Marketing Your Business

Words: Greg Hutchinson

Words: Greg Hutchinson, SPEC MIX Marketing Manager 
Photos: SPEC MIX

There are thousands of resources available if you’re looking for simple, effective ways to market your business. Big or small, the path can be very similar; have a great website, utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategies effectively, come up with great promotions, etc…

A snapshot from a regional SkillsUSA event post - receiving over 40k likes, and over 660 shares. Using the SPEC MIX brand to promote the trade has always been our mission, and our audience responds.

But sometimes, as marketers, we get lost in the shuffle of big data and popular trends. At the end of the day, people want to feel comfortable in the product and business from whom they’re purchasing. In reality, the secret to marketing success begins and ends with brand management. The value of your brand isn’t only found in the bottom line; it’s also deeply rooted in your reputation. 

Owning a brand can be an emotional adventure and a very human one. No success story has ever been written without the basic element of vulnerability. When you put yourself, or your brand, out there, you are subject to every variable imaginable. But the variable that is the most unpredictable is human nature. What people think and say about your brand is out of your control. You can have the best product on the market, but someone uses it incorrectly, and then you get hit with a bad review. That’s reality, and it’s unavoidable. That’s also part of being vulnerable. Most people will learn a lot from a brand by their response to criticism.

Take that bad review and find a way to make it a positive. Reach out to that customer and learn from their experience. Humanize your brand in front of them, and if you make it right, you will have a customer for life. Teach your team to do the same, and empower them to take the actions needed to find a suitable solution, and your brand will be well on its way to sustaining long-term success.

A snapshot from SPEC MIX Facebook Insights between April 18th, 2022 to May 15th, 2022 shows why it's acceptable to be vulnerable with Social Media. 

Social media is the obvious place to begin any brand management strategy. Everywhere you look now, you see companies turning to Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter to get their message out into the world. Yet, it’s often seen as a tertiary area of responsibility. Your social reach is likely much larger than your website and email, and yet it tends to be the most inexperienced person in the room holding the keys to your brand’s reputation.

Your PR strategy is equally as vital, and while it ties into social media, it’s so much bigger. When you do have a story to tell, don’t simply blurt it out. Give it some thought, and create a webpage to support additional ideas, links, and features. Maybe your story warrants a press release, and you get lucky enough to attract local news. There are many ways you can dial in a PR strategy, but choosing the one which encourages the most engagement, is where you can set yourself apart from the competition.

Every brand has a story. Maybe it’s in your past, maybe it’s your future. Focus and lean into this concept. Be vulnerable, and your audience will listen. Don’t be afraid to humanize your message; people like to know who they’re supporting. 

Brand management and reputation are also about community. The brands winning the war of social acceptance are the ones investing in a platform of influence. For example, the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 is a masonry competition designed to showcase the speed and skill of bricklayers around the world. While highlighting masonry in this manner is fun, it also rallies the community together for a common cause. Early on, some of the biggest brands in our industry picked up on the energy and opportunities of the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 and have been proud sponsors ever since. We have created a community of contractors, masons, and masonry associations within our event, which helps everyone involved grow simultaneously. 

Photo of Shawn O'Malley and Tom Clark, 2022 SMBL500 Emcees. Their steady presence at the World Championship helps promote our mission.

At SPEC MIX, our mantra is “Keeping the Trade Strong.” That is our brand identity and is where we sacrifice the most and where we are the most vulnerable. Our area reps actively attend countless masonry training programs and competitions across North America, not just to sell mortar but to give back to those instructors and institutions who are moving masonry forward. We are driven to align our brand identity with Workforce Development, and it’s where we channel much of our resources. The culture within our organization is such that every rep has embraced the process and is eager to help us continue this mission. For us, that is brand management and the foundation of our reputation.

Photo from the 2022 MCAA Masonry Skills Competition at the World of Concrete. The partnership SPEC MIX has with the Mason Contractors Association of America, along with other regional associations, is vital to pushing our Workforce Development agenda.

Our mortar is on the front lines of numerous masonry training programs in North America. We also encourage our team to become servant leaders in their communities, partnering with contractors and instructors to promote the craft. It may be time consuming and hard work, but it pales in comparison to the rewards of building the next generation of craftsmen and women. Brand promise and reputation often include ensuring your community through unmeasurable acts. Whether or not they are customers, the aim is to build a connection to our brand, potentially resonating with someone making a purchasing decision.

There is a multitude of ways you can flex your marketing dollar. Many of those methods have their advantages and should be a part of your strategy, as long as it aligns with your business goals. But when you are designing your strategy for the next quarter or year, don’t be afraid to factor in a strategy that may be out of your comfort zone. No success story ever started without an element of vulnerability.

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