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Saturday, June 06, 2009

The most effective option for reaching business decision-makers

In a previous posting, I outlined some of the challenges of marketing in the business-to-business space, where decision-makers are few and far between, shielded by gatekeepers, and subject to influencers often outside your visibility or control.

In that posting, I offered some suggestions including speaking, writing, and community service, but left out perhaps the single most valuable resource available to you -- membership and participation in relevant associations.

First, you should consider and engage with the association that parallels this blog's focus, The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS). The association name more accurately should read: "Society for Marketing Architectural, Engineering and Construction Services" because this multi-chapter organization is focused within the AEC industry, with training resources, conventions, chapter meetings, professional staff and consultants, and a powerful network both online and off.

Second, and a fundamental of business-to-business marketing, you should engage with associations relevant to your clients' own interests. The power of the relationships and connections you can achieve this way cannot be underestimated. Consider this email I received yesterday from Chase, who is on the board of directors of the Barrie Construction Association, within the service area of The GTA Construction Report and Ontario Construction Report.

He spent the day at the association's golf tournament, as a volunteer. (I have removed the names of specific clients for obvious privacy reasons)

Met two advertisers today for two current features . . . and will follow up next week to confirm ad size.

Also meet with two perspective clients for features. (One) client called me last night when he got my message I would be in town for the tournament if he wanted to meet. We did today while he was playing golf, (and are) meeting next Wednesday while I am back in town for BCA Directors meeting.

Also met a new member. . . who wants to do a feature for our August issue . . . Projected revenue from this trip is roughly $4000 ($700 for July and $3300 for August).
Since our business is publishing and selling advertising for the construction industry, not surprisingly, we engage with associations serving the industry. And you can find marketing value within your own relevant trade associations, especially if you are working in other communities and connect through the association's referral network. Your own trade association may also be able to reference you to consultants and other service providers who are familiar with your industry (like us!)

But the really powerful association-based marketing occurs when you reach to your client associations. Can you connect with property managers, builders, developers, school district superintendents, hospitals, and the like? Yes, if you find the right association(s) and get involved.

Note this is not a quick fix. It takes time to build trust and relationships, and you will have an uphill battle if your competitors are already in the space (for their relationships will be well-developed and truly hard to dislodge).

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