Discover your free Construction Marketing Ideas Email Newsletter

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A little (smart) marketing can go a long way

How could canvassing with this handwritten note generate $10,000 in sales in a matter of hours? Perhaps one answer is you don't need to be truly sophisticated to succeed in marketing within the construction industry -- perhaps you simply need to go out and do something!

One thing I've noticed in selling advertising services for the construction industry is its lack of marketing sophistication. Many businesses simply play it by 'gut' or by what one media sales rep or another suggests.

I validated this by evaluating the source of advertising in poorly produced and ineffectively distributed "police journals". These magazines are sold by telemarketers purportedly representing local police associations. Perhaps the telemarketers contribute a small amount of money (or even worse, some free magazines) to the police associations, but little really is achieved otherwise -- the publications have poor overall distribution, editorial content, or value. And the ads in them are not inexpensive.

Notably, the largest percentage of advertisers in these publications -- by far -- are from the construction community. You certainly don't see retailers, banks, phone companies, and the like using these publications. Notably, few businesses selling products or services specifically relevant to police or law enforcement, or with a true relevance for working police officers, use them either. In other words, the telemarketers are able to convince construction businesses there is some value in this advertising, when there is none.

Lets look at another example, my earlier blog posting revealing how a sloppy handwritten note, combined with door-to-door canvassing, brings in significant business for a local contractor. What kind of business (other than construction) could claim success with this type of marketing piece?

Now, the bad news is that the ineffective, sloppy and often inept marketing that 'works' or is tried in the construction industry tends to degrade its reputation -- causing mindless expectations of "free estimates" and destroying trust from the general public.

But the good news is you don't need to do much to succeed by doing things right (in fact, I suppose you could argue you can succeed by doing almost anything!) In other words, just a little intelligent thinking and resourcefulness will produce returns far in excess of your cost -- and you can easily manage the risks to achieve satisfactory results. The reason: You are not up against much competition, and these days, resources are available to reduce your costs and risks and enhance your results.

These include:

Effective associations

In the ICI sector, and if you are an architect or engineer, you should join the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS). If you are a home builder, consider your local Home Builders' Association, affiliated with the National Association of Home Builders (U.S.) or the Canadian Home Builders Association. You should also review resources available from appropriate specialty trade or general contracting associations. Almost all have resources to give you basic guidance in marketing -- and your membership, itself, will serve a marketing purpose.

Free Internet resources

See the links to and the Journal of Light Construction Online from this blog; you'll find a wealth of useful ideas and excellent peer support in these services.

Speciality (reputable) marketing services and consultants

I like Michael Stone (residential and sub trades, primarily) and Bernie Siben (AEC), but there are others you may find through networking through the consultants. Some heavily marketed and well promoted consulting services are overpriced and deliver commodity-style service. Stay away from them.

Inexpensive (effective) web and Internet design services

You'll see these referenced on the forums; Footbridge Media appears to have a very good reputation, for example.

Your existing clients

I cannot overemphasise the importance of connecting, relating, and listing to your existing clients. They can lead to powerful repeat business and referrals -- and provide you the perfect opportunity to asses your success and marketing effectiveness.

Notably, these marketing strategies will cost far less than the amount you waste on purchasing ads in overpriced police journals; or simply require the modest redirection of resources either of time or limited overhead budget allocations.

Simply put, you don't need to be brilliant at marketing in the construction sector -- you simply need to do a few things right and avoid some simple pitfalls to achieve success far beyond your competition -- and that is great news if you are wondering how you will survive the recession.

No comments: