Recent reports from PwC (SCSI/PwC Construction Survey Report, May 2017), PwC (Emerging Trends in Real Estate: Reshaping the future, Europe 2018) and CBRE (Real Estate Market Outlook 2018) highlighted the following key macro challenges for the Irish construction industry in 2018.
- Brexit: our current over reliance on the UK market is highlighted by the uncertainty that will come to the industry through foreign exchange fluctuations and the potential disruption to trade and migration if a hard border is installed. 36% of respondents are unclear about the impact of Brexit
- Labor shortages: the difficulties in delivering growth in a market where there is a significant shortage of skills and continued higher wage demands. 73% of respondents experienced difficulties in recruiting
- Domestic housing sector: the continuing problem of delivering new housing product to market – high costs, slow changes to regulations and a lack of balanced regional growth are continuing to cause problems
- Commercial real estate will see growth but is also struggling to source quality locations, hence the emphasis on existing space expansion
- There will be continued appetite for investors to deploy capital in the Irish real estate sector
The reports also highlighted that the industry is set for growth in 2018. Albeit that there is still a heavy emphasis on commercial development and FDI activity. It notes that Aecom are predicting the industry will see growth of 14% in 2018.
Another key observation highlighted;
"you are not going to achieve growth through any cap-rate shift. You are going to have to do it through some sort of value creation activity.”
But what could value creation be? We believe activating an integrated traditional and digital marketing strategy holds the answer to delivering this. And at the heart of this marketing for the construction industry is developing a plan that creates valuable content, amplified with the right mix of search, display and social media promotion.
Importantly we need to see a strong mix between paid, owned and earned marketing content – this is crucial.
You absolutely need to develop regular valuable content, but that alone will not be enough to get you found by your target audiences when they go searching for solutions online. Today’s smart marketing with the right mix of paid and unpaid is where the value-add will be. Anything else will come up short.
Digital content marketing has been a mainstream tactic for businesses for some time now, but the construction industry has been very slow to embrace this approach. There is still a heavy reliance on traditional advertising media. But slowly developers and construction industry companies are looking to search and social media to drive awareness and connection with their target audiences. But you need to go further.
What is at the heart of a successful digital content marketing strategy for construction companies? In simple terms – better out-reach, better connection, better leads and better relationship management. But where do you start? Here are 5 of our essentials:
- Your Market:
Are you fully clear on the market you are targeting. Are you a product or service business? Are there verticals that you want to develop expertise in? You have to be really clear on where you plan to position and fit your business within your market. Are you a challenger looking to establish yourself? You might be thinking of how you can best disrupt the market to gain reputation? Or you might be an established leader? How can you further your credentials and prove you are still the leading innovators for example?
# understand where you want to be in your market
- Your Customers:
Any marketing strategy should look to get close to its customers. You must make sure you have a deep understanding of what they are looking for, so that you can create solutions that answer these needs.
# know your customers inside out
If you’re not already, you should be familiar with your competitors. These are the businesses your target audiences are also viewing and considering. How do they position themselves? What are they great at? What are the weak at? Where is the opportunity to be better than them?
# get close to your competitors
These 3 pieces of analysis are really important. Too often businesses sweep through them too quickly and miss the nuggets of opportunity that exists to create their brand
- Your Only Brand Positioning:
Perhaps the most overlooked task in branding and marketing – your only. As a brand you are looking to establish the essential character of your business. The piece that will act as a guiding beacon for your people and your customers in terms of what you say and what you do.
Every construction company will have some of the following traits that they would like to abide by: Professional - Reliable - Trustworthy - Fair - Well managed - Quality work - Good value
But how can you develop a character trait that can make you unique? We call this searching for your only. So that you can position the business in a way that cannot be easily copied by your competitors. Our team of specialists can help you define your only. It involves pulling the data collected in previous tasks and analysing how to best marry the opportunity to differentiate with the vision you have as a business and brand. This is essentially your brand story and the type of future your business can offer your customers.
# your only
- Marketing Communication Strategy:
Now that you foundations are in place you can begin to build a rock solid marketing communications strategy.
For construction companies, this has historically meant looking at the traditional marketing opportunities – advertising, PR, printed communications, direct mail.
But this type of marketing no longer succeeds – the market and customers have moved on from this. These interruptive tactics are no longer enough. You must be thinking about your digital channels and how you can better present your business to connect with your different audiences.
Today’s target audiences are doing ALL of their significant research on-line as they search out for the different sorts of properties and real estate solutions. In simple terms, if construction businesses are to succeed, they must be present in these online channels looking to engage these targets with valuable content that convinces them that your product is the best option for them.
But the approach to developing a digital strategy can also help inform your traditional marketing. One of the advantages that digital marketing has is that it can be very forensic in how it targets audiences and how it assesses the success and failures of any campaign. This detail can be brought into traditional marketing activities with great success.
5.1 Personas: If you have followed these steps in developing your brand, you will have given you target customer some detailed thought. Now is the time to develop these known traits about your ideal customers into personas that you can actual develop content and market to. You must establish exactly what sort of business issues they are facing? What sort of problems they have? Do they know there are solutions to those problems? Are they aware that your company provides these solutions? The more detailed you can be, the better you will be able to develop and optimise your content and ultimately be found and connect to these targets.
# develop detailed personas
5.2 Keywords: With a strong understanding of the sorts of issues your targets are looking for solutions to, you can begin to develop the keywords that will help your content connect. These words (short and long tail) will be your triggers to ensure you stay focused in developing interesting content but will also be what the search engines rank you for. Carrying this keyword focus over into traditional media will also reap rewards in terms of creating media as well as the media channels you choose to publish or execute in.
# accurate keywords
5.3 Build Brand Awareness: You need to invest in a mix of great content that you own and that will be valuable to your audience (blogging for example). But you need to marry this with paid brand awareness building. While there is more credibility in getting organic page ranking results with Google, the dominance of paid search results cannot be ignored. Particularly for mobile devices where often all of the first pages results are paid/promoted adverts. You should also look to build a network of endorsements from established industry influencers. You want them to notice and promote your content as this will play a significant role in being found and ranked highly with Google.
# triple brand awareness
5.4 Content Calendar: Knowing what sorts of solutions your targets are interested in is key to developing valuable content. But you should also invest time in creating a content calendar. One of the biggest challenges in creating regular content is having a plan in place which schedules regular content creation for publishing. Without this calendar, the challenges of everyday business get in the way and allow other things to be prioritised. You need regular publishing to optimise the potential for message amplification
# content calendar
5.5 Content Creation: With a proper content plan and activity calendar in place, you can begin creating your content. We recommend developing an initial batch of content that will allow you post regularly. Consider re-purposing existing content but re-optimise it so that it fully reflects any tweaks you have made to your keyword strategy. Look to have your content answer your targets worries and concerns. Ensure it is fully optimised with your keywords. Do not move into selling mode. This is all about demonstrating your understanding of the issues. You solutions come later. You have to build trust and credibility first.
# content creation
5.6 Blog: Blog content should be a pillar activity for how you create valuable content. You can mix your blogging in terms of type and length of content - text based, infographic driven etc The key is to be always valuable - quality always before quantity.
# quality blogging
5.7 Email: Email marketing is still a really powerful way on connecting with your audiences. Email can be personalised. You can expand your reach effectively with email marketing. It should be a significant part of your marketing mix.
# email regularly
5.8 Video: Dynamic media – video/animation is rewarded heavily by Google. By 2020 over 80% of all internet content will be video. Think about all the different elements of your business offer that could be delivered through video. There will be lots of opportunities – so start embracing this medium.
# video rewards
5.9 Automate: You should consider working with a marketing automation tool such as Hubspot or Sharp Spring. These tools are excellent at managing all of the different sales and marketing campaign elements. From managing your CRM, Email Marketing, Landing Pages, Form Building, Blogging, Calls To Action, Analytics, Social Media integration, Lead Management etc. If you are a serious business that wants to get serious about digital marketing, you need to have the right tools.
To sum up, the keys to successful and sustained integrated marketing for the construction industry requires that you understand your market, your competition and above all what your only is and how it differentiates your business. Find out exactly what your customers are looking for? What are their pain points? Develop valuable content solutions that answers these and you will put your business in the shop window more often and with more success than before. And then publish through your channels for maximum amplification. You will be on the road to long-term quantifiable success.