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The Secret to Taking down the 800-Pound Gorilla

Tue May 23, 2017 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

How do we take down the 800-pound gorilla that dominates our market segment? It's the question that keeps many construction executives awake at night. The short answer, which we will unpack here, is that you need to start building a legacy brand.

Perhaps “take down” is a bit dramatic so let's reframe it. Whether you're a contractor, construction equipment dealer, or material supplier, your goal is to expand market share for your firm and/or product or service. This is the very foundation of intentional marketing.

The Unstoppable 800-Pound Gorilla?

Let's better define the 800-pound gorilla. It's the firm that has been gobbling up the majority of market share in its vertical for decades. Or the product that commands a convincing price premium and turns the sales team from hustlers into order takers. Or the brand that usually gets the first mention when a product or service comes to mind.

They have a Teflon-like reputation. A botched project, unreturned phone call, service blunder, or delayed payment to a sub or supplier barely puts a chink in the armor. Competitors are left scratching their heads, puzzled about how they overcame the fumble.

Build a Legacy Brand

What these firms have built is what I call a legacy brand. It's a fitting term. Having a legacy brand is the dream of every construction firm because it's the equivalent of owning a money-printing machine. And whether we admit it or not, we're all in business to make money.

There are legacy brands in every vertical. You already know the players in the construction industry. Think also of Apple in technology; Procter & Gamble in consumer products; AT&T and Verizon in telecommunications; and Comcast in cable.

Now that you're salivating (or grinding your teeth) over the coveted position of these legacy brands, how can you build one?

The hard truth is that it takes the kind of time, persistence, and financial wherewithal that most of us don't have. It's a combination of branding, marketing, customer service, product innovation, hustle, integrity, and even a bit of luck. The right combination of these things over time will pay dividends in the form of positive word of mouth, referrals, ringing phones, inbound leads, and more.

Why would I say that most of us don't have the time and persistence to build a legacy brand? I should be showering you with words of encouragement so you'll share this article, right? Wrong.

The Gorilla Stumbles

The bad news for the 800-pound gorillas, which is good news for the rest of us, is that a day of reckoning may be coming as big picture market forces threaten their leadership position. I'm seeing water trickling out from the cracks in the dam already. Some are calling it the “Third Industrial Revolution.” It doesn't matter how we brand it. The internet and globalization are in the epicenter and the storm is churning.

How can this be good news for anyone, you ask? Because it will open up a window for firms of all sizes to expand market share and encourage more start-ups in the construction industry. It's the epitome of capitalism. The window of opportunity is cracked; perfect timing for legacy brands to emerge.

Let me be clear that the elimination of jobs and entire companies greatly concerns me. These legacy brands have overcome great odds, created millions of jobs, and moved America forward. And yet, like a car wreck, I can't help but watch with a mix of captivation and concern to see the outcome.

Disruption Creates Incredible Opportunity

At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, I believe some in the construction industry are in for a rude awakening. The firms I talk to see the technology trends such as 3D Printing, drones, BIM, augmented reality, and even e-commerce, and seem to recognize that jobs will be eliminated, but I'm not convinced that they recognize the gravity of these threats. Entire markets could be redefined in the next decade.

For example, some construction equipment dealers seem to be dismissing internet-based start-ups that operate without brick and mortar locations. They contend, for example, that the importance of a local presence will keep the barriers of entry impregnable. That's exactly what retailers thought when Amazon entered the marketplace. They are now laying off thousands, shuttering stores, and stumbling to recover from a knockout blow because they refused to put up their guards.

There are incredible opportunities in times of major disruption for those with their eyes wide open and the stomach for risk. The bastions of the construction industry will be tested. No brand, regardless of how strong, is timeless.

Start building a legacy construction brand now so you'll be ready to pounce when the timing is right.

Ready to begin taking down the 800-pound gorilla? Click here to learn more about how Fraley Construction Marketing can help.

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