What Can Content Do For You? The Benefits of Content Marketing in Construction
Inbound marketing delivers 3x more leads and costs two thirds less per lead than outboard marketing channels - Hubspot
The most successful companies in the world have realised the power of content marketing to influence their bottom line. Companies like Coca-Cola, LEGO and Red Bull have silenced skeptics that once questioned whether producing media-style content can translate into sales. Look at these companies today and there is little debate about the potential of a well-executed content marketing strategy and its impact on profits.
Content marketing can take many forms and can be used to increase exposure, build brand, engage consumers, and even entice people to talk about your company. It can be used to influence all stages of a buyer’s journey from awareness to consideration, conversion and referral.
In the construction industry, purchasing decisions are often influenced by a complex ecosystem of procurement and compliance including tendering, contracts, building codes, Australian Standards, specifications, value engineering, sustainability, durability, risk minimisation, insurances, etc.
This makes content in construction paramount because it can improve clarity and remove friction from the buyer’s journey before a conversation even takes place.
For the best chance at securing customers, it is important to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to find you, derive the benefits of your products and services and get their technical questions answered quickly. Content can achieve all this without occupying your sales team.
Content is also a powerful tool that can be used to demonstrate your expertise and position your company as a leader in your field.
Architecture firm, Populous, feature a video reel on their website of the sporting stadiums and event facilities they have worked on to position themselves as domain experts. The website immediately tells visitors that the company is the leader in stadium design by showing the viewer the high profile projects they have completed in that niche.
Exactly what role content marketing can and should play for your company will depend on what business you're in, who your customers are and your unique selling proposition.
The key thing to keep in mind is that digital and content marketing should not be used to replace traditional marketing and sales channels. Instead, content marketing should be viewed as a tool to augment your other marketing and sales endeavours. The importance of offline and relationship marketing still remains.
So if you are considering adding content to your marketing mix, here are just some of the many benefits that it can provide.
Content Reduces Friction in the Buyer’s Journey
“Because consumers are more informed and more empowered than ever before, it’s important to deeply understand your buyer persona and the journey they make so you can create content that helps them along that path..” - Amanda Sellers, Content Strategist.
A report from CSO Insights found that more than 70 percent of B2B buyers fully define their needs before speaking with a sales representative, and almost half identify specific solutions before reaching out.
This means that your online presence, particularly your website and its content, are key components of the buyer’s journey and function as an extension of your sales team.
This is a massive opportunity to add value early in the customer’s interactions with your brand. For example, by providing technical information on your website you can help the customer determine if your product or service is going to meet their needs. If you fail to articulate the key details of your products or services, they may move on to a competitors website.
The more transparent and informative your website content, the more you provide yourself with an opportunity to build trust with potential customers instantly.
This reduces friction in their research, allowing them to easily find answers to their early questions and learn more about your products or services. It will also leave a good taste in their mouth about their first interaction with your brand.
For example, providing a FAQs page with a comprehensive list of answers to customers most common questions would help the customer find what they are looking for, move them closer to purchasing your product or service, and will take the burden off your sales and admin team by reducing calls and emails.
Note that many marketing agencies would suggest hiding information on your website behind a lead capture form, forcing visitors to submit their phone number or email. But this increases friction - and friction only results in lost sales, not the other way around.
Content Builds Brand Authority
“[Use content marketing] like we did and watch your customers start to look at you differently… less like someone trying to sell them something, and more like a true resource and information expert.” - Michael Brenner, Vice President of Marketing & Content Strategy, SAP
Deloitte is a leading authority in the global financial services industry. Part of the reason Deloitte have created and continue to maintain a strong, trusted brand authority is through the release of industry research papers and analyses.
Sure, you could argue that a company as big as Deloitte has virtually unlimited resources to undertake this research. But it would also be easy for a company with a market share as large as Deloitte’s to become complacent.
Instead, they understand that by providing these free informational resources they maintain their position as a leading authority in industry analysis, minimising the risk of being dethroned by smaller up-and-coming competitors.
In construction, building brand authority does not have to involve extensive research studies or significant expense. The existing knowledge you have in your area can be harnessed to demonstrate industry-leading expertise.
Australian waterproofing products manufacturer, Gripset, have positioned themselves as experts by creating a video series called Sealed for Good. The series involves the company owner, Phil Scardigno, regularly appearing on camera to provide mini waterproofing masterclasses that include highlighting installation tips and common misconceptions and answering frequently-asked questions.
Gripset has garnered a loyal and highly engaged social media following by delivering content that is not brand-orientated but instead provides valuable information that makes their customers better at their job. This allows them to compete against large, multinational corporations.
Further reading: 6 Ways to Build Brand Authority with Content Marketing (Moz)
Content Lets Customers Find You
“By embracing the tenets of content marketing, companies can deliver the type of information that prospects are seeking - aligned with their interests, role, industry, and place in the buying cycle - and pull buyers to their sites.” - Stephanie Tilton, Ten Ton Marketing
In 1970, cold outreach was one of the few ways prospects could learn about new products and services. But now, there is a thing called the internet.
A 2018 survey by SpecifiedBy found that 71% of specifiers want to be able to do their own research without speaking to the company, with 99% of specifiers preferring to undertake that research online.
Cold outreach annoys your prospects and leaves a sour taste in their mouth about your brand. Not to mention, it is an extremely laborious and costly approach to finding clients or customers.
But the biggest problem with cold outreach is its poor timing; your prospect is unlikely to need your product or service at that moment in time so they won't pay much attention to you. I call this the ‘full tank’ principle.
How hard would it be to sell petrol to someone with a full tank? Now compare that to the difficulty of selling to that same person just one week later when their fuel warning light is illuminated.
Content marketing does the job of the massive price sign that allows people to find a service station easily when their warning light is illuminated. This may help explain why inbound marketing has a close rate 8x that of cold outreach (Junto).
Optimising your website for search engines, writing keyword-driven blog articles and answering common customer questions on YouTube are some ways that will increase your presence and allow customers to find you when the time is right.
Unlike cold outreach these assets can build up over time and continue to generate exposure for your company even after you stop producing new content.
A well-designed content library will integrate into the buyer’s journey and allow potential customers to find you through search and start deriving value from your content. As they gain trust in your brand, they are more likely to leave a phone number or email. By this stage a sales call may be warranted. But it's content that does the grunt work at the top of the funnel.
Content Builds Trust
“Content marketing allows you to tell potential customers what you are about...building trust and meaningful relationships with them before asking for the sale... The result is a richer, deeper and more satisfying business relationship” - CB Whittemore, Simple Marketing Now
Increasingly, customers want to undertake their own research and develop a basic idea of what they need before talking to a company. This is, in part, due to mistrust for salespeople.
Customers will research your company and want to see a clear, honest demonstration of your knowledge before actively engaging with you. This is a massive opportunity to be completely transparent and, in doing so, win the customer over.
Through highly informative educational content, you can intercept customers during their research and provide value during their first interaction with your brand. This is a powerful tool that builds trust and ignites the customer relationship before a conversation even takes place.
Educating is the new selling. Companies that embrace this concept will win beyond 2020.
Educational content should not be solely product-focused, but should help prospects to understand complex concepts related to your product or service. For example, building products supplier, Ardex, releases technical papers on key considerations, preparation tips, and misconceptions when waterproofing, tiling and grouting.
The papers do not mention Ardex products at all but are focused on educating their customers about the complexities of preparation and installation to help them succeed. The scientific explanations help establish Ardex as experts in their field, instilling the customer with confidence in their products.
If you consistently offer value in this way, without salesly tactics, customers will trust your company over others, consider you an expert in the field and think of you first when they are ready to engage with a sales rep.
Notwithstanding the above, product-focused educational content can also be useful for helping customers understand what you do. If you offer an innovative building product, a new construction technology or a unique construction software solution, your product may be so complex it needs well-considered articulation to concisely explain to customers what it is and why it’s beneficial to them.
Content can be used to hone your message and deliver a clear, concise explanation to help prospects understand. For example, using a video to illustrate how your product works is likely to be more effective than explaining it over the phone.
The added bonus is that when the time comes for your sales team to speak to prospects, they may have already seen your video and have a basic understanding of your product. If so, the conversation is going to be much more productive.
In summary, content marketing can achieve a number of business goals for all stages of the sales funnel, such as:
- Enhance your online presence;
- Reduce friction in the buying process;
- Build your brand's authority as an industry leader;
- Demonstrate your expertise;
- Earn customer trust;
- Attract a loyal following;
- Generate leads;
- Nurture your customer relationships; and
- Keep you top of mind when customers are ready to buy.
It’s important to remember that the world’s biggest brands invest in content marketing because they have realised its ability to break through the noise and get customer attention in a world plagued by constant bombardment.
It’s through content that you can really differentiate your brand and demonstrate value. And providing value for customers before the sale will be the biggest key to marketing success beyond 2020.
Posting intermittently on LinkedIn about your products is not going to provide value for potential customers and therefore won’t move the needle for your brand.
For your content to have an impact, it must be strategically planned, well-researched and integrated thoughtfully into your buyer’s journey. This starts with establishing what your goals are for using content marketing, what role content will play in the buyer’s journey and how it will integrate into your overall marketing strategy.