Annie Summerall

Live from MarketingSherpa Summit 2017: Making your customer the hero of your campaign

April 11th, 2017

Vegas is in the middle of the Mojave Desert of Nevada, and yet you can move from Venice, to New York and over to Paris in 10 minutes.

MarketingSherpa Summit week is the one time every year that we get to bring the MarketingSherpa community together in the middle of Las Vegas to study (and toast to, at the Summit Party) customer-first marketing.

During the day, we work out of the beautiful Aria hotel, and at night, walk out onto the strip past famous structures like the Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace and the Paris Hotel, and it’s easy to see that there is no place else like it. In this morning’s Intro session, Daniel Burstein, Summit Co-host and Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, even spoke about the customer-centric thought process behind having penguins in the Flamingo hotel, thriving in the most unlikely of environments.

These structures, sights and scenes make Vegas one of the most popular and attractive destinations in the country. But how many of us think about the men and women who actually make Vegas what it is, by building (and re-building) the glorious hotels that shape the Strip.

Most don’t notice or consider the construction industry at all unless it’s somehow causing an inconvenience or delay in our day. No one glides over bridges and overpasses and thinks about how advanced new infrastructure is.

To change that perspective, construction software company HCSS decided to take on the challenge of getting the men and women that work in construction the recognition they deserve.

Dan Briscoe, Vice President of Marketing, HCSS, spoke today in his Best-in-Show Awards session on how, as marketers, they had to “get over” themselves in order to truly be customer-first.

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Elevating their customers would translate into elevating the industry, and as a result, the company.

Dan and his team developed the “I Build America” campaign, which focused on improving the image of the construction industry, infusing the people who work in it with pride and attracting a new generation of talent.

How did they do it?

“Simply put, we got over ourselves”

The team decided to do the opposite of what feels right when it comes to marketing — not focus on their products and company. Dan explained that they realized people aren’t fully motivated by how innovative their products are, or testimonials on how much HCSS customers love them — and people certainly don’t want to hear that from HCSS themselves.

So, they decided to ditch the promotional talk, forget about HCSS and its products, and let the customer lead.

Make your customers the hero

Dan’s awards-nominated campaign from last year, and a pre-cursor to “I Build America” was called “The Most Interesting Project” and was a March Madness-bracket style competition where customers submitted completed projects they were passionate about — it’s a great way to showcase the incredible work people in the construction industry do.

Encouraged by the success of that campaign, Dan said he and his team knew they could keep the momentum going with “I Build America.”

“It changes the conversation with the customer — it’s not about us and our software,” Dan said.

They built a dedicated website that featured blog posts, videos and articles spotlighting people in the construction industry, projects being run, and even a page helping people start a career in construction.

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Empower the next generation of customers

As part of “I Build America,” The Construction Intern Awards that Dan and his team developed is an initiative focused on bringing in the next generation of young people into the industry. As the largest construction scholarship program in America, HCSS has awarded 50K in scholarships to 17 interns.


On the “Start a Career” page, the team developed a flow chart to show people how they could start in construction, and the details of where it could take them.

You might also like…

Apply to speak at MarketingSherpa Summit 2018

To read more about Dan’s campaign, and others, download the MarketingSherpa Awards Book

Missing out on Summit? Get the presentation slides from each session.

How HCSS used an interactive contest to increase web traffic 800%

Inbound Marketing: Construction software company doubles submission goals in bracket contest for customer projects

Annie Summerall

About Annie Summerall

Annie is a copy editor for MarketingSherpa, MarketingExperiments and MECLABS Institute. She graduated from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, with a bachelor’s degree in Corporate Communication. Out of the office, you’ll find her on the beach or trying out new recipes in the kitchen.

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