Construction pros consider new media

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As management supervisor at marketing agency Eric Mower & Associates, Donna Ricciardi focuses on clients in the building and construction markets, such as electrical wiring device supplier Pass & Seymour/Legrand. BtoB recently spoke to Ricciardi about best practices for marketing to construction professionals. BtoB: What trends are you seeing among manufacturers trying to reach this audience? Ricciardi: In this down cycle, our manufacturing clients are really looking to maximize their communications budgets. In a lot of cases, marketing's being cut, head count is being cut and they understand how tight it is for their customers—the sales channel of distribution down to the end user installing the pieces and parts of a building. What that has translated into is “OK, print advertising—yes we need still to do it, but we're doing it on a reduced scale. We want to leverage our dollars through digital marketing.” And so people are trying new things. It's interesting because they're looking at it as maximizing budgets, but it's really starting to sync up with behavioral patterns of their audience. BtoB: What newer channels are marketers trying? Ricciardi: Many people say electrical contractors, or plumbers or HVAC technicians aren't looking at Internet [during business hours], and that may be true. But now there are so many vehicles that they have adopted—like iPods and iPhones, for example—so you can use those for demonstrations. You can take it out to them or send it to them. Video is hot—anything we can demonstrate, anything we can communicate visually, quickly, succinctly, and show it in action. Show me the application; how does it work? A lot of times what's happening is a sales force might be going out. They'll go to the job site, bring an iPod with a speaker attached to it and they can talk to people during the coffee break or during a safety talk and show them how their product will improve productivity. Our clients are also coming to us and asking more about podcasts. They're just getting their feet wet on any kind of social media. They're not quite embracing it, but they're getting ready to embrace it. It's important for us as advertisers to pay attention to who our audience is. The younger demographic is used to being marketed to this way because of the way they were raised. Now when they transition to the job site, they bring that technology to the job site with them, and they're converting some of the other guys.
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