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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some thoughts about branding

If you have built a reputation for integrity and have great client satisfaction, you've achieved the essential first step in construction marketing success. Your challenge is to move beyond that level: To obtain your true "marketing degree". (Image from

This comment from Mike Finley on is worthy of repeating here. He responded to a thread started with this question: "I was just wondering how useful a marketing degree would be in a construction job ... maybe a high powered one??"
Well, if by high-powered you mean the owner of a small to medium sized construction company, I guarantee you it's invaluable. You're basically describing me. My marketing background eliminates the #1 problem almost all companies have which is getting enough work. Ask yourself if you could eliminate one thing in your business such as never having to worry about the phone not ringing what would that change for you? A marketing background would do that for you.

However, "High-powered" is still an ambiguous description, so I'm not sure what exactly you are referring to.

I just read a good article about construction companies and it said something along the line of:

When you are working in the field in construction you have a construction job. When you own a construction company you have a job in marketing, sales and management that just happens to work within the construction industry.

What that means is business is business. Being in the construction field is irrelevant. Running a successful plumbing company should be no different then running a successful Subway sandwich shop.
This is a vitally important message. Far too few construction business owners really understand marketing. Like lemmings they either chase bids (hoping to be lowest, and win) or on a more positive level, rely passively on repeat and referral business.

If you are successful in that regard -- if your clients love you, and refer their friends -- then you have succeeded in reaching first base. But here most people in the industry stall. You need to learn the techniques and methodologies to reach home plate.

Here is the interesting thing: Getting to first base, in a marketing sense, is the 'hardest' and most important challenge. The rest is relatively easy, and surprisingly inexpensive, if you know what you are doing.

The reason is that your good reputation is essentially your brand. Your marketing challenge is to broadcast that brand success to current and potential new clients so they will purchase -- and pay -- more. And if your brand is well managed, if you understand the basic principals, you can leverage your successful business practices so you can create a reliable and relatively predictable business volume, regardless of economic circumstances.

So, if you are relying on 'low bid wins the work', look at your internal and client service practices to create enough value and satisfaction that your clients are truly impressed and happy with your service. And if you have achieved that level of success, then move on -- get your 'marketing degree' -- and learn how to effusively promote your business.

(Consider resources available at your local home builders' association or, if you are doing higher end or non-residential stuff, membership in the Society for Marketing Professional Services.)

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