Names have been removed of course, to protect the pioneers. We all make mistakes. Maybe we can all learn from them.
A construction product company pays a marketing agency to tweet their press releases for a year.
Why? Because there are loads of architects on Twitter (true).
Unintended Consequence? None. No Return on Investment, only brand-related organic growth in their follower numbers.
What do Architects and other specifiers want from Twitter? Apart from intelligent conversation during breaks, they want quick answers from the right human being.
So instead… Be there for your customers, but make sure that you’re listening, useful, and in human form.
A construction product company makes a company group on LinkedIn to talk about their product and share their news.
Why? Because there are loads of architects on LinkedIn. (true)
Unintended Consequence? No-one joins the group, except, that is, employees of the company.
When you are looking for an answer to a technical question, even if you’re interested in a product over the long term, you’re unlikely to have the time or the inclination to find and join a Linkedin group.
What do specifiers want from LinkedIn? LinkedIn is a referral network. Specifiers will use it to seek advice via trusted people they know.
So instead… Learn how to use LinkedIn properly. Get your client-facing people on it and make sure they know how to use it. Go hunting and farming. If you must make a community there, make one in an open environment, with a clear purpose and expect to invest heavily in building it over a long period with high value information. Maybe it would be even better to find other places where specifiers go for trusted information, and make sure your information is available there instead?
A construction product company requires visitors to its website to submit an email address on a form in order to download their product DWGs.
Why? Because their database is their goldmine. Email is how they communicate with specifiers.
Unintended Consequence? No downloads. I get a call – why aren’t architects downloading our product information?
People in the creative industries are statistically more likely to be dyslexic than the general population, and are less likely to want to fill out forms. But the real reason is nothing to do with this. Why should people PAY to put your product on their drawing? It’s bonkers.
What do specifiers want from your website? Specifiers want to find the right product, quickly and with the minimum of fuss. They also want to deliver this information swiftly to the client, preferably without additional costs. After all, they are your advocates. Why charge them to advocate you?
So instead… Don’t make the receipt of your marketing messages a condition of specifiers choosing your product. Make sign up for email updates optional, and put it after the download, in a thank-you page. That way they can opt in and you’re guaranteed to get more downloads.
A construction product company charges 49p per minute for their technical helpline.
Why? The company had found out that a competitor was telling its callers, ‘Use their technical helpline – its free and much better than ours. Then come back to us and we’ll provide you with the same product for less’.
Unintended Consequence? Of course there is a reduction in calls. What is more, the people who do get through are frustrated, impatient and understandably have high expectations. This puts more pressure on the technical staff.
Meanwhile canny specifiers bypass the premium rate line by calling company reception and asking to be put through. Rather than protecting the staff, you’re turning a benefit of their expertise into a disadvantage.
What to specifiers want from technical support? Technical support is essential to the specifier. It provides free, in-depth information about the right products for the right job. With a bit of research you’ll find that good technical support people are worth their weight in gold. If you’re specifying a product, it is your professional responsibility to ensure it is the right one. A product company that takes this responsibility seriously and shares the burden will be trusted and used again and again.
So instead… If you can’t compete on cost, compete on quality and appropriateness. Let us train your technical staff to turn their written support answers from emails into stories and become bloggers. This will save you time and money, and help them do their job more efficiently. That means happy specifiers, too.
What have we learned?
Using social media tactics to assist the process of getting your products specified is a great idea, but it is not as simple as it looks.
Twitter is a tool for human beings to quickly exchange information and advice. It also has some very subtle characteristics that can make or break your campaign. Learn how to use it properly.
Linkedin is a hugely popular trusted network for construction professionals, but its power lies in the trust network, not in its groups. Get your people building networks of trust on Linkedin and offline.
Email is a universal tool for communication in our industry, but it is used on a need-to-know basis. As far as construction professionals are concerned, you do not need to know their email address until they want you to contact them. Make sure you use email wisely or you’ll get ignored in all the noise.
We are a Telephone driven industry too. Build telephony into your strategy by making it easy for people to call the right person in your organization, for free.
I’ll leave you to speculate how much loss and expense these failed tactics generated. If you want to integrate social media tactics into your marketing strategy in an intelligent way and start making some real returns, maybe we should talk?
*Tactic: A tool to achieve a strategy. You usually need more than one.
*Strategy: A plan to achieve an objective via measurable goals.
Got any comments or questions? Please post them below.