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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Construction Marketing, branding and advertising: How do they relate?

Is having fun at events like the Greater Ottawa Home Builders' Awards Sales and Marketing Awards event part of branding. Sure, but marketers must not forget that their great logos and showpiece sales offices and advertising will ultimately provide less long-term value to their company's brand if the overall client experience is not in alignment with the image conveyed by the marketing initiatives.

A fascinating thread on, Branding Your Business, has now reached its seventh page. You need to be registered with remodelcrazy to read this thread, but since registration is free, I urge you to do it.

The discussion touches around the core principals of marketing and what exactly "branding" means. This is a concept that is arcane and out of mind-reach to most people in the construction industry (and I'll admit, for several years, it was beyond my comprehension, even though our business provides a marketing service). But it is vitally important to understand if you are to succeed.

This post from Jesse Kirchoff of Handyman Solutions in Jefferson, MO, expresses the core concept of effective branding (in my opinion):
While I have been struggling to put my thoughts into written words these past couple of weeks - Chris Wright has wrapped it all up with a neat little bow in his last two posts - but especially in this one sentence "A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer." That nails it right there.

Everything you do or say, the quality of your marketing, the clothes you choose to wear, your hair cut, your attitude, the look on your face ........ EVERYTHING adds to the perception of your company - be it good, bad or indifferent people are judging and putting a "perceived" value on us from that first impression like it or not.
This is why I believe contractors who have relied" on word of mouth and referral business in good times have a great brand -- their challenge is they haven't learned how to manage and control it, so are at the whim of forces beyond their control. When the economy tanked, they suddenly found their business drying up, and (without experience in marketing or advertising) discovered they were floundering.

Advertising of course can be part of your brand -- in fact, it, done right, will enhance and build it. Most contractors however won't want to try to advertise purely to build their brand -- they want people to call and purchase their service, or at least inquire about it. Branding, itself, is a difficult concept to measure, even for the largest corporations, and the benefits are indirect (but truly important, as a great brand allows you to put a higher price -- and thus earn a higher margin -- for your service.)

However, unless you are operating a one-time-visit tourist trap (I think of the line-ups snaking for a tour of the Empire State Building in New York City as an example) -- all the advertising in the world won't help you if people find the experience distasteful, overpriced, and irritating. They won't return for more. (The Empire State Building brand is so strong that the tour operators can deliver crappy service and still stay in business, of course.)

Next post I'll report how some contractors have successfully developed advertising strategies to keep their business flowing, which are consistent and enhance their business brand.

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