Less of a specific marketing strategy and more a guiding philosophy, content marketing has become quite the
buzzword in every industry. It may have gained traction in the B2B space, but it’s now made its way into the
to-do list of just about every company, including those in the construction industry.
In truth, content marketing is nothing new. In fact, its first known application is often attributed to John Deere’s 1895 magazine, which educated farmers on the best practices, products, and tools to improve their yields while naturally positioning John Deere’s offerings as the premiere solutions to many problems.
Looking back on examples like “The Furrow,” it’s easy to see that content marketing is effective. After all, it seeks to engage readers by talking about something they care about and providing reliable advice, all while painting the author (i.e., your company) in a trustworthy, knowledgeable light. The result? Increased brand awareness, more sales, and stronger customer loyalty. At least, that’s the hope.
When it comes to using content marketing in the construction industry, successful implementation of the philosophy requires planning, commitment, and a strategic approach that will resonate with your customers. In this guide, we’ll go through the step-by-step process of achieving all of these aspects.
Key Components of Effective Content Marketing
To be effective, you must build your content marketing strategy upon a foundation of information that will
empower what you publish, when you publish, and where you publish. For the construction industry, in
particular, the foundational components you need to focus on are as follows.
No two construction companies are created equal, but does your audience know why you’re the better
choice? A content strategy is all about building a reputation for your company by portraying it as a
trusted, reliable resource in your community. As a result of your content marketing efforts, you want
your audience to remember you and turn to you when they require your services. To achieve that, you
must first define a consistent brand image
that will resonate with your audience.
A strong brand identity will:
- Tell your company’s story.
- Build a trustworthy reputation.
- Help you stand out from the competition.
- Inspire and attract top talent.
For construction companies, building a brand is about telling a story. Not just about how you’ve “been
in business since 1978,” but about what sets you apart. What does your business value? What do you offer
that no other business does? How do you consistently exceed client expectations?
Your proven track record, your unique expertise, and your highly talented team of professionals are all things to showcase when introducing your brand. Of course, just because you know your brand, it doesn’t mean everyone else does. Consistently portraying your company is essential, which means creating a brand book is critical.
A brand book is a resource that you can provide to company representatives, professional writers, content creators, and anyone else who will be speaking on behalf of your company.
In a few pages, a brand book will tell someone everything they need to know about adopting your company’s voice, thereby enabling them to portray your brand in the exact same way all of your other content portrays your brand. That ensures consistency across all platforms, be it social media, your blog, or in the way your sales team communicates with clients.
Alongside developing your brand’s persona, you must gain a thorough understanding of your customers’ personas.
If you don’t already have customer personas defined, this is another essential step that will go
hand-in-hand with defining all aspects of your brand. After all, your brand should be built around
your customers’ wants, needs, and values.
Your brand’s image will impact what you say and how you say it, and your customer personas will, too. That’s because all the content you create will only be impactful if it addresses your customers’ concerns, questions, and pain points. Plus, it needs to do it in a way that resonates with your customers.
For instance, if your ideal client is a seasoned investor looking to develop a new neighborhood, they’re likely to respond to an entirely different voice and even different topics than an individual homeowner who’s looking to add an ADU to their property. By understanding your customers, along with their education, knowledge, and intentions, you can create content that they understand and appreciate.
Many construction companies end up having a number of personas, but you should identify one primary persona — that persona represents the ideal client you most often serve or want to serve the most often (i.e., a seasoned investor). With your personas in front of you, you’ll also have a better understanding of what type of content you should offer them throughout the customer journey (more on that later).
With your brand and consumer personas laid out on paper so that they can be easily referred to and
understood, the final component you have to research prior to diving into your content strategy itself
is a big one: keywords. While keyword research can seem like a daunting process, discovery tools like
Google Analytics along with keyword monitoring tools
will help you get a handle on things.
If you’re not yet familiar with keyword research, search volumes, or the importance of identifying short-tail and long-tail keywords, you’ll need to spend some time familiarizing yourself with the process. After all, your keyword plan will inform your content strategy going forward.
Understanding a Construction Client’s Journey
No client wakes up one morning and suddenly decides to hire a construction team. In every industry,
there’s a customer journey
(which can consist of up to five steps, particularly for software and service-based businesses) that
defines the various phases a prospect goes through before ultimately becoming a client of your company.
Fortunately, most businesses in the construction industry only have to worry about three phases. Namely, the awareness, consideration, and decision phases. What’s important to note is that — throughout these phases — prospects have different concerns and, therefore, require different content.
Understanding the customer journey is key to informing your content strategy because you’ll need to create content with various CTAs to capture prospects in each one of these phases. When looking at things from the bigger picture, your sales funnel depends on you creating content that addresses prospects in each phase and moves them along through the phases, holding their interest all the way through the “decision” phase
Below, you’ll get to know how each of the three phases connect and the type of content your construction business should be showing to prospects as they move through these stages.
Prospects in the construction industry enter the “awareness” phase when they realize they have a need.
This could be a homeowner who is now interested in adding an extension or an individual who is
considering purchasing a property and building on it. In the awareness phase, a prospect will begin
exploring their options.
To cater to prospects in the awareness phase, you need to create a lot of “introductory” content that will answer the early questions. Examples would include:
- What Is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?
- The Benefits of Adding an ADU
- How to Qualify for a Construction Loan
The best content to serve these prospects introduces them to the solutions out there that can address their pain point or concern. You should also show them content that introduces your brand and establishes you as an authoritative, reputable resource for information.
Once a prospect starts looking around and becomes aware of the options available, they’ll gain the
information that allows them to narrow down their options. For instance, if a homeowner is adding an
ADU, they’re now going to start comparing construction companies while continuing to get a grasp on
pricing, timeline, and the other intricacies of the process.
In this phase, prospects are best served with information that goes beyond the basics. They don’t need more convincing about whether they should pursue a given solution (i.e., “the benefits of…” or “why you should…” type content). Rather, they need more details about it so they can decide how to pursue it.
Example content to show prospects in this phase would include:
- The Construction Permitting Process in XYZ County
- How Large Should an Accessory Dwelling Be?
- Why ABC Dental Chose 123 Construction
Addressing the concerns and questions of prospects in this phase is important, because they’re going to quickly start developing a preference as to which construction company they should go with. Therefore, now is the time to offer pricing information, company brochures, and similar content. You should also put testimonials and case studies in front of them.
In the decision phase, prospects take all the information they’ve gathered and make a move. Hopefully,
they’ll choose your company over competitors, but the only way to ensure that is by offering the right
information to them as they conclude their decision. You also need to be right in front of them with
offers for a free quote or more information. That means you need to offer content with a strong CTA to
“schedule a consultation” or otherwise get them to reach out to you.
Examples of content to show prospects as they enter the decision phase include:
- Targeted promotional content offering a free quote or consultation.
- Follow-up content, preferably directly to their email inbox.
- Surveys to those who ultimately didn’t move forward with your company
One thing to remember is that, just because a customer follows up when you provide them with a free quote, it doesn’t mean they’ve chosen you. Until they sign a contract, there’s still a chance a competitor will swoop in and take them. That’s why providing a frictionless experience, complete with excellent service and the right resources, is key to closing as many deals as possible.
Creating an Effective Content Strategy
With a brand book, customer personas, and an understanding of the customer journey and what your prospects
need throughout the various phases, you can now sit down and get your content strategy on paper.
This process starts with a content calendar (i.e., a schedule of when you’re going to publish) and continues with deciding the types of content you want to create. It finishes with the specific topics you decide you need to cover, which will be majorly influenced by the keyword plan you created earlier.
Before you decide what to publish, it’s important to know how much content you need. This will depend
on how often you wish to publish, which is something you need to layout in the form of a content calendar.
For most businesses, laying out a content calendar is something that will only need to be done once. In general, you’ll want to get a full year in front of you and take the time to pencil in a schedule. Your calendar should account for holidays, seasonal changes, and other events that will impact how much you’re putting into marketing at a given time and also what topics you’re going to be writing about. While your schedule has nothing to do with topics, it will allow you to add up how much of each content type/category you require.
In your content schedule, go ahead and define all the various forms of content you’ll be creating — whether it’s blog posts, videos, podcasts — along with the categories of content you want to publish, and when.
For instance, while you might schedule two blog posts a week, that needs to be further defined by stating that Monday’s blog post is a brand building post (i.e., customer testimonial, team member feature, etc.) while Thursday’s blog post is an informational post (i.e., “what is,” “how to,” etc.).
As you lay out your content calendar and begin answering questions like how often you’ll be publishing
blog posts, you also need to consider the various forms of content you’ll be creating and the categories
they fall into and the purposes they should serve.
- Written Content: In addition to the purpose of content writing tasks, you should also categorize written content by destination (i.e., blog post, social media, etc.) and format (i.e., listicle, comparison, etc.).
- Video Content: If you’re scheduling videos into your content calendar, you’ll likely want to coordinate them with the other content you’re publishing around that timeframe. So, if a monthly video goes live during the week where your focus is on brand building, it might revolve around testimonials or behind-the-scenes content.
- Audio Content: If your company plans to offer a podcast or some other type of audio content, you need to plan out the topics in advance just as you do for your blog posts and other content in your schedule.
- Image Content: When it comes to platforms like Instagram and even your own site’s gallery, you’ll need to consider what type of imagery you’re going to create for your company. Examples include photos of completed projects, behind-the-scenes pictures of construction sites, or even images of your team members that accompany introductory posts.
In addition to the above, you should also take into account “evergreen”
and “seasonal” content. Most companies will produce a majority of the former, but certain seasonal
content can play a major role in brand building. For instance, acknowledging the holidays in creative
ways that tie back into your industry, like “7 Reasons Santa Chooses the Chimney”.
With all of these things in mind, planning out a content calendar may seem like a monumental task, but it really isn’t that difficult. The key is to start with the right template and just fill in the blanks.
Overtime, you may find the need to adjust the schedule slightly as you collect engagement metrics and learn when and how often your audience engages the most with content. This monitoring and adapting is essential to making your content strategy the absolute best it can be.
If you ever find yourself scrambling to come up with a topic idea last minute, you’re doing something
wrong. While planning out topics might seem like a complicated creative process, many resources exist
that will help you do it, and it starts with the keyword plan that you’ve already started creating.
In fact, the keywords you know you need to target for SEO are the exact topics you should start creating rich content around. From there, other content ideas are likely to come to mind naturally and through semantically related keywords.
For instance, targeting the keyword “what is an accessory dwelling unit” in which you cover subtopics like size, floor plan, and placement will surely lead to ideas like: how big can an ADU be, the limitations of an ADU, considerations when building an ADU, and so on. In this sense, a well-informed keyword plan really leads to your content plan building itself.
Of course, you’ll want to supplement your own keyword ideas. For instance, content about your own company that introduces people to your values, team, and awards may never come up in Google Analytics when you’re trying to find keywords to rank for. Yet, it’s essential content that contributes greatly to your overall content marketing strategy.
With all of this in mind, approaching your content plan is straightforward. Begin by laying out some ideas that you can plug into your content schedule and, in the meantime, start building up an “idea bank” that you can reference a few months in advance of your content so you can always stay on top of your content production.
Examples from Construction Companies
Now that you know the ins-and-outs of creating your own content strategy, it’s always helpful to take
inspiration from other companies in the industry to see what you could be doing differently. Here are
some particularly striking examples from the biggest construction companies.
Easily one of the biggest and most respected construction companies in the world, Bechtel definitely
has the budget to back its multifaceted content strategy. For starters, they regularly produce videos
that discuss essential topics (like reducing carbon emissions), introduce summer interns, and bring
their team members front-and-center.
On their website, Bechtel also puts their values in the spotlight, focusing on their commitment to a cleaner, greener world just about as much as they discuss their expertise in the industry. By dividing their content by the markets they serve, which range from civil to aviation, rail, and power, they’re able to offer the right information to all of their prospective customers and partners.
Skanska is another major construction company that operates on a global scale, and their clean, modern website
is an instant marker of their professionalism. The first thing you’re greeted with is a slider of
content that showcases content regarding who the brand is and what the company offers.
During Safety Week, for instance, Skanska featured an article on their partnership with 3M and how they’re working together to share feedback and improve frontline safety for construction workers everywhere. It’s that type of content that makes Skanska a thought leader in the industry, with ever-building authority.