Contractors – the backbone of building material manufacturers. For all the gloss and glamour of architects and showrooms, there’s the contractor… in the trenches doing the work and wrangling the installer. But within this segment, several challenges – more so personality traits –exist that pose potential roadblocks for effective marketing. Let’s examine these traits and possible ways marketing can be bridged to overcome, and ultimately, convert this critical audience.

Contractors are Stubborn
– Set in their ways
– Resistant to change
– If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

These are all fair assessments of the contractor. Since most are independent businesses, the risk and liability falls squarely on their shoulders when debating whether to use a certain product. If it fails, they can take a reputation hit.

Even worse, they will have to return to a job and perform repair work – eating time that could be used for new revenue generating work.  The constant pressure of material costs, which can fluctuate wildly thanks to big box pricing and the internet, means the only real expense a contractor can harness is what he pays labor. He must know the fair market price, actually hire the labor and then promise a customer he’ll have it done in less time to actually win a bid.  With all this in mind, you can start to understand why contractors stick with what works for them.

Contractors are loyal:
The boom of NASCAR is a well-documented phenomenon in American business. During its boom, sponsors were pouring millions of dollars into sponsorship deals for a very specific reason – NASCAR fans are loyal to their favorite driver’s sponsoring brand and others that play an active role in the sport. Seven out of 10 NASCAR fans, more than 20% higher than its nearest professional sport, say they purchase brands aligned with NASCAR. Many of these fans are contractors and related building professionals. If you can gain their trust, contractors can be a powerful brand advocate among their networks. One area to consider is how you can educate them on using your brand. Marketing professionals need to design programs that get demos in front of contractors and show them how a product works. Partner with associations, offer dealer day training programs and tailor the program using common terminology and how a product makes them money and frees up time. Technological advancements might excite your team – to the contractor, it means nothing unless it puts more money in their pocket.  And while you’re at it – pay attention to what you offer in terms of giveaways.

Premium hats, shirts, tools and other items with your logo will have more resonance among this group than most others – again, think NASCAR.

Contractors are family focused
Whether it be a son, grandson, daughter or other relation, you can usually find a family member intimately involved in a contractor’s business. Since most are small, independent operations, the use of family members is a cheap labor pool. But with any family business, consider the red flags that might come with it. Be mindful of ways to educate contractors on successful business operations and particularly marketing. Since most contractors lack marketing skills, this is usually an area that’s outsourced to a family member. Develop template programs – mailers, e-Newsletters, content and other collateral that can easily be tailored and used by the contractor. If you make their life easier, you can further work on gaining their trust and loyalty.