This week, we talk about the importance of branding your construction company, and where to get started with building a powerful and authentic brand that willl attract the right clients, subcontractors, and employees.
Topics we cover in this episode include:
- The benefits of targeting a niche market
- How to find and target potential clients in your niche
- Developing your company’s branding
- Using your branding to attract quality employees and subcontractors
- Using testimonials to bolster your brand
Watch the video version of this episode on YouTube.
Join the conversation on our LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/carpentercpas/
[00:00:00] Wade Carpenter: Welcome to the Contractor Success Forum. Today we are talking about the impact of branding on construction company and the role it can play in a contractor’s success.
Here on the Contractor Success Forum, our mission is to provide game-changing financial education for contractors to help you be more profitable, grow, and succeed in your business.
And who is here to help us do that? As usual, my cohort, Stephen Brown, with McDaniel Whitley Bonding and Insurance. I’m Wade Carpenter with Carpenter Company CPAs. And today we are privileged to have back with us Amanda Darr of Amanda Darr Designs, and I know she’s done a lot for me in branding and helping me move my marketing along the way. But Amanda, thank you for coming back to lend us your expertise on this subject.
[00:00:51] Stephen Brown: Yeah.
[00:00:51] Amanda Darr: Thanks for having me again. Yeah, happy to be back.
[00:00:54] Stephen Brown: So Wade, Amanda’s forgotten more about marketing and branding than I know. And probably you too. But it’s so interesting when I see a contractor’s wanting to move into more marketing and branding, how much fun they have with it. It’s kind of exciting to kind of, put some meat with those potatoes, so to speak. Show off the place a little bit. But it’s a lot more than that, isn’t it, Amanda?
[00:01:18] Amanda Darr: Yeah, it is really fun. Obviously I’m biased. I think it’s a lot of fun. I’m lucky that I get to do it all the time. But there is a lot behind it, a lot to consider, and it’s really important to be intentional when you do start making some of those efforts into branding and marketing your business.
Like Stephen said, you have a lot of skills and expertise and probably experience to share. And so branding is all about telling that story to potential clients. And then even beyond that potential subcontractors and even potential employees.
[00:01:51] Wade Carpenter: Great. Well, I know I see a lot of contractors out there. Some of them don’t even have a website or anything like that. But there’s other ones too that they list a ton of different things on their website and they’re really like kind of shotgunning an approach to it. How do you start by building a brand and then identifying things like a target market?
[00:02:13] Stephen Brown: And let me interrupt and say too, that’s the surest way to not get insurance quotes. All those underwriters look at your website and when they see you painting a bridge when you don’t paint bridges, there’s nothing I can say. I just go…
[00:02:27] Amanda Darr: Yeah, that’s a great point. I think a lot of businesses when they first are getting started don’t take the time to first identify their own strengths and what they should really focus on telling the story of. And part of that process would be identifying your ideal client.
So, a lot of times maybe you have a lot of business, but it’s not the business that you want. So take the time to kind of create the ideal, a lot of times in marketing, it’s called the avatar of your ideal client. Possibly based on a really good client that you already have or just one that you would like to work with.
What are they looking for? What type of construction are they looking for? What could you help them with? What are their pain points that you’re able to uniquely help them with?
And then to go beyond that and start thinking about how you can reach them and talk to them. What spaces are they in, where are they hanging out? And that’s where those specialties that you may have can come into play and make it a lot easier to really dig in and target specific types of clients.
The benefits of targeting a niche market
[00:03:31] Wade Carpenter: Yeah, I, I don’t know if you wanna drill down on that a little bit. I see a lot of contractors, again, trying to do any, anything and everything. And when they first get started they’re just trying to make a living. But, I know part of working with you has kind of helped me understand that, hey, the more niche focused I can get, and, it’s like you’re afraid to go down and define your target because you’re afraid you’re gonna miss out on something.
[00:03:59] Amanda Darr: Yeah, absolutely. You don’t wanna turn away clients, especially when you’re younger in, in business. For sure. It feels like the wrong thing to do, but if you can really focus in on a smaller target market and really specialize in something, and then you become known as the expert in that particular specialty, whatever that may be, you’re gonna be getting a lot more referrals. People are gonna be hearing more about you. And once you have a few of those ideal clients that you want, they’re going to be telling other clients about that. And then when you’re branding online across your website, your social media, whatever you’re putting out there kind of backs that up, you’re gonna just see that grow more and more. And you’re gonna become known for that.
Whereas there’s, countless numbers of construction companies that are just general and don’t kind of communicate any sort of specialty in their marketing and you’re not gonna stand out among all of those. It’s gonna be a lot more difficult to kind of have a recognizable brand that way.
How to find and target potential clients in your niche
[00:04:57] Stephen Brown: That makes sense. For example, say you are an interior finish contractor. Drywall, acoustical ceilings. You come and finish out spaces. And you have a certain size project that is most profitable for you, and those projects would involve office space, for example, for being your main. So you’ve targeted that, for example, and you wanna drive more business. And those are your skillset. What kind of thing would you do, Amanda?
[00:05:28] Amanda Darr: Okay. So yeah, that’s a great place to start and if you can define down to those details that’s perfect. So, there’s a lot of things you can do once you have that information. If you’re still at the stage where you are figuring out your branding, I would absolutely incorporate any of that information that you can into your branding, into the look and feel of your brand, your messaging, the wording that you have across your different web presences, whatever that is.
I would recommend creating kind of a brand guide, a document where you have the wording that you’ll use, whether you’re online or you’re even talking to somebody in person. Not that you wanna be reading from a script when you’re having casual networking conversations, but the more you talk about it and get that language down, the more it just becomes part of how you describe your company, your brand.
And then getting a little bit more into detailed marketing strategies, you can use that information to target paid campaigns if you want to delve into paying on social media for ads or Google ads so that when people are searching those specific terms in your area you will come up as well as SEO, search engine optimization on your website.
One of the best things I think that you can do if you do have a specialty is to create content around that specialty, and you don’t have to pay anything for it, it just takes the time. AI can help with that as well, which we’ve talked about recently on the podcast.
So understanding those key words that your target market will probably be searching for online when they’re looking for help with the type of construction project that you specialize in and creating blogs, pages on your website, YouTube videos with those keywords, that will bring a lot of attention and also start positioning you as an expert in that specific specialty.
Developing your company’s branding
[00:07:15] Stephen Brown: Okay, so, so how do you go about developing a logo and you’re developing your brand and you want it to stick out in a way where it gets people’s attention?
[00:07:27] Amanda Darr: So you would start, like I said, with your ideal client and what would stand out for them. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what would stand out to them, what they’re looking for. A lot of times that starts with those specific pain points that they might be experiencing in their business.
Beyond that, visually, there are a lot of things to consider. So, most people can probably name the main elements of a brand, but it’ll be your logo, your color scheme, the fonts that you use. Different colors and fonts really do communicate strongly different things about your brand. So, and I don’t wanna go too deep into that with our limited time, but there, there are a lot of things to consider there. And if you work with a designer, they can guide you based on what you want to portray to your target audience what some of those choices might look like for you.
[00:08:20] Stephen Brown: have to be camo, is that what you’re saying?
[00:08:22] Amanda Darr: No, it doesn’t have to be in the, yeah, there’s a lot of options outside of camo. Maybe camos your, works with your brand. Maybe not. I don’t know.
[00:08:30] Stephen Brown: Hey, one of my most macho customers has light blue as their company color, and it pops. And I asked, I said, this color looks good on hats. People like wearing it. It kind of spiffs things up a little bit. Where’d you come with that color? Well, the ladies in the office liked it and said that’s the color we were gonna have. But also it is branded them. You see that certain shade of blue, it’s them.
[00:08:57] Amanda Darr: Exactly. I can tell you. Yep. Big, you know the, the large companies they’ve put a lot of money into research about exactly what shade should go in their logo. And blue actually is probably the most popular branding color, different shades of blue. It kind of communicates trust, reliability. So many tech companies specifically have blue in their logo. You’ll notice. If you start looking out for it.
And then in construction, I would say like yellow and black and gray are very common, but black can also communicate kind of strength, sophistication, stuff like that. So, yeah, it’s interesting to To look into kind of the psychology behind the colors, and then you can kind of understand and start to see why certain companies have used those specific colors in their branding. So definitely something to think about.
And keep in mind when you are creating a brand that don’t just pick something on a whim because– your brand, like you said, it’s consistent. It, you should be keeping it for a long time. You don’t wanna be rebranding your company every couple years. You want to have it be recognizable over time. So that’s–
[00:10:04] Stephen Brown: –then you’re wasting all that marketing effort for nothing.
[00:10:07] Amanda Darr: Yeah. And I have seen it because people pick something kind of just, oh, I like that, that’s cool. And then, a year or two later they’re like, oh, I’m sick of that. I want something else. So it’s important to to pick something that you’re gonna be willing to stick with for quite a while.
[00:10:22] Stephen Brown: Amanda my cousin used to be a creative director of this big advertising agency here in Memphis, and he was always working on a logo for this and that, and I would come up with another logo for him. Thinking that I was better than him or had a more clever idea, and he would just shake me off. And I’m like I’m not that bad. Yeah, you really are. And but the–
[00:10:43] Amanda Darr: like see some of those.
[00:10:45] Stephen Brown: Well, one of the best ones. One, one of my customers said, I’m starting a new company with a friend of mine who’s in the pipe business. And I was playing around with the name, what do you think of Hammerhead?
And I’m like, I love it. And I threw a image of a hammerhead shark swimming around. Next thing you know, the name was done and the logo, and we were so excited. That is the coolest name ever, Hammerhead. But they were laying pipe. They weren’t hammering anything. And maybe it just meant they were stubborn or that they were a predator. I, I don’t know. But we thought it was so cool.
Anyway, unfortunately that company dissolved peacefully it’s all good, but So there’s more to it than just feelings. Your feelings about how to express yourself.
[00:11:29] Amanda Darr: Absolutely.
[00:11:31] Wade Carpenter: I think back to when I first started, I know branding a CPA is probably different from branding a construction company, but, I think about like bad branding and we sort of already talked about this, but, I’m embarrassed to say, probably my first two years I was printing my own business cards off of this stock and it was flimsy and all this stuff.
I think about contractors that come to me now with Gmail addresses and stuff like that instead of having actually a true URL for their company. But I guess where I’m going with this is what are the reasons we would get into branding? Why do we do branding? What I’m kind of bringing out, is trust. But what ways can this help a contractor?
[00:12:13] Amanda Darr: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great question and good points too, because it does go beyond the logo that you see just on your website. And that’s important, but it’s all those little details together. Even if somebody can’t specifically point to something like that like, oh, they print their own business cards.
Your brand really does communicate the level of trust that they can have in you. Your level of experience, your expertise, your attention to detail, so many different things that it can communicate in a positive or negative way in so many different places. So even, yeah, like you said your email address You want to communicate that you’re an established professional company and little things like a Gmail email address can really just throw that right out the window. Your email signature not having a, professional email signature with your branding included in it. That can make a difference. If you ever make a presentation or hand out some sort of print materials, if those are done well, printed on nicer paper the branding and the details can make such a huge difference in just communicating that you are an established company that can be trusted. So, great point.
[00:13:22] Wade Carpenter: I think about too, the reasons you brand, I know there are some, probably more in the residential side that would want to brand more to get clients versus maybe a larger company that does bid work. I don’t know. Can you talk about that and some of the reasons for branding?
[00:13:41] Amanda Darr: Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of people think of marketing as a one way messaging to people just to find you online. And obviously that’s definitely a big part of it for a lot of businesses. But even if you’re not hoping to grab leads from social media or online as your main source, having that brand presence online is so important today.
If you’re bidding something or if you’re trying to attract solid subcontractors or employees to work with you, having that online presence with your established brand that communicates your specialties, your expertise, your experience, possibly examples of past work is going to make a big difference to those groups as well.
So, in networking, making connections with people, you wanna make sure that when they go and search for you on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, or just Google, that something’s coming up that communicates to them, okay, yes, this company is established. They are an industry leader. They are, active in the industry here in this community. Whatever it is they’re looking for, it should be able to be found quickly and it should all kind of match up and be consistent so that there’s no confusion or wondering, what’s going on here. Are they really a legitimate business? All of that. And that’s all part of your branding.
Using branding to attract good employees
[00:15:01] Wade Carpenter: Can we dive in a little more? I’ve seen, yeah, obviously people like sometimes they want to drive the residential crowd, but I’ve seen contractors right now, I think on one of our recent episodes, we talked about the average age of somebody in construction, and a lot of people have been retiring in construction. A lot of people got out during Covid, so people are tough to find. And I’ve actually seen some contractors trying to build brand simply to attract employees.
[00:15:32] Amanda Darr: Exactly. Yeah. Having a strong employer brand I think is important for any company these days, but especially in construction, it seems to be something that has been an issue. So I would say as part of your brand, and sometimes it’s even thought of as a separate brand, depending on how large your company is.
How are you attracting those good employees? Because a lot of times finding those good people to work for you is just as important as finding new customers, I would say. So, how can you illustrate through your brand that you are also a good employer, a good place to work?
A lot of times, if it’s possible, I would say the best way to do that is with storytelling and featuring current employees and showing rather than telling that you’re a good place to work because any company could put on their website, we’re a great place to work. And it’s okay, are you really though? So I think the best examples of that I see is at least some images and a story or two from an employee if you can do it.
And I think another thing is just thinking about maybe making another avatar for your ideal employee. So what’s important to them? Would it be that they want to work for a company that’s involved in the community, maybe? So, if you are doing things in the community, document that, put it on your website, put it on your social media. That will attract more of those employees that are really interested in working for a company that does that.
Is it a company that has good work-life balance? Whatever it might be, document that when you do it and put it out there so that people can actually see, rather than just reading that you offer that.
[00:17:09] Stephen Brown: And interesting and challenging projects.
[00:17:13] Amanda Darr: yes, exactly. That’s a really good one too. Yes.
[00:17:16] Stephen Brown: In your case, studies with pictures.
[00:17:19] Amanda Darr: Yep,
[00:17:19] Stephen Brown: typical way I envision some young fellow coming into the businesses is having a couple of mentors assigned to him or her that are constantly there, teaching him the ropes and–
uh, And then the owner coming along and making sure that that employee is coming along based on what their goals are for them and their own goals for themselves.
[00:17:46] Amanda Darr: Yep. If you can illustrate that there’s that support there from leadership and opportunities to grow in their career and be supported in that way, I think that’s a huge attractor, and that would be definitely a big part of your employer brand as well.
[00:18:01] Stephen Brown: Yeah. You would want the mentor to have the hand on the shoulder and not have the arms crossed, body. I’m kidding.
[00:18:06] Amanda Darr: Get that
[00:18:07] Stephen Brown: go ahead.
[00:18:08] Wade Carpenter: Yep.
[00:18:08] Stephen Brown: This is good stuff. Amanda.
[00:18:10] Amanda Darr: Great. And just a note there that made me think of something. Just if you can get actual photos of your employees, especially for the employer brand, actual photos, imagery, videos, stuff like that of your actual team.
[00:18:24] Stephen Brown: What about professional photos versus your own photos?
[00:18:29] Amanda Darr: As far as like professional coming in and taking photos?
[00:18:32] Stephen Brown: Yeah, I guess that’s what I’m saying.
[00:18:34] Amanda Darr: That would be great if you can do it. That’s definitely going to be just higher quality in general, but I know that’s not possible for everybody. I think it would make sense to look into if you can just because it does make a huge difference. But even if not, you can try taking some of your own and just at least for like social media, specifically for employer brand it’s good to have pictures of your actual team and rather than always stock photos. Or maybe a mix. But yeah, professional photos are the best option.
[00:19:01] Stephen Brown: So many times I think contractors wanna show a big visual panoramic picture of a project, and you can’t really tell what’s going on in that picture. I like the ones where they’re zooming in and working together on something that looks extremely complicated, because making the difficult look easy. That’s what every contractor wants to portray. To their clients at least,
[00:19:26] Wade Carpenter: Yep.
[00:19:26] Stephen Brown: think.
[00:19:27] Amanda Darr: Yeah.
Using branding to attract quality subcontractors
[00:19:28] Wade Carpenter: Well, can we change direction a little bit? And I know one of the things you said kind of at the opening, you talked about like attracting subcontractors. And I remember in a former life, working with a very large contractor that Most people in the, at least in the southeast would know. But they had a bad brand, bad reputation for screwing over subcontractors. Essentially, they would do anything and everything to, not pay them on time or, back charge them and stuff like that.
And I think also branding could probably apply to those subcontractors where some of the most successful general contractors I’ve worked with, a lot of times they’re working with subs that have stayed with them for years and would go to the ends of the earth for these people. So can you talk about that a little bit, Amanda?
[00:20:21] Amanda Darr: Yeah, absolutely. I think you’re so right that a bad reputation, that’s part of your brand as well. Reputation management, and that can really kill you, especially when it comes to subcontractors if that starts going around.
So I think some of the things that you can do brand-wise are similar to with the employee outreach that we talked about, but yeah, showcasing those exciting jobs that they might be able to work on. Showcasing in whatever way you can, the successful relationships that you do have with subcontractors. I don’t know if it would be possible to have testimonials or hear from subcontractors or how that might work in the construction industry, but that could be really powerful as well.
As well as, going back to creating some of the content, like thought leadership or industry specific content that subcontractors might be interested in. Creating some of that content to position yourself as an expert and kind of start that conversation. That could be kind of a starting point for making connections online with potential subcontractors and starting to build that relationship that could end up being a very fruitful years-long relationship.
[00:21:29] Stephen Brown: No, I think that’s a great point, Amanda. Building relationships is what you wanna do with subcontractors. And not to take away from the fact that you have some general contractors with the bad reputation in the subcontractor community, first thing is to fix that. Just stop doing what you’re doing to alienate good subcontractors. And then realize what the best attributes of the best subcontractors you want a relationship with. And then to let them know how to approach you. Let’s start, let’s talk. Let’s get this relationship started. And it’s nonstop. It goes on all the time.
[00:22:05] Wade Carpenter: No.
[00:22:06] Amanda Darr: Yeah, absolutely.
Using testimonials to bolster your brand
[00:22:07] Wade Carpenter: So, Amanda, you just kind of mentioned testimonials and I know we haven’t really dove into using the brand to get clients or even in bid work. I think sometimes plan brand can play a part in the bid work if somebody’s got a bad reputation or maybe they don’t take the low bid because somebody’s got a good reputation for getting the job done.
So how can things like testimonials and all that stuff play into marketing or work to clients?
[00:22:37] Amanda Darr: Yeah, it’s huge. I’m sure most people have heard that word of mouth is one of the best forms of marketing. So anytime that you can get feedback from any of the, not just clients, but employees, subcontractors. Anytime you can get that feedback from them, get them to provide written or even video, that’s really great because because then you can use it in several different ways.
Anytime you can encourage clients to provide that feedback. You can use that across the board. I would definitely recommend putting that on your website. If it makes sense for your business, I would say have a presence on review sites, relevant review sites. Google Reviews is the first one that comes to mind. Google my Business because that’s localizes it, so that people, when they search in your area, you’ll show up and those reviews are very highly regarded, I would say. So having a strategy there is good.
And the biggest thing for that to actually get them is first. So you have to do a good job and make your clients happy. So obviously that’s number one. And then just ask, and most people, if they’re happy with your work, or happy with the experience, they’ll be happy to at the very least, write a quick review or even maybe record something.
[00:23:51] Stephen Brown: You can always ask him to record. You taught me this about asking questions. You have some questions prepared and just say, hey I need a quick testimonial from my webpage. Can I ask you a couple of questions? What are you looking for in a blah, blah, blah, type of questions.
[00:24:09] Amanda Darr: Yeah, that’s a great way to do it. You can kind of do a interview style, just a quick back and forth, and then edit it into a really nice video. That’s, yeah. We’ve done, me and Wade have done that with a few of his clients, so.
[00:24:22] Stephen Brown: Okay,
[00:24:22] Amanda Darr: Yeah.
[00:24:23] Wade Carpenter: That’s actually been pretty powerful for me too. Getting that, basically social proof, is that what you call it in the marketing?
[00:24:30] Amanda Darr: Social proof. Yep!
[00:24:32] Stephen Brown: sounds Social proof. I love it.
[00:24:35] Amanda Darr: yeah, that’s, it’s the most powerful, like I said before, you can say everything that you want on the website and it sounds great, but hearing it from another person and knowing, okay, they, not only do they think these things, but they were willing to sit down and record a video about it.
That says a lot about you, and that’s a definitely big for your brand if you can. And you don’t have to get a ton of them, and they don’t have to be really long or anything. Just if you can just get one or two to start, that’s a really great place to be.
[00:25:01] Wade Carpenter: Or have somebody great like Amanda to mix it together for you.
[00:25:04] Amanda Darr: Yeah.
[00:25:05] Stephen Brown: That’s right.
[00:25:06] Amanda Darr: I can help with that.
[00:25:07] Stephen Brown: Amanda. How can folks get in touch with you to get your help?
[00:25:11] Amanda Darr: My website is amandadarr.com, and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for asking.
[00:25:20] Stephen Brown: Well, that’s easy enough, and AmandaDarr.com is very specific, so, uh, that’s your brand. Yeah. Well, I can just tell you I think you’re the best. And Amanda is kind of adopted by Wade and Rob and me over the years doing the Contractor Success Forum. So she’s family, but she is so talented and she’s just, like I said earlier, forgotten more things than I know about in marketing and branding.
There’s so much to it folks. Get an expert and have fun. I think it’s exciting stuff. You’ve given me like 20 things to do for myself right now, so thanks, Amanda.
[00:25:58] Wade Carpenter: Yep.
[00:25:58] Amanda Darr: Thanks for having me. Yeah, I love talking–
[00:26:00] Wade Carpenter: I know there’s probably a lot of things you said. We could probably do another couple of episodes diving a little deeper on several topics there.
[00:26:07] Amanda Darr: Sure. Yeah.
This is just the basics.
[00:26:09] Wade Carpenter: Well, thank you for listening to the Contractor Success Forum, wherever you might be tuning in. Find us on all major platforms, ContractorSuccessForum.com, or on our YouTube channel at Carpenter CPAs for more information.
And be sure to check the show notes for more free resources. If you haven’t already, we would sincerely appreciate it if you would consider subscribing to our YouTube channel and ring that notification bell to follow each episode as we post it every week. We sincerely appreciate your support and comments in this journey, and we will look forward to seeing you on our next episode.