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Monday, June 22, 2009

Discovering the proven methods of construction marketing success

Does participation in community activities like Habitat for Humanity (this image is from a "build" under-way in Ottawa) help your marketing and brand? I think so, and would go so far as to say it is a proven way to succeed, but can I prove it to the contractor in Charleston? If only things could be that simple . . .

At contractortalk.com, a custom home builder in Charleston, SC, posted this rather direct message:
I am looking for PROVEN examples of marketing materials (post cards, door hangers, newspaper ads, etc...) that actually work and will help us generate work. Which is the best method and how often do you need to run the ads, etc...?
I have someone that can go door to door with door hangers for $10/hour, or should I just mass mail them? We are in the process of developing our website before marketing in this way, but need some helpful ideas and language to use in our materials. Your help is much appreciated.
Not surprisingly, many of the people who responded were less than forthcoming, and quite a few were just a little snappy.

For example, Mike Finley in Colorado responded:
Would you like the account number to some one's bank account too?

Sorry, I kind of find it funny how someone would expect to be handed the keys to vault just for asking.
Somewhat more graciously, a contractor in Peoria, IL, wrote:
I was in the marketing/advertising business for over 20 years before starting my own company. There is NO such thing as PROVEN marketing - too many variables. Also, different advertising (media) work differently in different areas of the country.

You might also try a certain method of advertising & your message/creative/copy/offer... whatever, could be ineffective.

If someone in this thread was to tell you that something they do - will work for you - and you blindly invest money into it - you would be a fool.
Yet the question is not all that unreasonable. Are there "proven methods" that work? Does someone have answers that you can be certain virtually 100 per cent will be successful for your business?

The answer is, yes, maybe (how's that for evasion). For example, on another thread, I read Los Angeles Plumber Leonard Megliola's assertion that newsletters are not the best way to go, but simple flyers work all the time. They are, for him. And I suspect if you follow his formula and have the patience to do what he says without modifying things much if at all, you will be successful in your approach.

Within the thread, a landscaper in Idaho and a contractor in Oklahoma bantered about their very real market differences. You can't compare apples to oranges, you may say, but both are sweet, tasty, and healthy.

So, if you want, I'll do my best to give you the 100 per cent proven success formula. Believe me if you wish, but don't hold me personally liable if I'm wrong.
  1. Listen to your current customers; connect with them, understand them, and why they want what you have to sell. If you like them, and what they are doing, see what they like, and which media they respond to.
  2. Listen to your national or state trade association, and look for non-competitive peers in other but reasonably similar markets. Which approaches do they use, what works, and what is best for them.
  3. Read forums like contractortalk.com and blogs (like this one) for ideas. Pick the brains of successful consultants who aren't promoting a specific product or service.
  4. Then, allocate a budget of between 5 and 15 per cent of projected sales for next year, and plan your strategy. Remember, you need multiple impressions for maximum success, somewhere between nine and 13 is a good idea (there is science behind all of this stuff). Figure out what approaches will give you the right number of impressions within your market at the lowest cost within your budget. Talk to the media sales reps to the extent you need; do business with the ones with enough vision to suggest ideas beyond their own self-interest.
Are you sure of success? Well, if you are used to relying on referrals and repeat business, you are likely to be initially disappointed (though of course you should plan part of your marketing to pick the low-hanging fruit and induce and encourage this repeat/referral business).

Most marketing and advertising simply doesn't attract a response from most people, no matter how well targeted. Thousands may receive your flyer, or newsletter, or see your ad, but few are going to respond. That is the way it is.

1 comment:

Mark Buckshon said...

Comment received. It is good, but I'm going to remove the self-serving commercial link.

I would have to agree with you - I don't think that there are really marketing strategies that are guaranteed 100% of the time as there really are so many variables to take into account. As you pointed out though, there are some that come pretty close. I think that many underestimate the effectiveness of simple strategies like sending out flyers - when people are looking for what you've got, you need to be visable. We've recently invested in a round of print advertising and are really impressed with how smoothly the project is running, we're working with (self-serving commercial link) who have really streamlined the process and made it much more efficient!