Small Construction Business Marketing: 27 Ideas To Conquer 2020 [The Definitive Guide]
Construction creates the built environment we enjoy, from engineering feats to architectural wonders.
Yet, when there’s a downturn, it can leave smaller construction firms facing the squeeze. Maybe some of your margins are already too tight for comfort. Or you’re worried there are not enough projects on the horizon.
It’s essential to have more reliable and predictable ways to get quality clients. But there are so many mixed messages, its hard to know where to begin. That’s when construction business marketing becomes a must.
This post will cover 27 ideas to conquer small construction business marketing in 2019.
Let’s get started.
Small Enterprise Packs a Punch
It’s easy to get the impression that the construction sector is full of big players. Yet, up to ”95% of construction, architecture, and civil engineering firms are micro-enterprises or small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs)”.
It’s safe to say small and micro-construction enterprises do most of the hard lifting. That’s why business owners need strategies that won’t break the bank. You might be wondering ‘how do you market a small construction company’? Answering questions like these will help you set marketing goals that get results.
Strategies That Cost Nothing
Strategy #1. What Makes a Construction Company Unique?
It’s natural to assume specialising might limit your opportunities. But when you appeal to everyone it’s harder to appeal to anyone. That’s the problem with being a generalist. By specialising, it’s easier to realise your marketing efforts. Instead, hone your messages to entice likely customers.
By defining your value, you can provide the ideal client solution. It can help to visualise what you want to be known for. The upside is, it doesn’t limit you from doing other types of work. Specialising makes advertising your construction business easier. Whether you’re a consultant or a skilled craftsman, it helps you prioritise the best marketing strategies to implement.
You could specialise by niche, by sector or by service like these examples.
- Architect ⇒ Passive building ⇒ Domestic retrofit & Modular solutions.
- Roofing Contractor ⇒ Historic and conservation buildings ⇒ expert lead work and traditional slate
|♦ Learn More:||Go beyond the competition with Blue Ocean Strategy|
Strategy #2. Vision, Principles and Mission Unstoppable
Vision, mission and principles. That sounds like something for large construction firms! Yet it’s equally important for small business owners too. Without a written vision, it’s easy to get side-tracked and lose sight of what’s important. Your vision reminds you that what you’re doing matters.
Having clearly defined mission and principles ensures your goals don’t get derailed. And as a result, it gives you laser-guided focus because what you do is aligned with what you say (marketing) and believe. In summary, your mission unstoppable includes;
- your vision spells out a problem or demand and how you see it
- your vision is a statement about where you want to be in 5 years
- your mission is about how you’ll get there
- your principles are the values and beliefs that underpin your journey
|♦ Learn More:||Tools To Plan For The New Year: Vision, Mission and Principles Worksheet|
Strategy #3. SWOT Away Confusion for Clarity
SWOT analysis is a simple exercise to review your business and competitors. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are aspects you can influence. Doing so gives you better clarity for making decisions.
Once you’ve also looked at opportunities and threats, you’ll also have a clearer picture of the market. What can you learn from your competitors? By analysing trends and barriers your business can become more resilient. The SWOT exercise can give you clearer marketing goals. Therefore, you can get better results, faster.
Strategy #4. Without This Your Marketing a Lot of Hot Air
The most important strategy to boost revenue is ensuring you have an excellent product and service. This surpasses all the online noise you can create around a business. Because without this, marketing either exaggerates what you do or at best muddies the waters.
This doesn’t mean a small construction business has to make everything perfect. It’s about not losing sight of what’s important. By focusing on what you’re good at you can improve, bit by bit. Striving for excellence speaks volumes. And what you do is more powerful than what you say.
‘’Content is not king. Your business is king. And your content should serve the king.’’ Sam Oh, Ahrefs
Construction Marketing Ideas (Offline)
#5. Reach out to Your Existing Clients
Ask. It’s a small three-letter word that could be a game-changer. Many overlook the power of getting in touch with previous clients. Instead of thinking it might come to nothing, pick up the phone. Customers can also open new doors.
The construction sector can be frantic at times. But with the right timing, you could find your next recurring client. Ensure that you follow up with any potential work leads.
‘’Most people never pick up the phone, most people never ask. And that’s what separates the people that do things from the people that just dream about them. You gotta act. And you gotta be willing to fail.’’ — Steve Jobs
#6. Link up with Trade Association and Professional Bodies
Joining a trade association or professional body is a great way to network with likeminded people. New friendships mean you’re the first to hear about projects on the horizon. Associations share best practice and understand which marketing tactics work well in your niche area. Along with professional groups they often have scope for print advertising in magazines and publications.
Associations provide training events and technical support for construction specifications. Members can request training for marketing in your construction niche. You can often benefit from free or low-cost advertising and resources.
#7. Exhibitions To Go Beyond Talking
Exhibitions are a great place to meet people, face to face. Events like the London Build Expo, have more than 350 exhibitors and 500 guest speakers. Unlike bidding for construction work, it’s a chance to develop personal relationships. Likewise, exhibitions are a good indicator of industry trends and growth areas. They can provide creative sparks to promote your business.
Expos are fantastic places to generate new strategies for your business. Armed with your business cards it’s a place to find some diamonds in the rough. Don’t miss your chance to grow your small business at regional and local construction exhibitions. You might even have some fun along the way!
#8. Connect with Building Material Companies
The building industry is pushing for more collaborative working. Specialist trades and contractors can build relationships with product suppliers or trade merchants. Since you’re not direct competitors, it’s an ideal way to promote each other’s business. On your website, you could promote a product that you use regularly. While being featured in the newsletter of your builder merchant can give you added exposure to new customers.
Teaming up to promote each other through social media is a win-win for both parties. And it takes little effort to connect and promote each other’s services. Suppliers can also list your small construction business on their site, as a satisfied client. Think about how you can work with other stakeholders in a mutually beneficial way.
#9. Success Stories Go a Long Way
A portfolio of work can create a great impression with potential clients. A summary along with sample pictures can help prospects visualise their project. Images can immediately communicate your value and help to remove doubts in the customer’s mind. Your portfolio could take the form of a simple pamphlet or flyer.
For added credibility include testimonials or customer quotes that stand out. A case study format is also ideal for the building sector. Case studies can guide potential clients through the customer journey. A renovation contractor would have ample material to show before and after results. If you already have some case studies why not repurpose them into a blog post.
#10. Customer Reviews Speak Volumes
Customer reviews build credibility in your construction business. They also serve to dispel any doubts and fears potential clients might hold. Customer reviews that mention your positive traits help to set you apart. Reviews that include your client’s photo have a stronger impact. Video testimonials can also provide a broader insight into your project from the customers perspective.
Research shows that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Let your work do the talking by delivering great projects. Don’t forget to respond to any negative reviews, as this shows your responsive to client satisfaction.
#11. Performance Data Says It All
Construction can be complex with many stakeholders. Sometimes larger projects fall behind. It’s not surprising when you’re building to a bespoke design, with a different team in a new setting. But maybe you’re that star sub-contractor that’s reigned in an ailing programme. You could use project data that shows how you got a critical path activity back on track.
What project data can you use to illustrate high performance? Ask the clients planner to explain how you reigned in the programme to reach a key milestone. Better still, get some before and after Primavera screenshots that indicate exactly what happened. It shows potential clients, ‘we did this on our last project and here’s the proof’’. Although sensitive information might be an issue if you can demonstrate great results it goes a long way.
#12. Direct Mail Marketing (No More Junk)
Before email, direct mail marketing was a common way of reaching potential clients. It’s still alive and well today, only more sophisticated and targeted. It’s not to be confused with all the junk mail and flyers you receive in the post. A well thought out campaign can be effective because;
- direct mail gets in the door – unlike some email that depends heavily on an enticing headline
- it reaches the right people
- it can hang around for longer – a postcard design can give your message a longer lifespan
- direct mail can take several formats like a catalogue, postcard, pamphlet or flyer
- it improves other marketing efforts
CTE Construction and Roofing in Nebraska used direct mail to generate 26 leads, which resulted in $280,000 of new business. They sent out 4000 well designed and targeted postcards emphasising words like ‘’trust and investment’’. Recent storm damage creating more demand, so timing played a big part in their success.
#13. Site Hoarding an Advertisers Delight
Whether you’re part of a major project or a domestic renovation make sure you’re not missing out on free advertising. Space on site hoarding, access scaffolding and cranes are sometimes reserved for the principal contractor and designers. It doesn’t have to be that way.
It’s sub-contractors and specialist trades that actually build projects. If you regularly collaborate with a principal contractor try to get your business signage displayed. When a new school project takes a year to build, that’s a valuable long term marketing asset.
#14. Sustainable Credentials for Small Construction Business Marketing
Sustainable construction is expected to top $523 billion globally by 2026. It shows there’s more awareness for better environmental standards among clients. If your construction business has a policy for sustainable and recycling activities, it’s time to get on the loudspeaker.
Planting trees is a fantastic way to help the environment and gives a positive reflection of your advertising. It’s easy to achieve this by working with organisations like the Woodland Trust and Trees.org.
|♦ Learn More:||The Woodland Trust – https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/our-partners/partner-with-us/|
|♦ Learn More:||Trees.org – http://trees.org/sponsors/partnership-application/|
#15. Community News With a Human Touch
The building industry provides many opportunities to help in the community. Construction sites can sometimes disturb residents. Small gestures of goodwill can go a long way to offset any disruptions caused. Maybe the nearest school needs some help in their garden. Your construction business can benefit from some positive exposure through local word-of-mouth.
Platforms like Enviromate are a great way to discover leftover building materials. If you have extra materials from a refurbishment you can distribute them to a community project. You could also sponsor a local sports team. Donating your time to help charities can provide a nice story for your newsletter.
Digital Marketing Ideas
#16. A Smartphone Website
The internet allows unparalleled reach for your marketing plans. Despite this, 46% of small businesses do not have a website. Whether you’re a freelance consultant or skilled tradesman, bringing your small business online is a must. Technology can complement traditional methods for growing your business. The good news is it doesn’t have to be costly or complex to create a basic website.
You can get a website built for below $500. If you’re more tech-savvy you can use WordPress and build your website for much less. With 58% of all searches in Google done from mobile devices, your website must be fully responsive. That just means your webpage looks equally good on a smaller, smartphone screen. The main components of a website include;
- a domain name – like excelbuilders.com
- hosting – web platforms like Siteground offer different types of hosting for your website
- a theme – provides the front end design features and layout of your site
|♦ Learn More:||Ultimate Guide: How to Make a Website in 2019 – Step by Step Guide|
#17. Boost Organic Traffic with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
To get more customers online you need to be visible and easily found. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps to position your website (products and services) in front of those that matter. It’s like digital matchmaking for businesses to customers. The end game is creating content that appears on the first page of search engine results. Businesses target common search terms or ‘keywords’ in their specialism.
For example, a building surveying practice might want to rank for the term ‘listed building survey’. SEO keyword tools can help you see the value of keywords and what your competitors are already ranking for. This is invaluable as it removes a lot of the guesswork. First-page ranking is important because the majority of people don’t move past page one! Good SEO can bring organic traffic (non-paid) to your site from everyday search results.
SEO can combine hundreds of factors in grading websites and content. The good news is, a solid grasp of the fundamentals can make a big difference to your websites overall ranking. The basic steps of content SEO are;
- find a list of common search terms related to your small construction business
- optimize your content for those related search terms
- boost your website ranking with backlinks from authority sites in your field
|♦ Learn More:||What is SEO|
|The Definitive Guide To SEO In 2019|
|Google free SEO tools – Keyword Planner, Trends and Analytics|
#18. A Keep It Simple Logo
A logo can make your business instantly recognisable. It’s a case of first impressions last. The construction industry has many activities that can easily form a memorable graphic logo. Some advice tends to exaggerate the importance of logo design and branding. But if you’re a construction start-up other prioritise usually come first.
Many well-known brands opt for simplicity, by using a text logo. For new and smaller businesses, it’s important to keep it simple. As the name suggests, a text logo simply uses the name of the business in text form without any images or symbols. The advantage of a text logo is it contains no hidden messaging.
|♦ Learn More:||Try Canva to create a free or low-cost logo using their library of features|
#19. Social Media Marketing for Construction Companies – Less is More
Social media gets a lot of bad press around personal usage. For business though, social media is a great tool to network, build leads and generate revenue. Your content on social media is about digging into your audience problems and pinpointing solutions. In the beginning, it’s less about ‘buy this’, and more about building trust in your construction business.
LinkedIn is the go-to social media platform for businesses, even more so if you work in business to business (B2B). For 94% of B2B marketers, LinkedIn is their main channel to distribute content and generate leads. You could join construction marketing or craft guild groups on LinkedIn. You can ask questions and get a better feel for what strategies are best suited to your construction marketing efforts. And it’s free.
Connect with your supply chain and past clients through LinkedIn. By nurturing these quality leads you could secure new opportunities. If your main customers are not other businesses Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be just as effective.
#20. Content Marketing – Write Engaging Content
The online world is awash with mediocre content. It’s often just lots of noise without any clear target. You’re already streets ahead if you write engaging content and delivers value. And again it’s not about selling (yet). So if you’re serious about making your construction blog an asset, content is key.
It’s important to realise that content marketing doesn’t deliver lightning results. It’s a long term strategy that takes time. But when done properly, it can become the gift that keeps on giving. The important articles on your website are known as cornerstone content. They’re the pages that you want to rank highest for in search engines. Cornerstone content surpasses other competing posts for a keyword because they’re longer and more detailed.
Promotion of your article is also a key part of rising to the top. Search engines recognise quality and that’s why the most useful content ranks on page one. For micro-enterprises, local advertising could be more effective as content marketing takes time and commitment.
|♦ Learn More:||Content Marketing – Cornerstone Content|
#21. Guest Blogging and Podcast Interviews
Guest blogging is a marketing tactic to build your reputation and business leads. You can borrow the attention of a large readership by guest posting on popular industry websites. Many sites allow guest writers to leave a bio and link (backlink) to your company website or landing page.
These quality backlinks signal to search engines that your site should rank higher. When your content sings to readers it can lead to direct business enquires. Getting published in a leading industry blog shows that you’re an authority in your field.
Appearing as a guest on a popular construction podcast is another great option. Podcasts need guests to create content. You can appear as an authority in your field by giving valuable insights. In return, you could reap the benefits of free publicity for your business which can translate into leads.
|♦ Learn More:||Guest Blogging: The Definitive Guide (2019)|
|The 40 Best Construction Podcasts|
#22. Email Marketing – A Powerful Asset
Image: lurn.com & KK.com
Some people believe email is dead, but the stats don’t lie. There are 5,59bn active email users worldwide in 2019. That’s a staggering figure. An email list gives you private access to potential customers. For that reason, it’s a powerful asset. The good news is, you don’t need mountains of subscribers to gain some traction.
In 2008 Kevin Kelly coined the term, ‘’1000 True Fans’’.
‘To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only thousands of true fans’’.
True fans read your construction content and appreciate the valuable insights you provide. They are ready and willing to buy from you. Maybe you’ve written an in-depth report for £89. If only 125 of your subscribers decide to purchase your unique report that’s £11,125. Similarly, they will be the first to recommend your services to others.
|♦ Learn More:||Email Marketing Explained – The Email Blaster Email Marketing Guide|
#23. Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising – Google Ads, Facebook and beyond
It can take months to rank on the first page for organic searches results. That’s when pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can put your business on the front page without all the effort. When you type the phrase “specialist fit-out London” into Google these are the first page results above. Google Ads puts your business centre stage among the top results on the first page.
Facebook advertising can put your construction services in front of users on the platform. With a few clicks, you can target by industry (construction) behaviours (B2B), job title (facilities manager). Once you get the hang of it, you can use Facebook Ads Manager to test out different ads. This is suitable when you’re confident your potential customers are using Facebook.
|♦ Learn More:||13 of the Best Facebook Ad Examples That Actually Work (And Why)|
|How to Use Google AdWords (Google Ads)|
#24. How do construction companies get customers? (Google My Business)
Since 46% of Google searches are about local information it makes a sense to have a Google My Business (GMB) profile. When you enter the term ‘cost consultant Glasgow’ into Google the right sidebar shows a GMB profile for ‘NBM Construction Cost Consultants’.
It’s powerful because with a solid basic profile (logo, business description and pictures) it gives searchers more reasons to contact you first! Controlling how you appear with Google My Business is much better than leaving it to chance. And since it’s free there are no excuses.
|♦ Learn More:||The Definitive Guide to Google My Business in 2019|
#25. Create Video Content on the World’s Second Biggest Search Engine
NU Heat: Installing screed underfloor heating
YouTube is second only to Google in search engine size. Video content is ideally suited to construction. You can create links from your instructional video contest back to your website. This also helps with your website authority and ranking. Webinars are another popular way to deliver free training or share industry best practice with customers.
If you’re a heating and plumbing contractor why not create helpful DIY content. What’s a common heating issue for your customers? By leveraging the power of video, quality content adds to your credibility and sends more visitors to your website.
#26. Measure, Remeasure, Improve
Marketing should never be carried out just because someone else is doing it. Random acts of marketing will just sap your energies. As Peter Drucker said,
“There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.”
With strategic marketing, it’s important to check if you’re getting the desired results. Without measuring your operating partially blind. Maybe your SEO content is finally ranking on the first page of search results. It’s vital that you measure traffic to your site.
Shares and comments are indicators of good engagement. You can learn a lot from your audience comments and pivot some of your services to suit their needs. Measure email response rates from different tactics you employ.
“What’s measured improves’’ P. Drucker
|♦ Learn More:||Measuring Marketing Effectiveness: 6 Metrics You Need to Track|
#27. Reign Supreme with Construction Aerial Footage
Video: KSPcinematic.com – Home Construction Completed Project
Drone footage is a unique way to showcase your project. If you’re involved in landscaping or roofing, consider advertising your work with aerial video. Before and after footage or a time-lapse video creates a memorable positive impression.
Sometimes it’s not about the nuts and bolts of a new home. Quality footage can help people visualise a new lifestyle and make it easier to commit to a project. You can share it on social media and with your email subscribers.
Should You Work with a Construction Marketing Agency?
You guessed it – it depends. If you’re a small engineering practice, a tradesperson or a start-up, then resources are probably tight. Most small construction firms don’t have a marketing budget, to begin with.
With the internet, free and inexpensive online courses are readily available. Testing one or two tactics from this list can help you to build resilience, especially when you’re a business owner. Agencies usually specialise in different marketing channels. When you’re a more informed client, you can demand better value from whomever you hire.
If you’re ready to leverage the knowledge and resources of a marketing agency here are some of the benefits you can expect;
- better direction and strategy
- you can focus on your business
- get measurable results
- access to the agencies tools and software
- scale your marketing efforts quickly
- prioritise the most cost-effective strategy for your business
|♦ Learn More:||The Different Types of Marketing Agencies|
Small Construction Business Marketing: Time for Lift-Off
That’s it. 27 ideas to conquer small construction business marketing in 2019.
We’ve covered a mix of traditional and online strategies. It’s not so daunting anymore. You’ve brushed off the feeling of uncertainty with knowledge. And that’s progress in itself.
It’s goodbye to those random acts of marketing that lead nowhere. You’re feeling more upbeat because you can start a marketing plan that works.
Imagine – more quality clients, more profits and a thriving business.
With your energy and the right marketing mix, it’s certainly possible. Now it’s time to think about which tactics are best suited to your unique circumstances.
Focus on just one or two strategies and test them out.
Before you know it you’ll be closing 2020 with a new level of mastery.