Just glancing at the statistics on building permits, housing starts, and housing completions right now can create some anxiety, as the housing industry balances consumers’ economic fears with reality and supply chains continue their slow crawl back from pandemic disruption. Add to that unease the roughly 753,000 construction companies actively pursuing a limited pool of potential clients and you have a formula for a stressed-out industry.
In the push for clients and customers, how can you set yourself apart from your competition? If you’re no Turner or Bechtel, how can you stand out in a positive way that draws prospects to your door?
Aside from business or marketing magic, the best approach to standing out from your competition is to distinguish yourself in ways that work for you and your target audience. Consider these methods to start:
To catch a prospect’s attention, you must stand out in a remarkable way, which means discarding—or avoiding—the same spiel and catchphrases your competitors have offered a thousand times. Depending on your company’s size, contacts, suppliers, crew, location, and other factors, you may not always be able to promise the least-expensive quote or the fastest turnaround time. To promise either of those things and not deliver will damage your reputation and differentiate you—but not in a positive way.
In his 1983 book, “The Marketing Imagination,” Theodore Levitt, of Harvard Business School fame, wrote that “differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.” It was true when Levitt wrote it, and it remains true today across all industries. But don’t look to your product or service features for differentiation. Your competitors can gain that advantage. Look instead to yourself and your company for what truly distinguishes you from your competition.
Assess what you can do that others struggle to do (or can’t do with their resources). Is it something around location or specialty? Do you have crew members with special expertise that can be difficult to find easily? For example, with the growth in heat pumps, finding a contractor who understands how to install all types is nearly impossible. HVAC contractors may be willing to try, but few understand the scope of heat pumps, whether in new construction or a retro-fit. If you have a team member who knows the differences in reversible, solid state, air-to-air, underwater/underground and hybrid systems, you have identified your differentiator.
Other factors matter, too. Do you grasp the building regulations required in an area that boggles other companies? Does your combined experience (your experience paired with your team) make for a sizable number of years or variety of work? Does your lean crew numbers mean you’re nimbler and more flexible on a project?
Look for more than one thing, as the combination of your experience, location and specialty could be the differentiator that separates you from all—or most—of your competitors. And you will use it in all your marketing. Prospects who value what makes you different will look first to you for projects.
Also enter here the customer value proposition (CVP). A CVP is about what clients get from partnering with you. We touched on the distinctive proposition (old-school unique selling proposition (USP) that summarizes what sets your company apart from your competitors), but the customer value proposition enhances the USP by focusing on the specifics of your capabilities. The value proposition conveys the positive outcomes a client or prospect gets.
“Essential elements of a value proposition include what you do for your customers, how you do it, what challenges you help them overcome, how you help them achieve their goals and how you have positively impacted the performance of similar customers,” according to Forbes.
Focus on Your Customer First
It is easy to become business-centric. Gaze at your navel and spreadsheets. After all, like most companies, you must protect yourself and your company from others who might take advantage of you. But, since most customers and clients aren’t trying to take advantage of you, a better focus would be, “How best can I focus on my customers?”
Put yourself in your clients’ position. At each touchpoint, what might your client expect and how does your business meet those expectations? View your business from your prospect or clients’ perspective, to understand what motivates them to seek one construction company over another. On what do they place the highest premium – quality, convenience, reliability or customer service? What are their pain points?
Maybe you shouldn’t immediately be after signing an agreement. Perhaps the best way to focus on clients and prospects is through education. Build a knockout website that answers all their questions and provides plenty of photos, videos, and graphics related to the type of construction you do.
Build in blog content that is informative and educational about a topic, process or slice of the industry. Don’t be afraid to post content featuring success stories of past projects. Your website is the perfect place to toot your horn, all while explaining how you can make your readers’ projects a success, too.
Make your clients and prospects smarter consumers of construction and its processes and they will remember who did that for them.
Look For Ways To Stand Out in Your Marketing Efforts
There are a variety of ways you can make your company more appealing and attractive, from the creative to the personal. Can you make your proposals more eye-catching? Are they missing crucial information your customer needs to decide in your favor? Think like a customer and make sure your literature and website content answers their needs. What would you want to know? How would you want it explained? What’s missing?
Another personal touch that can add appeal to your marketing efforts is to include your crew. You and your team members are humans and other humans like to know with whom they’re doing business. A profile of your foreman helps you stand out, particularly if paired with his or her specialty. Remember your team members who compile contracts, schedule, handle payments (receiving and issuing) and other management-related tasks. They can create a human differentiator that separates your business from others.
Add New Markets
While one way to draw attention is to specialize and only offer work on niche areas, it could pay to consider projects different from what you normally tackle. Although it can be counterintuitive, try to qualify for new bid lists to increase your visibility in other markets, whether that’s geographically or project-type.
Find a New Partner
One way of attracting new clients is to partner with another construction-related business, such as a home improvement store. Branching out by pairing up with (or starting your own) plant maintenance service or renovation company could increase your visibility. Tap into the influencer market for B2B. Have a local celebrity host or do a voice-over on instructional videos.
Add a Profit Center
Adding a profit center can bring in traffic that will potentially lead to bigger sales. For example, create a maintenance company, smaller projects department, service division, or offer electrical or crane service. If you have a lot invested in equipment, consider adding a rental division.
Add More Bids
Make a concerted effort to make bids on more projects. Make a list of a dozen or more customers you have been afraid of targeting in the past. Ask each customer what you would need to do to win their project, and if they may need other services. Getting your name in front of prospective new clients through bidding is one of the best ways to grow your business.
Speaking of partners, if you’d like to hear more about how to set yourself apart, call or email us to start a conversation.
To stand out, focus on what truly distinguishes you from your competitors, such as specialized expertise, knowledge of building regulations, combined experience, location advantages, and a customer-centric approach.
A customer value proposition highlights the specific capabilities and positive outcomes clients can expect when partnering with your company, enhancing the unique selling proposition (USP) and demonstrating the value you provide.
Put yourself in your clients’ position and understand what motivates them. Prioritize qualities like quality, convenience, reliability, and customer service. Educate your clients through informative website content and make them smarter consumers of construction.
Make your proposals eye-catching and ensure they provide crucial information. Address customer needs, explain concepts clearly, and fill any information gaps. Personalize your marketing efforts by introducing your team members and their specialties.
Exploring new markets, whether geographically or project-wise, can increase your visibility and attract attention. Consider qualifying for new bid lists or partnering with other construction-related businesses to expand your reach.
Adding a profit center, such as a maintenance company, smaller projects department, or service division, can attract more traffic and lead to larger sales. Consider offering additional services like electrical or crane service.
Make a concerted effort to bid on more projects and target customers you may have been hesitant to approach before. Ask potential customers what you can do to win their projects and explore opportunities for providing additional services.
Partnering with other construction-related businesses, such as home improvement stores or renovation companies, can increase your visibility and attract new clients. Consider collaborating with local influencers for B2B marketing.
Actively pursue bidding opportunities and make an effort to get your name in front of prospective clients. Engage with potential customers, understand their project requirements, and offer your services to expand your business.