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How Building Materials Companies Can Create Content That Educates & Retains Skilled Workers

The content you create for your building materials brand can be leveraged in ways that might change our industry’s labor issues. This week’s episode reveals some incredible ways we might support solutions for the labor shortage — all through more compelling content.

Photo of Zach Williams
Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov

More About This Episode

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.

Bob Baldocchi is a sales and marketing expert who retired from the world of building materials only to become the owner and investor in On3, a construction software startup that’s changing the landscape of our industry as we speak.

Solutions for Training Skilled Workers

Bob Baldocchi has a love for building materials that rivals ours at Venveo, and we were thrilled to talk to him about what he’s been up to during his retirement. “Recently, I retired from Emser and decided I was going to take some time off, but On3 came calling,” laughs Bob.

“I joined On3 as an owner and an investor because what I saw them doing was something that I felt like was a real pain point in the industry for us, which was training,” says Bob. The construction industry’s labor shortage is a frequent point of discussion on the podcast, and we’ve talked before about how a high-quality training program is necessary to educate and retain workers.

“So, what On3 did was it really focused on frontline construction, initially,” he says. “We have such a labor challenge and shortage within the industry that we're onboarding people constantly, and we're finding people who have got a background, but they may not be complete in their background.”

If you’ve ever sat through industry training and onboarding courses, you know they’re not all created equally. On3 “created an unbelievable content creation system and then a delivery system,” explains Bob. “And so, it was a really compelling, exciting kind of venue that I just couldn't help but jump into.”

175 Solutions for Training Skilled Workers

On3 guides installers, builders and construction managers through a variety of projects, from site planning to waterproofing a basement to insulating.

“We've also provided them [with] this amazing field guide system where once they've taken a course, they'll always have a quick video that'll bring them back to that subject [or] that content and show them what they're looking at,” says Bob.

Another aspect of projects is people management and working with team members at different stages in their careers. On3’s software offers construction professionals a way to share and support other people on their projects. “They can also then work with the subcontractors right there on the spot and show the subcontractors the video, or share the video with the subcontractors in both English and Spanish and other languages, and make sure that everybody's on the same page,” says Bob.

“When you're out on a home and the home is in various forms, you're looking at something that a sub or a trade just finished or is working on, you have to determine (as a construction manager) is that right or is that wrong?” Bob explains. “And what On3 is doing is it's helping them decipher right and wrong on the construction side at every part of the build process.”

Ultimately, Bob wants to set higher standards for training in the industry, so that more experts are created. “The reason why I want experts back in the industry is because we have a labor shortage — and once you have an expert, people don't bounce and you retain them,” he says.

Ensuring More Experts in the Building Industry

We wanted to know more about what kind of training On3 provides to builders and installers, and how its platform educates (and benefits) everyone in the industry.

“What we're really targeting is: Avoid mistakes so that there are not claims later, stop failing inspections, because you know the right thing to do, and you get the subs to do it the correct way the first time,” he says.

On3 helps professionals work with the building products they’re using by providing step-by-step guidance and familiarity with the materials. This results in more successful and cost-efficient projects overall.

“The idea is to really streamline. And if we can really accomplish something, which is save them on cycle time — carve a couple days or three days off of cycle times, [and] $500 a day is what it costs for cycle time. So, if you can cut three days out of a home and you're building 1,000 homes, you do the math, it saves a ton of money,” says Bob.

On3 isn’t just for builders or installers who want to finish a project. “It's a delivery system and a tool that will allow others such as retailers, brands [and] vendors, and then subcontractors for the trades will also be able to participate within the confines of what we're doing,” says Bob.

That means everyone has access to the kind of education and training that On3’s technology provides. And for manufacturers, there’s an opportunity to educate customers about your products.

“We can take your content, and we can repurpose it into content that will be built into the On3 format” he explains. “We will allow you to create your own content through a thing we've called ‘On3 Create,’ which allows you to almost sit down, take a video, write down a couple of objectives and shoot it to us, and we'll turn that into a learning module,” he says.

That means manufacturers have the opportunity to connect with customers and come out looking like an expert, as well. “I think that's true of most brands and most companies, where the people that really know the inside and out of everything,” he explains. “You know how that product gets used, but you know it in a way that is so intuitive that you can help guide customers in terms of the right application so they don't make mistakes.”

Tips on How to Educate Customers With Better Content

Bob shared that On3 has a incredible 70% - 80% retention rate on their content. This promoted Beth to ask how can other brands achieve a similar retention rate and create content that educates audiences about their products and its installation. He gave us a few ideas and strategies that building materials manufacturers should keep in mind.

“One of the biggest mistakes people make is the length in which their training takes place,” says Bob. “We've all been on those Zoom calls where we're taking people through new product introductions or new training or we're trying to get people to kind of really understand what the company objectives are, and they do it in these long, drawn-out processes.”

“I think that if you shorten things up,” he says, “you do small burst, then we get into the retention. That's kind of what the difference is in terms of what [On3 is] doing.”

He offers a few other pointers on how On3 keeps its content more digestible:

  • “It's short bursts,” he says. Shorter videos (think five minutes or so) with a concise and clear topic makes the content easier to absorb. “It's coachable, there's a coaching function to it,” Bob says. On3 makes it easier for managers to discuss and talk through processes with their teams on a project because there’s a focus on only one skill set.
  • On3’s videos are self-paced, so users can come back to the courses whenever it’s convenient for them. “It's trackable,” Bob explains. “It allows people to start and stop at any point they want.”
  • Bob urges content creators to make learning more engaging through storytelling. “If you've got a great brand story, one, tell it, push it, make sure your team is telling it and pushing it,” says Bob. “And more, importantly, make sure your strategy's aligned with what that brand is and that you don't have conflict there.”

In fact, the integrity of your brand will play a key role in how well you’re able to educate and train customers about a product. “Sometimes, you tell that story — it is through training because you need trainers that not only learn your content that you want to push to them, but then they need to train their customers, as well,” says Bob. “Whether it's on the product knowledge, whether it's on the usage and application, whatever it is, you need to make sure they're trained.”

Regardless of your brand’s story, though, Bob emphasizes that “the organization needs to drive what they think is important, and that's key.”

“As an organization, you have to be super clear. You [have] got to know what you want,” he continues. “And a lot of struggles and mistakes that, I'll call brands, make or brands within the industry is they don't know what their identity is, and they struggle with it. They want to be something that they're not, or they want to try to be everything and what they end up doing is they distort that vision, that passion, [and] they don't become anything meaningful.”

Want Even More Insight?

We asked Bob if there were any pointers on how product manufacturers can ensure this kind of integrity with their brand.

“I would tell brands [to] figure out who your audience is, figure out what that pain point or that least difficult way of getting to them is — and then go after them hard and be focused and committed to it because they'll appreciate you in the long run, if you do,” says Bob.

”They can ‘geek out’ about it and they can get to become that person who's kind of as enthusiastic about their hobby as they are about their job because that will shine through to whoever they touch.”

Be sure and listen to the full episode here for the whole interview.

Check out what On3 is doing with content and micro-learning over on their website.

Loving our content? Want to learn more about building your product’s brand? Listen to more of the Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast here.