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Marketing Corner: Building Your New Marketing Program

Q&A WITH NORTHERN CONCRETE

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Leveraging digital media and relationships may be about as far from your mindset as a concrete contractor as is venturing into new market such as high-rise core construction. The complex world of Google, Yahoo, facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, instagram, Pinterest and a host of others has for many turned competent and savvy business minds away from what is potentially the most significant frontier for your business.

Consider this, today’s Millennium generation is learning at breakneck pace and is applying their skills at any moment in a multiplicity of ways. In order to reach them and reach them effectively, your company must begin to consider the best ways to make your information both relevant and convenient. Starting now can make a significant impact on both the learning curve and the leadership that you evidence to the industry.

The real problem, however, is that like any business model modification, there are great risks at stake. Risks that involve hiring new staff or identifying staff resources that can be reallocated or redirected. Risks that consist of what information should you present, how much information should you offer and who should you be targeting. These are not uncommon to any other business element that you have investigated in the past, they just become perceptibly uncomfortable due to how big the environment for decision making is and how seemingly uncontrolled the audience may be.

In this edition’s look at current marketing strategies, CFA Managing Director, Jim Baty sits down with Matt Kapinos of Northern Concrete to take a look at their digital marketing program and the use of effective monthly email newsletters.

Their ‘Solid Process. Solid Results.’ newsletter is a strong collection of industry news, feedback on influences affecting their market and often a dose of light-heartedness that helps their customers become more engaged with them as an information resource.

CFA: Good afternoon, Matt. Thanks for taking the time to discuss some of these questions I have for our readers about your monthly electronic newsletter. I’m really enjoying receiving this each month.

Matt: Thanks for the opportunity. I’m glad you like the newsletter. It has been a fun product for us to pursue as we look for new ways to create lasting relationships and reliability for our customers.

CFA: How long has your company been producing an electronic monthly newsletter?

Matt: We started early last year, but were fairly intermittent. I have committed to one per month to the commercial, agricultural, and residential market segments, and one to anyone related to education to help promote careers in construction. This means I’m now producing four newsletters so in a pretty short timeframe we have identified the effectiveness of this communication tool to our markets.

CFA: That is fantastic. I’m surprised by the big jump in commitment your company has made. Before going electronic, were you producing any kind of a printed newsletter or other regular communication?

Matt: No, not to my knowledge. We had never really spent much time thinking about communicating on a regular basis to our potential market and active customer base related to areas of interest and things our company is doing.

CFA: With four separate newsletters across those markets, there must be variation in the recipients and the distribution of your information. How would you describe the distribution list that receives your communication (i.e. regional size, customer demographics, etc.)?

Matt: Yes, to say the least. Our residential market is northeast Wisconsin. That consists of about 230 recipients and is comprised primarily of residential builders. The commercial market for us is primarily Wisconsin and perhaps a few outside the state. This group again consists of about 230, including design build firms, general contractors, architects, etc. Our agricultural market consists primarily of dairy producers in northeast Wisconsin. There are some key contacts from around the state as well and that list has about 250 recipients. Our educational market is small, but growing at about 75 recipients. Here we focus on including technical education instructors, teachers, administrators etc.

CFA: That is quite a variety and yet surprising similarities between the different markets and the size of the respective customer bases. I would imagine it has taken a fair amount of time to develop them. I’m curious for our readers if you have any examples of good feedback you have received from anyone receiving the product?

Matt: We have had great feedback from the educators. They like that someone is interested in promoting non-college careers as a viable choice for young people. That newsletter offers them a chance to look inside our market and identify skill sets and employment needs of the market we serve. Regarding our residential product, we have had at least one builder request a quote from our email marketing, a potential customer we had not been doing business with prior to identifying them through this marketing effort.

CFA: Would you say the responses indicate your information appears safe and of interest to your readership?

Matt: Definitely. We try to use it less as a direct call to action…a “send us your project to bid” piece, and more as a subtle reminder of our company. That is why very little of the content says BUY FROM US. We work hard to keep more information related to the industry, the economy in general, trends, current events, and usually a little something funny at the end just to leave people with a smile.

CFA: Yes, we had a good laugh ourselves when your last issue provided tweets about cold weather from #PolarVortex. One of my favorites…”@JohnnyWalsh – It’s so cold outside, my hearing aids didn’t start this morning.”

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CFA: Do you have a particular story of a relationship improved or a customer gained from these communications?

Matt: We’re still working on that builder I just mentioned but otherwise, no, not directly. I can tell you that our open rates—the percentage of people we send to who open our emails– is typically high 30s into the 40’s. Being that we just started in earnest in the last couple of months, I would say I hope to have some better examples of this type of thing next year about this time.

CFA: Okay, Matt, the big question really is, how much staff time would you estimate you have in this monthly communication product?

Matt: Obviously, we have committed to this type of marketing and this effort to produce a great deal of information to our key markets. I would say we probably have a good 10-12 hours per month in producing four of these newsletters. I am getting faster and more efficient. I would say that will come down.

CFA: That really isn’t that bad at all, at least not from my perspective. It helps that you are accessing and organizing thoughts from other resources and pulling together information that may be quite scattered. Matt, thanks so much for spending some time with us and most importantly, for stepping out and providing this leadership effort for other companies across the residential market.

Matt: My pleasure. Thanks for asking us about our product. It is good to interface with readers and we like networking with other companies, particularly those relationships we have begun to find in your Association. In case anyone is interested, MyMarketingCafe.com did an article on our digital/social media footprint that we were pretty pleased with. Access it at http://www.mymarketingcafe.com/ digital-marketing-success-how-oneconcrete- company-does-it/

CFA: Super. We’ll enjoy taking a look and when this article hits our website, that link will be active for anyone to visit the online version of Concrete Facts found at www. cfawalls.org for a quicker way to get to the information as well as returning to the information when it becomes of interest as a reminder.

Northern Concrete maintains a weekly blog on their site accessible directly from http://www.northernconcreteinc. com/blog/. You can get a feel for where a lot of their content comes from and begin to identify ways of integrating a similar solution into your business. CFA members can check out a new discussion thread in our LinkedIn ‘CFA Members’ group where we will be finding out more from others testing the waters or maturing in their approach to digital marketing.

Does your company have a monthly newsletter? Is it in print or electronic? Would you like to share some of the insights you’ve gained from initiating such an effort? We’d like to chat with you about it and make it an opportunity for others in this professional network to learn from as well.

Contact Information:
Jim Baty, CFA Managing Director, jbaty@cfawalls.org | 866-232-9255
Matt Kapinos, Northern Concrete, mattk@northernconcreteinc.com | 920-863-3043 x223

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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