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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Donuts for GCs

Michael Stone's excellent Markup and Profit newsletter is one reason I put him on the higher level of recommended construction industry consultants. (He is also smart -- he saves his 'best' free advice for people who actually sign up for the newsletter, no charge, you generally won't receive the information unless you at least provide your identity to him.)

His latest newsletter contains some of the best and most practical advice I've seen in a long time on how to get "advertising" right, both in the definition I use of paid media promotion, and in the broader lead generating marketing approach he explained in his email to me yesterday.

Since I am not selling consulting services and this site now is generating enough traffic to produce several outbound links to his site each week, I expect he won't mind me sharing with you some of his newsletter content. So here is one gem:

If you are a specialty contractor looking for referrals from either general contractors or suppliers, take doughnuts or cookies to your supplier or GC's sales or production meetings. Let them know who you are, what you do and that you want their business. Don't be bashful or shy. Get out there and let these folks know you want the jobs. Schmooze!
A friend of mine who does HVAC duct cleaning gets three to five new leads each week by simply dropping off a dozen doughnuts every Friday between 7 and 8 am. He normally works for between 16 and 18 different HVAC contractors, and he visits two each week. He buys Krispy Kreme doughnuts using a discount card that provides a buy one dozen, get one dozen free. Use your imagination and deliver the goods.
I should note that I advocate your linking your marketing/selling approach both to your clients' needs and orientation, and your own personality and temperament. Many of us (certainly myself!) hate schmoozing! If you are to be really successful you will need to work around this limitation, possibly by taking public speaking courses, participating in appropriate networking activities or the like. Or you can find other approaches such as properly planned paid advertising, or a really good website/Internet strategy, that will work for you. Also, as Stone suggests,you can set realistic targets that you can simply force yourself to do. Even the poorest 'schmoozers' can do it once a week or so, if the reward for effort is high enough.

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