Case studies in successful marketing approaches from two top construction and engineering-focused companies.
When you’re in a complex industry like architecture, engineering, or construction (AEC), many of the common rules of online marketing don’t apply to you. Sure, you could tweet or post on a Facebook page, but in your field, the goal isn’t to gain as many followers as possible—you’re after a specific audience, and they’re more likely to be reading an industry trade pub than scrolling through social media each day. You might find it more effective to network directly with your prospects at trade shows, focus heavily on outbound sales, and keep your fingers crossed for great referrals.
But by ignoring online and content marketing opportunities, you’re missing out on a valuable avenue for generating new organic leads, building brand awareness, and showcasing your industry solutions and unique advantages.
It’s much easier to get someone to commit to trying out a new brand of ice cream than investing in a large-scale construction project. When the buy-in’s just a few dollars, a fun piece of ad creative or a special promotion can easily influence a buyer to try out your product. But when a buying decision involves an investment in the five or six figures, there’s a lot more at stake, and that means your buyer may be on the fence for quite some time.
Large B2B projects involve a long consideration phase, which is why it’s essential to focus on how you can aid your prospects’ decision-making process throughout their buyers’ journey. According to a CEB study, the typical B2B buyer is nearly 60 percent of the way through the decision-making process before ever engaging with a sales contact at your company.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some successful online marketing strategies that have worked for two best-in-class companies in the construction and engineering spaces, Bechtel and Cadence Design Systems.
Bechtel is a global leader in engineering, construction, and project management, with more than 55,000 employees worldwide. But despite the company’s significant budget, it doesn’t invest in PPC advertising—that’s because it already uses content marketing and strong on-site SEO optimization to develop a steady stream of inbound leads organically. Using my trusty SpyFu tool, I found that Bechtel’s organic search results would be valued at approximately $33,000 a month in PPC advertising. By focusing instead on inbound traffic, they’re embracing one of their core values—sustainability.
Here are some of the elements that Bechtel gets right:
An intuitive website with segmented landing pages
Bechtel works with a huge variety of customer types, which is apparent in its site design. The site navigation makes it simple to find the most applicable case, with separate landing pages for each industry that the company works with. Each landing page includes links to projects within that sector and relevant news involving Bechtel. Thanks to well-optimized SEO, prospects looking for support in a specific industry are likely to discover a Bechtel landing page that fits, and follow the links to get the facts on how the company can help them.
Detailed case studies
Bechtel offers a huge set of case studies, which the reader can search through based on sector or geography. For instance, the profile of the company’s ongoing project with the London City Airport showcases not only details of the project, but also fascinating videos, including a spotlight on historical WWII artifacts that have been found in the adjacent dock beds while the site is surveyed for construction. These case studies provide clear, concrete evidence of the company’s detailed capabilities—and they serve up interesting content for history and architecture buffs, too.
A blog that looks beyond their brand
The most important rule of content marketing? It’s not all about you. Bechtel gets this right with a blog that integrates interesting stories of projects in progress alongside a broader look at the engineering and construction industries more general. For instance, a recent article showcases how the company is using VR tools to help Aboriginal land owners understand the impact of a new construction project in the Western Cape region. Another piece showcases how artificial intelligence is being used to improve outcomes in the EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) industry. It’s clear that the company isn’t just tooting its own horn—it’s thinking deeply about how it can transform and grow with new technology, and paving the way for other EPC companies, too.
Cadence Design Systems is an electronic design automation (EDA) software and engineering services company, which we’ve had the pleasure of working closely with over the past year on a content initiative. The company owns a suite of software products that are aimed largely at professionals in the engineering space, in sectors including aerospace, automotive, 3D design, and electronics, among others. This type of audience needs smart content that can help them solve complex engineering problems, and Cadence delivers.
Here are a few things we appreciate about Cadence’s approach to communicating with prospects and customers:
Blogs offering numerous company perspectives
Cadence’s blog provides an opportunity for more than a dozen columnists to share their perspectives on EDA, technology trends, and other areas of interest to engineers. For instance, readers can get a detailed overview of the recent SEMICON conference in China or the IESA Vision Summit in Bangalore, India from Cadence team members. Or, they can follow the PCB design series for guidance on designing printed circuit boards for electronics. Sure, it’s niche, but it’s exactly what their target audience is looking for—and by being helpful, they can increase the likelihood that engineers will come to trust them as their software provider of choice.
User forums for technical support
Cadence offers great support to its users, but it also knows that engineers love helping one another troubleshoot and solve problems. The company offers a user-generated content forum for technical topics where engineers can share their best practices, unique strategies, and solicit help on thorny engineering problems. (While this isn’t marketing per se, it demonstrates an openness to providing opportunities for collaboration and education with their customer base, which is a valuable method of ensuring customer stickiness.)
Videos that provide valuable lessons to their target users
Cadence offers “whiteboard Wednesday” video series, in which one of the company’s engineers breaks down an engineering problem and offers analysis in the space of just a couple of minutes. The geekier, the better—these are designed to appeal to the engineers who’ll be using their products, so the Cadence team never needs to water down their content.
Both Bechtel and Cadence have also focused on building out hundreds of highly relevant, SEO-optimized landing pages related to specific products and solutions they offer, which helps bring in thousands of targeted visits in organic search traffic. We’ve written previously about how to produce high-quality SEO content at scale—it’s a smart strategy for any business to build out as many relevant pages as possible, as long as you’re able to do so without sacrificing the quality that your customers have come to expect from your brand.
Another lesson from Bechtel and Cadence that all engineering and construction companies can learn from? Don’t be afraid to dig into the weeds. These are complex industries—so assume you’re talking to smart people. There’s no need to talk down to your audience; a Fiverr writer throwing around a few assigned keywords simply won’t cut it here. In order to get to the heart of your company, you’ll need to focus on building journalism-driven content that showcases the real perspectives of your business’ thought leaders.
Use your blog and website to discuss difficult problems in your field, or showcase some of your most complex projects with case studies and videos. Go beyond a pure SEO play to focus on developing marketing content that truly cultivates an audience of industry peers. By creating a thoughtful content strategy that demonstrates your expertise, you’ll be able to build a strong organic presence that helps you gain a leadership role in your industry.
Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than 16 years.
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