SpecChem supplies and services the concrete distributor network with quality concrete construction building materials, with a focus on increasing distributor value through quality products, innovation, and best-in-class customer service and support.
SpecChem is led by Chairman and CEO Greg Maday and President Mike Shull, along with a solid team of industry professionals that bring nearly 300 years of collective experience to the organization.
Along with a full line of liquid technologies—including Form Release Agents, Curing Compounds, Finishing Aids, Cure and Hardeners, Bondbreakers, Sealers, Bonding Agents, and Surface Retarders—SpecChem boasts a comprehensive line of cementitious concrete repair and restoration products and a line of epoxies.
SpecChem has manufacturing plants across the US, located in Kansas City, Nevada, South Carolina, and Texas. The company’s service model was founded on their ability to provide a unique level of service that the larger, more established companies simply could not match. A competitive advantage that has contributed significantly to the rapid growth in market share they’ve accumulated in a short ten years.
There was a clear gap – industry-wide – when it came to customer service. They saw an opportunity to gain a significant competitive advantage, and built a relationship-focused sales and support team intent on setting SpecChem apart from the crowd.
Benton Boyd, Director of Marketing at SpecChem, says tailoring marketing efforts to numerous target audiences – ranging from contractors to architects and engineers, and more – presents an exciting marketing challenge.
Using his 15+ years of creative, digital marketing, and agency experience, Benton and his team are focused on bringing this Kansas City-based brand into its second decade with a whole new game plan; one focused on creating brand value – industry recognition – leading to significant market share. And he believes that doing so requires a strong, content marketing focused approach.
With a large number of their products being “specified,” that challenge of reaching potential decision makers, end users, influencers, comes to the forefront of their strategy.
“Our marketing – especially in terms of our content strategy – needs to potentially influence a project developer. But on most projects, it’s an architect that is writing the specifications. But if a structural engineer knows and recommends our products during the process, that’s a strong endorsement,” notes Benton. “And then you have performance specs, where it’s the contractor that is ultimately making the decision, or even a sub-contractor.”
“We have to be thinking of how we want to communicate with numerous, often very different target audiences, all of whom are relevant in terms of branding and communication, but whom may consume their information differently – different channels, different messaging, different strategy, likely different content altogether.”
Another marketing challenge SpecChem faces is “being a relatively young player in a market of well-established giants.” With competitors that have been around for a hundred years, it’s challenging being the new kid on the block. Especially when you’re selling similar products in an unchanged industry.
Benton is quick to note, however, that SpecChem’s size and position in the market gives them a unique edge. Being lean and agile allows them to move more swiftly, be more proactive, and adjust strategies and tactics to accommodate product or market changes.
Marketing by Region
Not only are SpecChem’s marketing efforts tailored to a target audience, but they’re often specific to the region they’re selling to as well. Being a national brand, there’s a necessarily seasonal component to their strategy.
Part of that “being agile” enables them to react to the seasonal and weather-dependent construction industry, or to different sub/specialty categories within the concrete industry, such as tilt-up concrete contractors. Or even to states like California and Minnesota, who have adopted more stringent ‘green’ standards than much of the country, requiring low VOC formulas.
Content Marketing, Social Media, and Influencer Marketing
Even though concrete isn’t the ‘sexiest’ of products, SpecChem’s social media accounts (particularly their Instagram account) have really taken off since Benton started with the company less than a year ago now. SpecChem produces their own photography, editing in Adobe Lightroom, cutting out the need for a hired photographer.
Their Instagram account encompasses everything from company culture to stunning snapshots of the buildings that have been made with their products. Benton notes the importance of solid photography, using images that truly tell a brand’s story whenever possible; creating connections between the product, the people, the community.
And he emphasizes that hashtags play an increasingly important role in their social media strategy, especially on Instagram and Twitter.
They utilize Hootsuite to manage their many social media accounts, since each account serves a different purpose for them. Where Instagram focuses on photo editing, Facebook is used for trade shows and is a general information hub for online researchers. Benton says that their personas aren’t as active on Twitter, but they’ve drawn in people from LinkedIn with more useful and industry-related content. He also notes a significant commitment to focusing on producing more video content moving forward.
“We need to be better about producing more video—it’s definitely a key part of our marketing strategy. Video has been the fastest growing content type for a decade now, and iPhones have made it so much easier for people to produce content without expensive equipment and extensive video editing knowledge.”
The company currently has a series of ‘how-to’ videos on their YouTube channel and the occasional success story blog posts, but they want to extend their content marketing to establish themselves as real influencers in the market. They’ve identified the right publishers and trade publication editors. Their next step is to connect their brilliant chemical engineers and their plethora of knowledge to these big-name content sources.
SpecChem is currently promoting the launch of Rapid Flex CJ, a product that can be used for the repair of damaged or spalled joint nosing and cracks. It allows for joints to be shaved quickly for fast turnaround, plus it’s UV resistant. It controls the cracks in concrete flooring when the concrete freezes or thaws, telling the concrete ‘hey, crack here!’ Rapid Flex CJ is an all-new, rapid curing formula that has an easy 1-to-1 mixture, semi-rigid flexibility, high elongation to resist tearing, and optimum hardness to transfer wheel loads while allowing moderate movement.
Some of Benton’s favorite construction industry marketing campaigns have come from brands like Caterpillar, Volvo CE, John Deere. Caterpillar’s commitment to content marketing and channel development have continually served as a source of strategic inspiration. John Deere’s attention-grabbing content, share-worthy videos, and amazing ability to invoke emotion and an uncanny loyalty with their customers, have inspired SpecChem’s own content marketing strategy.
One thing is for certain; Benton will continue to move the SpecChem brand forward, inspired by great brands, alongside an amazing team, and in an industry and market poised for growth and ripe for leadership.