For the past 6 years, I’ve been leading marketing teams in the construction industry with HCSS and I Build America, Ruckit, and now at BuildWitt Media Group, and I’ve had the pleasure of building or reviewing literally hundreds of construction websites. One of my favorite tasks was teaching a Marketing 101 course on websites at the HCSS Users’ Group Meetings with Skyler Moss, now VP of Digital Marketing at Randstad USA. Skyler and I would teach basic principles for building a good website, and then we would review all of the websites for each of the class participants and offer suggestions. Every year, we would have repeat attendees who were proud to return to class so they could show all of the improvements they had made to their sites.
The past few months, I’ve been working with Aaron Witt and a team of hand-picked marketing experts at BuildWitt Media Group. We have been building websites for four of our early customers, and we have a backlog of websites waiting for us to start. We recently launched the new BuildWitt website, and we went live with a new website for RAWSO Constructors in Murfreesboro, TN.
All of this has given me a unique perspective on what works and doesn’t work for a construction website. Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing my helpful tips and lessons learned as I continue working with construction companies to create or improve their websites.
The Missing Ingredient in Most Construction Websites
Construction is an exciting industry with great companies and happy employees getting good pay, benefits, and a sense of achievement building the infrastructure for America. But most construction websites don’t show that well. The reason they don’t is that most websites are missing an important ingredient–telling a story! If I had to pick just one improvement for everyone about their websites, it would be to add more stories. Or preferably, add more stories with great pictures to help tell the story.
Why more stories? Think back to a time when you’ve been sitting in church, in school, or at a big conference listening to a speaker for an hour. The speaker typically had a purpose in mind, and they would talk and lecture about this purpose. Your mind would likely drift in and out, even if you were interested in the topic as it is difficult to concentrate for that long. But what happens when the speaker stops lecturing and begins to tell you a personal or funny story from their past. Most of us immediately perk up, even subconsciously, and we may even sit up in our seats as we are now interested in listening. And we not only listen, we want to hear the details of the story and find out what happens. A few days later, most of us will forget almost everything in the lecture, but we tend to remember the stories.
If you want to know more, google the “science of storytelling” and read more about it or watch some of the TED talks. It’s interesting how our brains work. The bottom line is that our brains become more active when we are listening to stories, and we are better able to understand the cause and effect of what we are hearing.
How to Add Stories to a Construction Website
Most of you probably believe me about the value of storytelling, but it may not be obvious how to do this well in a construction website. Let me give you a few areas and examples of where I would add stories to your website.
About Us Section
The About Us or Company section is an important part of your website. If you have analytics where you can measure traffic, I would guess that this is in the top 5 of the most visited pages on your site. Why? Because people want to know the story of how your company was created. It gives them context so they understand your business. I’ve found that most companies have very interesting stories about how they were started, and how they’ve grown often through multiple generations, but most do a very poor job of telling this story.
A company that tells a great About Us story is Sundt Construction in Arizona. They have an interesting history, with incredible projects like moving the historic London Bridge and rebuilding it in Lake Havasu, AZ. I read about that project 5 years ago, but I still remember it as part of their unique story.
One of the primary reasons for a construction website is to attract prospective employees, and the Careers page is usually in the top 3 of most visited pages. You want prospects to understand what a great place your company is to work, so tell a story or multiple stories on this page. Keaton Turner, President at Turner Mining Group, is one of the best I’ve seen at this. Check out his story below that he posted on LinkedIn about one of his employees.
Keaton has an amazing track record of attracting new employees through his website and social postings. He has built a great company, which helps, but he’s an awesome recruiter because of his ability to tell a story. Now that he and Aaron are working together, he has some amazing pictures to go along with his stories.
I don’t think I’ve seen many construction websites that don’t have a projects page where companies can proudly show their work. It’s one of the easiest areas to show vs. tell how good of a company you are by highlighting the projects you’ve completed. The best companies, though, add an element of story to this page. We helped RAWSO Constructors add a story to all of their project pages on their new website.
Another page common to construction company websites is the Safety page. Safety is an important concern to every company, so this is understandable. If I’m a new employee researching a job at your company, it would be one of the pages I visit.
However, most companies do a very poor job on this page. They may explain that safety is paramount to their company, or use other big words, or they’ll showcase their safety slogan or acronym they’ve given to employees. None of this is bad, but they are not as effective as telling stories.
Achen-Gardner Construction, based in Chandler, AZ does a great job of talking about their safety program by telling the story of their Safety Manager, Cesar Martinez. They even use video to tell the story.
Although this article is about telling stories on your websites, another great place to tell stories is on your social media accounts. You can always add a feed from your social accounts on your website so that you kill two birds with one stone.
Most construction companies use social media very poorly, which is why demand for our services at BuildWitt Media Group is growing quickly. We help companies improve their ability to tell stories on social media and we provide great photography to go along with it. Another one of our early customers, LB3 Enterprises is doing a fantastic job with their Instagram account to tell stories about their company, employees, and projects.
Take a look at your website and see if you are doing a good job of storytelling. If not, you are missing the secret ingredient to a successful website.
Tune in over the coming weeks as I share more tips and lessons about construction websites. To get each one delivered to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter at buildwittstag.wpengine.com.
If you have questions or comments, feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.