Human connection has taken a front seat as we all distanced ourselves from friends, family, work, and daily life during the pandemic. This condition makes the concept of returning to “business as usual” a bit … well, unusual. The idea of putting a face on your business and connecting with customers and prospects on a more personal level is going to be more important than ever. So how do you shift your culture to offer more of a human touch? How do you “talk” to your customers through marketing?
1) It’s About the People
For starters, people want to do business with people, not companies. Let’s start with your website. Is it just a bunch of words? Stock photos of homes? Chances are, part of your success is due to your people. Your team. They are the ones who sell your products and services and form relationships with customers. Put a face on your business. Feature your employees from your top executives down to the ever-important admin staff on your website. Tell your customers about them through a bio that personalizes and humanizes each individual, not just a job title.
2) Press the Video Button
Video is one of the most powerful tools for achieving human connection with your customers, prospects, and partners. You don’t need fancy, high-quality, high-cost video to make an impact. All you need is a steady hand and one of today’s smart phones to grab a few quick clips of your employees or customers talking on camera about what makes your business different. Video testimonials from past customers can be incredibly powerful tools for obtaining new customers. Share a virtual walkthrough of past projects—both homes and communities - that share the details and quality of your work.
3) Show Your Problem-Solving Case Studies
There’s an old adage that marketing is designed to solve problems. So take a step back. What problem do your customers have that you’re trying to solve? There can be design challenges, budget challenges, unusual space and function requirements. No matter what your customers’ needs are, your marketing should tell them why you’re the one to provide the solutions. This is that human connection. Talk directly to them about their issues. Be specific. Share real-life examples of how you’ve solved past customers’ problems.
4) Network With Past Clients
Let’s talk about this idea of re-connecting with customers, both past and present. Construction is not a one-and-done industry. Your past customers are an incredibly valuable asset to you. People move. Children grow up and build homes of their own. Families expand. And let’s not forget about past clients as an important source of referrals. So staying top-of-mind is critical to being in the right place at the right time for new business. One great tool for communicating with your customers, both past, present, and potential, is through a newsletter.
Two ways I encourage clients to humanize a newsletter:
1) Share an example of how you solved a real-world customer problem
2) Give away a little bit of your “secret sauce.”
Let’s take multi-generational housing for example. It’s a hot topic and in-demand industry these days. Do you have a customer you recently designed or built a new space for to accommodate additional or aging family members? Share that story, including the people, the project and photos in your newsletter. Talk about the problem and how you created a solution that worked. People connect with other people’s stories. Your intellectual capital is the knowledge you’ve gained in your years of experience. What sets you apart from your competitors? Is it your design team? Unique financing solutions? Quality materials or contractors? If so, don’t be afraid to put that out there in detail. It may be your competitive advantage but it’s also the one thing that could put you over the edge with customers who are shopping for a builder.
5) Use the Right Tone
Finally, the language you use in your marketing is key to humanizing your brand. Don’t talk like a brand. Talk like a friend. Use a conversational tone (like I’m using here). At the end of the day, building a home is an emotional process as much as it is a logistical or financial one. Don’t be afraid to address those emotions of uncertainty, excitement, apprehension, and indecision by using your marketing to create more of a human connection.
AJ Beson is the owner of Beson4, an advertising and digital marketing firm that specializes in the building industry and merges creativity and strategy to help clients increase brand awareness and set and achieve measurable sales and marketing goals. He serves on the board of the Northeast Florida Builders Association.