Marketing has always been neglected in construction. We consider ourselves rational in construction and not sensitive to pretty pictures and talk. Research has shown that this is anything but true. Despite the fact that construction is a true B2B (business to business) market, the world appears to be changing towards a B2H (business to human) environment.
Although purchases are made in the business area, we always make our decisions based on feelings. We like to buy from companies that appear reliable and where we can identify with ourselves. We only justify our purchase (both business and private) later on a national level. In addition, we, as a consumer, are spoiled. We have become used to companies that can deliver within 24 hours and expect this in the business area as well.
Tip 1. Know your customer’s customer
We all know the saying: “Speaking is silver, silence is golden.” With this rule, salespeople ensure that the customer feels heard. But this only works if you really listen. We often listen superficially and make assumptions ourselves. Failure costs down, production speed up, and the purchase price is too high; the problems and complaints of every customer. When you, as an organization, immerse yourself in your customer, you hear underlying pain points. These often arise from bottlenecks with his customer. The moment you can help your customer to optimally serve his customer, you change from supplier to a partner.
Tip 2. Focus on UBRs instead of USPs
Do you remember the advertisement “We at WC-DUCK recommend… WC-DUCK”? This expression has become a well-known marketing plan example in which an expert gives advice that is in line with his own interests. The slogan is often laughed at, but eventually, we see it returning daily. Trade magazines in the construction industry are full of advertisements like this. We are happy to share our USPs (Unique Sales Points) with anyone who wants to hear about it, but forget the UBR (Unique Buying Reasons). Tip 2 is, therefore, also in line with tip 1. As soon as it is clear what the pain points of your customer are and how your products or services can remove these pain points, you can communicate about the added value for your (potential) customer.
Tip 3. Invest in digitization
“Construction is the least efficient industry in the world” is the title of an article in The Economist. Construction is traditional, and failure costs are too high. We all find it, and yet we do nothing about it. As an organization in construction, you can easily excel and be a forerunner. We can take advantage of the fact that other industries, such as the automotive industry, have already researched a lot, tried it out, and drawn conclusions about what works and what doesn’t. Optimizing business processes and digitizing them will reduce failure and production costs. In addition, this can also lead to a faster production process. When customers can also order digitally through a webshop or connected ERP systems, in addition to a higher profit margin for you and/or a lower cost price for your customer,
Tip 4. Analyze
Business intelligence, analyzes, big data, and customization are concepts that we all hear about but with which we do little or nothing in construction. If we go one step further towards artificial intelligence in combination with augmented reality, we often do not even know what this can mean for our organization. We see this as something that could one day be interesting for the future, but for now, we are happy if the orders can be delivered on time at all. Still, we must prepare for the future. Someday there will be another crisis, and without good analysis, it may be that as an organization, you will lose market share to competitors who are now preparing themselves. Investing in a business analyst is, therefore, not a wrong choice. By gaining a good insight into business figures and benchmarking them, provides clarity about where your organization stands in the market. Possibilities and opportunities become visible that would otherwise slip by. Combine this with customer analyzes and know what your customer is looking for. This allows you to provide the customer with the necessary information at the right time.
Tip 5. Create an ambassador program
The sales funnel is not a strange term for most. We are familiar in the business world with the importance of filling these, then following up on the leads and then bringing them in as a customer. Despite the fact that we are very loyal partners of our suppliers in construction, customers can suddenly run away to the competitor. One wrong delivery, a lower price, or the possibility of just-in-time delivery can be reasons why your customer will from now on purchase from another that while it may have been a mistake that can be prevented in the future or a service that you can easily offer. A good ambassador program in which you involve customers in your organization will ensure that they feel connected. As a result, they have the feeling that they are important and that they can contribute to your developments.
Tip 6. Tell your story
Stories ensure that we feel emotions and recognize ourselves in the other. Our mirror neurons are triggered here. With a story, you radiate reliability, especially when it comes to benefits instead of specifications. Describe a certain feeling and the person who listens or reads will be able to empathize fully. “The pupils wander into the classroom. One of the cheeky monkeys walks past the blackboard and pulls his sharp nails across the board, slowly and grinding.” Most of us will have crouched for a while now. These are your mirror neurons at work. This example concerns a negative emotion and, therefore, a bad example of selling products or services. Therefore, try to incorporate the benefits of your customer and his customer in your story and to include the UBRs. But even better: let someone else tell your story and what benefits your organization has brought him. With this, you have immediately taken the first step to grow a customer into an ambassador.