The one thing that you need whichever marketing channels you are going to use is content.
The worldwide web is driven by words, and every one of those words is content supplied by someone from somewhere.
Indeed, content is the reason that any of us use the web, looking for content is why we search the web and thus why search engines exist.
And the web requires more and more content as people want to know more and more; today we assume that everything we need to know is online. This assumption has driven a huge demand for content.
Places for content
Content should not be considered for a single outlet; your potential specifiers and purchasers will be looking in the places they want to look, not the places you want them to look.
So content is not just for websites; it is for social media, blogs, magazine articles, best practice guidelines, blogs, advertisements, videos, handbooks, technical guidance, CPD, webinars, competitions and so much more.
Today, marketing has more channels than ever and so the need for content will continue to grow and, as mobile devices become more sophisticated, over the next few years video will become increasingly popular.
The content of content
Content must be useful. Otherwise people will not pay attention and will move on to something else, maybe something provided by your rivals. It is time to stop selling your wares and to start helping your audience in their job.
Advice freely given should not be seen as giving away your secrets but more as sharing your expertise. I know from experience that sharing what you know results in your audience trusting and then choosing you and then choosing your products or services.
A further element within your content must be that what you provide is not just helpful but will also be of such quality that your audience will want to share it.
By creating content that people want to share, you will get your information out to a wider audience and make your immediate audience feel better about themselves as their own expertise is demonstrated by sharing your content.
Within social media such as Twitter and YouTube, the vast majority of content is disseminated by users who will hopefully become your customers, maybe even fans or apostles.
A further way in which content is changing is that it is becoming more personal.
In general, consumers are expecting more from the brands they interact with, so companies that converse personally can expect to be more successful than those that don’t.
Successful marketing through content will have readers thinking, ‘This is just what I want, it could have been written especially for me’.
The need for content is growing and thus the need for marketers to provide content will grow at the same time. In fact, some companies are having to provide so much content that they are almost becoming publishers, or rather media providers, in their own right.
Most of us don’t have the resources to do that. Just trying to keep up with social media can be overwhelming. So the canny marketer keeps their resources, and their content, within the most appropriate channels.
Smaller companies get comparatively less out of social media – over half of smaller companies saw no ROI on their social media efforts.
Therefore big consumer companies must work within almost every social media stream, but most of us in construction marketing can be, and must be, a little more selective.
Facebook is less likely to yield a return than explanatory videos on YouTube. Twitter is important but how much do you have to say, how many conversations are relevant to your business or fit your expertise?
Google+ is growing but will it move in a way that you can benefit from?
Whichever channels you concentrate on, you are going to need plenty of content and you need to think now about where it is going to come from.
Now is the time to review what you have; everything should be looked at – website, CPD, technical guidance, case studies, even those out-of-date brochures with the old logo you should have thrown out years ago.
The idea is to ascertain the base upon which you can build a content strategy; once you know what you have, you can think about what your potential customers might want and then repurpose or create that all important content.
Rick Osman is a partner in Highwire Design, a design agency that specialises in the construction industry, and one of the team that created www.hotel-standards.com, as well as being a CIMCIG committee member and a judge for the Construction Marketing Awards. You can find out about marketing in construction and upcoming events at www.cimcig.org