As an owner, you have a hard time identifying top general contractors (GCs) on a very crowded playing field where many of the players look the same on the surface. Chances are, you have several criteria to consider before hiring a GC, but have you considered that their marketing approach could provide insight into the company’s reputation?
Many construction companies don’t put a lot of emphasis on marketing, so the ones that do tend to stand out. It would be unfair to suggest that a GC doesn’t have a good reputation if they don’t do marketing; however, those that do tend to be more conscientious, focused on reputation, community service, and helping the customers they serve.
Some GCs see the brand as hocus pocus. Considering that customer experience is a huge part of branding, that’s a huge mistake.
Construction companies that understand and invest in brand building are operating on a higher plane. They see it as an investment and tend to run their business with a long-term perspective. They care about all aspects of their business, including how they are perceived by outsiders. If these are some of the features you’re looking for in a builder, look beyond the GC logo.
What is the media saying about this contractor? What kind of headlines come up when you do a Google search?
Show me a contractor who cares about how the outside world sees him and I’ll show you a contractor who cares about other aspects of his business as well. The media is often known to quote or misrepresent contractors, so reserve your judgment until you are sure you are dealing with hard facts and have enough information to see a trend.
Successful businesses believe in giving back and general contractors are no different. Does the GC you are investigating support charities? Do you sponsor and attend events? Do they support the local community? Do you have employees who volunteer for industry groups? Many contractors play it safe when it comes to charities, so you may have to do some homework.
JH Greene, for example, demonstrated a commitment to social responsibility in 2017 by establishing a custom hashtag (#JHGreeneCares), which was used by employees involved in supporting positive causes, including an online fundraising campaign for the Houston Food Bank in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. . Any GC can attend a charity event, but only the most dedicated will build a campaign around it.
This may come as a surprise, but many GCs are not big fans of social media. Some are reluctantly there and others accept it because it represents an opportunity to market themselves and engage with clients, prospects and customers.
How do you distinguish between the two? Look for contractors who have a well-rounded profile, an active presence, and engage with followers rather than just streaming. Those who practice the latter are often reluctantly on social media because they’ve been told they should have a presence.
Content marketing, an approach that involves sharing useful information to attract new business, is a tactic that has been slow to catch on in the construction industry. Typical tactics can include blogs, a newsletter, guest posts, e-books to name a few.
There are two reasons why a GC practicing content marketing should be important to you as an owner. For one thing, it can help you determine if they’re proficient in their trade, whether it’s carpentry or paving. Second, it shows that they value generosity and are willing to share their expertise with the market.
mouth to mouth
Most GCs rely on word of mouth to generate referrals because they hang their hats on the quality of work done. Some get so much referral business that they find marketing unnecessary, which is one of the main reasons I would never suggest a contractor is not reputable if they don’t invest in it.
As the owner, it’s in your best interest to find out what customers and subcontractors have to say about KM. Do they meet deadlines? Are they using competent subcontractors? This will require some legwork in the form of phone calls, emails, and social media.
The bottom line is that marketing is just one of the criteria owners should consider when examining a GC. While it is true that aggressive marketing can be used to disguise shortcomings, more often than not it represents awareness and a holistic approach to business.
ABOUT THE GUEST AUTHOR:
Brian M. Fraley is the owner and chief strategist of Fraley Construction Marketing, a marketing communications consultancy with a 100% unique approach and in-depth knowledge of the construction industry. It has served this niche market for almost 25 years. Brian is active on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and regularly contributes to the Construction Marketing InSITE Newsletter, Construction Direct Marketing Blog, and various trade publications.