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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Reader's question: What other things can I do to turn 'leads' into clients?

We are commercial and residential builder and things have slowed down tremendously. We have been in business only one year under this name, but were two companies that merged. Marketing is a new thing for this company and we are trying to find what works best. We have done a lot of trade shows this year that seemed to help, and have kept us going. Now the trade show season is slow (until spring) I have continued to mail my data base and email them, What other things can I do to turn these "leads" into clients?

Alisha Hale
Yukon Harbor LLC.

My response:


I looked at your website and sense you are doing much right. Referral programs, community association involvement, shows, and the like. So what can you do more, and better?

None of these suggestions, alas, will be a magic bullet. But maybe they will provide some clues (and you may be doing much of this already)..

1. Do you have a systematic free service call/checkup/fix up program for your clients? If so, you can schedule the visits during the slow period. This gets you into their houses and gives you a chance to build goodwill (especially if you fix things that need fixing.) It also gives you the opportunity to gently ask for referrals or receive invitations to do some additional work.

2. Have you polled your clients and established clearly their demographic, especially which media they read/view/which community groups they support, and the like. This may give you some clues about marketing strategies.

3. I don't see much of a personality or 'story' in your website; who are your company principals; can their faces, names, etc, go on the website; how did they get together and what is their background? And if you have live testimonials, let the world know them (and if you don't (but have earned them), collect them! They will help.

4. With roofing, sometimes opportunities are possible through a canvassing program if there are storms, etc, and insurance coverage is available. But my sense is this wouldn't be a great priority for you right now.

5. Unless you have established relationships where your brand is strong (and therefore you don't need to go to low price wins the job, I would not focus much on the commercial side of things -- too much price beating, and too much risk on payment/cash flow for the margins available.

6. You could contract with a consultant like Michael Stone who is geographically much closer to you than me. A little money spent on solid advice can go a lot further than flailing about with 'try this, try that' marketing.

One other thing I would explore with non-competitive peers (though industry associations/other markets, are strategies for winter works or winter initiatives.) There is seasonality in this business and you might simply need to budget for it.

In an email before granting permission to reproduce this response, Alisha wrote: "Thank you so much. We will get started on these ideas."

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