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Effective content marketing to architects and other specifiers

September 25, 2019
Content Marketing

Effective content marketing is about recognising who needs what information and when. If you’re a construction industry product manufacturer here are some tips on getting it right.

Make it interesting

‘Interesting’ is itself an interesting concept; if I’m researching non-slip flooring for hospital corridors then slip resistance data will be interesting. That doesn’t mean I’d want to take a Gerflor catalogue with me on holiday. Likewise, if I’m designing the floors of a building then my interest will likely only extend as far as the design implications of different floor specs. If I were contracted to lay the flooring my information needs would differ again. Interesting copy is therefore simply another way of describing relevant copy.

While that is a simple enough concept, it isn’t always what happens in practice. In a busy office it’s all too easy for information to be rehashed – cut and pasted and used, in full or in parts, to fill gaps on website pages, brochures, press releases, instruction leaflets etc. As editor of the RIBA CPD Showcase I see it all the time. Because, let’s face it, writing fresh copy is time-consuming.

Good content is always clear. It invariably uses shorts words and sentences (not because the reader is stupid, but because they’re busy), and it is always relevant. Together, that equates to interesting.

So my second piece of advice is:

Write with a specific audience in mind

Construction industry projects, in particular, tend to involve several individuals or groups in the decision-making process. Depending on the size of the project the lead architect may rely on junior colleagues to conduct initial product research. Clients and engineers may be invited to have their say. Contractors will influence product choice where performance specifications are involved. Your content marketing strategy must engage with them all – individually.

Think of it in terms of lots of different people embarking on lots of different journeys, but all converging on one point. In every case it starts with you supplying each with the right information, gaining credibility and building trust, before finally converting them into a sale. What we mean by the ‘right information’ and ‘sale’ may differ according to the role of the group or individual, but the process remains the same.

Have a plan

A content plan should include a list of all your on- and offline content assets matched against a list of those likely to make use of them, and the various stages in the decision-making (buying) process. Inevitably, there will be some cross-over: CAD documents and BIM objects, for example, could be of potential interest to both architect and contractor – but at the design stage for the former and on-site for the latter. A content plan, such as the simplified one below, will quickly help show up the gaps in your content. Your content plan will include far more groups than this.

 

Architect Quantity surveyor Contractor /
Site manager
Shortlist Specify Research Specify Buy Use
Product brochure
Data sheets
CAD documents
BIM objects
Specification text
Delivery / packaging details
CPD seminars
Case studies
Price lists

Table 1: A content plan will reveal the gaps in your content asset inventory.

The plan will also help you to keep information fresh. Prospects and customers will reward your leadership in keeping up to date with the latest developments in regulations and technology by returning to your websites and your material again and again, and by recommending it to others.

Don’t get waylaid by page rank

Let us imagine two websites. Site A is ranked #1 for a specialist roofing material and attracts 1,000 visitors a week, while website B is ranked #10 and attracts only 500 visitors a week. If site A converts one in four visitors into orders that equates to 250 sales, but if B converts two out of three visitors that’s 333 orders – a third more again. In such a scenario is page rank more important, or rate of conversion?

Good content answers questions, is specific, and addresses the reader based on where they are in the specification process, using language appropriate to the task in hand. Effective content marketing is about managing all of those conversations with a view to improving their overall rate of conversion. So getting found easily (i.e. being ranked highly) is undeniably still a major consideration when creating content; it just isn’t the be-all and end-all.

From roar to well done

Sometimes the traditional sales pitch is the most appropriate information you can serve visitors. Often however, the role of content should be to make it easy for them to gather the data they need. That way, they can feel they’re making their own decisions. This is where content writers must work hand in hand with web developers and marketing strategists. Writers must produce relevant and engaging content, which the online team must ensure can be easily found. But because it’s sometimes (often, in fact) just too impractical, cumbersome or plain difficult to deliver different types of information to a diverse audience using a single platform, it falls to the marketing strategists to take the overview and ensure that the right message is delivered to the correct audience using the most appropriate marketing channel.

Not all content has to be online

Content can – and often should – be delivered in many ways. Understanding how and where buyers and influencers are likely to react positively to your information is key to maximising its impact. Only you can determine this.  Common sense is the best starting point, but testing is the most practical route long term. Remember ‘the journey’.

Theory put into practice

Construction industry websites such as ribaproductselector.com not only embrace the notion of different professionals needing different information at different times but extend it logically to provide benefit to both end-users and advertisers. Technical pages include specification text, RIBA-assessed CPD materials, data sheets, downloadable brochures and CAD documents. All information is categorised (using CISfB classifications) and cross-referenced, ensuring that it can easily be found by users and search engines alike. As a consequence, ribaproductselector.com attracts over 220,000 unique visitors each month.

 

Author Andy Sivell is the editor of the RIBA CPD Showcase

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