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Friday, October 26, 2007

So you are looking for that magic, quick answer . . .

You want some business; profitable good clients who will use your services, pay their bills promptly, and tell their friends about you. And, in between jobs or with a disturbing indication that your client base is drying up, you sense that you will soon have more time in the day (with more bills to pay) than you wish.
And so you surf the net, perhaps Googling "construction marketing" or something similar, and come across this site, and see the offer "Seven Tips for Construction Marketing Success" and you hope, maybe you dream, that this free information is going to give you the answer you've always been seeking, the quick fix, the brilliant insight, that will solve all your problems.
Sorry to disappoint you, but this stuff (mostly) only exists in the real world of Internet fraud. Successful marketing is rarely easy or quick; I suppose theoretically you could hit the home run on your first visit to bat, but the odds are against you. And anyone who offers quick, simple, easy, and "free" or (worse) expensive solutions that will "act fast" is probably selling you a pile of BS.
Yes, you can achieve apparently instantaneous and effective results -- with a cost per good lead of $2.00 or less -- yes, you can have a seemingly unlimited resevoir of potential clients; and a system that allows you to turn on the marketing tap when you need business; and slow it down when you don't, and yes, done right, you don't need to be a marketing guru, or spend a fortune on consulting services to get the results you are seeking.
But you will get these results by spending some time and careful thought on developing a practical strategy right for you -- it won't be obvious to others; but it will work for you.

  • Consider successful peers in other, non-competitive markets. Take a trip, invite the colleague out for lunch, share insights and observations, and learn what works for them. You'll get two benefits. First, some good ideas you can take home with you; and secondly, possibly some opportunity for cross referrals. A good wayto f ind these successful contractors is through your trade association; if you are a member, you will presumably have a directory and can contact other chapters. A better way is to assume a leadership role in your association; first at the chapter level, than at regional or even national levels. You'll obtain many insights and 'best practices' while working for your industry as a whole.
  • Learn how to produce an electronic newsletter and the basics of Google adwords. If you don't know how to do these things, talk with a student or someone in your community with a bit of technical knowledge. You need a good website (a blog can serve as an interim and easy-to-set-up website), and you need to attract 'traffic'. You'll make mistakes; you'll at times find the whole thing frustrating, but ultimately your Internet leads will likely prove less expensive than any others you are seeking (though other channels may be more effective if, for example, your demographics are largely senior citizens.)
  • Consider hiring or contracting a good consultant. Be careful, there are scammy ones out there or ones that are preaching methodologies that worked 20 years ago and may still work for hard rock salespeople, but not today's more cautious consumers. I like Michael Stone (residential) and Bernie Siben (ICI/Commercial). Alternatively, use a local general consultant who you know is good -- we use Bill Caswell of Caswell Corporate Coaching. (Caswell will work with you if you are not in Ottawa; but if you are willing to travel and pay the costs for consulting, I would argue that specialist construction industry consultants may be a better fit for you.)
  • Have a plan, be patient, and work to find systems right for you. This blog is part of my marketing plan. I don't expect revenue from it, but (outside of some achievements noted earlier), expect its main 'payoff' will be in 12 to 18 months.
Most importantly, remember that while marketing is a vital part of your business; your greatest strength is in the work you do -- conduct yourself with integrity, treat your customers properly, deliver value, and things will progress -- your marketing will succeed. But don't expect a 'free offer' or quick fix to an 800 number will solve your crisis -- you'll have to work at it, be patient, and learn the best way to go.

1 comment:

Sonny Lykos said...

There is no magic, quick answer. There never was, in any business, and regardless of it’s industry.

Why are so many people eager to spend $3 - $4 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks when for about a buck they can get one at McDonalds?

Why so Cadillacs, Lincolns, and other expensive cars sell so well in the existence of Chevies and Fords?

With the existence of cheap to medium motels, why does the Registry and
the Ritz Carlton stay close to being booked continually?

Why do so many people spend $100 or more for a pair of Nike “gym shoes.”

And why does the buying public feel it’s necessary to spend $150 for jogging clothes and shoes, and another $200 just to play golf or tennis”.

Answer the above questions, as found in “The Experience Economy” and other books, and you will have a “quick answer”, but an answer that takes time to provide results. And the above can all be categorized into one word - Branding.

Once you learn how to brand yourself, and it’s benefits to you, your customers, your subs if you’re a GC , and your GCs if your a sub, you will find yourself in demand, not finding it necessary to “sell” your self to strangers. The public will have become presold on what your “brand” represents, and want it’s service. Suddenly to your surprise, to these segments of the public price will be relegated down the list as opposed to being the single factor you allow them from which to decide upon a contractor. I say “allow” because until you give them a reason to not even consider others, you become, in their “perception”, just one more contractor flapping his lips.