BEING PROACTIVE IS KEY TO REMAINING AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE INDUSTRY POST-COVID-19
BY JEFF BRADFORD, PRESIDENT, THE BRADFORD DALTON GROUP
The COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy on any business sector, including the construction industry. Materials are expensive and in short supply, layoffs are prevalent and projects are stalled left and right. In short, company leaders are left scratching their heads.
However, don’t spend too much time trying to figure out what’s happening, or you’ll get stuck in a reactive pattern, unable to get in front of the message. Instead, you need to be proactive and kick your marketing efforts into high gear. A proven method for getting through any crisis, whether it’s internal or a widespread phenomenon like this one, is to show that you know what you’re doing and that you’re confident you can overcome the challenges that have come with COVID-19. You’ll quickly leave the headscratchers behind.
Here are 3 marketing strategies that’ll not only get you started but also carry your business into the “new normal”:
COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE.
In a crisis, there is usually no such thing as “overcommunication.” In fact, studies show that stakeholders would prefer more communication during tough times because it’s reassuring to know that there is a plan in place to lead them through. Recognize that the people who have put their trust in your business — be it investors, employees or customers — may need more guidance right now. Offer that to them as best you can.
Do so by not only communicating the overall plan, but by sharing your progress every step of the way. This may sound like too much “hand-holding,” but the extra transparency will make sure that everyone is on the same page.
In addition, when sharing your company’s plan and marketing your services, be sure to do so with empathy. Many people are anxious right now and need reassurance. Rather than the usual messaging that touts your products and expertise, stick to empathic messages, such as:
“Safety is of the utmost importance to us”
“We understand times are tough”
“We’re grateful for the support of our stakeholders”
“We will get through this as a company”
SHARE YOUR EXPERT PERSPECTIVES
While the focus should not be as heavy on the “bells and whistles” approach to marketing, it is still important to establish your expertise within the industry. You can do this tactfully through what’s called “thought leadership” in the marketing world. This generally refers to the strategy of talking about what you know in a way that your audience will understand, in the hopes that they’ll profit from your experiences.
A proven method for getting through any crisis, whether it’s internal or a widespread phenomenon like this one, is to show that you know what you’re doing and that you’re confident you can overcome the challenges that have come with COVID-19.
This is where traditional PR and marketing tactics come into play, such as writing blogs, setting up interviews with relevant media, publish-ing original articles that tell a meaningful story, podcasting and more. Be creative in your approach and your messaging, and you’ll get some heads nodding.
RAMP UP BRAND AWARENESS
Hand-in-hand with thought leadership is “brand awareness,” meaning that your audience knows who you are, what you do, and most importantly, what you’re about. After all, your values are what drive every decision you make for your company, so they will be even more integral at a time when external challenges abound. But don’t just use those values for your own guidance, share them with your audience as well.
Some of the tactics overlap with thought leadership, as every piece of content, in a way, expresses the point of view of your brand and helps to boost it to top-of-mind for your audience. But other tactics that can prove helpful specifically for brand awareness are:
Social media – This is the place to show your character. Share day-to-day milestones, employee stories and project news. Don’t be afraid to get creative and use the many tools that the platforms offer, including sharing visuals, live streaming and even advertising.
Digital advertising – If it’s in the budget, keep placing ads in all relevant places online. Don’t think you need to “go off the radar.” Also make use of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to target proactive searchers and maximize your ad spend when marketing money is tight.
Search engine optimization (SEO) – Another way to maximize all your marketing efforts, follow best practices to create quality content that will be indexed more favorably by search engines, such as using keywords, shorter sentences and link-building.
And no matter which tactics you ultimately choose, be sure to keep the messaging consistent and continue to lead with empathy.
The idea behind these strategies and tactics is to keep your company at the forefront of the market during the pandemic by building trust and authenticating your knowledge and quality of service. It’s not just about making yourself a household name. It’s also about making a genuine effort to connect with your audience and showing them that you care about them and are worth the investment. Accomplish this, and you’ll be a force to reckon with when stalled projects come back online and the industry starts piecing itself back together.
Jeff Bradford is the president of integrated public relations and marketing agency The Bradford Dalton Group, heading up the Nashville office. He is a former journalist and has over 30 years of public relations and digital marketing experience.