Here's my latest construction marketing ideas hangout video. In it, you can learn about shindigevents.com, an intriguing new service which may, if successful, change the nature of live and video conferences.
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Here's my latest construction marketing ideas hangout video. In it, you can learn about shindigevents.com, an intriguing new service which may, if successful, change the nature of live and video conferences.
Friday, June 29, 2012
One of his clearest observations, which struck close to home because of its immediate application for my own business, is the Economist subscription offer. Readers were presented with three choices.
You could pay $59.00 for a one year subscription to economist.com (online only). You could pay $125.00 for a one year printed subscription. Or you could pay $125.00 for a combination print and web subscription.
Ariely noted the obvious: Why would anyone even consider the second option (print only) and why did the Economist offer it?
Well, the marketing geniuses at The Economist had in fact, devised a scheme that dramatically increased the number of subscribers signing up for the combined print and electronic version of the magazine. Given a simple choice of a seemingly "much better deal," they took the combined offer.
When Ariely tested a comparison offer, where subscribers could simply elect to purchase the web or web+print options, a much higher percentage accepted the lower, web-only offer.
There are plenty of other examples of how marketers can use psychology to manipulate the results and stack the odds in their favour. In fact, any person whose business is sales and marketing would be wise to spend as much time as possible understanding the growing body of psychological and scientific research.
Yes, we are creating a web directory to go with our printed publications. So, based on these results, we'll replicate the Economist offer concept, with a third choice which really isn't rational or "necessary".
Maybe your own construction marketing strategies should follow these paths.
See Ariely's blog here. See constructionmarketingideas.com here.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Book writing is a delayed gratification exercise. The first book, Construction Marketing Ideas: Practical strategies and resources to attract and retain clients for your architectural, engineering or construction business, took about two years from conception to completion.
My latest tome, a somewhat simpler E-book about social media, isn't taking quite as long, but, well, it is taking longer than planned. Cover design is now in the works and the chapters have all been written. Now the hard editing task starts.
Vivian (my wife, a professional writer by trade) struggled with the editing of my first book -- to the point that the project bogged down for several months. Finally, I took over responsibility for the editing task. With her painful long-hand editing notes for the first five or six chapters, I could see the sorts of problems she sought to correct: Long-winded sentences, unnecessary words, repetition, and the like. She told me that she could only handle the work for an hour or two a day.
With her template, I proceeded to complete the editing process -- learning (to my dismay) how much my original draft needed improving.
Same story applies for the social media book. I struggled with some chapters, cleaning up the writing, but left others in the original draft format, before pulling the book together into a single Word document in preparation for the cover design and e-book formatter's service.
Today, I set out to read through the manuscript for what I thought would be a final check. First chapter, no problem. Second, ok. Then, wham, I could see the chapters which had not received the editing fine-tooth comb.
I'll get the job done. I hope it will be in shape before our upcoming vacation. This gives me tomorrow and Saturday. Whatever, I won't rush it just to meet the deadline.
In the meantime, you can certainly read the original volume, available in print or e-book format. If you purchase Construction Marketing Ideas and would like a free copy of the e-book on social media, let me know by email to email@example.com.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I'll admit I am more a written-word than visual person. However, tonight, YouTube put on a "road show" event in Ottawa promoting YouTube partnerships and encouraging creators to develop videos which, if successful, can go "viral" and generate advertising revenue for the videographer. So I attended. It proved to be an expensive evening as I also picked up a $55 parking ticket. Grrr.
So why is Google pounding the pavement, putting on road shows, and encouraging as many people as possible to become "YouTube Partners?" I wish I had a good answer but assume, the idea is that the more content on the system, the more advertising there is, and the more effective and profitable YouTube can be for Google.
In practice, most people concerned with construction marketing won't want to try to become video gurus and make money from YouTube partnerships. However, the basic issues of successful video production remain highly relevant, especially as video results can impact significantly on your search engine rankings and also create a dialoge and communication between you and potential clients.
Especially effective can be "how to" and informative videos -- and client-focused videos showing the nature of problems and how you've solved them elsewhere (these videos, presumably, you would not post publicly on the web until the client approves, but could help you stand out from the crowd.
The challenge with video production is the time, effort and co-ordination required -- it takes much more effort for a writer like me than simply drafting a regular blog posting. However, you don't need to be excessively slick or have a high budget to produce videos.
Notably, as I continue my experiments, the Google+ Hangout system provides one of the quickest and simplest ways to produce video content. You simply set up a Hangout on Google+, authorize live video, and YouTube records everything. You can also have guests and others on the screen and if everything works right, show videos, screen shots and the like. That is how I made the video that goes with this blog posting.
Do you have examples of successful construction marketing videos you would like to share. Please feel free to communicate with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the other blog at constructionmarketingideas.com.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
For example, HMC Architects in California discovered that the success of proposals directly correlated to the amount of time principals put into the process. If the leading architects simply tried to dump the work on the marketing department, the proposals would fail. If they spent hours of non-billable hours in preparing for the proposals, they would succeed. So the practice included in its go/no go matrix a consideration of the pre-qualifying time the principals spent (it could do this because of comprehensive time accounting tools at the practice.)
As I researched the metrics topic for a series of articles for the SMPS Marketer magazine, one glaring quality came right to mind -- most practices don't even bother measuring their marketing effectiveness. The argument is that the practices "know" what works and what doesn't, and the creative process determines what to do and what not.
Despite the strong arguments in favour of measuring marking effectiveness, I can see some reasoning in the nay-sayers. Sometimes metrics are abused; sometimes the numbers are 'gamed' and sometimes you are simply measuring the wrong things.
As well, perhaps marketing metrics need to be considered within the overall business model. Consider this blog posting: "The only two business metrics that matter"
Here are the two business metrics that matter at Scout:
- Income per employee
- Employee happiness
Monday, June 25, 2012
While the first effort failed, I liked his initiative, questions, and thinking, even though I set an almost impossible bar for his success by making myself virtually totally unavailable for any consultation on what we really required. So I spent some time on the phone with him, going over the challenges and purposes of the proposed site redesign, and on the second-go-round, he came through with an innovative and I think quite effective design.
(We'll keep it under wraps for now, until all is set up -- it will be the foundation of our corporate website, under the cnrgp.com domain (currently feeding to a temporary remote-hosting service.)
In exchange for his work, I offered him some promotional considerations, including mentions in this blog, the other one at constructionmarketingideas.com, the weekly newsletter, and other advertising resources including possibly client invoice stuffers. All of these initiatives don't cost us any cash dollars, but represent real value, considering that others pay us hundreds or even thousands of dollars for the relevant services.
We were to get started on the promotional stuff tonight. Then I read his copy, and sighed. It read just like -- an ad.
Okay, I know, I asked him for some advertising copy, but I could tell he is a more effective web designer than advertising copywriter. Actually, very few people can write really great advertising copy. It is a challenge to create just the right bit of creativity, within conventions, to create the true selling and branding message, without sounding like a hack. A non-professional will almost certainly fail.
I asked him to go back to the drawing board and send me an originally written article about effective web design. His English writing skills don't need to be perfect; I can edit things into shape, and the editorial-format coverage (with relevant hyperlinks where appropriate) will generate far better results than his efforts at a standard ad. (And, yeah, I receive plenty of proposals, well-written at that, from search engine optimization marketers hoping to provide me with guest columns for this blog -- of course, inserting their clients' URLs into the text to boost their rankings.)
Conventions, norms, and assumptions are common in the business world. Just attend any grand opening or anniversary party, and you'll see things like the ribbon with the giant scissors, or the gold plated shovels (for the ground-breaking) or similar standard stuff. It isn't bad always to follow the conventions, as long as they are followed properly -- and you keep your expectations of powerful results low. Sometimes, however, you can have more fun and achieve greater results with some genuine creativity.
Oh . . . the image. The rainbow . . . conventional perhaps, but I haven't seen one quite as dramatic as this one for some time.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Say, for example, you are interested in commercial and industrial roof work. Your market will be truly different from residential roofers. (See my classic Canvassing in Columbus posting.)
I decided to purchase Eric Heath's ebook: How to Create a Roof Lead Machine, after reading his Roofyourworld.com blog where he described how some people buy the inexpensive book and quickly request a refund. This refund request rankled Heath:
“I would like a refund, see I looked for a couple of minutes. I’m a small residential roofer so this info doesn’t apply to me. I don’t have a commercial contractors license so I couldn’t get the jobs if I wanted to.”
Heath issued the refund, but expressed his frustration at this contractor's narrow-minded view of things.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Here is the statscounter.com report for keyword searches at constructionmarketingideas.blogspot.com for the past 24 hours. This sort of data is powerful in assessing which topics interest blog readers, and which keyword searches attract them to the site.
This report is supplemented by other data, including referrals (links), exit pages, detailed "drill down reports" of individual visitors, and more -- and, coupled with similar reports for all of the company's websites, provides truly comprehensive intelligence about where things are and where they are trending.
The basic service is free -- you can pay for upgrades, but I've discovered the free service provides the key data I need to assess results here, at constructionmarketingideas.com, and at our other publications such as the Canadian Design and Construction Report, Ontario Construction Report, and Northern Ontario Construction News.
Friday, June 22, 2012
If you are interested in construction marketing for northern Ontario, you can reach Lynne by email at email@example.com.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Of course, you wouldn't want to plan your business -- and construction marketing -- purely on luck. So you need to weigh your probabilities, risk, and reward and decide if the odds are in your favor.
Example: Is it wiser to throw all your marketing budget into one big push, or to strategically define a variety of smaller options? Well, the answer could be "either way" depending on your circumstances, knowledge and experience, though in most cases incremental gains are wiser than the big blow-out.
Here is another example. Say, you have a budget of $100,000 for marketing. Should you spend it on advertising, media publicity, or both, or none, and how much should you spend? Your answer will in part depend on your previous experience. If you've advertised successfully and can calculate your cost-per-lead and the numbers add up, it makes sense to continue advertising where the advertising works, predictably. If you haven't, you should assess whether you can schedule enough frequency/volume and test your results, and then decide if you wish to continue or do something else.
- Play the odds. If they are reasonable, take the risk;
- It doesn't hurt to try some experiments, but keep these to about 10 to 15 per cent of your overall budget;
- Listen to your own intuition and remember your experience. How much marketing success have you achieved by responding to inbound telemarketers or spam messages?
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
|Statcounter.com provides incredibly comprehensive traffic data -- and it is free.|
The video impressed me with its slickness and its various attention-retaining devices to draw the viewer into the story, and to make it seem so believable that of course only a fool would fail to see the value of the offer and part with money to make the dream come true.
Of course, I'm a sceptic about these sorts of things, so even before the video ended, I had left the site, avoiding the "squeeze offer" when I initially tried to leave the marketer's video page. I used Google to search the offer proponent's name and, within a few minutes, discovered reports from some early clients, knowledgeable Internet marketers, who said there indeed could be some value in the program, but it certainly won't solve every one's problems and is not a magical fix-all solution.
Internet marketers like the video producer say that if you purchase their products, you'll achieve incredible traffic and with that traffic and your slick marketing, you can sell others' works through affiliate deals and make a small (or, more accurately, large) fortune by selling other peoples' work.
Sure . . . anyone can build an Internet marketing site and theoretically reach a sizable percentage of the world's population, virtually instantaneously, but we know that is far from the reality for most of us. Google, especially, is wary of tricks and gimmicks to build traffic -- if you cross a line, you could be banned to search-engine purgatory.
Of course, architectural, engineering and construction marketers are not really looking for massive amounts of traffic from visitors anywhere in the world. We are seeking qualified potential clients, and to maintain healthy relationships with current and previous customers. Unless we are operating a national franchise serving millions of consumers, our markets are largely constrained by geography (the more local the better) or scope (if we are building multi-million dollar theme parks, we don't really want nor need to reach typical consumers in middle-income neighbourhoods.)
A successful blog or site within this industry would probably measure daily traffic in the hundreds, much less likely than the thousands or tens of thousands.
I track traffic and source/nature of visitors through a free (for small numbers) service, Statcounter.com, which allows me to see who is arriving at our sites, and when.
As for dreams of instant wealth, I've discovered that sometimes incredibly wonderful things can happen, but this success is rarely achieved by blindly following an Internet guru's videos showing fancy cars and houses. It's fine to dream, but it never hurts to keep the real world in perspective in planning our construction marketing.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
You can respond by commenting or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, June 18, 2012
We publish regional and national construction newspapers and magazines, print and online. Most of our revenue arises from special editorial features describing communities, businesses or projects. These communities and companies work with us to introduce their members or suppliers (the people who are giving them money) as potential advertisers. The supplier-advertisers, wanting to ensure their actual clients are happy, co-operate by advertising in the publications to help their customers' interests.
Fair enough. This is relationship-based marketing at its best. The business model also has an intriguing risk and value transference element. Companies receiving the editorial publicity don't need to spend a cent for all the attention; the companies advertising don't care about "results" for from their advertising, as long as their key clients are happy. This means we don't have as much price resistance for our advertising sales.
While this business model is highly effective, it is also quite controversial. Alas, some publishers have abused it. They use high-pressure techniques and deliver poor-quality publications. After a while, the advertisers can decide that they have had enough and stop supporting the features.
We faced this problem, bluntly, in 2005/06, when our business almost collapsed under the weight of angry clients who felt we had taken advantage of their relationships.
Then I had an insight which saved my business. I realized that the advertisers might be purchasing ads to support their clients, but we were doing nothing to support our true clients, the paying advertisers. I decided I would find ways to deliver genuine value to them, and thought that they might appreciate comprehensive, independent construction marketing advice and resources of high enough quality that they could always be assured of a positive return on their advertising investment.
So, I started this blog, began learning everything I could about construction marketing, joined the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), began writing for their magazine, The Marketer, and a few years later, wrote the Construction Marketing Ideas book. As well, we began working actively with relevant associations and groups, supporting the industry, charitable initiatives, and community service projects.
Our advertising costs as much as it did before, but now we deliver the value and treat clients well, and they return for more, and all is well.
Maybe you qualify for an editorial feature in one of our publications. The publicity is free, as is the writing, graphics, layout and everything else. However, you need to have a business of the scale and scope that we can sell some advertising -- about $1,500 worth of ads per feature. In our experience, this requires supplier relationships founded on a business with sales volume of $3 million annually or more.
In case you are wondering, yes, we would work to sell advertising to your suppliers in an appropriate publication -- but, as you can see, we will also work with them to ensure they truly receive their money's worth. It can be a great deal, all around. (If your business is smaller, it is unfair to bug suppliers for support and I wouldn't want to take your cash for this sort of feature -- read the Construction Marketing Ideas book, and you will find other inexpensive options which will help your business grow to the size that this type of editorial feature publicity makes sense.
For a sample of the sorts of features and stories, please feel free to review our publications, such as the Canadian Design and Construction Report. You can call me as well at 888-432-3555 ext 224 or email email@example.com.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Now, look at these three things and consider how they can apply in your architectural, engineering or construction marketing initiatives. I can't tell you what they should be but I am confident that, if you incorporate your "enjoyments" into your marketing, you'll be much more successful in the long-run.
There are several reasons for this observation. First, if you enjoy something, you'll likely stick to it. Second, your enthusiasm will radiate to others, and they'll be more comfortable working with you. Finally, if you can connect your passions and genuine interests to your actual marketing activities, you'll discover a higher level of awareness and involvement and your overall marketing quality will be much more effective.
As an example, consider the story of HMC Architects in California, which has assessed that the amount of time and effort principals put into preparing for proposals is a clear indication of their likeliness of success. So now the practice weighs this "time and energy" in deciding on go/no go strategies.
In the real world, we don't always get to do what we want to do and love doing, all the time. However, the more we can manage our affairs to do what we love, the more we are likely to succeed at construction marketing.
See the relevant SMPS Marketer article here.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Fair enough. However, as marketers we have the ability to turn rules on their heads and here, "instant gratification" is the way to win hearts, minds and money.
Now, obviously we aren't in the business like the used car dealers who say "no credit, bad credit, we'll fix things so you can drive away today" (leaving the poor suckers seeking instant gratification even deeper in debt.)
As well, in practical terms, most construction projects cannot nor should be instant gratification exercises. You really don't expect anyone to pick up the phone, order a $20 million building (or even a $10,000 small renovation job) on a single call, do you?
But you can still provide instant gratification, by answering the phone on the second ring, sending a thank-you card after a great meeting or, perhaps, meeting a spontaneous request because you know the person will really appreciate it. Small gifts are good (blatant bribes are not) .
I certainly didn't hurt my case when the tax auditor showed up at our offices and he found waiting a few paper cups and a "10 pack" of Tim Hortons coffee. "Thanks," he said. "You know, there are people who are afraid to offer me a coffee because they think it would be in conflict, or there are people so mad that they won't offer me a coffee in spite. I'm really allowed to accept this gesture." When the auditor left our office three hours later, he gave us the greatest gift possible: Nothing. As in: No additional tax owing.
So, yeah, if you visit job sites in Canada and want to win the hearts and minds, bring the coffee -- or maybe a $10 coffee gift card.
Simply put, anytime you can find a little way to provide some instant gratification to your employees, contractors, or clients, do it. And give your employees the power to do the same thing -- it won't break your budget.
Instant gratification is great for construction marketing -- when you give it.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Gulp. When you read this sort of posting, you might think that the right thing to do is wrap it up, buy a few lottery tickets and hope for the best.
That isn't exactly what I am seeking to communicate here.
Let's phrase it a bit differently. You've probably heard the phrase that it is better to work smart than hard, but it is even wiser to work smart and hard. "Hard" work might be grinding out dozens of responses to RFPs, whether or not you have solid relationships with the clients, "Smart," might be focusing your energies and bidding only work where you can be profitable and have a reasonable chance of success. "Hard and smart" is taking the long-range view, focusing on activities you enjoy, and working through these enjoyable activities to build satisfying relationships with the people who count and can put you on the inside track for successful bids or RFPs.
In other words, allowing for the fact that it takes time to achieve success, doing things you enjoy but which put you in contact with potential and current clients is smart marketing. Yeah, that means if you like golfing, it is okay to spend lots of time on the course -- if you enjoy writing, well, blogs are pretty effective (over time) and if you like sports, spending some time with teams and groups interested in both the sport and your business area will probably get you to where you want to go.
The ideal venue for these relationships is often relevant client-focused associations. Spend time there, and you'll make things happen.
These ideas won't generate instant construction marketing success. They are smart, however, and don't need to be too hard to implement.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
These thoughts come to mind as I prepare to spend several hours (and a few hundred dollars) flying to Toronto tomorrow for a SMPS Ontario Chapter board of directors meeting. While I've enjoyed some wonderful relationships and true friendships from the SMPS community, the direct "return on investment" in actual business from other SMPS members is hardly something to write home about. In fact, some members downright object to the special feature profiles and advertising supplements, which continue to provide the bulk of our business income.
Yet the SMPS participation "works" in a most fundamental way -- it helps differentiate our business from the other publishers out there doing the same thing, but who do not offer the depth and respect for the people truly paying the bills--the advertisers. While most of our clients don't take full advantage of the consulting and support services available to them, the chemistry is different when our business leadership is able show true expertise and effectiveness at marketing -- and suggest practical, low-cost ideas for effective business development.
If you are looking for a wealth of resources relating to business development and marketing, certainly consider joining the SMPS chapter in your area. If you are in Ontario, hopefully we'll see each other soon.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
|The 2011 Ride the Rideau commemoration|
I've seen this frequently where the most successful architects, contractors and suppliers also appear to spend the most time and money on charitable and non-profit activities. Consider, for example, in Ottawa how Robert Merkley (Merkley Supply Ltd.) and Claude Des Rosiers (Boone Plumbing and Heating Supply) support the Ride The Rideau initiative for cancer research, and
Experience is the interaction between clients, suppliers, employees and potential customers. Charitable leadership involves lots of experience: Board meetings, fund-raising events, thank you dinners, and so on. At each of these events and activities, you are present, reflecting business in a positive light as something very different from a pushy commercial enterprise.
Trust correlates to the experience. In an environment where you are not pushing to sell, but to share, you get to know your clients and they get to know you in a way that enhances your reputation and leads to a confidence that you will conduct your business in a way that is appealing.
You cannot see charitable and community service as a quick fix and fast way to make money. However, you need very little money to engage, involve and support the community. Pick projects and activities that you truly support and are within your market area, and you'll succeed.
P.S. If you have community service initiatives you would like to share, please let me know with a comment or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll receive some publicity and hyperlinks.
Posted by Mark Buckshon at 2:55 AM
Monday, June 11, 2012
Posted by Mark Buckshon at 8:31 PM
And (drum roll please), the password you are seeking is:
You'll have to return the relevant source blog page to find the relevant link to use this password.
Again, please respect copyright. This isn't a public document. Please don't post it on the web or republish but you can provide the links and tell about the treasure hunt.
Posted by Mark Buckshon at 3:38 AM
Sunday, June 10, 2012
For information about subscribing to Canadian Design and Construction Report, see here.
Posted by Mark Buckshon at 6:35 PM
Saturday, June 09, 2012
Today, we'll begin testing the use of the Net Promotor Score for Construction Marketing Ideas and our publications.
There really is only one question. You can answer it as you wish. (If you wish, you can elaborate in the comments line.)
If you would like more information about the Net Promotor Score, see the Net Promotor 2.0 site.
Posted by Mark Buckshon at 7:05 PM
|The mathematical inflection point (from Wikipedia). This posting describes a business inflection point.|
Yet the surprising story here is that -- despite deep and fundamental changes in how we do business -- what we do hasn't changed very much. In other words, allowing for evolving technological and product quality improvements, the underlying service has changed very little in the last several years.
The real change, and this is important, is the underlying approach to business and the values which shape it.
Seven or eight years ago, we sold the service, delivered the promised goods, and moved on. Relationships were generally, if unintentionally, defined transactionally. I remember well how we approached a local (and important) industry association to set up a co-operative marketing arrangement. The association reviewed the idea, declined, and then we moved our separate ways.
Now, when it comes to construction marketing, we still assess the relevance and value of individual association participation and will pull the plug on membership, if necessary. There is no reason to throw good money after bad. However, the question is much less whether there is a transactional "return on investment", than whether we can discover human, effective and responsive ways to get involved and contribute to the group's overall success, while enjoying healthy relationships within the community.
These values also underlie the business relationships with employees and contractors. Six or seven years ago, I would have thought of a "benefits plan" as an entitlement, to be avoided for its cash-draining cost. Now I see it for what it is; a reasonable indication that the business is ready to offer some intrinsic value to employees that goes beyond salary or hourly pay. (Contractors of course cannot participate -- they are truly independent, after all -- but we aren't into playing games by turning people who want and should be employees into artificial independent contractors, either.)
I like this recent posting in the other Construction Marketing Ideas blog describing EllisDon CEO Geoff Smith's own blog. Lessons learned. Values remembered. Can you do the same?
Posted by Mark Buckshon at 12:42 AM
Thursday, June 07, 2012
This an idea that adapts to your business, your clients and your budget.
For example, your clients may belong and participate in associations dedicated to their industry, cause, or neighbourhood. Can you, too, get involved, perhaps as a member of the same group. They might be interested in cultural or charitable activities. Can you lend a hand?
They may enjoy sporting activities and events. Can you (if conflict of interest rules don't bar it) obtain box seats at major league games they would love to attend -- with friends, colleagues and others who might also want to do business with you.
These initiatives have something simple in common: Fuelling a combination of good-will and referral and testimonial dynamics, in a humane, respectful and "non selling" mind-set.
The budget can be sizable (major league box suite rentals are not inexpensive) or virtually nothing (community and charitable events, especially if you are willing to contribute sweat equity or help in fund-raising (not your own money) don't require much cash at all.
This is direct, responsive and respectful marketing.
Looking for more ideas? See the link to the Construction Marketing Ideas book on the sidebar, or visit the "other" Construction Marketing Ideas blog at www.constructionmarketingideas.com.
Posted by Mark Buckshon at 9:37 PM