More About This Episode
The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insights on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.
Sean Collinsgru is Chief Vision Officer at Premier Outdoor Living and host of the Hardworking Happy Hour podcast. He talks with Zach about the importance of creating content to build a large and invested audience.
Sean started Premier Outdoor Living in 2015 after getting the opportunity to work on a backyard project that involved creating a deck and patio. Immediately after finishing the project, he closed his lawn and landscape business and started Premier Outdoor Living — despite having no prospects, no reputation and no portfolio.
For the first two years, Sean focused on developing a portfolio and showcasing it through social media over making money. “After about those first two years, it worked. We developed this online reputation and a great portfolio.” For the last four years, Sean has been focused on maximizing his audience online. Creating their content has become a separate part of the business, in fact. “It's another way that I get to be creative and do something fun with the backyards that we're building,” says Sean.
His biggest audience is on YouTube, having just reached 300,000 subscribers. “We're just at about 800,000 followers across our main five platforms. We try to be everywhere. We don't want to be too reliant on one platform because you never know — they can come and go like MySpace did many years ago.”
Building a YouTube Presence
When he started out in 2015, social media was mostly a way to get local leads for projects. Sean was following a traditional media format, but posting it on social media. Over the first few years, his social presence grew organically. By 2019, he had about 10,000 followers in total.
By 2019, he had to decide if he wanted to scale the construction side of the business, and Sean decided he didn’t. “It wasn't something I was super passionate about. I wanted to just do all the things I love doing: building, creating [and] designing.” Instead, he decided to go all in on creating content around the jobs he was doing.
Like he did when starting the business in 2015, Sean decided he wasn’t going to worry about followers or return on investment for the first year. He was simply going to make as many videos as he could. It worked. Within the first year, he made a hundred videos and grew his YouTube channel from 0 subscribers to 3,000.
While he didn’t make any money off of that first year of content, it got the ball rolling. Two years later, he has 300,000 subscribers and over 100 million views on YouTube.
The catapult moment for the channel was the start of COVID-19 when people were searching for how to build a deck and backyard inspiration. “Everybody was doing home projects so the search traffic was through the roof. And luckily, we were in a position where we had already started that snowball. So we had a good library of content, and we had a couple of videos at that point that really just shot up.”
That didn’t mean he could stop or slow down on content, however. “I knew I had to stick with it because one of them will go off, but you can't expect the first one or the second one or the 10th or the 20th. You just have to keep making them.”
Working With Influencers
When it comes to manufacturers working with influencers, Sean points out there are a few different types of influencers you can work with.
The first is the one that can give you impressions. However, they can also represent products and companies that are direct competitors to you. They probably will do one video for you for a premium and be done.
The second one is the one that can bring you value. This is the influencer that provides a full, confident recommendation of your product. “And that can only come with an exclusive relationship with that person.” Authenticity and exclusivity are the value they bring to you. It’s also hard to quantify. Impressions and views can be quantified, but if it doesn’t have the full recommendation of the influencer, those views aren’t worth as much.
“Make sure that you're partnering with somebody that is super authentic, that doesn't necessarily have to have the biggest following, but really fits what your brand is trying to do and fits that brand messaging. And make sure that they're exclusive to you because if they represent you and then next month they're doing a video for a direct competitor, really all you did was pay for those impressions. You're not paying for any sort of exclusive recommendation from that person,” advises Sean.
Deckorators is a manufacturer that’s doing it right, according to Sean. He’s worked with them since 2019. He knows that any partnerships he enters into with manufacturers have to be for the long haul or else his audience will think he’s doing a cash grab and his recommendations are phony.
Why Manufacturers Should Choose YouTube
When it comes to picking the right social platform, Sean believes there’s “opportunity everywhere that there's users. That's why we always try to be everywhere. We don't want to focus all of our efforts on one platform.” This ensures you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket and helps you reach different demographics.
That said, Sean recommends having a YouTube channel. “I think the biggest opportunity from a creator standpoint and from a manufacturer partnership standpoint is YouTube. YouTube's really the only platform that you can garner people's attention for an extended period of time.”
With other platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook, you can get brand recognition and create short-form content. “But a lot of things in the building materials industry are education-based. So you have to have your audience's attention, and you have to teach them something. There's always an education hurdle with a new product that a manufacturer is trying to push.” YouTube is the place you can go more in-depth.
For Sean’s platforms, an average view on Instagram is 10-15 seconds. On YouTube, the average watch time for one of his videos is 10 minutes. That’s a huge difference in attention time. That’s where the most value is for the video creator and their partners.
Want Even More Insight?
The goal for Sean is to create a platform where people are excited to tune in every week at the same time for a new Premier Outdoor Living video — no matter what he’s building.
To learn more about creating value through video, listen to the entire episode here. You can reach out to Sean on LinkedIn.
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