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MARKETING SPOTLIGHT: E-Marketing To Your Market

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AN INTERVIEW WITH JASON ELLS ABOUT CUSTOM CONCRETE’S “THE CONCRETE POST”

By James Baty
CFA Executive Director

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges today is finding the right combination of message and vehicles to reach your customers and elevate your company above the competition. There is no doubt you’ve thought of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google and many other popular social media outlets to test the water in your ability to market. How about your website? What look and message does it convey to a generation of owners quickly moving toward the label of “seekers?” These persons will use every bit of information at their disposal…from the Internet…to make their decision. Then, to most of us in today’s business world there is the never-ending barrage of email. While it might be suggested that email is overused and over-burdening to business today, it remains one of the most effective ways to achieve a wide variety of goals in one well-organized and strategic move.

I was able to connect recently with Jason Ells, Executive Director of Operations for Custom Concrete in Westfield, Indiana and garner a few minutes from his busy schedule to find out more about their e-marketing or electronic newsletter. It is titled ‘The Concrete Post’ and offers a wide variety of interests and topics conveyed to their market. A sample of their most recent edition is shown to the right.

James: Jason, that was a great-looking e-marketing piece distributed by your company recently. How long have you been producing and distributing an e-marketing piece like ‘The Concrete Post’?

Jason: We launched it in 2014, in conjunction with an updated website.

James: Rolling out a new website and a new communication vehicle at the same time had to be challenging. Did you look at the e-marketing as being purposed to drive people to the new site?

Jason: The email marketing is a small part of our overall strategy that integrates our website and social media efforts as well. The email efforts push people to our website to read our blog etc. and we have noticed a significant uptick in contacts and queries (via Google Analytic) through our website as a result.

James: It does have a great look and organized feel to it. I’m curious about your focus. Do you specifically target markets or demographics with your e-marketing content or do you produce single content to all that are subscribed to your distribution?

Jason: At this point, we are sending this e-marketing piece to both our external and internal audiences, across all verticals/industries.

James: I suspect that is challenging enough in the frenetic pace of today’s concrete industry to get one well-done piece out much less consider varying a message to the type of customer or subscriber. I’m always curious about the response that these pieces receive. How often would you say a customer or a potential customer mentions an e-marketing piece that they’ve seen from you recently?

Jason: We receive comments regularly; more importantly, we utilize a very cost effective e-marketing platform (www.MailChimp.com) that allows us to track open and click rates. The last email blast we sent out had a 38.5% open rate, well above the 22% industry standard.

James: That is certainly impressive and I would imagine it is largely related to finding the right content, the right trigger initially to get someone to interact with the piece. Personally, I found the photo contest a very creative interaction with your audience. Do you get many submittals from it?

Jason: Yes! It’s really created some engagement and friendly competition among staff.

James: Competition among staff can be very beneficial. It is easy for us to become complacent in the business roles we have. I certainly see that sort of impactful competition in the growing submittals to the CFA Projects of the Year competition (See article here). What would you say is the number one thing you’ve learned about your company in the undertaking of an e-marketing campaign?

Jason: We discovered that you have to find something that really engages them, not just pushes out information that you believe they need to know. Learning how to uncover that or really step outside of ourselves to determine what information will do that has been our biggest learning curve.

James: Ah yes, the learning curve. I believe this is the one thing that most keeps companies from getting involved in some of the technology that defines best business practices today; the reason why there are so few current or updated websites, social media engagements and even e-marketing efforts like this. Attacking the learning curve then might be suggested the biggest factor in differentiating yourself from competitors. What might be a word of advice you’d offer to companies considering e-marketing or perhaps even those opposed to spending the time implementing a campaign?

Jason: The bottom line is … well, the bottom line. We are ultimately using e-marketing as a means to generate leads and sales. A website should really act as one of your best sales people … when you think of it that way … a $5 – $10K investment and another $10K annually to maintain, update, and manage social media … versus another sales person, the ROI is exceedingly reasonable for the reach you are receiving. That said, you need to have a solid foundation of a strong website with regularly updated content.

James: This is all very impressive and I very much enjoy the content that your company brings out in each issue of ‘The Concrete Post.’ I also found the name to have a great feel. Excellent job and I look forward to future editions and seeing how this generates even greater leadership for your team.

While e-marketing can be a scary proposition, even some of the concepts that Jason describes about learning your customers and finding the right messages, it continues to be seen as a powerful tool for business today. You have to be different, you have to be branded with consistency and maintain your integrity. All of these vehicles permit ways to demonstrate the consistency in your message and integrity. The balance found in the ROI of comparing an additional personality on your sales team to vehicles that all existing sales and operation team members can participate and multiply themselves is a difficult task to undertake.

Let me encourage your company leadership to be consider what the network of the Concrete Foundations Association can do to move that forward. Professional peers like Jason find great energy in sharing strategies and conveying both success and failure to make your progress more efficient and effective. They are confident in finding the same from you in other areas. Attend CFA Convention 2015 and get to know this powerful business tool for today and tomorrow that is the Concrete Foundations Association.

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us