In the construction industry, there’s no replacement for a handshake and a conversation. Word of mouth (WOM) is still the most powerful marketing tool available—and for good reason. As marketers, we’ve known for years that 92 percent of consumers believe friends over all forms of paid advertising. We also know that the majority of your customers have completed nearly two-thirds of the buyer’s journey (purchase decision) before engaging a sales rep.
Okay—so, we have savvy consumers who trust WOM over traditional advertising and are more than capable of finding information on their own. The question then becomes: How do you reach sharp customers and convert them into leads for your construction business?
Beyond social reviews and local listings, your website is the source of information available about your business online. You control the information, or lack thereof, and you’re responsible for the message and value the website communicates to your potential customers. This is a huge opportunity for construction companies—and many aren’t taking advantage.
Show (and tell) your work
Don’t skim over this thinking, “Yeah, I know I need to show off our projects. Next!” It’s so much more than simple before/after photos. While seeing the photos is a great start, this section of your website has an enormous opportunity to convert potential customers, so let’s really put some thought and effort into your projects list.
Project profiles and case studies are an opportunity to not only promote the final result, but also exhibit problem solving, industry expertise, and strategic consideration, throughout the course of the client-relationship.
Consider expanding your list of projects before/after photos to incorporate the value that communicates the client’s goals and roadblocks—and what your team did to overcome any obstacles. Even if you think you don’t have enough to say about seemingly simple jobs—try to cobble together at least a paragraph (to accompany any photos) that outlines your team’s problem/solution. A little explanation can go a long way.
Let your clients do the talking
There’s no question that customer testimonials are powerful. More than 70 percent of customers peruse reviews and testimonials before purchasing and more than 90 percent of customers (in this survey) were influenced in their buying decisions by positive reviews. It’s not all rosy, though. Unfortunately, displaying client testimonials on your website is. . . well, controversial. While they certainly build customer trust, show potential customers a positive brand history, and create goodwill for your business—you should look out for some things before throwing them into your construction website.
Always get permission
Do you know why photo testimonials are so effective? It’s not because the person is well known (most times, they’re not) and it’s not because the individual person resonates with the audience (it doesn’t). Photo testimonials are so authoritative because they’re relevant. Your customers are substantially more likely to believe a statement if it is accompanied by a photograph—assuming the customer doesn’t look like a paid model.
Fill your trophy case
Attaining awards and accreditations in your field is one of the best ways to build your construction brand. Focus on winning local and regional awards for starters, and make sure to post the awards to your website and issue press releases when you achieve them. For example, think of the auto industry. Entire marketing campaigns are built around the latest Motor Trend or JD Power accolade. Follow suit as a construction company, and don’t hesitate to capitalize on the authority an award provides. Essentially, the award is a guarantee of quality and can be a powerful tool to drive inbound leads and boost brand awareness and authority.
Social Media Opportunity
Don’t turn a deaf ear to your current and potential customers—start listening and engaging today, and you’ll be surprised the number of people that contact your business purely because you’re available and helpful. Social media presents a huge opportunity for construction companies to grow quality leads and build brand authority—not only because it’s virtually untapped, but also because it’s a chance to quickly alleviate concerns, answer questions, and connect with your customers outside of the job site.
Finish a project or win an award? Post it on Facebook and LinkedIn. Hearing a lot of the same questions and comments at job sites? Post some helpful links and FAQs on Twitter. While utilizing social media can be time-consuming, ignoring social media in 2017 is the equivalent of not having a website for your business in 2007. While the ROI can be hazy, social media provides a growing portion of your company’s WOM—and it’s foolish for any business to ignore it, especially a construction business that hinges so much on customer reviews and feedback.
The caveat here? You have to have strong content. Regurgitating popular industry news and trends may be interesting to folks around the office, but it isn’t relevant to your target customers. Remember, the ultimate goal here is to create content that people feel compelled to share. What’s more, many of the popular social media platforms index content for search engines, which means when you help Denise answer her water-heater questions, you also help countless others and can promote your business online—all without investing a cent into paid advertising.
Respond to negative reviews
While the minority is always the loudest (and often most rude), it’s important to address concerns in situations your business is able to defend itself. For example, if you’re responding to some harsh feedback on Yelp!, try to take a step back and think very carefully about what you’re going to write.
As Yelp writes “Negative reviews can feel like a punch in the gut. We care deeply about our business too, and it hurts when someone says bad things about our business. For you founders and sole proprietors out there, a negative review can even feel like a personal attack.”
They go on to suggest business owners “keep it simple” when responding to a negative review. “[…] don’t think too much: just keep it simple by thanking your customer for the patronage and feedback.” Simply offering an apology and acknowledgment helps establish a human relationship and shows potential customers that you value accountability.