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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Discovering construction marketing answers by looking away from your own needs

The 2011 Ride the Rideau commemoration
One of the paradoxes of successful construction marketing is that the highest and best results are often achieved by taking "non-marketing" initiatives; that is, sharing, giving, helping and contributing to your community without worrying about business results.

I've seen this frequently where the most successful architects, contractors and suppliers also appear to spend the most time and money on charitable and non-profit activities.  Consider, for example, in Ottawa how Robert Merkley (Merkley Supply Ltd.) and Claude Des Rosiers (Boone Plumbing and Heating Supply) support the Ride The Rideau initiative for cancer research, and Johannes Ziebarth of Ziebarth Electrical Contractors Ltd. is president of the Habitat for Humanity National Capital Region.

Undoubtedly these contributions of time, energy and money are genuine, in that the industry leaders truly believe in the causes and are not expecting any marketing return.

Yet there is real marketing value here and the explanation relates to two key marketing concepts:  experience and trust.

Experience is the interaction between clients, suppliers, employees and potential customers.  Charitable leadership involves lots of experience:  Board meetings, fund-raising events, thank you dinners, and so on.  At each of these events and activities, you are present, reflecting business in a positive light as something very different from a pushy commercial enterprise.

Trust correlates to the experience.  In an environment where you are not pushing to sell, but to share, you get to know your clients and they get to know you in a way that enhances your reputation and leads to a confidence that you will conduct your business in a way that is appealing.

You cannot see charitable and community service as a quick fix and fast way to make money. However, you need very little money to engage, involve and support the community.  Pick projects and activities that you truly support and are within your market area, and you'll succeed.

P.S.  If you have community service initiatives you would like to share, please let me know with a comment or an email to  You'll receive some publicity and hyperlinks.

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