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Monday, June 18, 2012

The marketing concepts behind the construction marketing business

In visiting this or the new Construction Marketing Ideas blog, you are observing -- perhaps at a great distance -- the long tail or distant edge of the marketing process for Construction News and Report group publishing enterprise  You probably have little reason to ever do business with us.  That is okay.  The ideas here will probably help you in your own business, large or small.

We publish regional and national construction newspapers and magazines, print and online.  Most of our revenue arises from special editorial features describing communities, businesses or projects.  These communities and companies work with us to introduce their members or suppliers (the people who are giving them money) as potential advertisers.  The supplier-advertisers, wanting to ensure their actual clients are happy, co-operate by advertising in the publications to help their customers' interests.

Fair enough.  This is relationship-based marketing at its best.  The business model also has an intriguing risk and value transference element.  Companies receiving the editorial publicity don't need to spend a cent for all the attention; the companies advertising don't care about "results" for from their advertising, as long as their key clients are happy.  This means we don't have as much price resistance for our advertising sales.

While this business model is highly effective, it is also quite controversial.  Alas, some publishers have abused it.  They use high-pressure techniques and deliver poor-quality publications.  After a while, the advertisers can decide that they have had enough and stop supporting the features.

We faced this problem, bluntly, in 2005/06, when our business almost collapsed under the weight of angry clients who felt we had taken advantage of their relationships.

Then I had an insight which saved my business.  I realized that the advertisers might be purchasing ads to support their clients, but we were doing nothing to support our true clients, the paying advertisers.  I decided I would find ways to deliver genuine value to them, and thought that they might appreciate comprehensive, independent construction marketing advice and resources of high enough quality that they could always be assured of a positive return on their advertising investment.

So, I started this blog, began learning everything I could about construction marketing, joined the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), began writing for their magazine, The Marketer, and a few years later, wrote the Construction Marketing Ideas book.  As well, we began working actively with relevant associations and groups, supporting the industry, charitable initiatives, and community service projects.

Our advertising costs as much as it did before, but now we deliver the value and treat clients well, and they return for more, and all is well.

Maybe you qualify for an editorial feature in one of our publications.  The publicity is free, as is the writing, graphics, layout and everything else.  However, you need to have a business of the scale and scope that we can sell some advertising -- about $1,500 worth of ads per feature.  In our experience, this requires supplier relationships founded on a business with sales volume of $3 million annually or more.

In case you are wondering, yes, we would work to sell advertising to your suppliers in an appropriate publication -- but, as you can see, we will also work with them to ensure they truly receive their money's worth.  It can be a great deal, all around.  (If your business is smaller, it is unfair to bug suppliers for support and I wouldn't want to take your cash for this sort of feature -- read the Construction Marketing Ideas book, and you will find other inexpensive options which will help your business grow to the size that this type of editorial feature publicity makes sense.

For a sample of the sorts of features and stories, please feel free to review our publications, such as the Canadian Design and Construction Report.  You can call me as well at 888-432-3555 ext 224 or email

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