Traditional Marketing in a Digital World: How to Market Efficiently in 2023


What’s free but priceless, something we want more of but can never get enough?


We’ve heard the mantras: Time is money. Making up for lost time. Time is a luxury we don’t have.

Time takes on a unique dimension in construction. There are various tangible construction realities that revolve around bid due dates, construction completion dates, limited time constraints in complex environments, labor shortages and time and material. It’s easy to lose sight of the true value of time. 

What priorities in your marketing strategy are you giving your time to?

Because it shows.

So much tangibly relies on operational, backward-facing tasks that take time. We can lose the intangible value of spending time on our forward-facing marketing. 

The key is shifting our focus from spending time to investing it.    

Invest in your marketing. 

Marketing is your very first deliverable to your clients and prospects.  

Customers notice when you invest your time in them. When you invest time in your website, communications, messaging, brand and identity, they take note.

If time is our most precious commodity, why not spend it on something the customer sees first? Why not spend it on retaining existing clients, gaining new ones and appreciating loyal ones?

There are no shortcuts. I have had clients who understandably only had time for operations. Marketing demanded a luxury of time that they did not have. Then business stalled or a significant crossroads of change occurred, and they shifted to spend time on marketing to fix the problem. 

An effective marketing strategy is more difficult to achieve when the focus is on a problem and not on a desired result. We shouldn’t be scrambling for time when it comes to our marketing. We should plan, process and prioritize.

When marketing is not a priority, we can miss important opportunities such as being in front of our client base at events, sponsoring a customer-rich association meeting, posting a milestone or achievement on LinkedIn or writing an article for an industry magazine to position ourselves as a thought leader in our industry.

When we don’t invest in our marketing, we can find ourselves trying to recoup lost business, struggle for market share or simply missing opportunities to connect our marketing with our sales. 

Without an effective marketing strategy, we are out of sight and out of mind. 

Business-to-consumer (B2C) companies are known for making big splashes with first impressions on branding. We can learn a few things from them. First impressions are important. 

Top marketing channels for business-to-business (B2B) companies are websites, video marketing, social media and email marketing.  Seventy percent of business buyers find content directly on the company’s website. In 2022, 35 percent of marketers reported that they planned to use video in their marketing strategy for the first time. Content marketing was the most popular B2B marketing strategy in 2020 and continues to rise. LinkedIn, a popular form of content marketing, is the most effective platform for B2B lead generation (source: Hubspot).

Have a plan for a first impression with each of these channels. 

If you are a St. Louis-based company in the construction industry, you can also benefit from traditional marketing such as engagement with industry events, association involvement, hosting customer events and advertising in an industry magazine.

Face-to-face marketing works well because we are a tight-knit community, word travels fast and we all care about St. Louis construction and growth. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in the rich pool of the St. Louis building community, maximize your marketing by using a mix of digital and traditional. Find the pools where your customers live and make a big splash. 

I see an important trend for 2023. Event participation and taking the time to network will become even more important than ever before in marketing awareness. 

Online content is becoming oversaturated. Especially in an industry where everyone knows everyone, word-of-mouth marketing holds extra value. This does not replace digital marketing. A good website and strong messaging through digital platforms is necessary, if not mandatory. But information is abundant and cheap. Time is expensive. People are overwhelmed with research, data and facts. First impressions are even more important. Word-of-mouth and networking become vital to a marketing plan.

Time is becoming an even more valuable and rare commodity for people who are good at what they do. Taking the time to attend a networking event and meeting with clients face-to-face is even more vital. 

It’s a first impression and a lasting impression. 

For a lasting impression, invest in consistent marketing for the long haul – such as regular press releases and industry news posted to LinkedIn – rather than a quick hit lead generation grab like pay-for-click advertising to get clicks on your website. 

Long-term marketing strategies such as content writing, blogs, website updates, LinkedIn updates, event promotions and a consistent presence in associations work best. 

Don’t spend your time. Invest it. In this rich, unique St. Louis building community, it pays dividends. It’s a smaller pool with a well-educated audience that is paying attention to St. Louis news, development projects, industry news, new hires, promotions, association events, awards and to you.

Marketing as old as time is new again. Traditional marketing in a digital world. Do you spend your time or invest it?

Time will tell.  

Stephanie Woodcock is president of Too Creative, a St. Louis-based marketing and creative design firm for businesses in the building industry. Contact her at or (314) 753-1148.

Are You an Effective Presenter? Connect with Your Audience, Not with Your PowerPoint



Tom Woodcock

Many contractors look for the opportunity to present to potential customers. They strive to get lunch and learns, happy hour presentations or morning coffees. When they finally attain the meeting, panic sets in as they realize they have to have a presentation that fits the customer type they’re approaching. The usual response is to focus on a PowerPoint and how much information they can drive into the customer’s head in the short amount of time allotted. The issue is that the focus shifts to the presentation. In reality, there are many other factors that will determine whether the core message is received or rejected.

The point many people miss when they are determining what they’re going to present is that connecting with the presenter is just as important as delivering the information. Trust is the number-one buying motive, and we tend to trust people before we receive the information they’re disseminating. The person doing the presenting needs to establish a level of trust right out of the gate. Putting as much time into accomplishing this as well as your PowerPoint presentation is crucial. As a matter of fact, your PowerPoint should be minimal and image-heavy. No one wants to “read” a live presentation. You may be wondering how this connection and trust is established when many times you’re only given a brief segment of the meeting to present. Here is some insight.

First, prepare by managing the environment. If it is a meeting such as a lunch and learn, elements such as food, furniture and audio/visual can affect the mood of the event. If you’re supplying food or refreshments, go top drawer. Cutting corners to save $50 to $100 immediately tells the attendees you don’t value their time. I cannot stand the cheap box lunch mentality. It’s just lazy. Also, forgetting an assortment of drinks, utensils and napkins is borderline inconsiderate. Gaining the “wow” factor right away with the food selection begins to move the clients to your side.

Second, greet everyone upon arrival as opposed to standing off to the side waiting to begin. Get names and roles while thanking them for taking time out of their busy schedules for you. This is the beginning of establishing personal trust. Also, recognize the individual who set the meeting up for you and restate your appreciation.

Next up, be there early enough to make sure there are no A/V issues. There’s nothing worse than starting a presentation and your remote doesn’t work or the projector isn’t reading your laptop. This can delay the presentation and cause unneeded stress for both you and the attendees.

Now we’re moving into the actual presentation. Before you dive into your meaty presentation, tell the audience a little about yourself – how you came into this career, your family’s support and why you chose the company you’re about to present. This will personalize you and make it more enticing to hear what you have to say. Then let them know you have knowledge of their business and market approach. People love to hear about themselves. Let them know you educated yourself on who they are and what they do.

Now the meat. Tailor the message as closely to their business as possible. If it’s a new innovation or service they haven’t used before, be sure to outline the benefit in their usage of that product or service. Make sure your points are clear and concise. Stories and metaphors need to be used to reinforce the message. People love a good story, especially if they can relate to it. So many people focus too much on pounding their information through. A reason for this is the fact that public speaking is now the number-one fear in the USA, more than death.

You’ll always be nervous regardless of your presentation experience level. But as you accomplish more and more presentations, you’ll learn how to calm those nerves. Close the meeting by thanking the audience again for taking so much time out of their day. Offer to answer any questions then close the presentation with a next course of action. Be sure to walk the room and let people ask questions in a non-group setting. Thank the individual who booked you once again and offer to send a recap. You’ll leave as a trusted expert and potentially a viable option.

Tom Woodcock, president of seal the deal, is a speaker and trainer for the construction industry nationwide. He can be reached via or (314) 775-9217.

Top 5 Marketing Trends for 2023 & How to Incorporate Them into Your Marketing Strategy



Stephanie Woodcock

At the beginning of a new year or venture, I like to look at the big picture first. What trends should we consider? What is new, old, tried and true in marketing? What are the “marketing experts” saying?

Then, we can develop a crawl/walk/run plan? How do we spend our marketing dollars and which trends are going to benefit our companies the most?

The only constant in marketing is change. Here’s what is changing in 2023.

  1. Digital First Marketing Strategy

There’s no such thing as “digital marketing” anymore. It’s now “marketing in a digital world.”

By 2023, 75 percent of the U.S. workforce will be digital natives, and by 2035 many companies will be run by “born digital” leadership teams.

No matter what generation you hail from, certain truths never stop being true. Strategy drives execution. We have to look at the big picture to get the strategy. Knowing that businesses are becoming more digital is an important first step to our strategy in 2023. 

As part of the Xennial generation myself (on the cusp of Gen X and Millennials), we have the antiquated pleasure of knowing what it was like before cell phones existed. We carried pagers proudly, still talked on “land lines” and boasted about our accomplishments on the Oregon Trail video game. If we wanted to play with our friends, we walked to their houses, knocked on the door and asked their mothers if our pals were a) home and b) up for company. That was our normal mode of communication. Walking. To the front door. And knocking.

I appreciate the traditional forms of communication. Face to face is humanizing and inspiring. It’s not getting replaced. It is, however, getting supplemented. With digital. Digital can support and enhance the traditional. Traditional marketing activities such as trade shows, collateral or proposals should be planned and executed with the thought in mind: “How do we support this effort with digital?”

For instance, posting about an event on LinkedIn is a great way to support traditional marketing efforts with digital. Having a presence on social media grows your company’s audience in a way that adds value to clients.

  • Purpose-Driven Brand Strategy

What makes your company worth doing business with? It takes strong marketing to get that message across. Simple, succinct, consistent messaging creates context to show the culture of a company. A purpose-driven brand strategy is not accomplished from a well-worded “About Us” website page. It’s about telling the story of how a company’s leadership and employees embody the values they represent through everyday actions.

Hire a marketing consultant to help infuse your already present passion and purpose into your messaging, marketing and events. The return on investment is twofold. Your clients better understand your culture and company, and your employees are reminded of why they like to work for your company. 

  • Content Marketing Continues and Evolves

Content marketing. It is the practice of creating, publishing and sharing content with the goal of building the reputation and visibility of your brand. It is typically accomplished in a digital format (but can also be print) and can come in the form of blogs, whitepapers, social media posts, video, press releases, etc.

In 2023 the tone of content marketing is shifting and is being used for the strategic positioning of a company as a thought leader and authority in its industry.

  • Employee Recruitment

Employee retention is the new recruitment and a top trend for 2023 because of the current climate of talent wars. This has long been a struggle in the construction industry. Finding and retaining the right people. Enter the need for marketing. Engaged employees are more productive and less likely to leave their company. How do we get them engaged? Better communication. Internal marketing is important to the culture and relevancy of a company. Culture and onboarding videos, internal newsletters and employer brand messaging are all ways to increase buy-in with your company’s best assets – its people.

  • Customer Retention and Engagement

It costs six times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. This is why greater engagement of current customers AFTER the sale is so important. Traditional customer appreciation events and entertainment is a start. Customization is on the rise. Customers want added layers of support throughout the sale. They want various billing options, more detailed proposals and easier communication during the project. Educational content is a great way to add value and make your clients feel appreciated. Lunch ‘n’ Learns, customer-only seminars, webinars and training are all good strategies to keep your customer engaged and deepen the relationship. 

After seeing the big picture of top trends, I notice a commonality. Each trend is about adding value through our messaging. It’s answering the why behind the what. Marketing so many times focuses just on the “what.” What do we do? What do we make? What is the process? Now it’s the “why.” Why should people do business with us? Why should they care about our company’s culture or process?

We should take our time to answer this question and provide value with our answers. It’s like walking down the street and knocking on a friend’s door to play. We want the why behind the what. Can they play? If not, why? We walked here. We deserve a full answer. 

Stephanie Woodcock is president of Too Creative, a St. Louis-based marketing and creative design firm for businesses in the building industry. Contact her at or (314) 753-1148.

Selling Thru a Challenging Economy



I’ve been around the sales block a few times in my life. I’ve seen trends and varying market conditions. I’ve gotta be honest: I’ve never before seen what’s taking place in the economy right now.

Many contractors are still thriving with the backlog they’ve established. Some are even having record years.

Don’t be fooled. When interest rates go up, construction slows. Period! Combine that increase with the inflationary aspect of building, and eventually you price out construction consumers – regardless of the size of the customer or project. This, my friends, is about to happen. I’ve been sounding a clarion cry to my consulting clients, and from the stage at every event I speak at. I think if most contractors are honest with themselves, they see it coming.

So how do you counter a potential slowdown in construction?

There really is only one answer: Sell. No, not your business. Sell your services. By expanding your customer base, you can counteract any slowdown that takes place in the market. This means getting out there with your existing customer base, protecting the volume you have with these clients to make sure it continues, while also hitting targets that are opportunities.

Here’s the challenge: You have to manage your current projects. Some of you may be at your wit’s end timewise to even take care of what you have now. I completely get that. The first order of business is to evaluate your time management and determine where you can find some additional time to increase your sales work. We all waste time. If we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s just human nature. Finding three to four extra hours in the week can result in two sales calls. If that’s two more than you’re doing now, you’ve increased your sales effort.

The second course of action is to qualify the existing or target accounts you want to pursue. Which give you the most realistic bang for the buck in relation to your time spent? Next, determine the best way to connect with these individuals. Can you invite them out for lunch, meet them before an association meeting or catch them at a networking event? Any strategy that can help bring you face to face with these prospects is worth the time committed. That needs to be your goal, as most salespeople will rely on email or social media communication, which is lazy selling. The more personal contact you have with existing or potential clients, the more you’ll stand out from the pack. It’s a more time-consuming and expensive process, but well worth the investment of both.

Frequently when the economy tightens and construction slows, a common first reaction is to spend more on marketing. Though there may be a legitimate reason to increase that spend, if it’s not tied to a stronger sales effort it ends up wasted. Combine your sales and marketing strategies to have a significant impact on the marketplace. It’s more common to put money into a website than increase the amount of time a company puts into its sales effort. It’s the age-old mentality that your marketing sells for you. This is rare. Marketing can create interest, but it’s the sales work that lands the projects. Sales work isn’t always easy. There’s a lot of rejection, and often customers are hard to read. Understand that sales is a numbers game. The more people you’re in front of, the more you’ll succeed. It’s a basic sales formula that cannot be denied.

We are almost to pre-pandemic levels with respect to personal contact. People are meeting in person again and spending time together. Association attendance has increased significantly, and major events are back on. These contacts should be a part of your regular sales regimen. Begin to be creative in your approach. Learn your client’s tastes and preferences. Cater to those tastes in your sales work. Small things make a difference. Your customers will notice you took the time to understand them and their needs.

As the economy contracts, most forecasters are saying a recession is either upon us or imminent. Be prepared by setting your sales strategy. If you don’t know how that’s done, get help.

Tom Woodcock, president of seal the deal, is a speaker and trainer for the construction industry nationwide. He can be reached via his website,, or at 314.775.9217.

How Construction Companies Can Protect Their Reputation in Times of Crisis


Tim Leon

In 2020, more than one in five workplace deaths occurred in the construction industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While your company may have great safety protocols in place, the fact is that accidents can still happen, and how you communicate with the public and employees in the wake of a tragic event can make or break your reputation.

Is your company prepared to handle the media inquiries that will come your way if an employee is seriously injured or killed on the job? What about if violence erupts at the workplace, or if a facility you built is found to have a structural problem that has harmed or could harm occupants?

With that in mind, here are the top things to know about communicating during a crisis.

It’s important for companies in the construction industry – builders, architects, engineers, electricians and others – to have in place a crisis public relations plan to help preserve your reputation as you navigate requests for information from media and the public. 

A PR plan allows an organized response during a chaotic time

When a crisis event occurs, obviously your first objective is to mitigate further injury or damage, making sure people are safe. Handling media requests will need to be a priority as well. That’s where having a solid crisis communications plan comes in handy. You will already know who the spokesperson(s) will be, and you’ll have guidance on constructing talking points. You’ll also know how you will notify your company’s various audiences: employees/families, media, business partners/sub-contractors, neighboring businesses or residents and government officials, as appropriate.

Having a pre-determined crisis team and communication plan in place will reduce the anxiety that comes with handling a stressful event and instead give you a better sense of control over the situation. 

“No Comment” can backfire

These days, a “no comment” response appears to the public as trying to hide something. It’s always best to be forthright and to do it in a brief, measured way.

If you decide not to face the TV cameras and microphones right away, you can instead release a statement to the media. This allows you to control your message and also satisfies reporters and editors eager to get a response of some kind for their story.

Failing to provide information can result in media coverage that is one-sided or inaccurate, putting your company in a bad light.

What to say

With integrity and honesty as your guides, find ways to communicate only the relevant information, with no speculation or extraneous details that can muddle the message. Don’t release figures unless you’re certain about the accuracy.

Draft talking points, rehearse them and stick to them. A PR professional can help develop the points and provide media training to prepare the spokesperson to handle unexpected or “trick” questions.  No matter the question, it’s important to return to the talking points as much as possible when responding.

Show empathy

Don’t be afraid to express sorrow or sadness about the loss of life or property. It’s important to carefully word media statements and talking points for interviews to show your humanity while also factually stating what has occurred.

Monitor social media

Thanks to social media, negative news can spread rapidly, often before the media even picks up on it. It only takes one person on the scene to Tweet or post about the event and the word is out. That’s why it’s important to actively monitor your social accounts and respond appropriately and with empathy. Again, as with the media, stick to the facts and keep it brief.

Micro-site for updates

For an ongoing or extended crisis, it can be helpful to create a micro-website to post regular updates. Direct reporters and the public to the site so they feel connected to the latest news.

Finally, keep the messaging consistent across all channels – media statements, talking points for interviews, press releases, social posts and websites. Frequent updates will help quell rumors and allow your side of the story to be told.

Having a crisis PR plan can considerably reduce the chances of a negative incident harming your company’s reputation. Instead, you’ll be able to minimize the impact of the crisis and protect your standing in the community as a builder of integrity.

Tim Leon is president of Geile/Leon Marketing Communications. He can be reached at

What’s Your Strategic Marketing Plan in a Changing Economy?

Stephanie Woodcock

The economy is a big topic lately. How does a changing economy affect small businesses and the St. Louis construction industry?

What do we do in an unsettled economy?

Get more sales.

Now more than ever, sales and marketing teams needs to be aligned. Marketing’s job is to provide qualified leads for the sales team. Sales’ job is to nurture those leads and convert them into sales. Companies with better sales and marketing alignment are 67 percent better at closing sales.

In times of economic uncertainty, we need to go back to the basics. First, we need to know and keep our customer base. Second, we need to maximize the efforts of marketing and sales to increase that customer base. Increasing our market share helps offset any reduced spending that can occur with our regular clients. The two teams need to be aligned to do this. How do you develop an effective marketing strategy in a changing economy?

Build your brand and go back to the basics. Here’s how:

#1 – Fortify your existing customer base.

It costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. 

In a downturn, the market can get more competitive, as everyone scrambles for market share. The weakest competitor will get desperate and undercut with price.

Knowing your customers and building up those relationships increases brand loyalty.

Create a customer advisory board. What better way to gain that knowledge than through your existing customers?

Use your salespeople. They are the frontline and know the customer. That knowledge is gold and should be maximized by marketing. Marketing teams should be interviewing salespeople and developing plans together on tactics and strategies to increase leads and sales.

#2 – Know how your customer is reaching you.

Part of knowing your customer better is knowing how your customer found you. Referrals, associations, supplier/ vendors, online searches, LinkedIn, website leads, email marketing – all are ways for customers to find you. Any lead that comes into a company through a marketing channel is considered an inbound lead.

For B2B companies, inbound leads are on the rise. Why? Buyers are getting more educated. They prefer to research a company independently because information is so easily accessible.

Knowing how they found us helps us know what marketing channels to continue to develop. Creating a better customer journey increases the overall brand experience and loyalty.

#3 –Build Better Brand Position

Every company has a brand position. Your customers are looking at your website to find out what that is. A good marketing team provides the best first impression and a proper “brand position” at a glance.

Because of the rising trend of inbound leads, leading B2B companies increasingly respond to intensifying global competition by putting customer centricity and experience at the heart of their strategy.

For example, Monsanto (now Bayer) transformed itself with an online platform from a supplier of seed and crop protection products to a productivity partner, providing advice on subjects ranging from product selection to sowing and harvest timing.

The company saw the trend of more educated buyers and decided to meet that need with more information about the overall market, creating a stronger brand position of being customer driven.

In the same way, we should be thinking about our brand position. Are our marketing channels portraying our brand position and meeting the needs of our future customers? Marketing is not just for the company’s benefit. It’s for the customer’s benefit.

#4 – Develop Buyer Personas for Ideal Customers 

A buyer persona is a target customer profile that describes an ideal customer – what their days are like, the challenges they face and how they make decisions.

Knowing what ideal customers need to make decisions helps us craft the best customer journey.

In B2B companies, we know the customer has a unique journey. Relationships go deeper, are long-term and usually have recurring sales. They also involve more individuals. Customization is more widespread in B2B than B2C. The stakes are higher in B2B deals. One customer could make or break a company.

It’s sales’ and marketing’s responsibility to predict and craft that journey to be as seamless as possible.

#5 – Treat Your Company Like a Publication

Because buyers consume more knowledge, we need to keep feeding them information. That means ramping up our content marketing. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. Write! Content marketing generates three times more leads than outbound marketing, with LinkedIn being used by 96 percent of all B2B content marketers.

Many people within their own company tend to assume others know what they know. It’s known as the “Knowledge Curse.” Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine not knowing it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us. This presents a problem when we want to share our knowledge with our customers. We can’t readily recreate the simple problem and solution.

The key to communicating with customers is finding out what they still don’t know about us and giving them those answers. The audience is everything. Many companies can create content, but it may not be meeting the needs of their target audience.

Simple communication sounds easy, but simple is not easy.

The magic in marketing is when you can pave that information highway with effective, simple communication to correct the information imbalance that can occur between people inside and outside a company.

Simple communication and breaking the knowledge curse is the key to building relationships that will endure through a changing economy.

It’s a simple formula. Build your brand + Back to the Basics = Better Marketing.

No one knows what you know. Let’s change that and get creative.

Stephanie Woodcock is president of Too Creative, a St. Louis-based marketing and creative design firm for businesses in the building industry. Contact her at or (314) 753-1148.

Material Delays Killing Sales? Hold On



Tom Woodcock

Are material and equipment delays are killing your ability to secure projects and orders?

Who can do business in this climate? Is there an end in sight?

These are all very common questions in this construction sales environment. If you’ve followed my articles for any length of time, you’re well aware I’m not a fan of excuses. In 35 years of selling in the construction industry, I’ve determined the best companies see any negative influences on the market as opportunity. The conventional response is to complain and find blame. This is the easy position to take, eventually throwing up one’s hands and saying, “Oh, well.”

I’m currently hearing this reaction often.

Hold on a second. This might be a better situation than you think.

It’s no secret delays and pricing increases are all over the construction arena. Bids are only good for a week and pricing on materials may only be good for a day. Pricing escalation clauses are being incorporated into contracts. Project work is held up waiting for material or equipment. This can make it difficult to complete a project on time or on budget.

Yet from a sales standpoint, this is the best vehicle to close business! It takes some guts or a good firm approach, but you can secure projects and work by closing a bit more aggressively. I’m usually not a proponent of hard closing, but in this economy, it is actually a benefit to the customer. How? It’s very simple.

You are the expert in your industry or trade. Clients are counting on you to steer them in the right direction, of course couched in integrity. You see everyday what’s happening with material and supply availability as well as pricing. By informing customers that they need to pull the trigger quickly on deciding who their contractor is, you are saving them both time and money. The next step is to simply state you need to order material and supplies asap to avoid price increases or change orders. Say this in a fashion where it’s obvious you really mean it, because you do really mean it. And although I’m describing this as a sales technique, in reality it’s simply fact.

The tough part is that many contractors fear being this firm with their clients. They would rather leave information ambiguous instead of applying a little professional pressure. They fear this will push the customer away and they’ll not get the project.

In reality, it’s the opposite. A good close can secure the project with more immediacy. Trying to massage the customer in this climate is ineffective and somewhat of a disservice. Different market conditions often warrant a different approach. The construction market has been holding, but there’s a slowdown looming as interest rates increase and construction spending cools down. Securing projects now is critical to carry companies through any dip in the market. Throw in the challenging labor shortage, and you have a recipe for a significant market shift. We’ve seen it before, and it wasn’t pretty. It’s especially true with customers that reward you with recurring business. You have an even stronger platform with this type of client to apply a little extra closing pressure. You already have the client’s trust, so your client will more readily embrace your insistence to move quickly. They’ll understand you’re not crying wolf and are looking out for their best interests. It may even deepen the relationship to the point where things improve, and they still move on your direction.  The truth is, they need your guidance as they most likely aren’t acutely aware of the circumstances in your area of expertise.

Sales can be challenging, even in times when there’s an abundance of projects. The number-one buying motive is trust. This is a great time to either establish or increase this key deciding factor with your clients.

It’s not a half-bad idea to even roleplay this firmer closing technique within your own company. The more comfortable you are being firm with advising your customers, the easier it is for them to accept the premise. Not applying that pressure can increase the bleeding.

Instead of whining about the current pricing, availability and labor issues that exist, convert that into securing a higher percentage of your opportunities. A higher close rate always beats increase your estimating volume.

Tom Woodcock, president of seal the deal, is a speaker and trainer for the construction industry nationwide. He can be reached via his website,, or at 314.775.9217.

Effective Digital Storytelling Must Be Compelling, Persuasive, Complete



Craig Workman

Storytelling is all the rage in today’s digital marketing world as organizations seek to connect quickly and often with their target audiences in deep and meaningful ways. But attention spans are short, so marketers and communications professionals now craft shorter and shorter stories loaded with keywords intended to find their way through the clutter of busy media platforms – with just enough information to generate a click, share, open, like, response or purchase.

Whether you are selling a product or service, making a point or giving a speech, you need to reinforce what you’ve got to say with a great story.  This means making it personal, emotional, truthful, valid and relevant to the audience for which it is intended to influence.  Great storytelling should be compelling, persuasive and memorable for your target audience, which means is also must be complete. 

Great storytelling takes more time and creativity to prepare and produce than barebones messaging, but the rewards are well worth your trouble. Consider the significant benefits of “earned media coverage” to the sales and marketing communications programs for any type of organization.

Earned media is achieved by first presenting a compelling idea for a news or feature story to a targeted news editor or key influencer, and then convincing that editor that your content has great news value for readers or viewers. The story idea can be built around the key marketing messages being advocated by the communicator and then creatively linked to the interests of the publication or digital media platform being pitched. This process often involves research, writing, preparation of background information and effective interpersonal communications with the editor or influencer to present a complete story. 

News releases are often the source that leads to your earned media successes. A well-written news release should provide all the basic information needed to stand on its own as a news story in the media outlets you are targeting. This information should announce the who, what, where, when, why and how of the news being publicized and include visuals, links to related information and keyword optimization.

A well-written news release should make an editor’s or influencer’s job easy, but all too often that is not the case in this digital marketing age. One trade journal editor I know told me that he receives an increasing number of news releases that are only one or two sentences long and do not provide any context or background to make the news more interesting to his readers. While such brevity has become the norm for achieving clicks, it does very little in advancing the reputation of the organization or individual behind the announcement.

Indeed, earning great publicity in today’s “tradigital” media is still one of the most highly sought-after results in the marketing mix of most organizations. News and feature coverage conveys very high levels of importance, credibility and accuracy for your brand or organization to a large and targeted audience. And it often leads to more earned coverage for your organization in the future. Great news publicity makes for equally great social media content for marketers to further optimize.

As the use of digital marketing channels and techniques evolves, many marketers are taking another look at the importance of good storytelling and reputation management in their marketing mix. One local marketing communications trade association recently announced that the featured speaker at its upcoming chapter event is an expert in news media relations and storytelling. The association says its members can benefit from learning and adding this effective storytelling strategy to their marketing plans.

As the storytelling style of your organization or brand evolves, remember that for stories to be more compelling and persuasive, you need to tell the whole story.

Craig Workman is president of Workman Communications Group, a St. Louis-based public relations and brand management agency that has served clients in the construction industry since 1996. He can be reached at or (314) 640-9033.

The Rise of New Media: What ONE Thing Should Marketing Teams Be Focusing On?



Stephanie Woodcock

This is a black and white industry. 

In a typical RFP, there are a slew of numbers. Percentages, fixed fees, hourly wages, rate schedules, exclusions and more. It’s as black and white as it gets. 

So, as I paint the picture of why content marketing is important to the bottom line, I’ll try to be as black and white as possible. 

Words matter. 

Every company owner wants more leads. But sadly, it’s not point A to point B anymore. Salesperson calls prospect. Converts prospect to buyer. Nope.

Buyers are savvier.  It’s marketing’s job to build trust, create demand and help fill the sales funnel. Trust is not black and white. 

Gone are the days where we can get traction from cold calling. Think about your own personal buying behavior. I hang up. I don’t have time for cold calls. But when I want to purchase something, I do make time. 

I take time to do the front-end work of researching and educating myself, so I don’t have to deal with the potential fallout of making a wrong decision based on slimy sales tactics. I would rather depend on my own research of a subject than someone who calls me randomly, selling me something. I also tend to trust companies that invest in content to educate me, the buyer. 

What becomes most important to my buying decision?


Trust sells.  Content marketing is the key to building that trust. This should be the number-one priority of every marketing team in this industry: increase content marketing. Buyer behaviors are changing.  Two-plus years of doing most everything digitally has changed the marketing landscape. People are online researching!

Some quick stats:

  • 70 percent of business buyers find content directly on the company’s website.
  • Content marketing was the most popular B2B marketing strategy in 2020.
  • B2B email marketing produces the highest ROI.
  • LinkedIn is the most effective platform for B2B lead generation.
  • 52 percent of B2B buyers say they’re “definitely” more likely to buy from a brand once they’ve read its content.

Because buyers and owners are self-educating and becoming more sophisticated, we must finetune our marketing strategy to be where they are looking.

This is called inbound marketing – creating content that someone will find through research, whether it be on your website, a LinkedIn blog post or in a magazine. 

Where are they looking?

  • Association & Industry Events
  • Expert Panels & Industry Resources
  • Online & Print Industry Magazines
  • LinkedIn
  • Email Inbox
  • Company Website

Anywhere that content can be seen, heard and shared is where your prospects are looking.

It goes beyond traditional marketing. Traditional marketing is direct mail, direct email, billboards, one-sheets, flyers and cold calls. They have one static message: “Buy from me. Here’s why.”

Content marketing is a long form answer that addresses customer pain points and provides solutions.  It’s white papers, blog posts, articles, press releases, videos and podcasts – where knowledge is centerstage.  It’s not “Buy from me. Here’s why.” It’s “Trust me. Here’s why.”

The best marketing teams are made up of in-house and outsourced marketing experts who know your industry. Our jobs should be to curate content from the experts and harness thought leadership and insight from team members across department and roles. Content marketing should not be relegated to those who have free time on their hands or solely to salespeople. A brand and its employees are the subject matter experts. The content creators are the content marketing experts.

Hiring an intern to post on your Facebook page is NOT going to suffice for your “content marketing plan.”

Content marketing should be present at all levels of an organization – from the company executives’ keynote speeches at an industry event, to a salesperson closing a sale by sharing a white paper or blog post article – it all seeks to inform, inspire and reassure target audiences that they are making the right choice. 

While it’s very possible to measure ROI of your content marketing plan, it also can be difficult and not nearly as black and white as we may like. 

Take paid LinkedIn ads as an example. A user will rarely click a paid ad and immediately convert on the landing page or website. The process may be more gradual.  More likely, a user will see a LinkedIn ad, research the company on Google later, read a blog or article and then later begin the buying process. That’s three to four different types of content marketing platforms. If we only measured the value of the LinkedIn ad by the click-through rate and leads generated, we would never run a paid social ad again.

Our target audience for content marketing is not finite and easy to predict. The goal of content marketing shouldn’t be focused only on known potential buyers, but rather on working to build a brand that informs future buyers on problems that they may or may not know they have.

An effective content marketing plan communicates expertise, longevity, flexibility and problem solving.  It’s not just about telling a story about history or years of service. It’s about instilling trust in a brand, conveying the DNA of that company, establishing credibility and educating for the future. It’s not black and white.  It brands the past and paints the future. In full color. 

Stephanie Woodcock is president of Too Creative, a St. Louis-based marketing and creative design firm for businesses in the building industry. Contact her at or (314) 753-1148.

The Market is Alive: Shake off the Rust and Get Back Out There



Tom Woodcock

Well, I hate to say, “I told you so,” but I told you so.

The minute pandemic-related restrictions were beginning to be lifted, outside sales activity started picking up.

Zoom is fading. The desire to meet face to face is once again taking center stage. The new normal didn’t quite happen as predicted. Whoever said the handshake was going away obviously had no idea how business works, or he simply doesn’t know how people prefer to interact.

We are now coming back to the way it was. The big question is: Were you working your sales effort properly before the pandemic took center stage? The past two years have seen sales efforts deviate from tried-and-true methodology. People scrambled to find ways to stay connected to their customer base and often resorted to digital communication. Since so many took this route, a lot of sales individuals simply melded into the white noise of social media, video conferencing and electronic communication. The introverts amongst us loved it; they said, “It’s the way to go. We’ll never have to go to the office again and interact with other humans.”

Sorry, wrong.

The point is this: People want to interact with others. Psychologist after psychologist attests to this fact. Therefore, we need to structure our sales efforts and aggressively implement them. Time to go back to blocking and tackling, covering the basics.

The first step is to make sure your information gathering system is in place and up to date. This will help you in reaching out to potential targets and give you a home for the customer information you collect. The next step is to determine which organizations and associations you want to engage with. Remember, your first criterion in making this selection is the degree of customer involvement present in the group. Focus on customer-rich environments. People are heading back toward these organizations to restart the interaction process. Skipping this step can lengthen the amount of time it will take you to reengage with your customer pool.

The next step is to set your customer targets. These can be existing customers you need to retain or grow, or new targets who haven’t used your product or service in the past. The one thing I promise you is that you’ll see there’s been a personnel changeover in many of these firms. Also, keep in mind that a contact is a person, not a company. Relationships you’ve held onto during the shutdowns and restrictions should be the first face-to-face meetings you schedule. Make sure all is well with those who have hung in there with you. Then move on to the true development of sales. Set a high level of activity and see as many people as possible. Letting competitors get out ahead of you can result in lost opportunity. The floodgates are open. You need to shoot right out of the gate. This can create an initial advantage for you. The old adage; “You snooze, you lose” is a reality in this scenario.

The final step is to actually close the business. Our economy is all over the place currently, and legitimate sales opportunities need to be secured as quickly as possible. Between the financial and political landscapes, the level of uncertainty is increasing. This can slow down construction spending at any point. Nailing down projects you’re being presented now can go a long way in getting over any slowdown. The supply chain and raw material cost factors are real. They have significantly affected efficiency on construction projects. Using these factors as a closing strategy is actually a good idea during this period of time. You’re simply taking a factual situation and relaying it to the client. If the client waits on a project, it may not hit the client’s schedule or your client may end up paying higher prices due to escalating material costs. This is absolutely acceptable sales behavior.

The ultimate point: Now is go time. Don’t be lulled to sleep by the past two years of sales hibernation. Shake off the rust, clean the machine and blast off from the starting line. If you need a refresher, get out those old sales videos or books and hone your approach. True professional businesspeople understand the critical role sales plays in their businesses. It’s only the most important aspect of any business.

Why on earth would you wait on full implementation the minute it is possible? The market is alive.

Tom Woodcock, president of seal the deal, is a speaker and trainer for the construction industry nationwide. He can be reached via his website,, or at 314.775.9217.