Two weeks ago I had a chat with a young architect who has started podcasting. He commented that he had no idea that his podcast would be so popular, once he started sharing it on twitter.
Only an hour or so later I was involved in a discussion with an architect director who was complaining that they were unable to control what was said about their practice online.
These two conversations jarred with me. The director didn’t like the ‘social’ side of ‘social media’, the podcaster didn’t realise the ‘media’ side of ‘social media’ was so powerful. Both of them had missed something.
Over the summer a number of ideas have come together and informed a new workshop that I’ll be delivering at the Building Centre this autumn. It’s a Content Marketing Workshop and it has been produced specifically for marketers in construction product companies.
The Marketer is Dead
I’ve been revisiting Euan Semple’s book, ‘Organisations Don’t Tweet, People Do’ over the summer. Indeed some of it has helped me get my recent #SocialBIM series of videos into shape.
Euan wrote a scathing chapter on marketing back in 2012.
“I believe that marketing and PR are professions at real risk of disintermediation by the web. We will need people to do our marketing for us less and less as we use the tools in everyday work and start to have more effective conversations between ourselves and our customers…I have been around marketing enough over the past few years to anticipate the cries of, ‘but this is already what we do – help people to tell their stories’. My experience and observation is that they don’t. They get in the middle and get in the way.”
Euan wrote his book back in 2012. I had set up my consultancy a year earlier, and the majority of construction product manufacturers I spoke to were either not using social media at all, or had started using it for marketing and PR. This consisted largely of sharing the same content they were already putting on their websites as news items about their new products and how great they were.
Strangely enough, many construction product manufacturers still are doing this, but I agree with Euan Semple that it has to change. I believe it will change because the old way of doing things is costing a lot of money and bringing very little in the way of results. Perhaps you’ve had that experience? Being on the Internet means that you’re able to measure the results in a way that wasn’t really possible with print media, so the facts are becoming apparent.
Marketers Get in The Way
Euan talks about how, rather than enabling people to tell their stories, marketers get in the way, making stories sound false and mangling the message. This reminded me of Pritesh Patel’s slide deck: ‘Construction Product Marketers: Enable and get the F••k Out Of The Way’. You can see it on his website here.
Pritesh points out that whilst specifiers want to learn about products, marketers don’t actually know about products. They only know what the technical team are able and willing to show them. Silo anyone?
Pritesh recommends that ‘Sales & Marketing’ should be abolished in favour of ‘Technical & Marketing’ roles, so that marketing can be better informed by technical. Whilst I love his deck, I don’t agree with him about this. Sales, Technical, Marketing are all different skills, all required. But they do need to talk to one another, and that is because the way marketing works is changing.
The Old Rules and the New Rules
In his book ‘The New Rules of Marketing and PR’ David Meerman Scott explains the change. Under the old rules, marketing was largely advertising and branding, and PR was getting your press releases published by the media, via journalists. The Internet has completely changed this around because it enables companies to reach buyers directly, and vice versa.
However many marketers (and PR folk) in construction products haven’t changed much of what they produce, they just put it on the Internet and hope it will do the same job. It won’t. The Internet doesn’t work in the same way as print. In old media you paid for the eyes of your prospects, supplied to you via the printed page. In new media, your prospects can look where they like for what they like. In an increasingly noisy, complex arena, how can marketers be canny and organised to ensure their content is found and used ahead of the competition?
This is where content marketing comes in. Genuine, informed, useful content marketing.
A few weeks ago Euan Semple wrote on his blog
“Sometimes I wake in the night screaming having dreamt that what I am doing here is “content marketing”.”
The discussions that followed (particularly on Facebook) revealed something I’m quite aware of too, the feeling by people who use social media that it is somehow being reduced to a marketing tool, with hundreds of companies shouting louder and louder hoping to be heard.
But for me that is not content marketing, it is misinformed, old-fashioned marketing techniques, transposed onto a many-to-many platform that they don’t suit. As I said in one of my recent #SocialBIM videos, you wouldn’t walk into a room full of people, read out your press release, leave and then let them carry on having a conversation about you behind your back.
The Marketer is Dead: Long Live the Marketer
So many construction product marketers have told me they are not getting what they want from the Internet, and this is why. The aren’t doing content marketing properly.
Its not that there aren’t enough customers, and it’s not that they can’t be reached. People are going online to source products and services, they expect to find useful content, and Google is determined to share it with them.
So this November I’m running a content marketing workshop at the Building Centre which aims to break us out of those old techniques, spell out what good content marketing is, both offline and online, and set you on the path to effective, and yes, profitable, content marketing. Because if you’re going to do it, you better do it properly.
Find out more about the workshop here. [Update: second workshop in March 2016 here]
Image: Paint Yourself by Sarah Buckley – Creative Commons. Lets get our hands dirty!
Here’s our take on Content marketing for construction companies: