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Smartphones on jobsites? Hello!

In our traffic with clients, channels and contractors themselves, smartphone usage is a resounding “Duh!” Sure we know that contractors use smartphones a lot more today than they did yesterday. (One survey showed about 50% of electrical contractors use smartphones regularly to conduct business.) But, the question is, “We know they use them, but… how do we?”

OK, maybe there’s a Contractor Groupon® coming. Maybe when contractors check the daily weather on their phones, distributor ads pop up for tarps and rain gear. There’s a small-business bargain site called BIZY; maybe that’s where we post specials of the day, week or month.

Maybe, maybe, maybe. That’s the problem. We think “maybe” and end up not liking the odds. Or we jump in without any strategy and watch the money go down the Porta-John.

Best Practice: 5Ts

Consider what some people do: they ignore or push aside mobile marcom because it’s premature, or “our audience doesn’t use mobile.” Or, they do try it just because it’s cool, new, the thing to do because “…we need a mobile app.”

Make a better call — use the 5Ts: Target, Think, Test, Tally, Try

Target: Focus on a segment of your audience. Identify a control group or two to hone in on. Perhaps project managers, or lead techs and masters, or onsite engineers, and perhaps in specific geos. Talk to distributors to learn who the most frequent mobile users are or field a small survey. Regardless, don’t boil the ocean — make sure you target a group or groups you can manage.

Think: Once you’ve identified a target group of people, think carefully about how they use smartphones and why. Better yet, make no assumptions — study your target’s use of smartphones. Is it just communications on the jobsite? The FMI Corporation learned via research that the construction industry is “…on the cusp of a transition from using mobile purely for communication to using it as an application platform for significant business and operational functions.” So, is it schedules using Buildit™, tracking job progress with SmartBuilder™ or editing drawings with AutoCAD® WS? Now think, does your product, message or offer align? Does it deliver value or utility to your target? Will it be welcomed on the jobsite and not interrupt? Today, mobile is least effective as a standalone medium, so just blasting banners isn’t smart. Think integration: like ads or posters with QR codes that serve video demos on the phone, or supplying a text-in code to enter a sweepstakes. Work with a media professional to determine the appropriate approach, always aligning measureable goals and strategy.

Test: You don’t always need a full-scale campaign to learn what you need to know. Because you have a control group or groups, you can control your exposure. And, you can test variables (e.g., messages, offers) among members of a group or over groups. Whatever you do, don’t skip steps or get caught up in the rush of doing something new; never do anything you can’t measure. Prepare for good results and bad. With mobile we’re early in the learning curve, so use what you learn to build on.

Tally: Examine the results. Look at how different groups responded to the test. Go back to your goals and strategy. Challenge them against the results. Determine the efficacy and decide on your next move.

Try: On the basis of your test and tally you can decide on a full-scale rollout or more trials. For most of us, additional testing may cut too deeply into budgets, so if your experiments look promising, give it a shot. Success may be just around the jobsite! At the very least you will learn more to carry over to the next planning cycle.

We hope this helps. We have a 5Ts Checklist on mobile in construction based on this article.