Construction is one of Canada’s biggest industries. According to Timetric’s Construction Intelligence Center, Canada’s construction industry could grow from $373 billion in 2015 to over $414 billion by 2020.
This increase is being fuelled by legislation aimed at boosting infrastructure and housing, and Canada’s growing population which should reach 37.6 million in 2020 and over 40 million by 2030.
Construction projects don’t happen overnight, they require an extensive network of engineers, contractors, and construction companies. Most importantly they require tools and materials. In 2014, the global construction materials industry was worth $841.4 billion, and will surpass $1 trillion by 2020. Similarly, the world power and hand tool industry is worth $26 billion globally.
There is a lot of money to be made, but breaking into the construction industry can be hard work, especially for new construction product brands.
Barriers for New Construction Brands
There are some notable barriers to entering the construction industry. Whether your company is a construction hardware design firm, materials manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer or somewhere in-between, you will have to contend with a number of issues.
Most significantly, there are a lot of start-up costs associated with the construction industry. Leasing a warehouse, trucks, and office space are all pricey. Your workforce, similarly, will have to be highly skilled, and that means offering high wages and incentives to keep skilled workers.
You will have to invest heavily in the backend of your company right from the start. But you also need to ensure a proportional amount of investment into your sales and marketing teams in order to build brand awareness. Creating an effective brand, and building a marketing strategy is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
Personality and Differentiation
There is no shortage of competition in the construction industry. One contract can easily have a dozen or more competing bids, and consumers have thousands of brands from which to choose at big box stores (the Home Depot carries as many as 40,000 different products). You need to differentiate your brand from the competition.
Unfortunately, the quality of your work or that of your products, doesn’t always speak for itself. You need to advocate for your brand before you can turn others into brand advocates. What exactly makes your brand different from the competition? It’s important that you can clearly articulate your brand’s unique value proposition (UVP) – the features that differentiate it from the thousands of other products consumers can find at big box stores.
Differentiating your brand is challenging in such a crowded marketplace. But it is not impossible. First, think like your customers and partners – they don’t want a sales pitch. They want reliability, trustworthiness, and a high quality product.
Second, the construction industry, in addition to being competitive, places a premium on personal interactions. A sterile suit and tie meeting might not always be the best approach.
Third, winning large contracts requires that you tailor your approach to each client, without sacrificing your brand personality. Choose your potential clients or customers carefully and they will be more likely to choose you.
Differentiating your company and emphasizing personality are crucial tips for new construction brands. You won’t be able to meet every customer personally, shake their hand, and demonstrate your personality and product’s differentiation face to face. That is why building a strong brand is crucial.
Define and Build Your Brand
Defining your brand is an important stage for young businesses, particularly in the construction industry. Before your marketing efforts begin you need to evaluate your own values, history, and goals. Write a clear and concise mission statement. This will form the basis of your brand identity and will inform not just your external marketing, but also internal decision making.
Brand recognition helps customers make decisions quickly. In a fast paced industry full of deadlines, not every customer has time to research a new product. They will often stick to what they know and trust. Once you have defined your brand, you need to build and spread the word about it with effective marketing that demonstrates, and emphasizes, what your company is all about.
With a solid marketing campaign in place you can create brand awareness, which is the only way to build brand loyalty and trust.
Marketing Directly to Contractors and Sellers
Small to medium sized construction companies, independent contractors, and weekend warriors rely on big box stores like Rona, The Home Depot, Lowes and Canadian Tire for their materials and tools. Quebec based Rona has over 500 locations, more than 50 000 employees and $43 million in revenue (and was recently bought by Lowes with 1,800 stores in North America). Canadian Tire has 493 locations and the Home Depot has 182 stores across Canada . Building a partnership with these already recognized and respected brands can make or break your company.
Business to business (B2B) marketing is crucial for new construction brands. In Canada the largest general contractors are EllisDon Corporation based in Mississauga (worth $8.5 billion), Kellog, Brown & Root (worth $4.3 billion), and PCL Constructors (worth $4.2 billion). Consider reaching out to these and other smaller contractors directly in order to promote your brand and build partnerships. Offer discounts, free trials, information sessions, and other incentives to get your foot in the door and your product in their tool box.
If you are the new kid on the block, your company will likely not have an in-house marketing department. Rather than hiring an internal marketing team, the most cost-effective solution is to outsource your marketing efforts to an experienced third party.
Whether you conduct your marketing entirely through a third party or in-house you need to clearly define your goals (including target demographics, sales, and overall business goals), choose the marketing channels that will put your brand in front of the right consumers and track results. This is no small feat, but essential to help you define your marketing strategy.
To build your brand you need to create an effective and targeted marketing campaign using a number of different traditional and digital marketing channels including:
- Email marketing
- Website marketing
- Mobile marketing
- Social media marketing
- SEM (Search Engine Marketing) SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Content Marketing
- Direct mail
- Flyers and brochures
- Trade shows
- Television and radio ads
Digital marketing is increasingly popular due to its wide reach and low overhead costs. Small businesses or new brands can afford to run a comprehensive digital marketing campaign. On the other hand, traditional marketing efforts are more expensive, but are proven avenues to success. In the modern world emerging construction brands need to utilize both.