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Monday, June 25, 2012

Construction marketing conventions: When they work, when they fail

Tonight, I received some advertising copy from an individual who had achieved some marketing success.  He got through to me with a tempting proposal, which I accepted.  He would redesign one of our company's websites, for free, to demonstrate his abilities.

While the first effort failed, I liked his initiative, questions, and thinking, even though I set an almost impossible bar for his success by making myself virtually totally unavailable for any consultation on what we really required.  So I spent some time on the phone with him, going over the challenges and purposes of the proposed site redesign, and on the second-go-round, he came through with an innovative and I think quite effective design.

(We'll keep it under wraps for now, until all is set up -- it will be the foundation of our corporate website, under the domain (currently feeding to a temporary remote-hosting service.)

In exchange for his work, I offered him some promotional considerations, including mentions in this blog, the other one at, the weekly newsletter, and other advertising resources including possibly client invoice stuffers.  All of these initiatives don't cost us any cash dollars, but represent real value, considering that others pay us hundreds or even thousands of dollars for the relevant services.

We were to get started on the promotional stuff tonight.  Then I read his copy, and sighed.  It read just like -- an ad.

Okay, I know, I asked him for some advertising copy, but I could tell he is a more effective web designer than advertising copywriter.  Actually, very few people can write really great advertising copy.  It is a challenge to create just the right bit of creativity, within conventions, to create the true selling and branding message, without sounding like a hack.  A non-professional will almost certainly fail.

I asked him to go back to the drawing board and send me an originally written article about effective web design.  His English writing skills don't need to be perfect; I can edit things into shape, and the editorial-format coverage (with relevant hyperlinks where appropriate) will generate far better results than his efforts at a standard ad.  (And, yeah, I receive plenty of proposals, well-written at that, from search engine optimization marketers hoping to provide me with guest columns for this blog -- of course, inserting their clients' URLs into the text to boost their rankings.)

Conventions, norms, and assumptions are common in the business world.  Just attend any grand opening or anniversary party, and you'll see things like the ribbon with the giant scissors, or the gold plated shovels (for the ground-breaking) or similar standard stuff.  It isn't bad always to follow the conventions, as long as they are followed properly -- and you keep your expectations of powerful results low.  Sometimes, however, you can have more fun and achieve greater results with some genuine creativity.

Oh . . . the image.  The rainbow . . . conventional perhaps, but I haven't seen one quite as dramatic as this one for some time.

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