Trade Secrets – Engaging and Influencing Tradespeople

As an agency who works with multiple manufacturing, building products and tools clients, we have a deep understanding of how to best reach tradespeople, journeymen, union laborers and contractors to influence their purchasing preferences. It’s not all about promotions, games and offers – most are seeking knowledge, help and expertise. The most successful brands reaching the trades are focused on helping this audience find the information they are seeking by creating and curating content ensuring details and discussions are accessible and easily found.

Historically, tradespeople and contractors frequently rely on “word of mouth” advertising; they are influenced heavily on what they see on the job site and what trade schools encourage apprentices to use.  Although that’s still relevant today, now more than ever, tradespeople and contractors are shopping more like general consumers, leveraging their phone as an essential tool to find and receive information. They are readily attracted to genuine content and are looking for sources they can trust – whether it’s a friend, reliable brand or influencer.

This audience is also very set in their ways, with much hesitation and little willingness to change what they know and are comfortable with. So how do we engage the hard-to-reach trade audience in a way that provides value and influences purchasing preference?

Avoid the Noise, Be a Resource

Tradespeople need several positive interactions before a strong perception can start to form. On average, they will have checked 10+ pieces of content before finding yours, so it’s good to repurpose messages into different types of content such as infographics, videos, tips, lists, etc. to assure they are being placed on the right channel, at the right time for optimal engagement.

But you cannot simply be there, shouting about your products or providing superficial information to lure them in – you must take a genuine interest in helping them out with broader advice and helpful tips. This will help you become a trusted authority that they turn to for advice, providing thought leadership dealing with the type of problems they are facing.

Identify the Problem, Create the Content

Although resistant to change, tradespeople are still very passionate about the tools and products they rely on to help them do their job efficiently and safely.  They have probably been using the same products and tools for a long time with no intention or incentive to proactively switch. Brands need to take an interest in their specific problems and priorities to even be considered in the conversation. But it’s not just about what you say and where you say it. It’s also how you say it. Creating likeable, relevant content that speaks their language is the key to success.

Here are just a few of the problems and priorities that we know are of particular interest to them:

  • Reducing man hours and increasing efficiency
  • Materials cost, liability, call backs
  • Delivery times, availability and access to replacements
  • Training, customer service, help and advice
  • Finished quality and wow factor

Put Your Brand in their Hands

Content is king when it comes to building awareness for your brand and becoming a trusted resource for information and tips. But seeing is believing and getting your tools and products into the hands of the customer remains just as important as ever.  Roadshows and other on-site events with free product giveaways are a very effective strategy to promote switching, although some budgets may not allow for that. Consider unique ways to get your tools in their hands such as a referral or rebate program that encourages word of mouth influence with their peers.

One of our tool clients created a loyalty reward program that gives members points for completing online activities such as watching videos, viewing new products, taking surveys etc. This is a great way to continue to engage them with your content, get data on their preferences and opinions and give them what they want – free stuff.

Align Your Sales Strategy

Once your audience has engaged with a few pieces of your content, they may be more inclined to reveal personal details which can result in the transfer from the marketing funnel to the sales funnel. This means a close alignment with your sales and marketing strategies are key for consistency of the brand experience.

Salespeople often do not appreciate how useful marketing efforts can be to warm up customers and make them more receptive to buying. Make sure your sales team has the tools they need to be kept in the loop on marketing and content strategies and keep the messaging focused on the customer’s needs.

These are just a few things brands need to consider when looking to influence tool and product preference with tradespeople. While a switch to your products or services won’t happen overnight, a strategic combination of relevant content, product trial and marketing/sales alignment will start to have an impact for your business.

* Photo Credit – Pete Wright on Unsplash