Some of the top construction brands are latching on to a very powerful advertising trend. It’s a very simple concept that you should be using to amplify the promotion of the product and services you sell, regardless of whether you design, build, or supply construction machinery or supplies.
They’re diversifying advertising campaigns by shifting the focus from products to people.
In days past, you would flip through a trade magazine and see nothing but static images of construction machinery or supplies. You now see those products accompanied by a photograph of a customer or an employee with a supporting quote or copy.
It’s no surprise that the bigger brands like Caterpillar, CASE, Volvo, and even some of the progressive construction equipment distributors are leading the trend. They realize the power of advertising. And because they invest a substantial amount of money designing, placing, and measuring the effectiveness of ads, they understand what types of content get results.
Adding the human element can boost the power of your advertisements and help you to sell more products or services. People attract prospective customers by personalizing your brand. Do you want to do business with an anonymous corporate brand? Neither do your prospective clients. Regardless of our tendencies toward introversion or extroversion, we are all naturally attracted to other people.
The construction industry was once notorious for stacking ads with construction equipment or materials. Trade magazines often look like Auto Trader, with heavy iron instead of cars. On the design side, the trend continues to focus on completed projects. I love construction equipment and great architecture as much as the next guy, and they must remain in focus, but featuring them exclusively lacks the personal touch that connect customers with your brand.
It doesn’t show how your product or service solves a problem for an actual customer. That’s always been important, but it’s even more critical in today’s world.
Paolo Fellin, vice president of construction and infrastructure industries at Caterpillar, acknowledged this trend in an Equipment World article entitled: “Caterpillar’s Era of Analytics: Coaching Customers, Autonomous Machines and More Tech the Iron Giant is Planning for the Future.” “People used to ask us about dig depth and lift capacity,” says Fellin. “Now it’s: ‘How can you help me set up the jobsite so it is more productive? How do I know if my machines are working at full capacity? How do I know if an operator is using my machine well?’ We’ve gone from a customer wanting a machine to a customer wanting a solution.”
Customers have more options than ever these days, whether they’re seeking a designer for a building or site, or a rental crane. As a market gets more crowded with options, the ability to differentiate products or services becomes more difficult.
Advertising that focuses too heavily on the product or service is boring. If you want an ad that fades into obscurity, clutter it with specifications. If you want an ad that sells, show how the product solved a problem for an actual client on a project. If you want an ad that fades into obscurity, roll out the comprehensive laundry list of engineering services you offer. If you want an ad that sells, explain how you provided a service to help your client realize its vision.
Incorporating people is a great way to differentiate. How has your product or service solved a problem for a customer? Whom you solved the problem for can make a difference, as well. High-profile customers can add substantial recognition and credibility.
Highlighting people in your advertising isn’t just about your customers. It’s about your team. I’ve spoken to AEC executives over the years that try to play down the importance of specific employees to their firm’s brand. They like to believe that the brand is anchored to the firm. It’s disconcerting to entertain the possibility that your brand is attached to an employee that could leave the firm at any time and undermine everything you’ve built. The reality is that your team is a critical part of your brand and your advertising must reflect that.
Why not build an advertising campaign around your team? Take a break from highlighting your results and shift to the folks that make the magic happen. What makes them different? Why are they exceptional? How do they collaborate to get results behind the scenes? How do they solve problems for your customers?
Bringing people to the forefront of advertising will require design and construction firms adapt to a new mindset. Most of the AEC professionals I know are not comfortable with showboating. They prefer to work behind the scenes and let the results of their efforts demonstrate their qualifications. The problem is that their advertising comes off as stiff and impersonal.
Your advertising doesn’t have to be warm and fuzzy with images of puppy dogs and warm embraces. You’re not selling life insurance to families, after all. You’re providing a professional service to another business. But effective advertising does have to connect with the audience. Diversify your advertising by prioritizing people over inanimate objects and you will maximize the results of your advertising dollars.
Do you showcase customers and your employers in your advertising? If so, have you noticed an improvement in your results? If not, is there a specific reason?