Keeping it simple: The three basic construction marketing rules

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In some respects, effective architectural, engineering and construction marketing is easy. In others, it is extremely difficult. The challenge isn’t in the concepts, which I can explain in a few words. It is in the execution, which requires patience, commitment and discipline.

So here are the three rules. You’ll see they are elegantly simple to understand but downright difficult to follow, unless you are already there.

Before, during and after everything, your clients’ experience and perception of value must come first.

All the fancy and expensive marketing you do will be quickly undone by clients who are dissatisfied. If they didn’t receive the service or value they expected, they will not return for more. They will also not recommend friends and colleagues to do business with you. And they may badmouth you on social media, creating negative publicity.

Conversely, even if you spend not a cent on marketing, if you create a “wow” client experience you’ll keep your clients returning for more, recommending you, and referring your business. Sometimes (unwisely) you can do this by being dirt cheap in your pricing — but more likely the clients will remember the competence and warmness of your staff, your appreciation (anticipation) of their needs and possible unexpected positive surprises.

Get the experience right and everything else is easy, relatively.

When you begin marketing, focus on your website and social media first. Make them right.

Virtually every new client interaction will at some point start with your website. Paid advertising will ultimately direct people there and even if individuals thinking of doing business you have been referred, they will likely visit your website before they call you.

So take time to get it right, and maintain it, with appropriate content, “readability”, and speed and ease of use on mobile and tablet devices as well as computer screens. You’ll probably want a good blog and lots of images and possibly videos — and plenty of client testimonials (which you should be able to achieve if you followed the first point above.)

You can if you do it right build and maintain an effective website at a cost of less than $50 a month, but there’s a fairly big learning curve to get to that level. But even if you are paying top dollar for full marketing services, you shouldn’t need to spend more than $5,000 every two to three years, with a few hundred dollars a month for updates and maintenance, if that.

If you are spending ANY money on marketing, track and measure your results and ensure you are receiving value.

Ironically, the best test of value could be to survey your clients after they do business with you and see where they stand on the Net Promoter Score. If the results are good, ask for testimonials/referrals; if not, see what you can do to fix the problem to turn the client into an enthusiastic endorser.

But if you are paying money for any form of advertising or marketing, ask for data, and track the leads through the conversion process to ensure you are receiving value for money. It may be quite okay to pay $2,000 for a single ad that produces just one order — if it is a $100,000 job (which repeats and results in referrals). But you won’t know if you aren’t measuring.

Like I said at the outset, the ideas here are simple to understand but harder to implement. You may need to pay for an external consultant to help keep you on track, or you simply will need to exert the discipline to really drill down and make sure your client experience, website and marketing measuring are in order. However, if you follow these three simple guidelines, you will almost certainly succeed.

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