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Monday, June 09, 2008

Construction Marketing, Construction Business Development and Search Engine Optimization (What a mouthful!)

The Construction Business Development logo. This U.K. firm offers a sales cold calling service. In an email to me, David Crick wrote that he doesn't know of counterparts in North America, but in the late 90s "I did several tours of construction sales seminars in Canada and the U.S. with David Oliver - these were practical sales seminars with me doing a live telephone demo in the seminar itself showing how to make cold calls for contractors to architects. Worked well. These were sponsored by the sales leads specialist CMD - a major competitor of Dodge as I recall . . . In the UK we have two similar firms - Barbour-ABI and Glenigan. The U.S. market then seemed very similar to the UK market in the way these calls worked and the positive responses we had - we did 8 seminars in major centres from Toronto to Tampa over a 2 week tour - I did the cold calling for CMD contractor subscribers in each centre and always had a good reception with good relationships being started each demo. Cold calling like this always does seem to work for me."

Dave/Andrew Crick have posted another intriguing entry on their U.K.-based Construction Business Development Blog, outlining their "one day a week cold call" strategy. Almost simultaneously (and totally without coincidence, I speculate) someone with the name "CBD Sales" posted this inquiry on the Contractortalk.com forum under the heading: "Getting a Website Out There or Getting Your SEO on".

At the moment I am working on a website for Construction Business Development, a UK firm that focuses on construction marketing. I am trying to promote this site and I am running up against massive brick walls. First and foremost, I am having problems finding places to place links. Most of the sites out there seem to be standard directories based off of the Dmoz page that's really about it. Does any one have some practical experience in this field that would know of some great ways to build links?
Other contractors responding to this inquiry. One recommended software calle SeoElite. I haven't tried it. (Reviews are mixed). Another suggested:

Build relationships with construction industry bloggers. A little new media PR will go a long way when your company needs to ask for some promotional favors and links with useful title tags.
And a third poster answered:

Write a blog update it 2 or 3 times a week.Go to other blogs and leave comments that link back.Go join forums like this one and leave links.
Hmm, looks like this is exactly what the Cricks at CBD are doing, exactly. So is their frustration feigned, just one of a number of strategies to create links and attention? Or have they missed the most important ingredient in this puzzle -- patience.

It took me about six months of virtually continuous blogging to get out of the Google Sandbox -- and then upwards of a year for the blog to acquire meaningful search engine rankings. (Now, when I check, it often is in first place on the search engines for relevant keywords.) Obviously this is a slower sales cycle than the CBD bloggers are accustomed to with their "one day a week" cold calling" strategy

In the latest blog entry, David Crick elaborates on the CBD strategy and model. It is intriguing, and, I expect, highly effective for contractors who use it.

Experience

We believe that effective use of the phone coupled with good project leads over short focused periods of time is the single most powerful marketing tool available to most contractors.

For this plan to work, you'll need dedicated and skilled operators. As many of you will already know, cold calling new leads is not always easy and demands experience and confidence to get past the many unsuccessful calls that any salesman will have. (To read an interesting article on sales failures, look here).

So, how much experience should a sales person have? It’s a tough call, but as a general rule of thumb it’s best to use someone who has been doing cold calling in the construction industry for significant amount of time. Whilst this can be limiting, the idea is that firms should be able to compensate for not spending a great deal of time on sales and marketing by having experienced professionals focus on sales for shorter periods of time, thus saving costs overall.

Crick notes his strategy will achieve these results:

Experience shows that just one day a week can be very effective in developing new business. Results from this committed time are already covered, here – but effectively, this strategy should result in a new contract at least every 6-7 weeks with a tender conversion rate of 1 in 4/5.

The question is whether the CBD marketers will have the patience and energy to continue blogging with reliable consistency and intensity -- when the time to do this work obviously takes away from the profitable billable hours in contractors' offices cold calling for them (or hiring people to do the calling, or finding live clients through networking events, referrals and, yes, cold calling!) The same issue applies for your business.

I think Search Engine Optimization strategies, like effective media/publicity relations, can be the most cost effective and rewarding outbound marketing strategies you can use -- but your challenge is to realize that while occasionally you can hit a home run, these methodologies work best if you think in terms of months or years for signs of real results. Yes, the people at Construction Business Development -- reflecting their common sense and fast-acting approach to business -- are doing everything right to achieve SEO results. The true test is whether they will be patient enough to continue, day after day, week after week, month after month, until the reward output matches the energy input. In your own business, you have the same challenges.

2 comments:

Josh said...

Any marketing effort takes time -- particularly in the SEO realm. The key is to keep it up and to keep refreshing and refining the message on your site. Make your content compelling and unique, and over time, Google will catch on that you are for real and deserve to move up in the rankings.

Mark Buckshon said...

Josh, you are absolutely right -- the point is if you focus on the content, rather than the search engine rankings, the search engine will ultimately find you! Of course you can use some common-sense techniques to help you along the way.