5 Technologies I Would Use If I Still Marketed for a General ContractorCassandra Vagher
Everyone who’s ever marketed for a General Contractor knows it’s not an easy task. In a world where content is king, and your projects can take anywhere from five months to a few years to complete, you probably don’t have exciting new content at your fingertips 24/7. You’re busy branding your team, strategically plugging away at endless proposals, and trying to figure out what makes you different from your competitors. Some of you work in teams of business developers and marketers, others are juggling a one man show. No matter what your situation is, if I were you, I’d be integrating new technologies into my marketing strategy. As 2017 begins, I challenge the AEC industry, and specifically General Contractors, to take on new technology to brand themselves, strategically position their firm, and win new work. No matter what your marketing or business development plan looks like, I would start embracing 360 cameras, Drones, Google Cardboard, InfraWorks 360, and virtual reality.
It’s not your traditional image – and you can use it in a variety of ways. In proposals, on social media, VR headsets, you name it. The immersive images capture more at a time and could add a unique quality to your qualification packets. Working on a logistically challenging site? Snap a few pictures or videos to illustrate your team’s organization and management skills. It’s sure to illustrate a better picture than just the project superintendent’s words. Photograph the entire building and create a 360 walkthrough for your website or social media. This little tool can be utilized in a lot of ways, whether it’s interactive or printed on paper, so there’s plenty you can do.
360 Fly: https://www.360fly.com/shop/cameras
Samsung Gear 360: http://www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/gear-360/
Drones – Phantom 4
Sure, you can hire a firm to come in and film and photograph an aerial view of your team self-performing a concrete pour, but it’s going to be more expensive than just purchasing the Phantom 4. Did I mention they literally fly themselves? I was amazed with Phantom 4 — it’s flying performance made it a breeze for even the most inexperienced drone flier. It has a built in 4k camera that’s easy to control with your tablet or mobile device. It’s not a toy; it’s actually a smart tool with the ability to avoid obstacles without your input. It can track moving objects, navigate via GPS, and stays up in the air for 28 minutes.
If I were still marketing for a GC, I would invest in this tool and allow my project managers and superintendents to take it out on the field with them, even when I’m not there. They might not have a great artistic eye, but I’m sure they’ll get a kick out of it, and that means less work for you creating content.
Cardboard Camera/Google Cardboard
You have cool footage now, so how do you make it come to life? Look into Google Cardboard and the secondary app Cardboard Camera. For Cardboard Camera, you don’t even need any of the cool devices I just mentioned. Instead you can take a little lower quality 360 image using your phone just like you would take a panorama. Share projects with anyone via their mobile device, at a tradeshow, on social media, or a link from inside your proposal. This immersive technology is relatively inexpensive and not that complicated. Have a “before” and “after” of a remodel? Fully immerse your clients in the experience without them actually being there. Want to display your team’s expertise in a specific stage of construction? Snap a 360 image and share the story with your clients.
Google Cardboard: https://vr.google.com/cardboard/
Cardboard Camera: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cardboard-camera/id1095487294?mt=8
For those of you who may not know, InfraWorks 360 is a BIM (Building Information Modeling) design tool, but it could also potentially win your firm more work if used correctly for marketing and presentations. Bring your design-build proposals to life with 3D modeling that can be viewed on an iPad or a website. Take your clients on a fly-through of your proposed project during your interview. Drop the model of your new building into an aerial map image of the space and show off how you’re going to coordinate logistical challenges on a busy college campus or just to put the building into context. Share a model or story board of a current project under construction on your website.
Virtual Reality – Fuzor & the HTC Vive
I’m sure you’ve heard of it in the AEC realm, but I guarantee, if you haven’t tried this yet, you need to. This is the new big thing in the BIM (Building Information Modeling) world. There are a few different software programs out there that will take BIM models and turn them into virtual reality. My current favorite is Fuzor, which tends to have more functionality, better renderings, and overall value. For your team this means live measurements, clash detection, and plenty of cool features. For a marketer, this means immersive presentations. Have an interview for a Design/Build project? Perfect! Walk your clients through your design before it’s ever built. Get their feedback in real time. Take clients on fly-throughs. Have the competitive edge and win more work.
Htc VIVE: https://www.vive.com/us/
Of course, this all depends upon the client, and not everyone is ready for VR or InfraWorks. Your team could do this in-house, but if you don’t have the capability don’t fret. CAD-1 has the expertise to help you navigate this technology, with your team investing in VR, InfraWorks or any of the software. I look forward to our team helping contracting firms move forward with new technology and really pushing the AEC industry to evolve as a whole.