Digitize Your Brand

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Digitize Your Brand

Look at marketing your brand through your online presence

Online marketing graphic

Why do you market your business? The most obvious answer is to generate sales. You also do it to collaborate with current and prospective customers to develop loyalty and establish predictable sales. Some of the positive side effects of good marketing include enticing more job seekers and improving company culture for greater employee retention. The goal is to market your business so current and potential customers and employees all want to buy in.

Brand Is Everything

Company branding is a reflection of company core values and how well your company follows and perpetuates those values. Your brand is the culmination of how your customers, prospects, employees, and job seekers perceive your company and its goods and services. “How We Build Our House: Core Values Live at the Heart of Littfin Lumber’s Ongoing Success” in the April issue included a good look at how one component manufacturer (CM) extracted and communicated the core values of the company.

After establishing core values, it is time to market your brand. Online presence is a great way to elevate your brand and market your company’s core values in a way that brings in more sales, positions your company to be a thought-leader in the construction industry, entices job seekers, and improves company culture and employee relations. Trussway is a good example of a company that made the strategic decision to focus on its online presence through their website and different social media platforms.

Trussway's Journey

When Trussway CEO Jeff Smith brought on Michael Loughery of Courage Communications and Designs, he made it very clear that Trussway was not just looking for a facelift. Their intention was to create a brand that focused on the qualities or core values that Trussway believes sets it apart as an industry expert to be relied on by employees, prospective employees, and customers alike.

“The initial assignment around building Trussway’s online presence was to learn about the company, its value proposition, the competitive landscape, and the truss industry. I got the distinct impression that trusses are very underrated,” explains Michael. He made it his goal to find out what distinguished Trussway and learn why trusses really matter. He sat down with several different Trussway employees as well as the leadership team to ask them what makes Trussway unique. From these conversations, the “Trussway Difference” was born: “High intensity customer service from beginning to end.” 

“The Trussway Difference was something the company already had,” states Michael. “I simply took the beliefs they live and work by and turned them into words. The brand or culture must be real and you must be able to back it up; only then can you market the brand.”

This simple exercise of formalizing the Trussway values was used to set the tone for their company culture – their brand. After the foundation was set, the next step was sharing that brand in an authentic way. 

Best practices to improve your company’s website from The Skeptical Lumberman: Guide to Social Media by Bradley Hartmann

The Skeptical Lumberman book

  • Origin Story – “Every superhero has an origin story. Your company should have one as well – a back story revealing how your company came to exist, who you are passionate about serving, and why your existence matters. Your past is one of your greatest assets…failing to tell your customers and prospects about your rich heritage – and why they should care – is a missed opportunity.” 
  • Employee Bios – “Sharing information on your website about your employees showcases their expertise and increases the odds of making a connection with your customers. Your customers and prospects want to know whom they are dealing with or will be working with. Presenting your employees as likable experts with a passion for the business helps customers buy and potential employees apply.”
  • Executive Bio Videos – “Sharing brief videos of your executive team talking candidly about themselves and their passion for helping customers can go a long way to appealing both to prospective clients and to your own employees.” 
  • E-Newsletter – “A monthly update to prospects, customers, and employees delivered directly to their email inboxes.” 
  • • Blog – “Like an electronic newsletter, but posted online to be publicly available and searchable by Google. Ideally suited to consistently share insights and ideas with prospects and customers.” (This will also increase awareness of components in general.)
  • Testimonials – “Testimonials are public tributes to you and your company made by customers in any form – text, audio, or video – they are extremely powerful.” (This goes a long way for customers, makes current employees feel good about what they have helped to accomplish, and tells potential employees they can look forward to working for a successful business if they are hired. According to Jobvite’s Job Seeker Nation Survey, 42 percent of American’s shape their identity based on the job they perform or company they work for. Meaning people like to feel good about what they do.)
  • Content in Spanish – “Hispanics are the largest (minority) demographic in the country, one of the fastest growing, and the most entrepreneurial. Translating content on your website is an easy way to welcome Spanish-speaking visitors online.”

Building a Brand Through a Website

(Cost: $50-$350 per month. If you sell one custom job a year from a lead generated by your website it has paid for itself. Read “ROI on your WWW” for more information.)

The first step Trussway took was to make their website echo their brand. To highlight their serving culture, they used pictures of their production shop and of families moving into new homes to demonstrate their promise of high intensity customer service. They also made the website clean and easy to navigate. However, the most important thing they did was create a Spanish version of their website. This was extremely powerful, considering Hispanics are one of the fastest growing and most entrepreneurial demographics in the United States – not to mention Spanish speakers comprise the majority of Trussway’s production workforce.  

Rebranding their website did two things for Trussway. First, they improved communication with their current Spanish-speaking employees. Second, they are able to show Spanish-speaking customers and job applicants that they are valued at Trussway. Additionally, Trussway is working to subtitle all their videos in Spanish or in English, depending on the language of the video. This guarantees all their current and potential customers and employees have access to their messaging. They also added a careers page to their website, making it easier to apply for a job. Trussway's proactive work in these areas established the company's main focus—their brand—is caring for their employees and customers. 

Through this work, Trussway also answered Michael's question of why anyone should care about trusses. “Trusses account for a small percentage of a project build, yet, if not designed and manufactured well, could mean real problems for the builder. Trusses are more than just wood and plates. When designed and built well, they can reduce noise and make the occupant experience more comfortable, help keep occupancy rates high and revenues flowing for builder/owners,” explains Michael. “In our work to reshape the Trussway brand and value proposition, we bubbled to the surface the idea that trusses truly matter, and we started integrating that into our messaging. Hence, the hashtag #trussesmatter was born. We use it on our social media activities as a way to generate awareness, and we have created a blog around it called Rough Openings.”

Building a Brand Through a Social Media

(Free to post on social media, but there is some cost in paying an employee to do the posting. Again the return is greater than the investment.)

Social media is the largest free marketing tool at your company’s fingertips. A study by Pew Research Center shows that 72 percent of American adults have a social media account. This means that a small investment of time in this important marketing tool will elevate your brand awareness. Consider a few important areas where you can experience a return on the time invested in posting all of the great things your company is already doing: sales leads, workforce development, and employee relations. Other businesses and potential customers cannot partner with you or buy your products if they do not know you exist. Likewise, job seekers cannot apply if they do not know about your company or the positions available. 

Getting your brand in front of homeowners and individuals who may work for general contractors, framers, or builders will give your company more exposure. Social media can also be used to entice current customers with new products or ideas and to funnel new customers to your website where they can get a quote or request information. It is also an extension of word of mouth and a great way to communicate with your current employees. 

“The main reason we started exploring social media and revamping our website and our brand was really to improve communications with our employees,” says Jeff. “We realized that most of our employees already have social media accounts and that this would be a great way to reach them and celebrate them.” 

“The key is solid messaging and a core, steady audience you are trying to reach,” says Michael. “As we amp up our marketing and communication efforts, we are encouraging our customers, potential customers, suppliers, and employees to join us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.” Since its inception, Trussway’s social media campaign has consisted of COVID-19 messaging, posts directed to employees about weather issues that might prohibit them from coming to work, holiday celebration posts, job postings, and posts that reflect current events. For example, they posted reminding all their employees and customers that Trussway “celebrates the right to free speech and to peacefully speak out against racism and inequality. It is not our goal to be political in any way. It is our goal to make sure that our customers and employees know that we celebrate and appreciate all of the many cultures and colors that make us 1,000 associates strong – bringing unique skills, abilities, and personalities that make Trussway a wonderful and dynamic place to work.” 

In addition to showing their current employees and customers they are valued, Trussway’s social media posts are also showing prospective customers and potential employees that if and when they become a customer or employee of Trussway, they will be valued as well. 

Best practices for posting on social media

  • Products/Projects – Sharing photos of jobs you have delivered or have packaged for delivery can go a long way. Try tagging your customer and thanking them for their business. You can also tag your sales representative who sold the job and give them some kudos. Maybe even tag the design team that worked on it and the builder. The more people you include in your post, the more it emphasizes the sense of teamwork, making those you tag more likely to share your post, gaining more exposure for your company. You are already taking photos to ensure your product was built correctly, and again at the jobsite to ensure it was delivered safely. Put those pictures to use!
  • Celebrations – Celebrating employees builds a positive company culture and lets potential employees know they will be valued. Likewise, thanking your customers and suppliers can go a long way. 
  • Testimonials – Posting a video or written testimonial from a customer entices new customers, makes your current employees feel good about their performance, and shows potential employees your company is good at and cares about what they do. 
  • Job Openings – More than a third of people have learned about a job through social media and 72 percent of people have a social media account. Post your job openings on social media and ask your current employees to like or share the post to increase the chance of a job seeker seeing it. 
  • Employee Messages – Although this should not be your only source of communicating with your employees (and should never include information you do not want shared publicly), it is a good idea to do this as well. Since most people already use social media, this is just one more reminder or place for them to see it. 
  • Holiday Celebrations – Wishing your employees and customers a happy holiday via social media shows them you care. 
  • Campaigns – If you are rolling out a new product, service, or initiative in your company, this is a good way to let your customers, employees, and potential employees know. 
  • Messages from Company Leadership – Anytime an executive shares a message with employees or customers it is powerful – posting these on social media keeps your employees, customers, and potential employees in the know and allows them to hear straight from the source. 
  • Newsletter and/or Blog – Keeps your customers, current employees, and potential employees updated on your business. 

Branding Bottom Line

In 2020 and beyond, it is imperative to utilize your company’s website and social media to elevate your brand by marketing your core values. The perception of your brand in your market is what gets customers, prospects, and job seekers in the “proverbial door”—in this case, clicking on your post or visiting your website. If your company is good at communicating its brand, the hard part is done. You already have that lead hooked or job seeker interested. Now all you have to do is deliver the brand you promised. 

For more on how and what to post, visit the Component Marketing Toolbox for guidance documents on the importance of having both an effective website and social media presence. To hear more from Jeff and Mike on this topic, listen to SBCA’s webinar, “Building a Brand in the Digital Age: The Why & How.”  

About the Author: Ashley Stroder collaborates with CMs and suppliers to cultivate positive and productive solutions to pain points in the structural building components industry.