Working with General Contractorsin the Industrial Construction Market

This is part of a comprehensive report seeking to help industrial construction marketers create a much-needed new playbook to do just that with their brands in an ever-increasing competitive landscape. For more information, including the complete report, contact: info@a-i-m.com.  _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In this “industrial” market in our dataset, there are 207 general contractors, none of which control more than 7% of the market of industrial projects we are looking at. In fact, 14 GCs control over 50% of these projects in terms of valuations, meaning 193 control the other half. Which half should you target?

Who you aim at depends on what you are selling!

We selected one  (Windsor Commercial) of the “193 “other” contractors from Chart Two at random to demonstrate what we mean by establishing a relationship with a GC. For a complete list of the 207 General Contractors from this report, contact jnowak@a-i-m.com.

Windsor Commercial

It all starts (as everything else) with your investigation into who the GC is by examining the company’s website.

Founded in 2003, Windsor Commercial has completed projects throughout the Triad, North Carolina and multiple southeastern states. Most websites give you everything you need to shape your contact strategy to establish the relationship, and Windsor’s is no different.

In this case, we used this GC to show you what we mean by a close examination of a website. Close examinations are very important. Most people skim a website; when you are deciding whether or not to invest your time to pursue a company as a lead, we highly recommend you TAKE YOUR TIME reading the website.

Also, keep in mind that this CONTENT STRATEGY outlined below is an example of your playbook on any category – owner, architect, GC or other. Because your CONTENT STRATEGY is actually HOW you will build your relationship with a targeted company.

Content Strategy

In order to build relationships, you need a Content Strategy. A Content Strategy is comprised of the ideas you will be presenting in your marketing tactics to break through the clutter and differentiate yourself from competitors. Strategy is defined as anticipating, reacting and adapting.

Fact: no one will listen to you if all you can say is that you have a better widget.

Why? Because everyone claims they have better widgets!

Your targets are bombarded with the same message day in, day out from your competitors. There are over 3,000 messages like the following that go into my own spam folder each week:

  • Not sure your current security stack has got you fully covered? Blackpoint Cyber answers that question for you.
  • Zonda’s Future Place explores the future of master plan communities and provides expert insight on how global economic dynamics, the evolving workplace, and leading-edge innovations will reshape the places of tomorrow.
  • Water pump expert – micro brushless DC water pumps since 2009 in Shenzhen, China. Perfect water pump solution for water circulating system, green wall, indoor and outdoor plant, SPA and pond, fountain project

We monitor the efforts of many companies, and as you will admit to yourself, after a little while, messages blur. They start sounding so much alike after a bit and so you tune them out.

In order to break through clutter, you must be relevant!

The only way to succeed is to differentiate in what you tell your targets. You need to be a provider of knowledge – offering insights into how they can be more effective at THEIR jobs.

Always remember – It’s never about you. It’s about them.

Use your own experience in working on projects to shine a light on areas of your expertise that is different from competitors. Talk about a problem you solved that saved money, time, or both. For GCs, perhaps articulating why your products never have callbacks is the key. Examine all possible benefits with your team to draw up the list, then shape them into messages.

But how can you do all this when you don’t even know the target yet?

Just start doing it!

Begin with the target’s website which contains everything you need to know to get started.

Keep in mind, websites only talk about what companies are proud of! So read the website carefully, because beneath those positive stories lurk negative ones that will help you find the angle you need to use to capture their attention. Let’s return to Windsor Commercial to illustrate. And remember, this is NOT criticism. It is analysis.

Website Analysis

Most websites contain ABOUT sections. Read them. In the case of Windsor Commercial, ABOUT has two drop downs: OUR VALUES and OUR TEAM.

Words have been and always will be important, and those two dropdowns tell you a lot before you even click them: this is a company that is inwardly focused and not outwardly toward their customers. It’s

major mistake that many companies make. Why? And how do we know that?

First, it’s easier to talk about yourself rather than your customers. (Believe it or not, many companies are fearful their competitors will steal their customers if they talk about them.) Second, it’s always evident in the words that are selected.

In the case of Windsor, this inward focus is your clue to get in front of them by learning about THEIR customers. An inwardly focused company doesn’t probably spend much time learning about their customers – and that is an opening to connect.

Those dropdown links are a tipoff: because of the word “Our.” That word makes the link redundant. It’s Windsor’s website – who else’s values and team would we be talking about?

Some of you will say: it’s only one word, what’s the big deal. It is only one word, but words accumulate in the human brain and consciously or unconsciously they affect the way you think about a company, a person. Most people don’t even notice this redundancy, but you should when studying a website.

It is a clue – and accumulating clues like this one can help reveal more clues about how best to approach this company. The words they chose to use on their website are a hint into their thinking – and you have to get inside their heads in order to build a successful content strategy. (Note we are not suggesting you call them and ask them why they used the word “our.” We are suggesting that you note it as part of the background you are gathering to create the approach to use with them. This isn’t a critique of the website; it’s an observation being made as you get to know the company. You should do this with all websites you examine.)

Next, read the dropdowns. In the OUR VALUES page, you read the headline:

“Windsor Commercial approaches every project with the same foundation for success.”

What does that mean? Would another contractor say something else? What does “foundation for success” really mean? People really don’t read things like this, they skip over them. But if you are going to connect with Windsor, YOU HAVE TO READ IT.

For example, you call up someone you’ve targeted at Windsor and you open with: “Listen, I wanted to speak to you about some of the commercial projects you are working on but before I do that, I was wondering if you can help me understand something. I read on your website that you approach every project with what you term “foundation for success.” That’s interesting to me, and I think I would like to understand it, so I was wondering if you would take a moment to explain it.”

Who can resist speaking to you when you open like that? You might even get a response as we did for another company when we asked that question: “You know, I don’t really know what that means, and I’ve been around here for five years.” This led to a terrific conversation and opportunity for our client.

On that same page, the company uses the following:

  • The word “we” 9 times
  • The word “our” 4 times
  • The word “you” is never used

There are only 136 words on the page and 10 percent of them are “me” words. That’s another tell on their inward focus, but not one to share with them right now when you begin your contact strategy. Instead, you keep it in mind for “future use.” You use this information to “shape” your approach with them, to bring them outward – to convince them that you know more about their customers than they do.

If you read the sentences, you are left with a sense of “so what” or “what does that mean?” For example, “We strive to create the best value for every project, whether it be maximizing time, materials or budget.” Or, “We focus on building connections and win-win outcomes with everyone we work with.”

Once again, every other GC in the dataset would be able to make those same statements, so where is the differentiation?

And by the way, that’s a natural conversation starter in a conversation with a target: “how do you differentiate your company from the other GCs you compete with?”

You may, at that point, decide you no longer want to pursue Windsor Commercial as a target. That’s OK, because there are plenty more GCs to select from.

However, we recommend to keep going because you really never know the value of a prospect until you have engaged with them in conversation.

Remember: we are not criticizing the website but using it to study in order to gain and shape our approach. We are examining for clues about what you will deal with if you begin the relationship, the same way you might look at a store to decide if you want to shop there.

If you continue on and click OUR TEAM, the same thing will happen as you review: you will gain more knowledge of your target.

In this case, we learn three people formed this company and before that, they had successful careers in homebuilding. As you read about them and make your connections and conclusions, you may find that you share something in their backgrounds with your own.

Perhaps you went to the same school. Perhaps you know people from companies they worked for. All of these threads are important to establishing the relationship, and you must weave these threads together BEFORE YOU MAKE THE FIRST CONTACT.

These blocks of copy about the people on the website were professionally written “press releases” about the individuals, and so they contain abundant information about the people, and their philosophies. STUDY THEM.

LinkedIn

Jumping to LinkedIn, you’ll find there are 27 employees from this company on the platform. Interestingly, only Buddy Seymour of the three executives from the discussion on OUR TEAM is on LinkedIn. The other 26 are employees within the company, including the Construction Manager, Superintendent, and more can also be found. They are ALL important in your assessment and content strategy development. Spending a little time reading about this isn’t wasted.

Use Google

If you Google Buddy Seymour President Windsor Commercial, and then click the “news,” you’ll see an item from the Davie County Enterprise Record, “If it works … more spec buildings on the way.” When you read the article, you get more clues for your strategy development, including the following:

A second partner was found closer to home. In 2019, Bill Junker, owner of Trailers of the East Coast, partnered with John Reece of Commercial Realty Advisors, Buddy Seymour, the president-manager of Windsor Commercial, and Louis DeJoy, president of LDJ Global Strategies, to establish the Davie Industrial Center. Located just off I-40 at Interstate and Gildan drives, the center opened the ability to attract larger clients. It leased a 324,000 SF space to Hayward Holdings in 2021.

But that’s the only news that is recent in 2022. August 19, 2021 was another, and 2018 the one before that. All, however, contain Seymour, who now seems to emerge as a key decision maker.

But that’s the only news that is recent in 2022. August 19, 2021 was another, and 2018 the one before that. All, however, contain Seymour, who now seems to emerge as a key decision maker.

Windsor’s COMPLETED PROJECTS are impressive that are on their website. EXAMINE THEM.

You have to do this with every potential target in order to make a go or no-go decision.

Whether or not you decide to pursue Windsor Commercial at this point will depend on your own product(s) and/or service(s).

Still another tactic in gathering clues is the examination of your target’s competitors. This gives you additional points of relevance in talking to a target.

Please explore the other parts of our industrial playbook report. If you have questions, contact jnowak@a-i-m.com.