In May 2021, Cunningham Construction was featured in HIA’s quarterly Housing Magazine. Titled Decoding digital transformation, the article examined the way Cunningham Constructions has embraced digital technology to grow their business. Read the full article below.
After launching Cunningham Constructions in 2013, founder Michael Cunningham knew he needed an innovative way to drive business. As a young builder on the Gold Coast, he understands the importance of investing in a marketing strategy with a focus on construction content.
Over the past two years, Michael has grown Cunningham Constructions from a small renovation company – working from $400,000 to $600,000 jobs – to a large-scale architectural building business. The firm now focuses on three or four $800,000 to $1.5 million jobs at a time, and Michael attributes a lot of his success to the shift towards a strong digital marketing presence.
By streamlining his digital strategy and using this to build a reputation as a leading duplex builder on the Gold Coast, Michael has increased enquiry tenfold. While he has grown his team, he’s been able to step off the tools to focus on the business.
This is an inspiring story of growth, which is perfectly illustrated by his hugely successful ‘in construction’ webpage. Since being implemented in February, this page quickly became the highest viewed on his website and a lucrative driver of enquiry.
Drawing on high-quality photography and video content, the page shows Michael’s passionate team documenting every stage of the construction process – from demolition to framing and interior design. By allowing prospective clients an insider view of the Cunningham Constructions process, Michael is inspiring confidence in his abilities and showcasing the quality work of his team at every turn.
It’s proof that a picture does speak a thousand words, with this content promoting the company’s work far better than a testimonial alone. This is why having a long-term view of content creation is essential, with regular monthly videographers and photographers out onsite.
‘I think it was an evolution and trying to stay current,’ says Michael, referring to his decision to invest in professional images. ‘I didn’t want to be running old photos. I’m not a volume builder, so with only around five builds a year, trying to keep the content fresh and up-to-date felt key.’
His advice to others in a similar position? ‘I would 100 per cent invest in the experts to get it done for you. Unless you can hire the expert to be under your banner, I would always outsource.’
Michael’s most recent use of the content is a ‘follow the build’ series of a Dawn Parade renovation project in Miami, which utilises both video and imagery. Combining drone footage and close-up shots, the videos provide a detailed overview of the project and its progress. Meanwhile, a series of images takes website visitors through every stage of the build, from demolition to externals, plastering and tiling.
Social media also plays a huge part in Michael’s digital strategy and investing in a solid marketing plan has paid off. Since engaging digital marketing agency Sea Salt Marketing in 2019, Cunningham Constructions’ Instagram following has grown from 932 to 4627, while its Facebook following has more than tripled – jumping from 418 to 1586.
Michael considers Instagram the best platform for his content and a huge opportunity to make the most of his bank of fantastic professional shots. His page beautifully promotes his current and past projects while actively engaging with followers and encouraging future clients to get in touch.
‘Having great content helps,’ he says of his successful Instagram page. ‘I always recommend having professional photos or videos. When you compare the phone pictures to the professional photos, it’s clear the professional shots stand out a whole lot more.’
Michael also invests in Facebook ads to target potential new clients and monthly e-newsletters to keep existing clients up-to-date. His website blog page is also regularly updated to feature industry news, trend pieces, useful hints for clients and in-depth insights into current and completed projects. Having all of these updates overseen by a third party has allowed Michael to expand upon his digital horizons.
‘One of the best parts about outsourcing my digital strategy is that I’ve been able to do way more with marketing than I could ever do myself,’ Michael says.
Of course, a successful digital strategy takes a lot of work – and it’s certainly not a one-man job.
‘The key to digital success is having a good team behind me that I trust to create and review my content and make it look appealing to prospective clients,’ Michael explains. ‘I mainly concentrate on my Instagram Stories, but the team at Sea Salt handles my social media posts and ads, monthly blogs and newsletters.’
While digital solutions may take some time to implement, they can be huge timesavers too. As well as transforming his business with external methods, Michael is using digital platforms internally to lead his team to success.
‘My supervisors have iPads, which we share job files between,’ he explains. ‘We also use them to update each site’s work schedule and orders. Meanwhile, we use cloud-based accounting software, which is great for tracking job costs and filing invoices.’
Michael’s digital approach may be hugely successful already, but he won’t be resting on his laurels any time soon. The online world is constantly evolving, with Michael admitting his approach has changed ‘tenfold’ since he began his business. His digital future looks bright – he plans to continue concentrating on digital content, from imagery to video, to build the brand and showcase his team’s craftsmanship.
It’s an inspiring growth story and one that’s sure to spark ideas for businesses such as Michael’s. His advice is not to hold back or be afraid to make mistakes.
‘The only thing that doesn’t work is not being active,’ he says. ‘You have to be active to gain traction. It doesn’t always have to be high-end work; just show what you’re currently working on, be proud of it, and people will respect and engage with you.’ It certainly seems to be working for Cunningham Constructions.