Construction Companies in an Online Environment Essay
Construction Companies in an Online Environment
For a company to be viable online it must attract the consumer as well as present a viable market for the product being sold. When one thinks of a company that does business well online they may bring to mind businesses such as Amazon or Google. However there are many companies that provide a great product or service but fail to have an online presence that some of their top online competitors possess. One field that has an expansive online presence is the construction industry.
Many companies such as Thor Construction Inc. have gone the route of hiring a professional online market company to design their web site, while other much smaller companies have to design their online presence by what their budget will allow. Darrell Julian Construction out of Albuquerque, NM is a company that has a web site that could benefit from developing a different online strategy directed toward their target audience in the commercial and residential construction field.
It used to be that one would go to the yellow pages to find a contractor or rely on word of mouth to find a company for a construction project. According to the web site for Darrell Julian Construction (Darrell Julian Construction, Inc., 2007), the company was established in 1975, long before online marketing would have been a thought for Mr. Julian and his company. As the company grew and the industry began to have greater online prescience, Darrell Julian construction needed to take its service to the internet to increase their marketability and stay competitive with the other constructions companies in their target market. By doing this Darrell Julian’s company identified with what Swiply’s web site states that “the internet gives you a virtually unlimited platform on which you can distinguish yourself as an industry expert.” (Swipely, 2011)
In 2007 the web site darrelljulianconstuction.com was created to give this long established company a chance to compete in an online environment. The product and service that the company has to offer would be viable in an online market as the consumer would be able to see the buildings and the unique way that Darrell Julian’s company assembles the product. According to the web site the walls are designed at a panel plant located at their facility and then shipped to the job site for assembly as opposed to building everything at the job site.
This ability allows the workers to assemble precision wall panels and build large scale projects in a timely manner. Having these keywords in their online marketing allows the customer to search for a construction company that can supply the demand of large construction projects with a timely delivery. All of these aspects allow this company to get the word out to the online shopper that they can fill specific needs, however just having a web site in today’s market may not be enough to get the consumer to shop your product or service.
Darrell Julian’s web site is available simply by typing in Darrell Julian and then the search engine supplies the web site as one of the first listed on the page. So it is not a hard web site to find, if one knows the name of the business. However, if a person was to search for construction companies in Albuquerque, NM, that person would not see the name Darrell Julian anywhere on the first page. The customer searching for what Mr. Julian’s company has to offer would not have the opportunity to visit the web site because it is not available in a general search. For this site to be successful it must reach the people that are searching for it. The competition is out there and their goal is to reach the consumer first before they have the opportunity to shop around.
Some of the first sites that one sees when a search is done for construction companies in Albuquerque would be companies such as Jaynes Corporation, Gerald Martin General Contractor, and Hart Construction Inc. There are many other companies that appear on the first page of the search but a first glance these appear to be the more popular companies that consumers search for when trying to find a construction company. Jaynes Corporation is the first site that appears with a brief description after the companies’ name.
Jaynes Corporation is primarily a commercial construction company that offers competition to Darrell Julian Construction on a large scale. Their site shows many pictures of the projects that they have done as well as detailed descriptions as to what the project required. Some of the other positives of the web site are that they provide a complete company profile, press releases and news stories exemplifying their work as well as rewards, and links to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Some of the negative aspects of the site are that they do not talk about that construction process as much as one would think would be necessary to understand how the company adds to the value of their service with unique traits of their design. There is also not a place to find customer feedback on the site, be it good or bad so that a customer can relate to the other organization that have utilized Jaynes Corporation’s services.
Gerald Martin has a beautiful home page that entices the visitor with spectacular pictures of some of their greatest accomplishments in the field of commercial construction. Also on the home page are some of the company’s accreditations, with the graphic designs that those who understand the construction industry would recognize by site. As with the web site for Jaynes, this site offers many pictures of the company’s projects with a detailed description of the structure that was built. Also there is a link to read news briefs to allow one an insight into some of the inner workings of Gerald Martin and their accomplishments.
One of the negatives that could stand out to a visitor of the site would be that there are no links to social media sites. Again much like with Jaynes Corporation there are no testimonials on the site. There is not a place to go to view customer’s opinions of the company or the site. Another aspect that one might find is that there is not a place to compare how Gerald Martin stands apart from their competition giving the customer a way to eliminate other companies from their search.
One final site for comparison is Hart Construction located in the local Albuquerque area. The web site for this company has many of the same attributes as Darrel Julian’s web site. Upon first glance the site is not as professionally done as the other two companies that it is compared to above. The site does have quality pictures that show some of the jobs that the company has done but there are no descriptions as to what was done on the project, so one does not what aspects of construction the company can provide to their customers. One attribute that the site does offer, that differs from the others, is a reference page. They are not testimonials but they do give the potential customer the chance to contact other customers that have used the company for their projects. All of these sites differ vastly from Darrell Julian Construction with the exception of Hart Construction’s site, that allow for competition to provide a much more attractive online experience for persons searching for a quality contractor.
One aspect of online marketing that Darrell Julian’s web site could benefit from would be content marketing. According to Laura Lake from About.com “everyone is trying to sell, but those that can inform are more likely to get sales.” (Lake, L., n.d.) Though Darrell Julian’s site does show content that supports their service as well as descriptions of what the company can offer the customer, it does not go in depth enough to show the value added when choosing Darrell Julian Construction over one of their online competitors. The site lacks the ability to attract customers with up to date posts and information about the company. It also does not offer a way for the potential customer to feel that they are being enticed to choose Darrell Julian over a similar company that may have a more contemporary picture of their overall value.
The content of Jaynes Corporation’s web site offers a very appealing visual appeal as well as a multitude of opportunities to explore why hiring this company to do a job would be beneficial not only in quality but monetarily as well. The content of the web site is presented in such a manner that allows the viewer to navigate to where he or she would like to go to find relevant information. When one views Darrell Julian’s web site it is not as appealing nor is it as easy to navigate as some of their competitors. A company must stay relevant to stay in order to stay in competition with other competitors. If a site gives the viewer the sense that the content is not current, and that the company is not maintaining their web site, a person may be inclined to go elsewhere to search.
Another online marketing strategy Darrell Julian’s company would benefit from would be Web site optimization. As mentioned previously, the web site can be found when typing in the owner’s name, Darrell Julian. However, if one was to type in general construction keywords they would not be directed to Darrell Julian’s web site. Even though the title of the company does contain the word construction it would be much more beneficial to have the first word in the title be associated with the construction industry. A name like Construction Designs by Darrell Julian would allow the company a better chance of showing up on the first page of the search engines query. (Stokes, R., n.d.)
Optimization brings to mind ways to perform in a more proficient manner. For Darrell Julian’s web site to be more proficient for the customer it would have to be more readily accessible. One way to make a site more available to the person conducting the search would be to have links on web site that provide related products or services. If a relationship could be made with a site that provides land that is zoned for commercial construction a customer that was looking for land to build on would also come across Mr. Julian’s web site to provide their construction needs.
It is important to have positive aspects about ones company be the focus when a customer is searching for a product or service provided by a company. When Darrell Julian Construction is typed into a search the focal point of the search bring the eye directly to the web site, which is the first item on the page. However if the person searching for this particular web site scrolls down to mid page there is a link to a legal web page that brings up a law suit against the company from 1998. Though this is not a damaging claim it does bring questions to the consumer conducting the search as to whether or not they should continue to consider Darrell Julian Construction as a candidate for their business.
It would be much better for the company if news like this had to be searched for instead of on the same page as the link to the site itself. One strategy that would be useful here would to be diligent in creating enough web traffic via social media or other positive web sites that allows this information to fall back to other pages so that it is not the first thing that a customer sees. One could use sites like Squidoo, or a blog site such a sGoogle+ to create positive web traffic on a page.
Even though Darrell Julian’s web site does state what the business can do for the customer, it does not fully cover how the customer will benefit by choosing Darrell Julian Construction as its contractor. One strategy that keeps such things in mind is a shift in thinking, changing the focus from and upstream approach, looking at the product, to a downstream approach, focusing on the customer.
In Naraj Dawar’s Harvard Business Review article he states that “the strategic question that drives business today is not ‘What else can we make?’ but ‘What else can we do for our customers?”. (Dawar, N.,2013) Darrell Julian’s web site does a good job of talking about their expertise in panel plant construction and how that allows the company to build walls at their site and then ship them out to the build site. It does not go into great detail as to how this will benefit the customer financially as well as shorten the time line it will take to finish the product. All of these aspects of the business would be positives to a potential customer and should be brought out in more detail on the site in place that would be readily viewed by the consumer, such as the home page. With all of these strategies in mind one of the most beneficial strategies that Mr. Julian could incorporate into his web site would be the presence of social media.
It seems almost everyone is on social media sites these days from grandmothers posting pictures of their grandkids to businesses marketing their product with instant customer feedback and response. From Facebook to Twitter businesses are getting the message out that their product is superior over what their competition has to offer and invite customers that have used their company to spread the word that they approve of the product or service that they received. Jaynes Corporation is a perfect example of how the construction industry can reach those customers that may not directly search for their site by marketing on sites such as Facebook and Google Plus.
One of the advantages to sites such as Facebook is that customers can reach your web site through your Facebook page, or they can link to you Facebook though your direct web page. For example, if someone had used Darrell Julian Construction for one of their projects they may like your page on Facebook. Perhaps a potential customer may be friends with this individual and come across Darrell Julian’s web page via this form of marketing.
On the other hand a potential customer may be on Mr. Julian’s web site and wanting to read some testimonial of others experiences with his company so they click the link on the site and are directed to the companies Facebook page. There they will have the advantage of getting to know what type of a business they are looking into and how others felt about the service they received from Darrell Julian construction. By providing these opportunities for his customers Darrell Julian has the potential to expand his business web presence exponentially.
Another social media site that could be very useful to Darrell Julian’s company would be YouTube. This site allows the user to watch video’s of particular subjects that the viewer may be interested in through a search directly on the site, or by linking to the site via ones personal web page. One way that Darrell Julian may benefit from a site such as this would be to put links to some videos of his projects as they are being constructed in real time. Customers could click on the link and watch as a project unfolds, and to see the professionalism and craftsmanship that Mr. Julian speaks of in his web site.
Going back to a previous comment regarding marketing strategy, one of Darrell Julian’s trademark design aspects of the business is his panel plant design. If the links are set up correctly on the site a customer could have the opportunity to watch the panel plant process as it happens. This person would have the unique ability to visualize for themselves what the company is talking about in the site without ever having to leave the comfort of their office. There is also the testimonial piece of the marketing strategy. YouTube could allow for videos to be posted of customers talking about the excellent service and outstanding experience they had when dealing with Darrell Julian Construction. These sites are some of the more well know social media sites that most are familiar with, however blogs offer the company an opportunity to create a place for not only direct marketing by talking about the product, but indirectly by writing about experiences and interactions with customers.
Blogs come in many shapes and sizes, from social blogs to wikis, or podcasts. A blog can be set up easily by an individual and does not need the help of a professional to be appealing to person reading or writing in the blog. Another great attribute of the blog for the company that chooses to utilize that media is that it can be controlled. Unlike Facebook or Twitter one can set limits on who can access the blog to write comments, or give feedback. This is a safe way for a company to get the word out about their product without having to do too much damage control.
Darrell Julian Construction could expand their web presence by having a blog that customers could link to through the site. This would again allow the customer to read detailed descriptions of others experiences with the company as well as get to know Mr. Julian directly through his submissions to the site. Another positive aspect of the blog is that it can take a position on the first page of a search that someone may be conducting for Darrell Julian Construction allowing for a positive search and pushing negative aspects such as the lawsuit to a later page.
As a whole the online marketing plan that Darrell Julian Construction, Inc. set out to establish was a good start for the company. A web site that would market to their consumer base on the internet and allow them to stay competitive with other companies that provided similar services. When Darrell Julian set up his web site in 2007 there were many attributes to the site that would allow his company to remain competitive via the internet. On the site potential customers could find out what Darrell Julian Construction’s mission and vision is, as well as how the business operates. One can also find pictures and brief descriptions of some of the company’s top designs.
With that being said the site itself is not what some of Darrell Julian competitors has to offer their customers. One of Mr. Julian’s biggest competitors, Jaynes Corporation, offers their customer a visually appealing web site that has a multitude of high definition pictures as well as detailed description of their projects. In addition to the appeal of the web site, a customer can also link to the companies Facebook site, their Twitter site, as well as other social media sites that will allow the customer to gain better knowledge of whom they are doing business with.
If Darrell Julian wants his company to stay competitive in an online environment his web site will need to be updated with more content as to why the company is viable to the potential online customer. More detailed descriptions of Darrell Julian Constructions unique panel plant and how the plant will benefit the customer would be a useful addition to the site. More interactive images and detailed descriptions of jobs will allow a customer better access to information from the comfort of their personal computer.
Mr. Julian’s competition will most likely continue to update their sites as well as add content as it becomes apparent that it will help in their marketing strategy. For Mr. Julian to stay competitive his company will need to implement a plan to have someone within the company or a third party that will keep the content up-to-date and allow a competitive edge over the competition. Some of the aspects discussed above will help in allowing Mr. Julian’s company to be one of the first web sites a customer sees when they Google the word construction in Albuquerque, NM. One major change may just simply be changing the name of the site to include the actual word construction at the beginning of the name allowing the search to yield his web site by topic. These strategies that would to be implemented will allow a much better experience for the customer as well as the company as a whole.
Social media is everywhere and most people are going to social media to search for products or services before they will actually visit the company’s web site. Many will stumble across a company’s web site as a result doing other things on a social media site. Mr. Julian does have a Facebook site for his company however, there is no way to access the company’s web site from Facebook, nor is there any way to access the Facebook site from the actual web site itself. A link between these two sites would allow the customer to not only visit the web site but to utilize social media to search for a company that will fit their need.
In conclusion, Darrell Julian has an online presence that allows a customer to find them if they are willing to do the research. Most do not spend that much time to find a company when there are other sites that are readily available to the customer through a search on a search engine or through a social media site. Companies continue to get a majority of their business through their advertizing and marketing on the internet, for some companies it is their single and best source of marketing. Darrell Julian Construction could maintain a strong presence on the web by making some critical changes to their site and social media interaction with the customer. Maintaining this online presence and marking their company in a professional manner could be the difference between a customer choosing Mr. Julian’s company over the competition.
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Dawar, N. (2013). Harvard Business Review: When Marketing Is Strategy.