Construction is an old industry. It is possible that agriculture is older, but at that point it becomes like the old line about the chicken and the egg. For as long as we can remember, we’ve been building things. We’ve built tents, stadiums, cars, and massive interstate systems. But the oldness of the industry does not mean that it is static.
The construction world has been innovating for millennia. As new tools have become available that increase productivity, lower costs, or enable higher quality products, construction leaders have eagerly sought them.
This innovation ought not be limited to simply the tools of production. The construction industry also needs to embrace tools that help them to communicate with their customers. There’s no reason to beat around the bush—I want to convince you that if you’re in the business of building things, you ought to have a website.
The reason you ought to have a website is because two matters have changed. First, the way that we communicate has changed. And second, our authority structures have changed. If you want to stay in communication with your potential customers and you want them to buy into what you’re selling (a house, perhaps), then a website goes a long way.
As of this year (2018), Millennials are the largest demographic segment at approximately 90 million people in the U.S. economy. It was estimated that Millennials would outspend Baby Boomers by 2017 and despite popular belief, Millennials are not opposed to buying homes (they’re just buying later than previous generations).
With that said, this short article assumes that businesses need to be considering the millennial consumer base when they are marketing. This does not mean, however, that the recommendations here are only meant to aid in marketing to millennials.
The ways that businesses have communicated with their customers have seen massive change over the past centuries. The early American colonist would do business by walking down the street to the butcher or the carpenter. He would tell the butcher what he wanted and the butcher would begin working on it. As time developed and more butchers moved into the area, competition could begin to develop. Eventually, selecting a butcher depended on asking friends for recommendations along with walking down the street and comparing prices.
Eventually more advanced methods of marketing developed—brochures and radio and TV ads. What is worth noting is that new ways of marketing have not replaced old ones. Some means of communication may have displaced the primacy of other means, but they continue to exist alongside one another.
The most important of recent developments in communication methods is the website. It has not removed the need for peer recommendations or brochures (or any number of former means of communicating with customers), but it has become foundational in communication. Likewise, businesses ought not abandon all other means of communicating, but they should ensure they have a website for communicating. The reason that I recommend websites as the foundational means of communication is because of how our authority structures have changed over the past years.
Authority structures are the subconscious framework that we use to make decisions or determine what is a wise course of action. Everyone has differences in their authority structures, but there are high-level patterns that can be observed and learned from. We can use the few examples from the last section to gain a better understanding of authority structures.
For example, when the American colonists would simply walk down the street (likely, after riding their horse into town) to the butcher or carpenter without trying to weigh their prices or offerings against other competitors, they are likely using an authority structure that doesn’t value (or, because of the smaller population, have room for) comparing prices or providers.
As the population grew and competitors emerged, authority structures changed. No longer was the choice of carpenter limited to one person (and thus, not a choice). Choices were made available and businesses had to differentiate themselves. I can’t say exactly what the operating authority structure would have been for the consumer, but I can posit a few: some may have been motivated in their decisions by what their religious teachers urged them to do, by what benefited their community, by what carpenter was recommended by their neighbor, or by which carpenter offered the best price. The authority structure is the internal framework that decides how to weigh these. Likely, most people would have cared about all of those characteristics, but the internal, subconscious authority structure is what would decide how they are valued. What do you do if your friends recommend a carpenter who has the best prices, but your priest urges you to give your business to another guy? Your authority structure kicks in at that point.
In this modern age, different authority structures are seen in the way that different people evaluate businesses. Those who value digital technology (many among older generations, but even more so within the “digital generation,” those of us who were raised with digital technology) are going to look at different characteristics to decide whether to do business with one provider over another. We will still seek out recommendations from friends, but we will also try and examine their online profile.
We trust that an online inspection into a company will tell us a couple things about them. First, if it is recently updated (that could mean an actual date somewhere or simply an updated style), we will know that the company is alive and active. Second, if it is a good-looking website, that will tell us that they have resources to put into their online profile. We don’t automatically go with those who have more resources, but we might be hesitant to make big purchases with companies who have little capital (because of the Great Recession, we’ve become cautious).
A website might create sales for you, but just as importantly, having a website might help you not lose sales. For many of us young folks, we might receive a recommendation from someone but before we spend too much money on the recommendation, we’ll go to the website to make sure we trust them. For us, having a bad website operates similarly to a store that is not kept well. Someone strolling by a store, initially interested, might turn away if the place looks a little unkempt.
This is not a rule. I can’t even give exact statistics about this (I looked), but in many cases (and especially with expensive construction projects), for those of us who are digital natives, the website is where we are going to look to verify a company before spending money with them.
Websites can be expensive. But they don’t need to be. And you don’t have to do it yourself in order for it to be affordable. We know the construction industry and know its needs. We know that your time is better spent offline. So, we want to help. We can offer affordable website development that fits your needs. But if our solution isn’t yours, that’s okay—just make sure that your website is ready to tell customers that you’re the person they should spend their money on.