These next 12 months are going to be a real nail-biter. The uncertainty of the upcoming election, stubbornly-high interest rates, and a general uneasiness in the building industry makes predictability of steady work very difficult.
As you and your team start your planning sessions for the new year, you may be discussing how to attract new customers and keep your project pipeline full. But does investing in your website - yet again - make sense to survive and thrive in the year ahead?
Even if your company has a solid network and has sustained off of referral-based business up to now, you must respect the valuable role your website will play as the key biz dev tool in 2024. Those in charge of construction projects are more diligent than ever about avoiding bad decisions, and they will really be scrutinizing you and your competitors during their online research. You must present a compelling case as an industry expert throughout your website and marketing ecosystem to stand apart and ultimately win the job.
Your prospective customers want to be assured that not only are you capable of doing their project well, but that you are the expert above all others in your specific niche. Rather than settling for a passive brochure-like website, write content and messaging to position you as the go-to authority with a passion unlike other companies in your space.
An easy hack to develop authoritative content is to enter a question that’s relevant to what your company provides into the search tab of your favorite search engine. You may notice a section on the search results page that lists out several similar questions. Because these are suggested based on past queries, you now know exactly the answers people are looking for. Use this information to write specific messaging about your services, capabilities, case studies, team and so on throughout your website.
And if you haven’t taken it seriously in the past, you will find a huge advantage of writing and posting content marketing on a consistent basis. Regularly adding fresh articles, graphics, blogs and videos not only gives search engines a reason to land you higher on their results lists but it also plays a vital part in winning over visiting prospects.
Your “resources” section should include a variety of articles and videos - from how to flawlessly install a window to prepping a perfect foundation to pour concrete - featuring your team’s expertise. This will galvanize your position as the subject matter authority to visitors, and hopefully boost your website to the top of search results lists the next time someone submits a similar relevant question.
What about AI?
Earnest Hemingway once famously quoted, “write drunk, edit sober.” ChatGPT and other online writing tools use artificial intelligence to help you write anything from industry articles to meal plans. While they are quite a phenomenon they only are as good as the existing content they find on the internet. My suggestion is to use chat software as a good starting point for your articles and then rewrite it based on your unique point of view. AI can’t replicate human empathy (for now), which is the most important thing your audience is looking for.
I am blown away by the disparity of developers and project owners who depend on LinkedIn, YouTube and instagram for news and inspiration, and the lack of attention social media receives from building contractors. In order to be taken seriously as an authority in your category, post the articles or videos you’ve created on these channels, always linking back to your site. Also, set up queries and find opportunities to engage in discussions with your audiences so they come to view you as a trusted partner rather than a replaceable vendor.
One last suggestion to engage your audiences through next year is an email marketing campaign. Once you have developed helpful articles or videos, send them to your business community encouraging them to pass along to their contacts. Include industry trends, recent case studies and other information they would find compelling and relevant to upcoming opportunities. It's okay if you find a few contacts unsubscribe, because you never know who on your list will appreciate and remember your insights.
Fortunately business development for builders isn’t as complicated as other industries. You have a narrow group of prospects, and in most cases they already know you based on your reputation of doing good work. There are many other components of a healthy marketing ecosystem to get in front of good business opportunities next year, but if you can start with these simple attraction and outreach strategies you will stay top of mind and then motivate potential customers to choose you when the need arises.
Rusty George leads a branding, website design and marketing agency serving Seattle and Tacoma area construction companies, subcontractors, engineering and architecture firms, material fabricators and suppliers. His goal is to help the building industry become more attractive to the skilled workforce of the future.
David Mack of Founder's Choice Cabinets is an example of how listening, solving problems and educating your clients is a critical element in business development for companies in the building industry.