Chris Martin, founder of Atlas Marketing, talks helping companies build stories and unlocking new opportunities for his business

By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Podcast.

Having worked in the construction industry for over two decades, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Chris Martin would focus on providing marketing services for companies in this niche. He is the owner and president of Atlas Marketing, a Pittsburgh marketing agency that tells stories of people who build, make, and manufacture things. 

Image from LinkedIn

Telling a Unique Story

At least in the United States, Chris shares that every construction and manufacturing company always says three things: They’re safe, on time, and on budget. However, if there are 20 million contractors that claim the same things, it can be difficult for clients to choose one among them. For contractors to get clients, they have to find a unique story that will differentiate them from others. Without those, consumers will be forced to simply use price as the deciding factor. 

Through Atlas Marketing, Chris wants you to understand that there’s a need to make it easier for clients to choose you. And that can be done by telling your story. 

For example, he has worked with a contractor in Mississippi who agreed to take on a school construction project. The school owner requested to have the construction work done in the evening so that students can come to school during the day. In his over 25 years in the industry, Chris has never heard of a contractor who went the extra mile to work around the needs of the client. Though this cost a little more, the impact that it provided to the school and the community was immeasurable. 

Chris’s job is to amplify unique stories like this. However, it doesn’t mean that they will tell the entire story right away. As part of their strategy, they may first segment it through various social media posts, raise awareness, and build up the story and its impact over time. 

Image from Unsplash

Chris also has a client which is a labour group of iron workers. These people erect and set structural steel for bridges, buildings, and more. One interesting aspect that they have is that they hold an annual apprenticeship competition. Part of the competition is scaling 30- to 40-foot steel beams and climbing to the top of them within a few seconds. This event highlights the focus and athletism that their job requires. What he and his agency did do was to build stories around how these workers can be regarded as superheroes — athletic men and women who can do extraordinary things. This eventually helped in their client’s recruitment campaign.

Focusing on One Industry

For Chris, one of the best decisions that he made in terms of owning a business is focusing on one industry — the construction and manufacturing industry, in particular. This move helped them introduce themselves to the right customers and focus themselves on their and their clients’ business. 

Before this shift happened, his marketing company was no different than any other agency. Until three or four years ago, they were trying to be all things to everybody. Though he was nervous at first, them focusing on a certain market has become beneficial when it comes to decision-making. It has become easier for them to choose their clients, and identify which projects meet their core values and which projects can they pass on. 

Image from Unsplash

In the process, it also eventually helped them grow. Now, they are also working even with clients outside of the construction and manufacturing world. For Chris, it’s not a matter of looking at things and saying that they’re only going to work in this niche — it’s a matter of defining who they are as a company. In Atlas Marketing’s case, they’re a company that tells stories. 

During the transition from being a generic marketing agency into a more focused one, Atlas Marketing experienced challenges. However, it still worked out for the best as their company tallied a 20% growth in 2020. This 2021, their growth is projected at 25 to 30%. 

Chris attributes this success to two things: First is the increased focus on business development and sales; Second, and more importantly, is having a clearer definition in terms of who they are and what they do. 

Generating Content, Opening More Opportunities

Apart from his work in Atlas Marketing, Chris also started The Building PA Podcast with colleague Jon O’Brien. Jon serves as the executive director for Keystone Contractors Association (KCA) in Pittsburgh. The podcast, which they launched a year ago, did not only give them an outlet for their creative juices but also opened the door for more opportunities. 

In fact, they recently commenced the publication of a digital magazine for KCA called The Keystone Contractor Magazine. In the interactive magazine, they talk about all things related to construction and incorporate links to relevant podcast episodes. For the magazine, they are using a tool called PubHTML5, which works similar to Issuu

Image from The Keystone Contractor Magazine

Tying both mediums together also provides Atlas Marketing more opportunities to assert themselves as an industry leader and to meet more people within the industry. While the relevance of newsletters and magazine publications has dwindled in the past years, Chris points out that now is a good opportunity to use content creation to raise awareness. 

Through his podcast and digital magazine, Chris is also able to give back to the industry that he’s been working in for the past two decades. And this is still in line with what his mission is all about: To tell a story and provide value. 

You can find more about him and his marketing company on If you’re looking for ways to get noticed, think about creating your own content — whether it’s a podcast or a magazine — and find out what it is about you that makes your story unique. 

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast The UnNoticed, you can listen here.


Cover photo by Scott Blake on Unsplash.

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