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Friday, October 09, 2009

My two biggest marketing weaknesses

I'm happy this blog has top ranking for relevant "construction marketing" Google keywords. Despite this accomplishment, things aren't perfect around here, with two rather large and as yet unresolved marketing quandaries.

Maybe you have some of the same problems in your own business and possibly you have faced -- and solved -- these issues.

Disconnect between the leads/initial inquiries I am receiving and my actual service

This blog continues to generate between one and five inbound inquiries/leads a day -- with requests for the "Art and Science of Publicity", sign-ups for the free e-letter, or calls or emails seeking marketing insights.

But virtually none of the leads are currently converting to viable orders for this business's current service -- feature reports in either our regional publications or the Design and Construction Report.

It seems either I've failed to build enough trust in the service, or failed to connect enough dots to cause the initial inquirers to say "let's do it."

To draw a parallel in your situation, say your inexpensive (or even free) advertising is generating this number of leads a day an virtually none are converting. What would you do?

It seems you could either stop the advertising an find a more relevant media, review/change your selling process to see if you are "turning off" relevant clients along the way of lead conversion, or change/adapt your service offering to the leads you are actually generating.

Here, my problem is that our service is geared primarily for larger contractors (with sales volume of $2 million or more) and while we receive some inquiries at this level, most are not senior enough to say "go for it". The service is too expensive for very small contractors (under $250,000 total sales a year), and for the ones in the middle, we have a quandary -- it can be worth every cent of its sticker price, but it isn't free: You would need to budget about $1,500 as a one-time investment.

Probably the problem here is that at this level, the work requires a lot of selling skills, but my sales representatives, naturally, focus their energies on reaching out to the larger contractors who (a) don't need to pay and (b) can generate much larger total business volumes for their effort. In other words, leads which might qualify for the paid service are simply lost because they need some encouragement from a good representative, but our representatives rationally are focusing their energies where they can achieve greater return for their time and effort.

The challenge in sustaining interest and opportunities in longer-range projects.

I'm good here sometimes, but not always. This blog is a success story in that I've been able to post daily for more than two years, something few bloggers achieve. But I find many initiatives which start with much promise seem to fizzle -- I seem to lose the spark of creativity and innovation, or my ideas just don't work so well any more.

This is partly temperamental; I'm interested in new adventures and when the process becomes repetitive it fails to motivate me so much; and it is partly practical; time and obligations constantly press and it is sometimes tempting to put some things to the back burner or turn them off. The trouble with either of these approaches is that excellent relationships and initiatives lose their spark, and the great marketing value and relationships/connections built through hard work and initiative dissipate.

I suppose the answer to this question is decide if the activity/engagement really still interests me, and if it doesn't, whether I need to pull back or find better ways to connect these values/interests to the larger goals.

Yes, I've admitted a couple of rather big weaknesses here. There are strengths, of course, to offset them. Clients who do business with us generally receive value far beyond their investment and return for more. I certainly am able to persevere and delay gratification for important relationships and longer-range goals. And, even the leads this blog are generating are not converting the way they should to sales, I'm not paying any cash for them! Maybe I simply need to know this blog's readers better (you!), and discover what you really want. The insights here may lead to an entirely new business.

1 comment:

Mike Stanislaus said...

Perhaps the solution is to re-tool your offerings to suit the audience you are already effectively reaching. If your service is too pricey for the large numbers of smaller customers who come in and express interest, create a scaled-down solution that they CAN afford. The problem is never the customers, it is always the disconnect between them and the offering. Embrace change and follow the money.