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Friday, April 02, 2010

Hopes and dreams for construction marketing

I had hoped for some inspiration that could really help a new construction company start-up when I noticed this article title in the news feed of the Construction Marketing Ideas group.

"New Builders' Success Benefits from a Thoughtful Construction Marketing Strategy"

is the title from the article published in (a worthy site/publication).

The advice is worthwhile, as far as it goes. But it suffers from a real weakness: The lack of valid stories of whether any new contractor could actually apply it (unless it is an exceptional business funded with deep capital reserves.)

I'd like to say that you can develop a comprehensive marketing plan and strategy at start-up but in fact you are most likely to need to fly by the seat of your pants and you will make plenty of mistakes at the beginning.

The biggest problem is that most paid marketing approaches (advertising and commercial lead services) won't guarantee results and until you know what works through trial and error, you won't know whether you are throwing good money after bad (and you won't have enough money to risk on that type of thing.)

So you are faced with a couple of options: Going for public work and hoping that others don't have the inside track, and your costs are really the lowest, or (in the residential marketplace), working with high return but painful approaches like canvassing -- assuming you don't have a network of friends and colleagues to give you a start.

You can build this into a plan and try to develop your brand, but at the start you will be lucky to survive.

However, once your business gets big enough that word-of-mouth is starting to work, you should start advertising. You'll make mistakes, but eventually find a formula that works.

Then it gets interesting. Walking our dogs, a neighbour who is in charge of marketing for a multi-million dollar retail business says trying new things once you are established is really quite easy. Existing ideas are constantly tested against new approaches; and if the new approach works, it becomes the control. Since you are already spending the money, the risk is limited.

But you have to get there first.

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