Shifting the Focus of Construction Sales and Marketing
There is a subtle shift happening in construction sales and marketing. It’s driven by buyer behaviour and the digital marketplace.
In this day and age, customers can find solutions that cater to them. So when a business starts talking about themselves, the customer leaves and finds a business that “gets it”.
The definition of “gets it” is: “understands my concerns and frustrations – and solves them”.
This shift is best described as a movement from business-centric to customer-centric.
Take a look at your website. Does it talk about the customers’ needs, or does it talk about your brand?
Usually, businesses talk about themselves in a few different ways. And because they aren’t talking to their customer, they have to talk about themselves in a “persuasive” way.
Here are three examples of business-centric language that tries to persuade without actually speaking to the customer's needs:
“Elevated” languageWhen brands use words fancy words to say simple things to make themselves look smart
“Big up” the brandWhen brands list their credentials and accomplishments
BlandspeakWhen brands just try to be polite but end up being a bit “meh”
What do all three of these have in common?
The brand is the point of reference.
Running campaigns for multiple building product businesses allows us to have insight into just how much this affects outcomes.
We compared a brand-centric campaign (written this way by client request) with our average customer-centric campaign.
The brand-centric campaign performed 7x worse.
People were 7x less likely to respond to the call-to-action when it came after a long list of company virtues.
People were 7x more likely to respond to a call-to-action when it came after a message written to them about their concerns.
The difference in wording can be slight, but the difference in performance is big.
How do you turn Business-centric language around?
Focus on the Benefit to the Customer
You’ll have to mentally switch your focus, and that of your entire business, from focusing on your business to focusing on the customer.
The first thing you’ll notice is that instead of saying “we” and “our”, you’ll be saying “you” and “your”.
This simple switch makes all the difference in your communications.
Because, as Donald Miller points out in Story Brand, we are all the main characters of our own lives.
We see ourselves as the protagonist.
So when we see an email, advert, or website that talks about a great company, we ignore it.
When that message communicates how this company can help US be a hero: to overcome, succeed, deliver, then we’re interested.
As Claude Hopkins said in 1924:
“Remember the people you address are selfish, as we all are. They care nothing about your interests or profit. They seek service for themselves. Ignoring this fact is a common mistake…”
So people really aren’t interested in our companies, except in the context of how you can help them.
The best thing to do is to put yourself in their position and work backwards.
Then define the benefit that’s most important to them in a factual way.
Here’s an example:
Before: “we provide a cost-effective and innovative solution”
After: “Save £75,000 on average by reducing the amount of time your site needs to be open”.
This second sentence is customer-focused and states the facts in a way that the customer cares about.
If you can learn how to speak about your brand and offerings in this way, you can expect to see a lot more productivity from your sales and marketing departments.
One more reason customer-centric language wins: it helps you stand out.
In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as invisibility.
And most businesses use business-centric language. We take for granted that that’s the right way to talk because most businesses do.
It becomes our native tongue.
By continuing to speak this way we not only don’t connect with our customers, but we also blend in.
Communicating your value proposition in terms of the benefit to the customer goes a long way in helping you differentiate yourself.
This simple change could be your greatest innovation in your sales and marketing department this year. Simple, but not easy, and not common.
It would probably require a reorientation of your sales and marketing department.
And someone making sure that everything that goes out the door is customer-centric.
But, according to our research and experience, it would be worth it. It could be the most important thing you can do for your organisation’s communications.