A dozen or so years ago, I co-wrote an article aimed at marketing with your internal resources in the heavy civil construction industry. Luckily I had Paul Cunningham of Underpinning and Foundation Skanska to help me bring a contractor’s perspective. We’ve both learned a little something since then. Paul, now with Tudor Perini, helped me dust this off and gussy it up for 2022. Thank you Paul!
Create an Internal Marketing Team for Brand Authenticity
Paul Cunningham, Tudor Perini & George R. Compton, Construct Marketing
- Involve everyone in your organization
- The talent you require is right under your nose.
- Team accountability and leadership support are essential.
- Done right, this formula provides branding with authenticity.
Imagine a typical construction firm with no Marketing Department, no Director of Marketing, and minor marketing effort except what the principals and a few key individuals can muster when time permits. Sound familiar?
Some construction firms have the luxury of dedicated marketing and business development departments. Many organizations get by with cooperative efforts by talented individuals who have developed promotional skills outside their specialties. It is these skills that contribute to the marketing of the company’s expertise and professionalism. What many companies can do, without a fancy department or Director of Marketing, is project their brand out into the industry.
A company brand is reputation, yes, but in a wider sense, when the construction industry sees your company name, logo, collateral, trucks, etc. what message does it communicate?
Involve everyone in your organization
“Good Morning, this is ABC Construction Company. How may I help you?” a positive, professional receptionist is the first person many of ‘Joe Publics’ the people on the other side of the phone, are introduced to within the organization. This person is the voice of your brand, your first impression of the intelligence and level of care someone is to expect from your company.
Project superintendents, for example, often serve as ‘ambassadors’ to the communities they work in. A superintendent whose highway project runs alongside a neighborhood with a highly active group of ‘sidewalk superintendents’ may use his public relations skills as frequently as his construction skills. Inquisitive neighbors and curious bystanders may necessitate some PR skills on the part of your supers.
Consider the Accounts Receivable specialist collecting from your customers, walking the fine line between “Give me the $#@% Money’ and ‘We look forward to working with you again!” These vital individuals represent the company daily. AR Specialists contribute best by developing positive relationships with their counterparts at the company’s customers. Construction is a relationship-based business; positive relationships result in positive results, especially while trying to collect money! This is practical public relations.
The assets you require to establish your brand may be closer than you think.
A financial analyst, who is talented not only with spreadsheets and the accounting platform, may also enjoy the opportunity to acquire desktop publishing and presentation software expertise.
What about the IT person, undoubtedly proficient with systems software, but perhaps Social Media as well? Becoming aware and skilled in the essential social media environment will provide a significant boost to your company’s communication and marketing efforts. Before long, they might start regularly asking to till the need for content, “How about a little background on the workers performing the work for this social media post?” or “What are the specifics of the project itself for an article?”, “What equipment was used and why?” etc.
Is it fair to ask your receptionist, superintendents, accounting staff, and technical people to contribute to the marketing process through these indirect roles? Is it good business to know that they, in their daily duties, are working towards marketing the company? You bet. Before long you’ll have a team of job reporters, ready to tell your company stories, 1 project at a time. Maybe a magazine article here or there.
Ever hear, “Do you have any current photos we can use for ‘x’?”, The PM, taking progress photos, week in and week out, is measuring and reporting the project progress. If you are going to take photos, you may as well take good ones, usable in a promotional context. “Yeah, Dave took some photos. E-mail Dave.” Listen, project progress photos and promotional photos are not the same photos. Or maybe Dave needs to understand what the team working on your collateral is looking for, and take a few photos while out there with a different approach. Perhaps this can help Dave out…
Perhaps someone in your office is an amateur shutterbug and dying to feel the dirt in the air of a real construction site.
With leadership’s active support and dependable accountability…
Everyone within your organization has something to offer the marketing process and can take some ownership of the responsibility. Speaking of ownership, consistent support by the principals, that this is a company priority, bears repeating often until it is embedded into the culture.
The key to the sustainability of an internal marketing effort is the quarterback – someone to consistently hold this process accountable. So that this doesn’t slip to the bottom of your overloaded go-to person’s priority list, find someone with room on their desk who is organized, committed, and responsible. If you don’t have someone, Construct Marketing is a professional marketing quarterback for hire, budgetable, and accountable. It’s a role we fill every day.
With the support of company leadership, and the right point person successful internal marketing is achievable and sustainable.
OK, you may need help in website development, search engine optimization, digital and traditional advertising, and design – areas for specialists, but remember – they need you as much as you need them, possibly more. Professional service providers may be experts in navigating media channels, design, art direction, or communications, but do they know construction? Have they ever called the concrete plant looking for the last load of concrete to be told “the truck just left the plant”? Have they ever worked on a three-year project calling a 10′ x 36′ office trailer “home” for 12 hour days? Because those real experiences and context translate into authentic, genuine branding in the construction industry.
… those real experiences and context translate into authentic, genuine branding in the construction industry.
The Result? An Authentic Brand.
Especially in a small company, when a few talented people who can take the photos, write the text, arrange the layout and design while also interfacing with the associations, editors, advertising departments et al., have the support of their organization, they can successfully market their company. Hundreds of construction companies rely on such a process. This formula of “coaching up” latent talents, combining skillsets, and building internal culture, can present your organization with the means and a method to promote your brand effectively and authentically.
What if you keep doing an excellent job for your clients, and nobody knows it?
Tell your stories.