Words: Vanessa Salvia
There are numerous ways to market a company to people — almost as many ways to market to people as there are people! So how do you narrow down what strategy is best for your masonry company? We asked two people with companies in the masonry business to tell us how they discovered their marketing strategy.
Word of Mouth Is Best
Of course, all companies should have something in the budget for advertising, but getting customers based on word of mouth is the goal. When customers share their positive opinions of you with others, it creates a sense that even people who aren’t familiar with your company can trust you.
As marketing expert Seth Godin says, marketing is “the art of making something that people want to talk about.”
Brandon Hartsell, project manager at Gates Construction Company, says social media needs to be one of your regular practices. Outside of advertising, social media is where you can find the people who are your target market. Setting up a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram account is free and relatively easy. If you’re not sure how to do it, find someone on your team who does.
Use Social Media
You may not be thrilled by the idea of using social media, but it’s where free sharing happens. Billions of people around the world use Facebook, so Facebook is where people are. Instagram is the preferred platform for sharing photos, which makes it ideal for completed job photos. LinkedIn is the place for sharing blog posts that are educational or informative and connecting with other companies.
Joe Bonifate is president of operations at Arch Masonry & Restoration. He says the company is on several platforms but seems to get the most from Facebook. “Having a presence on social media is a must, but I think our best marketing is done through vehicles and banners,” Bonifate says. “Nothing can match a physical presence. However, once they see you and look up your Facebook page, this is where you can showcase more of your work and who you are. Social media is also great for retention and team morale. Most of our followers are employees and their friends and family.”
You’ll get the best results if you learn how the platform you’re using works. For instance, tagging companies and individuals is an integral part of sharing info on these sites. In Twitter and Instagram, hashtags help a lot. On Facebook, it helps to promote your posts with paid placements, but you don’t have to. Small payments can boost your reach tremendously, especially if you take the time to target your audience. Bonifate will promote the post when he shares a video. “You can target an audience with the boost, and you only pay based on the number of people who see it,” Bonifate explains.
Be Consistent With Your Branding
Part of brand recognition is consistent with how you use your brand, such as how your images and logo are presented. “We have only white trucks and only use white banners so that there is a consistent backdrop behind the logo,” Bonifate says. “Naturally, this also works well with printed materials such as letterhead. When the logo is over a video or picture, we lose that consistency, but it is less important in that situation. It is really important when your truck is driving down the road or someone drives by your project. That is where consistency matters the most so that your brand is recognizable in the periphery at high speed. Sometimes I am amazed at how many times we hear from a prospective client or employee, ‘I see you all over the place, so I figure you must be good.'”
Bonifate says the company is currently doing some restoration work at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. He recently learned that the company made the select bidders list due to a recommendation from an architect that they haven’t even worked with. “They had simply seen our banners and vehicles at some high-profile projects in the area and thought we may be good for the project,” he notes.
Determine Your Goal
Before you undertake any marketing strategy, whether developing fun new swag or taking out a radio commercial, you need a goal. For instance, a marketing campaign focused on brand recognition will be different from one focused on filling in a slow schedule during the winter months.
Consider setting aside a percentage of your revenue as your budget amount. Maybe it’s just 1%. As you progress in brand recognition or whatever your goals are, your budget will change each year based on your strategy.
Bonifate says they still find print advertising to be effective. “There are newsletters and publications that target building owners and local contractors,” he says. “Also, spending a few hundred dollars on advertising in your customers’ publications is typically money well spent.”
Bonifate has paid for an advertising spot in several of the bulletins in churches in their local area. Although they declined to renew the annual ad placements due to closures, that in itself is another valuable lesson — “Constantly, if not at least annually, evaluate what you are doing,” Bonifate says. “Just because it worked yesterday does not mean it will work tomorrow.”
Get To Know People
Hartsell recommends getting to know the general contracting teams outside of their respective work climate. “Find out who people are,” he says. Consider hosting quarterly mix and mingle events in your office (when it is safe to do so), or sponsor a baseball game where you can meet people off work time.
Digital Marketing Strategies
Videos are always popular. Add short videos to social media and place them on your website, as Bonifate does. He says that while they keep the videos brief, they’re not limited in length like they are with a TV or radio spot. Although Arch Masonry & Restoration hasn’t done a TV commercial in about three years, Boniface says he recently met someone for the first time who referenced their three-year-old campaign.
“Right now, we find the internet to bring us more value for the money spent,” says Boniface. “When doing a TV spot, we secured the rights to the video, and most of them are currently on our website. We want people visiting our site to see as much video as possible.
Experts recommend that videos be captioned so that people can view the videos on their phones even with the sound off (think: they’re on a bus or in an Uber). It can be helpful from an SEO perspective to add the text to your videos to your website.
Common Pitfalls When Marketing
Being inconsistent is a common pitfall when marketing. Consider social media and a company blog – many people have great intentions when they start but then go months or longer without posting anything. A social media account or blog that hasn’t been updated since 2018 can do more harm than not having one because people look at it and see it being out of date, which can translate to your website and company not being trustworthy.
Not tracking results is another way to lose marketing momentum. At Arch Masonry & Restoration, the receptionist asks phone callers how they heard about the company and track the answers.
Yet another pitfall is advertising but not targeting your ideal market. For instance, Bonifate says they used radio ads for recruitment and polled their employees to find out the stations to target. Today, they sponsor programs on public radio to promote the company’s restoration work. While that is an excellent spot for targeting building and business owners, as Bonifate notes, it is probably not the best strategy for a recruitment campaign.
Don’t go into a marketing strategy blind — build your goals, budget, and target audience into every decision you make. Every marketing strategy will be different based on the plans. It will also change over time, and that’s ok. Any pre-COVID marketing strategy had to go out the window last year, as we all know, so the best marketing strategy is designed to be flexible based on the goal. You’ll get the best results when your marketing strategy takes into consideration your target audience.