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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Marketing generosity -- some further thoughts

Many contractors and suppliers participate in Habitat for Humanity initiatives (The image here is from the National Capital Region (Ottawa area) Habitat for Humanity site, but you will probably find a Habitat for Humanity branch in your region.) Note that the most meaningful contribution you can provide here will be if you put your marketing/promotional visions aside and focus on the real needs of the local Habitat chapter. Strategic generosity, with marketing underlying the initiative, is far more effective when you create or initiate a sponsorship or support an organization within your market area that isn't expecting your contribution. But genuine generosity without worrying about marketing pay-back (the best approach for larger organizations like Habitat) can serve your business well if you just do what is right for your community.

Here is my Publisher's Viewpoint for the September issue of Ontario Construction Report.

By Mark Buckshon
Publisher, Ontario Construction Report

Perhaps the most important lesson in business I’ve learned in the past few years is that, when it comes to marketing, it is not what you take, but what you give, that counts the most.

Generosity – or if you want to be more direct about it – focused or strategic generosity – is perhaps the most effective and under-appreciated marketing resource; excluding the hopefully obvious principal that you must always complete your actual work to the highest quality.

By generosity, I don’t mean the overworked (and potentially damaging) cliches about ‘free estimates’ or making a big deal about a small contribution for some community charity. I’m referring to a form of generosity more subtle yet at times more ‘in your face’ than the conventional model. The highest and most successful application of this principal is pro-actively creating a positive image for yourself within your target market/community.
As an example, I know of an insurance broker who offered to sponsor the General Contractors Association of Ottawa Ethics Award. Out of respect for insurance broker’s competitors, I won’t name the business here – but I’m sure that the GCAO members – the market the broker is targeting – know who the broker is!

Last night, I saw another example: A U.S. company that sells marketing materials teamed up with a well-known marketing guru, to offer a free Webinar on construction marketing. Undoubtedly, the presenter offered solid and useful advice. Of course, viewers also knew who offered the advice, and which website/phone number to visit after the program.

So how can you implement your generosity program? Think about your ideal clients; which organizations, events, and hobbies reflect their passion, and then find ways to visibly support, contribute and be a part of these passions. You’ll of course want the generosity to be consistent yet creative. This takes some work and effort, but will contribute to your success in business.

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Progress is continuing in the chartering of Canada’s first chapter of the Society for Professional Marketing Services (SMPS). I recently attended the U.S. national SMPS conference in Denver, Colorado. The organization – dedicated to marketing issues for the architectural, engineering and construction industries – has more than 7,000 members, with chapters in most major U.S. cities. If your responsibilities relate to marketing and you are reading this article, you should consider joining the Ontario chapter when it is established. You can visit the SMPS website at and if you would like to be ‘connected’ to the Ontario chapter organizers, please feel free to email me at

Mark Buckshon is president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies. He publishes a daily blog at, and can be reached at 888-432-3555 ext 224.

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