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Friday, November 28, 2008

Reader's question: How to properly implement a successful marketing campaign

Marina Park in Kirkland, Washington. (Public domain image from Wikipedia)

I have been bestowed a new responsibility and challenge this week, I am doing sales and marketing for my families construction company my uncle has been in the business for over 40 years and his GC company has be up and running for he past four years. I started off being the first employee I did laborer duties for a few years then opted to move back to my former profession (auto sales) for the past 2 years but with the sharp decline in that industry I am back in the construction field and I asked to be able to use what I learned selling cars to help his struggling GC company.

For the past four years finding work has not been a problem with great referrals and repeat large accounts but recently work has been increasingly harder to find. We have done quite a bit of decks, rot repair, mold and flood damage since we are located in the rainy Seattle area mostly working for apartments and condos we have worked with a number of management companies and consultants for HOA.

My job is to find the work, I have pulled up all the apartments in the surrounding areas thinking it maybe a idea to get a foot in the door for maybe turn arounds, emergency repair, decks, or even full remodels. I am looking for advice on how to approach soliciting jobs from these type businesses. I am getting together some literature and company info for an evidence manual to bring validity to my presentation.

Being a novice to marketing but not to sales I know putting together a consistent presentation and method is key for success, I am looking for any input on how to put a plan together so I can properly implement a successful marketing campaign.

Any advice would help.

Brian Grospe

Erein Services
Kirkland Washington


I hope in switching from the auto to construction sector, you haven't gone from the frying pan to the fire when it comes to finding business in the current economy. Regardless, your challenge will be to uncover sufficient unmet needs and business in a marketplace where your competitors are also scrambling for work.

In practice, marketing is primarily about branding, and branding is primarily about winning trust, and the best place to start is always your current and previous client base. You need to work from this base to build the connections for the relationships which will take you to a higher level.

So the first thing I would do is look up your uncle's current and former clients. One method that works for many people is to offer to do a free inspection and maintenance check-up with the commitment (for any job done in the last year or two) to make good on anything that isn't quite right. This gets you in the door and in contact with your clients; often other work and needs will be uncovered in the process. You may also be able to plug in some connections to HOAs, neighbours, condo board reps and the like, all of whom will be able to give you business or referrals. (You may have to do some free fix up work, of course, but the cost here will be far less than the good will created by standing by your services. And of course you can use common sense and not rush to call back the really finicky clients who you don't want to see again anyways!)

You may want to allocate some (small) resources to building a simple website (you can use a free blog template to do this if you don't have any budget). E-newsletters can work well; especially if you fill them with useful advice and maintenance tips. Remember any form of advertising requires many -- some say nine to 13 -- impressions for you to be able to measure any value; and obviously this can be a budget-stretcher if you have no previous experience or metrics to follow (which is why it can be risky to spend money on advertising now, if you haven't done it previously.)

Involvement in a contributing way to HOAs and associations representing management companies (you can find which groups your current/previous clients belong to) may be productive, especially if you can win introductions from your existing or previous clients. The art here is to forget the selling and focus on what you can do to provide useful services/value to the group. Your current/former clients may be happy to support your membership application and vouch for you at the association meetings/gatherings -- this gives you instant credibility with their peers and opens doors relatively quickly.

Will 'shoe leather' and dialing for dollars work; ie conventional outbound selling approaches? Possibly, but the big weakness here is that unless you have an offer or circumstance where the price for the service can be transferred to a third party (ie an insurance company), you are going to risk getting dragged into unprofitable bidding wars or "low price gets the job" so-called opportunities. You may wish to check to see if there are repair/support programs sponsored at the state/county level where you can access public funds to help out (this may be more available later as government stimulus programs kick in.)

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