Do you know why clients chose your company for their construction project?
I didn’t think so.
Most construction companies don’t pay that much attention to where their clients come from or why they chose one firm over another; it’s just assumed a client gets several quotes and chooses the most competitive. And to a certain extent, this is true. But this discounts one of the most powerful forms of marketing your firm has available; social proof.
In this article, we talk about what social proof is and how your construction company can use it to gain new clients.
What is Social Proof?
“Social Proof” is one of those marketing buzzwords doing the rounds these days. It sounds overly complicated (like many marketing terms), but it’s actually a simple concept. For a definition of social proof, I turn to the font of all internet knowledge, Wikipedia:
…a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.
Basically, if your mate says, “Try this sandwich shop - it’s really good!” then you are probably going to try the sandwich. And if 1,000 people try the sandwiches and leave glowing reviews on Yelp, then more and more people are going to think this is the sandwich place. And if the sandwich shop puts a note on their website proclaiming their 1,000 5-star Yelp reviews, then anyone landing on the website isn’t going to bother clicking on Yelp to check the reviews - they are going to get really hungry and order the 2-foot-long sub.
mmm ... sandwich ...
Sorry, where were we? Yes - Social proof for your construction firm.
Social Proof is Vital in the Construction Industry
So social proof works for sandwich shops. But what about construction companies?
There are a lot of cowboys out there in the construction industry. Every consumer TV show contains horror stories of construction companies ripping off their clients. They give the whole industry a bad name.
People trust the opinions of others. Why? Because those opinions aren’t easy to fake. It’s easy to say on your website, “We’re the best construction firm in the city,” but who’s going to believe that? But if I’m looking for a construction company and I see someone has called you “the best construction firm in the city” on a review site, then you better believe I’m giving you a call.
A 2008 study by Business Week concluded that 70% of people read customer reviews online before purchasing something. And these people are usually only buying DVDs or handbags - what about buying a building? Social proof is powerful, especially if there’s a high level of cost involved for the customer. We feel a lot better about spending a whole lot of money if a bunch of other people have done so too, and wax lyrical about how happy they are about it.
Social proof is the reason so many construction firms can operate for decades without any form of advertising - their clients do the advertising for them through word-of-mouth and referrals. If you’re looking for someone to redo your kitchen, the first thing you do is ask your friend who just had a beautiful kitchen done who she used?
So you know social proof is important for your firm - now, how do you get this social proof, and what do you do with it?
How to Collect & Use Social Proof for your Construction Firm
Create a page for your business on local and national review sites. Look at where other construction companies place their pages. These sites are a great source of data for consumers - they will call a range of different companies and compare quotes and reviews - they won’t go for the cheapest quote if that company has bad reviews.
Ask your clients to refer their friends and family. If you’ve done a great job, they’ll be more than happy to spread the word!
Use your invoice. This is the part of the job where you’ve completed your work - so it’s the perfect time to remind clients to spread the word. Ask them to write you up a testimonial for your website, or direct them to post a review on your local tradesman sites. In New Zealand many people use No Cowboys, and Yelp is also popular, but there are often local directories that allow reviews and are more beneficial.
Republish your best reviews and testimonials on your website. Add buttons and graphics to your website and social media pages highlighting your review scores or particularly glowing reviews. For more tips on improving your website, check out our article on websites for construction & building industry.
Often, construction companies will include a phrase like “4.5 stars on NoCowboys.co.nz” on their business card to demonstrate social proof.
Social proof is particularly powerful if a celebrity or highly respected person is giving it. This is why it’s worthwhile cultivating relationships with writers from industry magazines and other media outlets. When your firm hits the headlines for doing amazing work, and well-respected experts are talking about you in glowing terms, people pay attention.
Social proof should play a vital role in your construction company’s marketing strategy. Focus on directing people to websites or publications where they can leave reviews, and in getting your projects featured in industry publications. With social proof on your side, you’ll be the best construction firm in town.
Now, how about that sandwich?