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From Brand-Centric to Customer-Centric: Shifting the Focus of Construction Sales and Marketing

by

Peter Chesters

Written by Project Prospecta – A partner of Barbour ABI

Does your business find it difficult to bring in new jobs and specifications?

Here’s a simple idea that can help get traction on your website, emails, sales scripts, or CPD’s.

Buyers are looking for businesses who “get it”.

More buyers (yes, even in the construction industry) are doing their research online. They talk to sales people when they are ready to buy.

So is there anything you can do to engage them earlier on?

Your company needs to be the company who “gets it”.

The definition of “gets it”: “understands my concerns and frustrations – and solves them”.

In order to be this company, all your messaging should be customer-centric, not business-centric.

Here are three examples of business-centric language:

  • “Elevated” language – when brands use big words to say simple things
  • “Big up” the brand – when brands list great things about themselves
  • Blandspeak – when brands just try to be polite while selling themselves

What do all three of these have in common? The brand is the point of reference.

Here’s what the research shows…

We compared brand-centric marketing campaigns with customer-centric ones.

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 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.

Why? Because, as Donald Miller points out in Story Brand, we are all the main character of our lives. We are the protagonist. Businesses who think they are the hero – we ignore.

Business who can help us overcome, succeed, or deliver, become our trusted partners. Our advisors. Our guides.

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…”

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 customers understand and care about.

If you can learn how to speak about your brand and offerings in this way, you can expect to see greater productivity from your sales and marketing departments.

Differentiation

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 the baseline we revert to. By continuing to speak this way we not only don’t connect with our customers, we also blend into the rest of the industry. If you can communicate your value proposition in terms of the benefit to the customer, that alone can go a long way in helping you differentiate yourself.

Conclusion

This simple change could be your greatest innovation in your sales and marketing department this year. Simple, but not easy. It would probably require a reorientation of your sales and marketing department.

But, it would be worth it. It is the most important thing you can do for your business’ communications. And it only requires a change in perspective.

About the author

Peter Chesters

Peter Chesters

Group Marketing Manager at Barbour ABI

Peter has worked for Barbour ABI since March 2019. Beginning in the Barbour Product Search editorial team, he then moved into the Barbour ABI Marketing team in late 2019, mainly focusing on writing and content creation. In 2021 Peter began to head up the Barbour Product Search editorial team.

As Group Marketing Manager, Peter now works across Barbour ABI, Barbour Product Search and AMA Research, continuing to focus on marketing strategy and content creation across the Barbour ABI Group.

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