Almost every business in building product and construction has been planning for the inevitable impact that COVID19 will have on our industry. It's unexpected, and sadly for most, unplanned for. In these uncertain times, a strong sales and marketing strategy is your closest defence to ensure that you come out of this the other side.
But, how does a strong sales and marketing strategy look like for building products and construction?
Most of the times, overcoming challenges does not necessarily mean to work harder, but smarter, adopting a digital approach to help streamline processes. All of a sudden, adopting a 'digital approach' has gone from a 'consideration for the future' to an actual necessity for business' survival.
Digital is here. It's real.
[2021 UPDATE] In 2020, 81% of the construction leaders interviewed within the Construction Front Line Survey shared their expectations to enact or put in place initiatives to improve their construction businesses digitally in the following 12 months. With that 12-month deadline quickly approaching, it becomes clear that the construction industry is finally catching up with digital innovation.
So let's start doing something about it.
Times Of Crisis Bring Great Opportunities
When faced with the prospect of an economic downturn, we must turn to the History books to explore how others have coped during times of change and uncertainty. It's the only way to gain a sense of positivity and perspective in-what seems to be-a very dark tunnel.
Looking back at the 2008 recession, analysis from the likes of the Financial Times suggested that businesses who invested in their digital infrastructure, rather than 'cutting back' were the ones who succeeded in coming out on top. Results show that attitudes towards digitalisation within the construction industry are almost instantly rewarded, reducing their operating costs, and increasing their employee productivity.
So, whilst most are likely to be sitting at home in self-isolation, we urge company's to not let that 'self-isolation' manifest into 'self-pity'. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on:
Your brand's strategy
Your core values
Your digital approach and;
How you can get through this
Times of crisis present great opportunities and this hysteria will not last. In fact, this is a great opportunity for you all to take command of the situation and become leaders in your market. The building product companies that invest in themselves, their future and their staff’s future will be the ones that come out of this bigger, better and stronger.
[2021 UPDATE] The Construction Front Line Survey found that construction businesses that had invested in the acquisition of internal management software with the aim of better managing workforce had increased their productivity by up to 15%. When asked about the challenges new technologies helped overcome, firms highlighted the importance of shared data availability.
Your overall online presence is truly your best defence. What you lack in personal interaction should be made up for in the story that you present online with the solutions you provide. Details like keeping an active presence on social media, installing a live chat on your website, setting up a meeting link, can make a huge difference, encouraging prospects to choose you over other competitors.
There's a lot you can do to adapt to the prospect of your sales reps being on lock-down but it requires you to switch up your sales strategy. This may seem quite drastic for some of the more seasoned, less tech savvy reps out there, but not impossible.
You should consider looking into CRMs/Tools to help support this transition. Such tools will enable reps to:
Automate processes to nurture leads
Decipher between leads worth pursuing and leads that aren't
Utilise video tools to interact with people (without spreading germs)
And so much more!
We define this term as sales enablement, which we have blogged extensively on for some time now. To get started on sales enablement, click here where you will find a detailed exploration of how you can kick-start this process
[2021 UPDATE] introducing a CRM system to your data management strategy will allow you to not only to collect the information, but to always be keep in the loop of the conversation prospects are having with your building product brand. CRM platforms like HubSpot can improve and curate data, helping your business grow while alleviating the pain of book-keeping.
In the Construction Front Line Survey above mentioned, 62% of the interviewed leaders considered that capturing formsand making physical documents such as quotes available digitallywould make the sales process more efficient. 71% stated that improving invoicing or adopting e-invoicing would enable easier payments and 53% believed it could improve cash flow management.
You can read about other tools for sales optimisation in some of our most popular articles.
[2021 UPDATE] In one of the first big events for the construction industry since after COVID19, we asked construction leaders if they would be attending physical events again. You can learn about what we found here.
This is a tough one. Yes, conferences/events/tradeshows are being cancelled left, right and centre, which could mean that your marketing budget could get repurposed.
However, you're obviously facing the prospect of cancelled orders or projects being put on hold. When it comes to making savings and investments during this time, we urge building products companies to consider the platforms worth investing in and those that aren't.
Here, we have to look upon the habits of your buyer personas (or target audiences). It's a fact that building product magazines will be delivered to offices. If architects are working remotely, they won't get access to this material, meaning that your cash spent on magazine spaces will be rendered useless.
So, consider - Is spending money on magazine space a good investment at the moment?
In contrast, architects and specifiers will be using this time to carry out product research (and probably watching re-runs of Grand Designs). In other words, they're going to be spending a lot of time online, which further emphasises my previous point:
Your online presence is crucial. [2021 UPDATE] According to the Sprout Social Index, 57% of consumers will follow a brand to learn about new services. Up to 47% will continue to engage with a brand after they have followed it on social media, with 89% making a purchase.
When considering the prospect of investing any spare cash you have, we recommend that you look into some tried and tested methods that have been proven to show positive ROI, for example:
Outsourcing some of the more technical/time consuming tasks-such as content
Invest in sales and marketing software-such as HubSpot
Specific Activities To Consider For Your Marketing Team
A common pain point for many of our prospects is that they don’t have time to carry out certain marketing activities. With events being cancelled and your marketing team self-isolating, it’s a great opportunity for your marketing team to be capturing architects’ and specifiers’ attention.
Self-isolation presents a lot more time to focus on things like a content strategy and conversion path, thinking about areas that, as a marketing team, you need to get better at.
If blogging is an area for development, download our free eBook and use this as an opportunity to up-skill and prepare for when things get back to normal.
Of course, utilising social media during this time will not be a wasted exercise. To learn more about how to improve on your social media strategy, download our free eBook here.
A Great Time To Evaluate Your Product
In light of these events, it’s a great time to evaluate your product/service offering. How many of you have neglected the feedback/improvements that your customers have been asking for?
Use this as a chance to pull together all this feedback and explore ways to make improvements to your product. With people being more acutely aware of clean and hygienic practices, why not consider how your products could be adapted to deliver a more sanitary solution, for example?
A Few Tools To Consider For Your Teams & Your Prospects
Here are some easy-to-implement techniques/tools to get you off to a good start:
Do you have a Chatbot or Live Chat feature enabled on your website?
‘@’ mentioning to facilitate better collaboration across teams (this can be done using apps such as ClickUp and Monday)
Workflows to ensure no leads slip through the crack
Meetings link so that each rep can customise their availability
Integration with key communication tools, like Slack, to better enable remote workers.
It might be a challenging time for you and your company but now is the perfect time to explore opportunities to develop your sales and marketing strategies.
We understand that this may seem daunting and certainly challenging, so why not get in touch with one of our experts to help you through this transition?
For any more information on some of the tools/techniques we’ve discussed above, don’t hesitate to get in touch today.
Insynth Marketing is a leading UK construction marketing agency based in Shifnal in the West Midlands.
They use the latest inbound marketing techniques such as construction inbound marketing, to support building product companies to grow their business by proactively driving sales lead generation activity.
As the only HubSpot certified agency to major on construction marketing, we bring together construction marketing strategy, digital strategy, website design, SEO, content marketing, email marketing, sales automation, marketing automation and HubSpot CRM implementation to produce successful campaigns and great results for our clients.