Construction Marketing Isn’t What It Used to Be: The Digital Marketing Revolution
For years, the marketing industry operated on the basis of what is called “affluence” marketing. This marketing model relied on marketers having the financial power, status, and exclusivity necessary to buy the right to reach desired targeted consumers. And while we all know that construction marketing is really relationship development, affluent marketing effectively created quick brand awareness for companies reaching into new geographic markets or expanding into a new specialization.
Large “affluent brands” dominated construction industry marketing through premium advertisements with all the right connections and resources. This meant marketers were engaged in identifying media channels (mostly very expensive channels) that they assumed would best reach targeted audiences, and then utilizing their “affluence” to reach those audiences while working to exclude competitors in order to attract the best projects. High-cost marketing was a significant barrier which allowed big affluent marketers to protect their brand dominance. Sounds diabolical, right?
Well… it wasn’t so much diabolical, as just what was available to marketers at the time. Then, about 10 years ago, marketing began to change… the rise of social and rating media set off the large-scale digital transparency movement that is now growing ever more popular, and a new hyper-connected generation of consumers has led to an industry shift away from “Affluence” marketing to what has become known as “Influence” or social marketing.
In just ten years, the power to promote brands has moved out of the hands of big ad agencies and publications, and into the hands of digital marketers of all statures. While most construction executives understand the importance of having a professionally designed and maintained website, they are still behind, as a group, in adopting and implementing an integrated digital marketing strategy for business development. What is this Integrated Digital Marketing Strategy, you ask? Well… It’s different for every company but is usually focused on driving traffic to your website and/or converting interested parties into prospects for your services through the aggressive publication of all sorts of online content. This content can be pushed out across social media channels (such as Instagram or LinkedIn); it can be distributed as emails (newsletters); it can be published and promoted (white papers or case studies), or it can be floated out on the web (blogging). But be careful! This type of marketing can sometimes do more harm to your brand than good, so we advise you to work with an experienced construction marketing team so as not to waste time and money while damaging your image and reputation. Not all web people and digital marketers are right for construction marketing, so be careful who you choose to take on this tedious marketing challenge!
This shift to Influence Marketing is changing the marketing industry from a mass-messaged, one-ad-fits-all shotgun approach, to one that values personalization, specific expert knowledge distribution, individualism, company culture, and growth hacking. In other words, companies must now understand why they do what they do (their real differentiators), and who they best do it for, rather than focusing on what they do. Erroneously focusing your marketing on what you do and how you do it will force you to compete on low-bid and will commoditize your business. In construction… commoditization is death!
Branding must now reflect what’s real, rather than what marketers can make us believe. Future-forward brands are already adapting to this shift by engaging with their customers via social media, maintaining honest and open quality standards of production, and creating an emphasis on starting a social conversation around ethical values. These powerful marketing strategies position brands as experts in their space/field who are also interested in serving their community, and the people who make up that community. There will always be brands that insist on selling “low-price,” but we now know that consumers will go out of their way, will pay a premium, and sometimes even sacrifice on services to remain loyal to brands they trust. These brands will excel in marketing-to-come, and have already started adapting to a new demographic of consumers with evolved buying patterns and brand-centric mentalities.
Engaging with consumers through unconventional and creative marketing campaigns will grow your brand awareness, and position your brand as an outlier in a time that is honoring real innovators more than ever before.