About construction marketing: Let’s keep it simple (but not so stupid)

success pillars

Adams Hudson has recently posted an article reminding us of the three pillars of business survival/success. Sometimes, in getting down to the nitty-gritty of describing specific marketing ideas and concepts in this blog, I need to be reminded that there really are three core competencies behind any business, and a failure in any one of them will doom you to failure, or at best, barely surviving.

Technical competence

You need to be able to deliver the product/service you purport to offer with competence. Excellence is better, but at minimum, you need to have the basics right. I recall well, for example, a “professional photographer” whose work was no better than a not-so-good amateur. He got by during the boom times back in the 1980s when they still used film, and there was a need for routine photos of houses listed by Realtors for the Multiple-Listing System (MLS) in his local market. Then the market slumped, and demand for his services declined to nothing. (Add to the technological change; anyone can take routine dumb photos with a smart phone — the true pros still earn a good living, though because they know all the details about lighting, composition, and effective imaging.)

Business organization/operational skills

Here I’m reminded of the fitness centre that opened with an absentee owner who hired a friend as “manager”. I put that in quotes, because the person put in charge may have had some competence as a fitness counsellor/trainer, but didn’t understand business basics. She thought because she was a “manager” she should have some perks and status, so leased a BMW. She gave jobs to friends regardless of competence. And, oh, ensuring that only paying customers (or those on legitimate short-term trials) used the facility . . why bother! The place closed in bankruptcy in three months.

Marketing and business development capacity

I see this weakness painfully in some people who enter the contracting business. They may have the technical competence to do the work, and they certainly understand the profit-and-loss basics. But do they actually know how to find good customers and get more profitable business from their clients? They chase like lemmings “low bid wins the job” opportunities, and they dump money into wasteful advertising, not understanding how to track results and ensure that their marketing risk/investments achieve the desired results.

I think you need all three elements to operate a successful business, and you really need to be exceptionally good at all three of them to do very well. If you have one or another right, of course, and are great at the third, you probably can be viable. If you fail at any of these key elements, it is like knocking one leg off a three-legged stool. Prepare to fail. You almost certainly will.