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How Social media can help your construction marketing
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How Social media can help your construction marketing

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Will Tyler, CEO of Octink, gave a presentation at the Construction Marketing conference about how the process he went through to understanding and using social media to help promote his business. ...

Will Tyler, CEO of Octink, gave a presentation at the Construction Marketing conference about how the process he went through to understanding and using social media to help promote his business. Octink is a display specialist based in Brentford, West London providing event branding, marketing environments and sign services.

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  • Good afternoon. My name is Will Tyler and I am CEO of Octink, a display graphics company. I have spent the last 20 years developing what started as a traditional signwriter into a £1 0 million company that designs and builds marketing environments. I have worked with many companies over the years, from small local businesses to international brands such as Intel and Nokia. We have worked with housebuilders (Taylor Wimpey, Countryside and Berkely Group), commercial developers (SEGRO) and civil engineering firms (Mowlem, Mansell and Balfour Beaty). I think it is fair to say that I have spent most of my working life on and around building sites. I have been asked to share my experience of social media with you today. I am not a seasoned professional in this area. I run a company that is essentially a manufacturing business. We used to use traditional marketing techniques to engage our customers and to attract potential customers. We have now integrated these new channels of communication into Octink ’s marketing activity and I want to speak today about how we got here, and hopefully demonstrate how you can use social media to help your business too.
  • Just by way of understanding where you all are how many of you have a Facebook site? Socially or corporately. How many use Twitter? Linked in? The sheer amount of different ways we can interact with our target markets is staggering. It can be overwhelming. When I first heard of the term social media the first thing I thought was this is a great excuse for time wasting at work. Up until recently many companies were blocking access Facebook, MySpace and MSN from their employees. Some continue to do so but others have opened up to these social media sites. I was curious about how this was benefiting these businesses above improving employee ’s social lives. It wasn’t until Trovus approached me in 2007, with their Revelations tool, that I began to see the benefit this would bring to Octink. It was my lightbulb moment and we haven’t looked back since. I was sceptical in the early stages that business could benefit using social media. My experience is now, however, that social media is a hugely powerful tool that, if given enough time and used correctly, can add real value to your business in terms of promoting your brand, building sales contacts and ultimately selling products. I see successful business as the continual assessment and avoidance of risk. Social media is a risk. I want to demonstrate that I took this risk and am now reaping the benefits in terms of leads, and also culturally, within Octink.
  • The answer to this is no. Social media is only part of a marketing campaign. It should sit on top of your usually marketing activity. However if you asked is it a cheaper way of engaging with your customers then the answer is yes, definitely. We can use a social media networking tool like LinkedIn for free. Previously we would join local business networks or go to conferences to spread our nets but these can cost a lot of money and time too. We can engage the same people over the internet, giving them access to online information and data that would be impossible in a face-to-face meeting. Replacing your existing marketing activities with social media would certainly be premature but, as you build momentum, you may well find that other areas of marketing appear less appealing as time goes by.
  • The main investment is time. As a start you need to allocate around 15 minutes to an 1 hour a day to keep up with the daily online activity that you will both trigger and engage with. This can be done using a laptop or smart-phone on the train; you don ’t need to be at a desk to keep up with it. The process quickly becomes second nature, like sending an SMS is now ingrained in everybody ’s day-to-day lives; who would have thought that texting someone would have be so pervasive 10 years ago? Social media is in the same position. It is quickly going to become mainstream. The financial investment in social media is relatively small when compared to normal marketing activities. If you have paid for some search engine optimisation and have a basic understanding of your site ’s analytics you will already have a fairly decent impression of your online customer base. You have something to say to them because you can see what they are interested in due to the pages they have visited. You know who they are. Now you need to engage with them and start a dialogue.
  • I could see that engaging with my customers on such a granular level was a valuable asset but I couldn 't get my head around how to address such a large and, as far as signs are concerned, fairly disinterested crowd. We started in 2007 with no online presence at all apart from our website. Trovus helped me understand long tail keywords and the importance of search engine optimisation. This has been discussed earlier in the day so I won 't go over old ground but long tail keywords gave us an idea about the subjects that visitors were interested in when arriving at our site through search engines and online directories. Following Trovus’ advice we built a blog and started to write articles. It was quickly proven that articles containing corporate marketing speak were frowned upon by our visitors. Industry information, subjective opinion and environmental news were lapped up. For example we wrote an article on the benefits of LED lighting. This post was quoted around the web and generated a significant increase in traffic to our site. We had had our very first experience of the power of social media. And it was free. We then started to use the Trovus tool, Revelations. You could say that this is a social media tool in a sense as it allows me, as a business owner, to drill down into my website analytics and find individual companies who are looking at my site. This was not only invaluable for follow up leads but it also revealed the success of my other marketing activities. For example if I sent out a mailer to specific businesses I could see those who visited the site as a result and then concentrate my efforts in bringing in their custom. Not only that I could see those who came as a result of my pay per click and organic search engine keywords. I knew what they were looking for and could therefore target that organisation in a much more accurate way than I could ever have done before.
  • This was the jump off point for Octink. I now knew that there was something to be gained by engaging with the online community. The next step we took was to broaden our online appeal by starting a LinkedIn account for the business. We made our own profiles - you can see mine here **SCREENGRAB** - and encouraged our staff to join up too. Each one of them offers a different set of skills, each appealing to different channels within the business community. They can join groups, become mentors and even LIONS, which is a kind of super profile that allows you to expose more and more people to your company.
  • The major social media application that everyone knows is Facebook. We don ’t use this tool as the demographic is a little young for our target market, although we will keep an eye on this as it is attracting more and more older users as it matures as a product. We do, however, use Twitter, a micro-blogging tool. If any social media application is captured in the zeitgeist ’s headlights it is Twitter. I was most sceptical about this tool in particular. To be honest I perceived it as an enclave for computer geeks. It has turned out to be the most powerful tool we have in our marketing arsenal. The demographic, of professionals between 30 and 40, fits our business perfectly. The level of reach and response it has, especially within the environmental, design and architectural markets, been astonishing. It is essentially like SMS, you only have 140 characters, you can follow people and they follow you back, you can post news releases, links and photos. That is it. Its simplicity is one of the reasons it has become so popular. We can announce new products, recent projects and answer questions in an instant, to an audience who actively sought out our attention. They want to receive this information so they see it if they want to. This sets Twitter apart from direct mail. I can also track any links I put in my tweets. A service like Bit.ly provides me with real time analytical statistics on my tweets. I can gauge the success of a post instantly and adjust future posts accordingly.
  • As the search engines become live (at the moment pages can take a while to appear in search engine result pages) we will be able to interact with an even wider audience. Twitter will eventually integrate with email and the internet. We are seeing this in emerging applications like Google Wave, which is attempting to integrate instant messaging, email and Twitter into one application. Integration is also key to working with LinkedIn. Many social networking tools talk to each other. For example, my LinkedIn account instantly updates with any blogs I write on the Octink website and any tweets I make on Twitter. I can also share presentations, word docs and other files using Box.net, an online storage tool. This is also reflected on my LinkedIn profile page. We also use Flickr, an online image library. This is now a primary support tool for our sales and project management teams. They are able to assemble galleries from our photobank and send them out to potential customers. Because the images are arranged with keywords you only have to input, say, “ ma rketing sites ” , and you have an instant presentation, ready to send to a prospective customer. An image in our industry can make or break a deal. In August 2008 we started using social media to promote our business, our site traffic has increased by 300%. If you consider that during that time we have endured a very difficult financial time and we have rebranded too - that is a very satisfying figure. We are emerging from the recession stronger and more in touch with our customer base than ever before.
  • The term “so cial media ” is such a loose term and so rapidly evolving that it is hard to say what works across all the sectors of businesses. But there are many things you can do that will ensure a good starting point for making a success in promoting your business through social media. You can pay someone to help set things up and hold your hand in the early stages but you need to engage with social media at a personal level. Social media is built for the individual and users are sceptical of corporate speak or direct selling. You need to take a very personal, honest approach to communicating through social media channels and that can be hard to get used to at first. you also need to engage. You cannot expect things to happen without engaging people in conversations and encouraging them to engage with you. Other pointers that will save you time are:
  • I think I have answered much of what we do in the previous sections but let ’s go through how we broadcast using social media.BlogWe make announcements on our website. We can then link to this using RSS feeds or tweets when they are released. Our blog is going to be expanded to individual blogs in the future. This will allow us to make more subjective comments off of our corporate site. Twitter We make environmental announcements through Twitter. We are an award winning display graphics company, committed to reducing our (and our customers ’ ) impact on the environment. We follow, and are followed, by many ecological groups. It helps us align with other organisations and individuals who share our values. We announce innovations and product innovations. This has helped get our newest products in front of national retailers. We can also let our audience know about new printers and techniques, announce new pages on our site and other snippets of interesting information. LinkedIn We get invited to talk at events! We can meet and engage with people online and on the ground and put names to faces. We can join groups and get information or pass information onto other members. We can mentor younger people working in the industry. We can get through firewalls normally restricted to preferred suppliers. For example we can provide advice to councils through LinkedIn and start conversations with key people without filling out RFIs. We can recruit staff and easily find partner firms who have expertise outside our own. We can put businesses in touch with each other. For example we have introduced certain suppliers to customers who expressed an interest in products we were using. We enable our staff to have a voice and respond to niche requests. Flickr We have an instantly accessible photo library. We can send presentations or case studies to potential customers in an instant. Users can leave comments on individual images. Box.net We store all our branding centrally. We can send and receive files to and from our customers. We can store presentations and other files, such as creditation documents, CSR documents and financial reports.Youtube/VimeoWe are currently developing several movies - showing our printers in operation, time delayed installation that kind of thing. GetSatisfaction We haven ’t implemented this yet but these live feedback sites are a great way of opening your customer service to social media. Essentially a small tab on your own site allows people to leave feedback on a third party site. You can then respond to this in turn. Other visitors can see what other people think about your business and how you respond. That can only encourage you to improve customer service, your products and your services. It also reinforces the trust levels in a potential customer. Who here uses Tripadvisor to get recommendations for hotels? Everyone loves a personal recommendation.
  • The social media phenomena is only going to get larger and will soon be absorbed into the more traditional marketing channels. That is a fact. It isn ’t going away. With the development of handheld computers, like the iPhone, people are going to become more connected, more educated, more responsive and engaged with the online community than ever before. We are not only reaping the benefits of these tools in terms of new business leads and opportunities, but we are also learning and enjoying ourselves along the way. We have definitely become more open as a result, our employees are more engaged with the business and we are more engaged with our customers as a result. I said at the beginning of this speech that social media was a risk. I think that companies will start to run the risk of missing a jump on their competition if they fail to take advantage of the power of social media soon. If anything they will certainly miss a truly powerful tool in engaging with their audience.
  • Thank you for your time this afternoon. I hope you have been inspired to explore the fascinating world of social media. These slides will be available on slideshare later on today. Of course, you can find out about that on our Twitter feed under the username Octink, through our profile on LinkedIn or through our website: www.octink.com . If you have any questions then please fire away!

How Social media can help your construction marketing How Social media can help your construction marketing Presentation Transcript

  •  
  • Octink is a display specialist
    • £9.5m turnover 2009
    • 85 employees
    • 16 installation teams
    • ISO 14001 accredited & ISO 9001 aligned
    • Investor in People
    • BITC CommunityMark Achiever
    • 2009 Sunday Times Green List
  • Is it worth investing in Social Media?
  • Is social media the answer to having a smaller marketing budget?
  • Is social media the answer to having a smaller marketing budget?
  • From nothing to something? The long tail
  • From nothing to something?
  • From nothing to something?
  • From nothing to something?
  • Lessons from other sectors: Adopting proven strategies for your organisation
    • Set goals and objectives for what you want to achieve.
    • Look at your online presence from the point of view of your customers.
    • Work out which are the right social media applications for your business.
    • Find and engage the key people relevant to your business.
    • Don’t overdo it. People who use social media are wary of the hard sell.
    • Measure your success. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • Examples of how social media can be used to broadcast your message
  • The future of social media
  • Thank you www.octink.com Octink, Crown House, 30 Commerce Road, Brentford TW8 8LE T +44 (0)20 8232 6800 www.linkedin.com/companies/octink twitter.com/octink www.flickr.com/photos/octink/