Sales Prospecting Tips & Methods | Jeff Molander
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Social Media in the Steel Industry: How Steelmaster Gets Leads on Facebook

  • By Jeff Molander

social media steel industryTime to read: 3 minutes. I’ve uncovered a remarkable social media steel industry success story. Steelmaster is netting leads and sales right on its Facebook page using a specific technique. I’ll quickly add some color and explain the technique—so you can do the same for your steel, construction or manufacturing business. 

Facebook doesn’t exactly pop to mind when you think corrugated steel buildings, does it? Well, at first, it wasn’t that obvious to Steelmaster Buildings either. Social media and the steel industry? Selling prefabricated steel buildings on Facebook!? They just don’t seem to go together. Well, here’s how Steelmaster gets leads and sales—right on its Facebook page.

3 Success Principles

Steelmaster is a 30 year old company selling prefabricated steel buildings and roofing. Traditional markets are industrial, agricultural and the military. But they’re expanding in a big way—now reaching business-to-business and consumer markets. Steelmaster is generating and converting North American and international leads to new customers by applying 3 success principles.

  1. Solving problems: Steelmaster is solving highly specific problems for customers that, when witnessed by new prospects, creates “can-do” confidence in them. I’ll discuss exactly how they’re doing this below.
  2. Designing to sell: Steelmaster is giving existing customers incentive to tell stories that spread quickly and provoke new prospects to contact the company.
  3. Creating curiosity: Steelmaster is exploiting what customers already love doing on Facebook (sharing photos) in ways that create curiosity and induce ACTION (leads).

Success: Asking Better Questions

What I’ve found in researching social media in the steel industry is how businesses making Facebook work for them (like Steelmaster) are asking different questions. They’re not asking the typical questions like “what’s a fan worth?” or “how many times per day should I be posting updates on Facebook?” Instead, they ask questions that include:

  1. Is my target market there? For Steelmaster, this part was not so obvious until they noticed #2…
  2. What is my market doing on Facebook… right now? Steelmaster noticed behavior on Facebook among certain kinds of prospects.
  3. Are there ways we can join in and create value for prospects AND us? Don’t miss that last part because this is where most of us are failing.

Before I drill further into the success principles… consider if your steel business can participate in “the doing of” whatever it is you see customers doing, wanting, hoping for, fearing in ways where you can make 2+2=6.

In other words, can you jump in and have material impact on your prospects’ lives? Can you help them scratch an itch, get excited about something, solve a problem, learn a new skill… in ways that help them become more confident buyers (informed, capable)?

And can you help customers in exchange for learning a little bit more about who they are and where they are in the purchase consideration process?

Because if you can it’s likely customers will trust the source of their new found confidence—you/your brand.

Solving Problems That Instill Confidence

Steelmaster’s products are solving unique problems for customers. That’s why the company uses Facebook in ways that allow prospective new customers to witness this fact through photos and videos of existing customers. Smart!

Their customers have always been good at finding really creative ways to apply their products—nifty steel buildings. Facebook offers the ability for others to witness the remarkable ways customers are applying products.

In essence, the success of existing customers is doing two things for Steelmaster… resulting in inbound leads on Facebook. When prospects witness existing customers’ success it:

  1. Plants a seed in the prospects’ mind (“hey, maybe I could use this kind of product to solve my problem”)
  2. Gives “can-do” confidence to prospects (“hey, that looks simple, affordable and actually do-able without much risk or hassle”)

Designing to Sell by Giving Customers Incentive

Steelmaster is giving customers incentive to tell stories that spread quickly and provoke new customer prospects to contact the company. This is the fuel for the social media steel engine. And bye the way, this is the part that most steel industry marketers miss—and is why this social media steel industry example is successful at netting business leads.

In the world of Facebook showing off photos is all the rage. All of this photo-sharing activity spreads across the Facebook networks of friends, family and colleagues. That’s why Steelmaster constantly encourages the showing-off and sharing of constructions projects—both underway and completed.

(hmmm… could you encourage customers to show off photos that involve your products/services?)

This is why the steel materials company runs contests giving away $500 Home Depot gift cards to a lucky customer demonstrating the most creative application of their pre-fab steel materials. The more photo-sharing activity the more success stories get told. And the more success stories that get told the more seeds get planted in the minds of those who see the stories.

That translates to more people beginning to imagine how a pre-fab steel building could serve a specific purpose in their business or personal life. And that translates to customers asking questions—right on Steelmaster’s Facebook page. And, of course, those questions become leads for Steelmaster’s sales team to nurture.

In summary, customers’ natural (inherent) sharing of photos can be tied to a promotion that invites new customer leads to be collected in exchange for a give-away… in your steel business.

The Key: Creating Curiosity in Prospects

Behind all the photo sharing… Steelmaster’s successful lead generation strategy is focused on creating curiosity. It’s based on leveraging customers’ success stories to subtlety suggest “you can have this success too” to future customers.

Customer success stories create confidence among people who read them. “Could I do that? Would that suit my need?”

Curious onlookers often find themselves asking—right there on Steelmaster’s Facebook page. Not bad hu? Steelmaster Buildings is one of the best social media steel industry examples I’ve seen yet. What do you think and do you know of any others?

Photo credit: SteelmasterBuildings

About Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on starting sales conversations online. He teaches a proven, effective and repeatable communications process to spark buyers curiosity about what you're selling. He's a sought-after sales prospecting trainer to individual reps, teams of sellers and small businesses owners across the globe. He's an accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded the Google Affiliate Network and what is today the Performics division of Publicis Groupe.

Jeff also serves as adjunct digital marketing faculty at Loyola University’s school of business. His book, Off The Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You, is first to offer businesses a clear, practical way to create leads and sales with platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs.

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Leave a Comment:

Stewart Zentner says

Quite an interesting take you have here Jeff and I partially agree with you. I do believe that marketers should primarily ask first if his target market is being tapped on social media. Social media does help in improving brand awareness however, for a niche like my business, sometimes it’s not guaranteed that the leads are solely coming from social media efforts. Organic search is still the best source of lead for me.

    Jeff Molander says

    Hi, Stewart. I think the debate about “is social media worthwhile for sales”, what is better at generating leads… and all that is mostly noise and nonsense. The noise is coming from people who have never sold anything nor owned their own viable (long-term) business. Social media is the worst possible option to create awareness… in my own experience and from every honest case study I’ve ever read on the subject. You can buy much better attention via other means. Just my 2 cents. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Stewart Zentner says

      Thanks for your thoughts Jeff! In my experience, I am more active in LinkedIn and Google Plus since these two have a more professional approach compared to other social sites. I use these platforms to promote our blog’s content and build connection.

      But as you said, in terms of sales, I can’t solely rely on social media especially not on Facebook. 🙂

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