’s it’s still applicable. And that guy’s still with you, you can use that on into the future, you can continue using images, not to mention the the snowball we talked about with YouTube and stuff. So good. Marketing is an investment that appreciates over time. And then we got stationed I got a question yesterday about margins and slim margins and projects. Don’t think about this one job has to, I got to write the check now. But it’s not coming from this one job. Divide that because that website, that video will live over the next year, two years on the future, when you look as like, oh, but if we take half a percent off this project, or 1%, we’re paying for it now. But actually, in all reality, it’s dispersed amongst that, because it’s not only related to that, so that’s a way to overcome that for all you to take to your CFOs that will let you spend marketing dollars. Yeah,
Stacey Holsinger 1:21:37
it has a it has a long shelf life. So and you can repurpose things, just as Seth was saying. So you know, just because you post something once doesn’t mean the right person solid. But if it had good engagement, you can repurpose that post. That’s why sometimes on your feed, you’ll see people post the same thing a couple times. And he has a little annoying, but you have to stay consistent with your message. So it rings with people. And yeah, it can have a longer shelf life, especially, you know, when we were talking about video and everything like that.
Autumn Sullivan 1:22:10
Absolutely, yeah, absolutely. And I we’ve even found that our some of our top performing blog articles are from two years ago. And and they consistently are in the, you know, the top five pages visited on our website. So we made videos of them. We made infographics related to them. And we actually, we don’t blog as much as we used to, we do more video now. But we share those blogs on social media over and over again, because they’re because they’re popular because there are top performance drivers. So the the investment in those blogs is long been spent, but they’re appreciating in value. Um, so did you answer the Google Ads question? That was in the chat? did awesome. So we’re a few minutes go ahead.
Stacey Holsinger 1:23:05
I hope I answered that. I don’t know if I did. But I throughout it i throughout in answer.
Autumn Sullivan 1:23:10
There were a few minutes over I did want to ask this one last question. And I did want to tell the audience I will be sending out a webinar replay for everyone, as soon as I get this and I do the magic in YouTube to make that possible. And it will include contact information for anyone you want to contact with. So I’ll include your LinkedIn info, Seth and Stacy are both consultants and so we’ll make sure that you have their website information as well. And if we didn’t get to your question, please reach out and maybe we can do a part two of this we can make it a regular thing. But my last question for each of you is what do you think the number one thing is that holds companies back from particularly in the construction industry from truly great marketing
Stacey Holsinger 1:24:01
fear just fear of you know what the outcomes gonna be are they you know, gonna judge me or whatever. But you know, that’s part of it and you you have to try things and see how the market goes just as long as you you know, have your ducks in a row you have a strategy you know, you really understand and know your customer their pain points and are checking to make sure that the imagery video you use is safe, running it by your safety director, you know, that I’ve seen some really cheesy marketing that does really well up to really boring professional you know, the CEO just talking to the camera and no one really cares what he says. So um, you know, just keep experimenting and trying and that’s what marketing’s kind of all about and eventually you’ll you’ll see also keep an eye on What’s Trending? You know, a lot of the social media have like trending corners do YouTube hasn’t LinkedIn has it, see what people are talking about on Google and YouTube, you can start typing in, for example, commercial painting or something, and then a list is going to populate. Those are the things that people are searching. So that that’s going to give you ideas for content, whether it’s video, blogs, whatever, that’s what people want to learn about. So that will give you ideas. You only want to go next,
or I’ll go next, I see somebody put in their time, fear is a very good answer. And it seemed people forget are all so busy, and they forget how much it takes to actually, with strategy, put something together, put a plan in place. But honestly, at the end of the day, as long as you’re authentic and intentional with how you present yourself, then people are going to want to work with you, you just have to be visible in the in the industry. And as I said at the beginning, people work with people. So empower your people to have their have your message and let them just go out there and do what they do.
Seth Fargher 1:26:26
I would I would echo those things. And I’d say the biggest thing, holding people back is the same thing, holding people back and causing the trades industry to struggle to have to have people in it, which is just a wrong belief.
Overall, people have a wrong belief about what the trades are about construction jobs, or H fac jobs. Or we’re still shoveling our kids to college because gosh, I don’t want them to dig ditches or lay brick or whatever. It’s a wrong belief. Because I know an awful lot of rich people that work in and own construction companies. But a wrong belief about marketing about LinkedIn about its value about social media a wrong belief about having a website a wrong belief about the time
Yes, everything takes time. But it may not take as much time as you thought we’re talking crawl, walk, run, set small manageable, attainable goals, one post a week, you’re you’re doing better than then you have in the past if you haven’t done anything and so just general wrong beliefs about marketing about how much it will cost. You know, those kinds of things. I I love talking to people about these things. You know, exploring, exploring ideas, things you can do so forth.
So you want to talk to me, I’d love to talk with you about ideas or things you can do. And being on LinkedIn is huge if you haven’t gathered that from today, and it’s free. And there’s phenomenal ways you can network with your customers. And you just need to think about it differently and fight that wrong belief. Because I think wrong belief about marketing, what it costs, the time it takes who can do it, your messaging, just creates what they said a lot of fear. And so but but consequently, people do nothing instead. So I would say that wrong belief.
Autumn Sullivan 1:28:11
I love that I think that’s such a good place to land. And I liked what you said about like the response that you gave to mark of Mark shared and Mercury shared in the chat fear of sharing your secret sauce. And Seth responded true with the highest form of flattery. So when copying your work, right, which is, which is great. But also, I’m reading Seth Golden’s famous Purple Cow book. I’m sure anyone who’s marketing is familiar. And I really truly believe that there is no secret sauce. You can go to any Michelin star restaurant, you’re not going to have different ingredients, that the ingredients stay the same. It’s the it’s the presentation, and the execution. And people can’t steal that from you. That’s yours, that that’s what makes you remarkable. So don’t be afraid to share your value. We give away a ton of value on our website. We’re always free with our knowledge, because that’s not what makes us who we are. You know, that’s that’s our service. That’s our people. And they can’t they can’t clone that. So don’t be don’t be afraid to share. Thank you all. So thank you all so much for joining me today. It was so much fun to have all three of you in a conversation today. Thank you all for attending. I hope you’ve got a lot of value from it. Please, if you’re on LinkedIn, follow everyone. They all talk about marketing and share their value freely there. I’m mostly talking about books actually. So so maybe not quite as valuable to follow me.
Stacey Holsinger 1:29:46
Join us on the morning huddle. Oh, yes. At 8am on LinkedIn, just a little plug there. We talk about all trending topics, only for 20 minutes and then you’re welcome to ask our guest Guess q&a for 10 minutes so every Tuesday on LinkedIn
Autumn Sullivan 1:30:05 thanks wonderful thank you guys so much thank you all
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